Freedom of Speech. Controlling other people. Respect. Laws.

Benetton is at it again.
Worldwide clothing chain Benetton, old hands at generating cash, controversy and name-recognition with their advertising campaigns, is at it again. This time it's religious and political leaders in same-sex kisses. People are understandably upset. Religious people see this as a massive affront to their religions. People who don't really care much about politics or religion shrug and move on. It's obviously not real.

Far left we have the Pope in Rome, who feels comfortable telling people in Africa and elsewhere not to use condoms. Who presides over an organization that has a long and storied track record of launching murderous crusades to kill as many Arabs and Muslims as possible in the name of holy war. Oh, and something about sexually assaulting little boys. Here he's kissing a well-known Egyptian imam. I'd love to hear that Imam's opinion on all this. I'm guessing he'd laugh and say "oh, be nice to each other." Assuming he's the kind of smart muslim who's not really into killing people left, right and center for things like being homosexual, lesbian, Jewish, Israeli or having the temerity to say they don't want to be Muslims anymore - the latter still punishable by death in some places.

Next we have China's Hu Jintao and the current US President Barack Obama, but not many really care there, that poster would be taken down in China but no-one bats an eye anywhere else, both are stock-in-trade for political cartoonists and caricature artists the world over.

So what's the deal here?

The deal is that you can't take your notions of what someone else can and cannot do with an image, and force your ideas on the other 7 BILLION people on the planet. Or how about I eventually take a holiday to the Moon or Mars and draw a giant picture of this or that person you happen to hold sacred. What are you gonna do - start killing people? Nuts. In societies where you have a clear majority of a certain religion, say Israel, Spain, many South American countries, Indonesia (?) and the Arab Muslim Middle East and North Africa - it's perfectly reasonable to expect some laws about what you can and can't do with images of this or that. That's just cultural differences, that will eventually go away as people realize that what you do in the privacy of your own home or newsletter or newspaper is your business, as long as you're not directly advocating violence and hate crime.

Hat's off to Benetton and Charlie Hébdo previously in France (they got fire bombed, the old Muhammad cartoons again). This is just the beginning of the painful realization on the part of many backward societies still stuck in the pre-internet Dark Ages - that you simply can't control 7 billion other people. Good luck trying.

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