Ok, here’s the thing. I am a Christian, and, as such, I take offense when people – edgy “artistic” types, for example – blaspheme my Lord. The purpose of blaspheming is not really to attack God, in whom the blasphemer does not believe, but to insult those who do believe in Him. At its most basic level, this is simply very aggressive bad manners. However, I have always held that the sacredness and purity of the Lord is inherent to His being, and that these attributes are in no way actually diminished by the attacks or disrespect or simply the agnosticism of unbelievers. In other words, if a person blasphemes…well, in the worst-case scenario, it’s his problem, not God’s.
Many Muslims, on the other hand, become apoplectic when you show disrespect toward their Prophet, frequently acting with, quite literally, homicidal intentions. It is almost as if the special place that Mohammed enjoys in their belief system is somehow dependent on everybody either believing in his sanctity (if that is the right word in the Islamic context), or keeping mum on the subject of their disbelief, lest the tiniest skeptical or scornful voice should bring down their entire cosmology. This level of violent zealotry seems more akin to an expression of metaphysical tribalism, totemic or fetish-like in nature, than to genuinely humane religious belief - a sign, as the old Buffalo Springfield song has it, saying “Hooray for our side.”
President Obama thinks that this madness should be humored, even at the cost of our constitutional rights. But we’re not talking about the harmless character from Arsenic and Old Lace who thought he was Teddy Roosevelt. We’re talking about people who see themselves as the sword of their jealous god, about people who want to kill us. The odds of having any success in changing the minds of such folk, by trying to reason with them or by paying them tribute, are on the order of slim to none.