by Greg Spearritt
A not-so-detached Buddhist was upset recently by the actions of three French tourists pretending to kiss and emulate the pose of a statue of the Buddha. They sent their photos to him to be printed and he promptly called the police. The tourists have now been sentenced to 6 months’ jail, though the sentence has been suspended.
Admittedly this is Theravdan Sri Lanka, not Zen Japan where it might well be in order to refer to the Buddha as a bull-headed jail-keeper (or worse), and the Patriarchs as horse-faced old maids. Nonetheless, it seems a little over the top. I could imagine the antics of the tourists as just a little bit of fun without any intention to offend anyone (though I should make it clear that I don’t know the actual circumstances).
At least the Sri Lankan response is not the kind of vicious, malicious action we see in the case of the Downs Syndrome child prosecuted for blasphemy in Pakistan.
Anyone in Australia fooling around with a statue of Jesus might be considered to be behaving in bad taste, but no more than that. Or maybe not… with the ACT’s new discrimination laws, if it was alleged there was religious vilification going on a prosecution could indeed follow.
It’s common courtesy to respect the feelings of others. There’s little common courtesy when it comes to political feelings, however, as Federal Parliament demonstrates on a daily basis. Should we be so precious about religious feelings?