Monday, 10 December 2007

Ignorance Is No Defence

Gillian Gibbons, the teacher briefly jailed in Sudan for insulting Islam is stated as saying, "I shouldn't have done it." and "Ignorance of the law is no defence." She was found guilty for naming a classroom teddy bear 'Muhammad' (PBUH).

[SMH 10 Dec 2007:]

I would have thought ignorance was the only defence.
I would have thought ignorance is the ultimate defence. "What, is that wrong??"

Or is she not ignorant.
Did she know that Muslims are very titchy about the honour of Muhammad (PBUH) and especially at the hands of ignorant/arrogant westerners.

Sometimes we are only ignorant in particular, we should have known better in general. I didn't know the minutiae of the law, but my consience knew better, but I was too lazy to listen to it. (I'm extrapolating past poor Gillian now and speaking generally).

Policeman: Did you know you were travelling at 120 km/h in a 50 zone.
Motorist: Is this a 50 zone??
Policeman: You didn't see the sign?
Motorist: What sign?
Policeman: Back there.
Motorist: No officer, I saw the houses and the park and the kids playing in the street, but I didn't see the sign.
Policeman: You saw the kids playing in the street?
Motorist: I didn't see the sign but I saw the kids.
Policeman: So why were you still doing 120 km/h?

Sometimes we claim to be ignorant of God's law, when our consciences actually did know better, if we had bothered to listen to them. We know we should have known better. Willful ignorance is no excuse.

The apostle Paul, under God's leading writes, "For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse."

I think it's strange how ignorance has become an insult. Ignorance is not wrong, it's not stupid, it's just not knowing. No one told me, I never had schooling. That makes you ignorant, not stupid. But treasuring ignorance, or wallowing in ignorance, or using ignorance as a cloak for my sordid activities, that is both stupid and sinful.

Goyle: "The teacher said that-"
Malfoy: "Don't tell me, I don't want to know. If you tell me I won't be able to keep on doing this."

Malfoy: "But sir, I didn't know..."
Prof Moody: "You didn't want to know, Malfoy. 50 points from Slytherin"

Note: PBUH stands for Peace Be Upon Him, a phrase used by Muslims to show respect for Muhammad (PBUH) whenever they say or write his name. I do not hold Muhammad (PBUH) in the same esteem as a Muslim but have no wish for insult over etiquette to sidetrack the exchange of ideas and I certainly do wish Muhammad (PBUH) and his people the peace he never found in his lifetime.

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