No pleasing some people

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Last updated on August 9th, 2017 at 07:55 am

You’d think Islamic extremists would welcome an opera featuring severed heads:

A leading German opera house has canceled performances of a Mozart opera because of security fears stirred by a scene that depicts the severed head of the Prophet Muhammad, prompting a storm of protest here about the renunciation of artistic freedom.

The Deutsche Oper in Berlin said it had pulled “Idomeneo” from its fall schedule after the police warned that the staging of the opera could pose an “incalculable risk” to the performers and the audience.

Political and cultural figures throughout Germany condemned the cancellation, which is without precedent here. Some said it recalled the decision of European newspapers not to print satirical cartoons about Muhammad, after their publication in Denmark generated a furor among Muslims …

Michael Naumann, a former German culture minister, said, “It’s a slap in the face of artistic freedom, by the artists themselves.”

Interestingly, the severed heads of Jesus, Buddha, and Poseidon also feature in the opera. No threats were anticipated from Christians, Buddhists, or Athenians. Related thoughts from James Lileks:

Since it’s difficult to predict what else will enflame the devout, Islam has to be treated with unusual deference, like a 3-year-old child with anger management problems.

But it’s not what we say that truly offends. It’s what we are. The West’s lack of interest in joining the Ummah is an affront in itself, and we broadcast our sins in High Infidelity. If you believed that the West’s apostasy was an affront to God, you’d spend your leisure hours torching straw popes, too …

In the meantime, we will learn to say less and less about more and more. As the grim cliche has it: If you say Islam isn’t always a religion of peace, the Islamicists will kill you. This doesn’t make them hypocrites, of course. The grave is a very peaceful place.

Speaking of which, let’s pause to remember Sister Leonella Sgorbati. Three people have now been arrested for her murder.

(Via Wayne B.)

UPDATE. Could people please stop referring to the Pope as “hamfisted”? It’s unbelievably offensive, this concept of a mighty Pontiff crushing all before him with gigantic fists of ham, each wild blow unleashing a spray of pig juice over his prone and helpless enemies. So quit it, before you are subject to reprisals.

Posted by Tim B. on 09/27/2006 at 03:39 AM
    1. Jesus, Buddha, Poseidon – why stop there? Joseph Smith, L Ron Hubbard, Henry VIII…

      Posted by SwinishCapitalist on 2006 09 27 at 03:52 AM • permalink


    1. That’s one small step backward for an opera company…one giant leap backward for Europe.

      Posted by richard20_bris on 2006 09 27 at 03:58 AM • permalink


    1. Worth noting that it’s the Union of Islamic Courts in Somalia that announced the arrests.  Even those guys think her murder was out of bounds.

      Posted by bgates on 2006 09 27 at 04:03 AM • permalink


    1. 42 years of service to G-d and she dies pronouncing the word “pardon” in her mercy and concern for the soul of the craven coward who murdered her.

      Words fail me. They did not fail her.

      Posted by MentalFloss on 2006 09 27 at 04:12 AM • permalink


    1. The decision seemed likely to fan a debate in Germany, and perhaps elsewhere in Europe, about whether the West was compromising its values, including free expression, to avoid stoking anger in the Muslim world.
      Already in Germany, there is growing sentiment that Pope Benedict XVI may have overdone his contrition for a recent speech in his native Bavaria, in which he cited a historical reference to Islam as “evil and inhuman.” The speech set off waves of protests in Muslim countries.

      Yeah, sure especially when it is all put in context.

      Now I wonder how long Europe will remain free?

      Posted by Wand on 2006 09 27 at 04:21 AM • permalink


    1. Europe better bloody wake up. It looks like no more croissants for the French in the near future.

      It is hypocrisy of the highest form, for them to say that they shouldn’t be criticised. That, in itself, should be criticised and is wrong. No one is immune from being made fun of or having weaknesses pointed out about them. They just better get used to it.

      Posted by The Best Infidel on 2006 09 27 at 04:29 AM • permalink


    1. This senseless death has affected me deeply. Soon Kol Nidre will be sung and the world will be forgiven for another year.

      There is a belief rooted within the more mystical dimensions of Judaism that there must be at least thirty-six “Lamed Vavniks” (Lamed is the letter representing “thirty”, and Vav represents “six”) special people—that is, “Tzadikim” (completely righteous) humans in the world, and that were it not for them, all of them, if even one of them was missing, the world would come to an end.

      These holy people are hidden, i.e., nobody knows who they are. According to some versions of the story, they themselves may not know who they are. For the sake of these 36 hidden saints, G-d preserves the world even if the rest of humanity has degenerated to the level of total barbarism.

      Thus are the Lamed-Vav Tzaddikim called the Nistarim (concealed ones). In our folk tales, they emerge from their self-imposed concealment or appear unbidden and succeed in averting the threatened disasters of people persecuted by the enemies that surround them.

      If there are, as the obscure refences in Talmud and Zohar say, exquisite souls among the faithful who exude goodness and righteousness in their daily deeds, she surely was one.

      Posted by MentalFloss on 2006 09 27 at 04:31 AM • permalink


    1. In muslim majority countries they usually don’t wait to be insulted but instead make a claim that some local insulted-Mohammed or damaged a Koran and then they launch a pogrom. There was one in Nigeria a couple of days ago.

      Posted by Ross on 2006 09 27 at 04:33 AM • permalink


    1. The ham-fisted Pope – Attempting single handedly to save Europe’s bacon.

      Posted by Infidel Tiger on 2006 09 27 at 05:02 AM • permalink


    1. Tim says we should stop referring to the Pope as “ham fisted”.
      Perhaps the man can explain himself with the authors attributed to a couple of his threads over the last few days:
      “Seven tales of female empowerment from Mary Katharine Ham.
      The New York Sun’s Alicia Colon observes assumed voting:”

      Having mixed in theatrical circles from time to time I certainly know a ham when I see one. But a colon? Well, let’s just say it isn’t something you see every day.

      Posted by Bonmot on 2006 09 27 at 05:21 AM • permalink


    1. …. unless you’re a proctologist.

      Posted by Bonmot on 2006 09 27 at 05:21 AM • permalink


    1. Security fears?  Did the towel heads threaten violence or demonstrations.  No it was some lily-livered leftoid bureaucrat pigeonholing poor peaceful Muslims as insecure, violent and imbecilic.

      Posted by Howzat on 2006 09 27 at 05:23 AM • permalink


    1. Wm Kerrigan notices the same effect in English Departments in the early 90s

      There is a high degree of sanctity in the air.  Professors are quick to take offense.  Indeed, the taking of offense has become so inflated as to make an art of its defensive opposite: the not giving of offense. There can be few more pitiful sights than an academic male trying to say something to an audience that includes feminists, fumbling to cram his fretful sentences with “he or she,’’ scheming to head off feared assaults by bathing their anticipation in his unremitting tolerance… (slightly larger context)

      Islamists may be the new feminists.

      A similar interest in decapitation of certain capits.

      (And as Derrida wrote in _Spurs_, feminism wants a castrated woman, mostly.  Parallels are so interesting.)

      Posted by rhhardin on 2006 09 27 at 05:26 AM • permalink


    1. The Pope is ham-fisted?

      Can’t imagine any jihadist wanting to be pummelled by fists of ham.

      Posted by Madison on 2006 09 27 at 05:32 AM • permalink


    1. I think the fat lady has just started clearing her throat

      Posted by Big Jim on 2006 09 27 at 06:54 AM • permalink


    1. moHAMmad


      I think not!


      Posted by MarkL on 2006 09 27 at 06:57 AM • permalink


    1. I’m fed up with these brats.  It’s time to get serious with this war on terrorism.

      We should start a global make fun of Islam/Muslims.  They’ll go apopoletic with rage and seething, have heart attacks and kark it.  They wont know who to attack first, too many choices, and will probably end up going each other too.  Oh the rage!

      See, war on terrorism over without our wonderful soldiers at risk.

      Works for me, anyway

      Posted by spyder on 2006 09 27 at 07:10 AM • permalink


    1. Another opera will be substituted in lieu of Idomeneo. The steering committee is considering several possibilities.
      The Frying Dutchman.
      A Mashed Ball.

      Posted by blogstrop on 2006 09 27 at 08:03 AM • permalink


    1. Camille Paglia observes on Mozart’s serial murders

      Serial or sex murder, like fetishism, is a perversion of male intelligence.  It is the asocial equivalent of philosophy, mathematics, and music.  There is no female Mozart because there is no female Jack the Ripper.

      _Sexual Personae_ p.247

      could have been writing on Islamists.

      Posted by rhhardin on 2006 09 27 at 09:25 AM • permalink


    1. Speaking of not being able to please anyone, check out Hamad Karzai’s smackdown of clueless Jennifer Loven at the President’s news conference the other day.

      Posted by 68W40 on 2006 09 27 at 09:32 AM • permalink


    1. #17, I’ll start.  Mohammed’s mother dressed him funny.  Will that do?

      Posted by RebeccaH on 2006 09 27 at 09:35 AM • permalink


    1. Good idea, we can start a “Cool facts about Mohammed” thread.
      Mohammed was the original MILFHunter, mostly because women his own age wouldn’t give him the time of day.

      Posted by Quentin George on 2006 09 27 at 09:49 AM • permalink


    1. All this head severing. It probably explains the attraction France has for Muslim invaders immigrants although the guillotine was last used in 1977 and the death penalty abolished in 1981. You can still fantasise about it I suppose.

      Posted by Whale Spinor on 2006 09 27 at 09:56 AM • permalink


    1. It’s worth noting that the opera has nothing to do with severed heads—of Mohammed or anyone else.  That’s the brainchild of some wacko Eurotrash director.  Cutting the scene (or firing the director) would have been justified on the grounds of good taste, but unfortunately that was not the reason given.

      Posted by Jim on 2006 09 27 at 10:15 AM • permalink


    1. Thank you, Jim. It’s been a while, but I couldn’t for the life of me remember how the severed head business fit into Mozart’s plot. Should have known.

      Posted by Kyda Sylvester on 2006 09 27 at 11:53 AM • permalink


    1. Do ham fists taste anything like pig knuckles?  Or would bread and mustard be more suitable?

      Posted by The_Real_JeffS on 2006 09 27 at 12:11 PM • permalink


    1. Clever bloke that Likeks. I hadn’t made the connection.

      Rest In Peace, facilitated by the Religion Of Peace.

      Posted by Henry boy on 2006 09 27 at 05:51 PM • permalink


    1. Of course for non-combatants going about their daily business it’s more likely Rest In Pieces.

      Posted by Henry boy on 2006 09 27 at 05:53 PM • permalink


    1. I’m tired of this stupid game. Let’s insult the MFs and if they don’t like it, stuff ‘em.

      Even Merkel says it’s time to stop.

      Posted by Wimpy Canadian on 2006 09 27 at 07:16 PM • permalink


    1. #9 Ham-fisted … such an appropriate turn of phrase. He was exactly, and deliberately, that. Smack ‘em round the head with hams.

      In his meeting with the mussie “leaders” he called for reciprocity. The mussie response I have not seen reported but I understand Bibles are still banned from Saudi Arabia.

      Yes, and I have gone one degree further. Un oeuf, c’est un oeuf.

      Posted by Wimpy Canadian on 2006 09 27 at 07:25 PM • permalink


    1. I look forward to future productions of “I Lombardi”, given that the closing scene is a bunch of joyful Crusaders singing their lungs out as the sun rise over Jerusalem at the end of the First Crusade.

      Ah, they don’t make popular music like they used to (in the 19th Century).

      Also re: Dead Nun – it only takes one to serve as a lesson to others.  That was was her killing was really all about.

      Contemporary Islamic worldview: “Let our people remain poor, sick and oppressed – but never Christian.”

      Posted by Apparatchik on 2006 09 27 at 09:09 PM • permalink


    1. #31 Bullshit. You’re deluded if you think others such as she will be in one whit diverted from their avocation as a result of this murder

      “…it only takes one to serve as a lesson to others…”, indeed.

      Pull the other one, mate.

      Posted by MentalFloss on 2006 09 27 at 09:36 PM • permalink


    1. “Rooster Crows; Outraged Muslims Riot”

      Posted by Bearded Mullah on 2006 09 27 at 09:37 PM • permalink


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