It’s old scruffy teddy, he’s been around for years...
This is one of those news bits that tends to push me ever closer to the proverbial precipice... just teetering between sanity and pure lunacy. God only knows what it would take to tip me that final bit over the edge.
Gillian Gibbons, a teacher from Liverpool, England, UK, working in Khartoum, Sudan, was arrested recently for committing blasphemy.
the Sudan, like many Middle Eastern nations, takes religion deadly seriously. And, I suppose, it's their right to do so. I, as a citizen of the United States, do not have to take it quite so seriously. I can choose to accept religious thought, discount it entirely, or pick and choose as I please. But my willy-nilly approach would not likely fly in any Middle Eastern country.
My big beef, though, is with the action that Gibbons performed that was deemed to be blasphemous. She had introduced a Teddy bear in her classroom of seven year olds and gave them the opportunity, as a group, to name the bear. One child suggested the name Muhammad, not just because it is one of the most popular names in both Sudan and the Middle East as a whole, but also because it was his own name. The children voted and Muhammad came out the winner.
One child told his parents of what transpired in class and the proverbial shit hit the fan. Apparently, the name is so sacred that it is considered blasphemy to use it as a name for an inanimate object such as a Teddy bear.
Now this poor teacher, if convicted, could face 4o lashes, a fine, or six months behind bars... FOR NAMING A TEDDY BEAR!!!!!
What the holy hell is wrong with this world??? The woman made a mistake. Actually, it wasn't even she who made the mistake. Her pupils, having been raised in that culture, should have known better and advised against what was happening. But no. Now she will pay the price for what is, ultimately, just plain idiocy. It's not as though she was intentionally trying to offend anyone or a whole region. She was just engaging her students in an act of childhood innocence... the naming of a stuffed animal. If officials would give her the chance to apologize, I'm sure she would do so without even thinking twice about it. And the rest of the world would have learned a lesson as well. And you might gain the respect of people around the world for having used a more positive form of reinforcement.
Give the lady a break.
P.S. I think I'm going out to buy a Teddy bear and name it Muhammad. That's my show of opposition against this stupidity.
i'll buy one too. in solidarity.
Posted by: sizzle | Wednesday, 28 November 2007 at 11:48 AM
I would say that I am shocked and outraged and all that other stuff but I just don't seem to have it in me currently. Why? Because there are some idiots on this planet and they will continue to do stupid things.
Posted by: Dagny | Wednesday, 28 November 2007 at 01:05 PM
I feel shocked by this too. But what can we do about it - except go over there and enforce our beliefs in their country? :(
Posted by: kilax | Wednesday, 28 November 2007 at 01:18 PM
That is ridiculous. The teacher's trying to be nice and look what she gets in return. How rewarding and inspiring for other teachers over there.
Posted by: Elaine | Wednesday, 28 November 2007 at 01:23 PM
I don't understand any of this either. However, it is our practice of democracy that makes this seem like a frivolous complaint. In their culture it is a serious offense and we cannot pooh-pooh thier beliefs.
This is what confuses me the most in world.At what point is it okay to interfere?To them it must seem horrendous to hear American children talk and dress the way they do.I seriously try to see both sides of the argument, but I never seem to come up with a way to make it acceptable in my mind either.
Posted by: metalmom | Wednesday, 28 November 2007 at 01:46 PM
What's happening to this teacher is so wrong.
My teddy bear's name is Sir Bears A Lot...perhaps Muhammad would be a great middle name.
Posted by: Foo | Wednesday, 28 November 2007 at 02:26 PM
me too, on the buying one.
figures foo diddy has a bear named sir bears a lot!
Posted by: Hilly | Wednesday, 28 November 2007 at 03:50 PM
sizzle, I have to find a worthy bear for the cause.
Dagny, too much going on to be able to worry about it all, eh?
kilax, I think we've done enough of that lately. ;-)
Elaine, people will be thinking twice before enlisting to teach there. That's for sure.
metalmom, I'm not pooh poohing their beliefs at all. It's their right like I said. But does the punishment fit the crime? In any culture?
Foo, how would that work? Sir Bears a Muhammad Lot? Sir Bears Muhammad a Lot?
Hilly, and now with "Muhammad" as a middle name.
Posted by: kapgar | Wednesday, 28 November 2007 at 04:49 PM
I still cannot fathom that people are sanctioned with lashes
Posted by: Bre | Wednesday, 28 November 2007 at 05:32 PM
When it was initially reported on my local news (the teacher in question comes from Liverpool-ish) it was reported with an air of nothing will happen, the government will bring her home, all will be fine...
But now she has been bloody charged "with insulting religion, inciting hatred and showing contempt for religious beliefs" and our f*cking useless PM is "surprised and disappointed"...
Just as race relations here were just, well, bloody awful but quietly thundering... Hold onto your hats, fellas! Our government needs a win and we haven't got a Peae Summit on the go...
Posted by: Bec | Wednesday, 28 November 2007 at 06:18 PM
Please don't think I am playing devil's advocate here, but I just have to ask the question... how can this woman live and work in the country and not know that the name of Muhammad is sacred and taken incredibly serious there? I mean... I've never even BEEN to the Middle-East, and I know this much.
The kids may not know any better... they're just 7-year-olds. But the teacher? Was she not provided any kind of religious sensitivity training? Because I'm pretty sure insulting the name of The Prophet is pretty close to the top of the list of things not to do...
Posted by: Dave2 | Wednesday, 28 November 2007 at 07:38 PM
Bre, remember the caning kid in Singapore about a decade or so ago? That one freaked me out.
Bec, I was hoping you would chime in with your nation's take on the whole thing. Thanks for the information. So the new guy is that bad, eh?
Dave, I agree she should know better or at least question it if she's not sure. But like I asked metalmomma, does this "crime" warrant the potential punishments she faces? Not in the slightest. Jail time, lashes, or a fine for naming a Teddy bear? No.
Posted by: kapgar | Wednesday, 28 November 2007 at 08:07 PM
I think it's got something to do with the initials GB... Since he's been in power it's just been mistake after mistake. In the house he has been described as going from Stalin to Mr Bean in a matter of weeks and Prime Minister's Question Time has become fun again as David Cameron (leader of the Conservatives) rips into Brown and makes him look small.
And the latest he could call an election is 5th May 2010 and he's not going to call unless he absolutely has to. I almost almost want to swop our GB for yours! But only because you're guaranteed to get rid of him in just over a year!
Posted by: Bec | Wednesday, 28 November 2007 at 08:23 PM
Woah doggies! You almost want our GB instead??? Brown is that bad??
Posted by: kapgar | Thursday, 29 November 2007 at 06:17 AM
Does the punishment fit the crime? Probably not.I had the same thought as Dave2. Why did the teacher allow that?
Is it the same over there as here? Do their citizens know that 40 lashes is a possible punishment for the crime? Is it the same as an 18 year old having sex with his 15 year old girlfriend and going to jail or being branded as a sexual preditor for the rest of his life?
I don't know. This was a very interesting post and it's cool that a dialog can be had. I wish we could do more than talk.
Posted by: metalmom | Thursday, 29 November 2007 at 08:30 AM
Did anyone think maybe these kids didn't LIKE the teacher and thought... hey! We'll name this stupid bear Muhammend and get the British lady lashed!!
Kids are mean, you know.
Posted by: No Celery Please | Thursday, 29 November 2007 at 11:37 AM
metalmom, I have no idea why she allowed it, if she even realized it was wrong, whether she was taught to know better, or if she had any concept of what the punishment could be. But I agree, the dialog that has resulted from this has been great!
NCP, now that's an interesting perspective. Get revenge on your teacher by having her imprisoned. I tried it in my youth but I could never make the charges stick. Wasn't nearly as legal savvy as I am now. ;-)
Posted by: kapgar | Thursday, 29 November 2007 at 11:40 AM
I just saw the news report on this. I think the whole world has lost its collective mind. Seriously.
Posted by: sue | Thursday, 29 November 2007 at 01:40 PM
They jailed her
Posted by: Bec | Thursday, 29 November 2007 at 05:50 PM
sue, it's f'd up.
Bec, that's so wrong.
Posted by: kapgar | Thursday, 29 November 2007 at 07:30 PM
The news today said that the people of Sudan were calling for the teacher's execution! Guaranteed I won't be volunteering to go there to teach. I think I'll stop complaining about teaching in southwest Oklahoma... at least they don't call for your execution over a blooming teddy bear!
Posted by: Melanie | Saturday, 01 December 2007 at 12:18 AM
Freaking scary, isn't it?
Posted by: kapgar | Saturday, 01 December 2007 at 10:20 AM
Mohammed isn't just the most popular name in the middle east. It's actually numero uno in the world. It's my grandfather's name...
And I'm getting a bear and naming it after grandpa, too. Awesome.
Posted by: Dariush | Monday, 03 December 2007 at 08:44 AM
Do it D! I think your grandfather would be proud!
Posted by: kapgar | Monday, 03 December 2007 at 11:37 AM
Posted by: borysSNORC ™ | Saturday, 08 December 2007 at 02:00 AM
Okay, that's brilliant! Sad that it had to come to this, but still...
Posted by: kapgar | Saturday, 08 December 2007 at 11:05 PM
Sad, but alas... all too typical. There always seems to be someone out there prepared to capitalize on the misfortunes/misadventures of others.
Posted by: borysSNORC ™ | Sunday, 09 December 2007 at 03:33 AM
Scary how quick our capitalistic tendencies are, isn't it?
Posted by: kapgar | Monday, 10 December 2007 at 07:05 AM