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Libyan Ambassador's Death: Tragic End to a Bad Movie

09/12/2012 02:38 EDT | Updated 11/12/2012 05:12 EST
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An armed man waves his rifle as buildings and cars are engulfed in flames after being set on fire inside the US consulate compound in Benghazi late on September 11, 2012. An armed mob protesting over a film they said offended Islam, attacked the US consulate in Benghazi and set fire to the building, killing one American, witnesses and officials said. AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/GettyImages)

There is no justification for the murder of U.S. Ambassor Chris Stevens and three other U.S. diplomats in Benghazi last night. Taking religious offense to a message in a movie in not grounds for violence, having one's feelings hurt is no excuse for barbaric behaviour, in Libya, or in Egypt, or anywhere else in the civilized world.

But at the same time, there is no justification for the movie that led to these attacks.

The murder of those four Americans is the cause of the recklessness, ignorance and hatred of two parties: extremist Muslims -- but is that a surprise? -- and the film's writer and director, if such a thing could be said to have been written or directed, Sam Bacile.

The film in question: Innocence of Muslims was meant, according to Brave Bacile, who is now in hiding, to show the world the flaws of Islam. And certainly, there are flaws to the religion -- as there are with all -- but this is not the way to demonstrate them in a manner which would hope to illuminate the general public.

The movie (notice the gentle degradation of nouns) is a blatant, crass, vulgar slap in the face to one of the world's largest religions. But again, that does not justify the launching of rockets that killed four individuals that had nothing to do with the film.

The home video was a private endeavour, led by the Californian real estate developer -- who claims to be an Israeli Jew, though Israeli authorities deny him having citizenship -- supported by the backing of 100 investors. This was not a work supported by the American government, this was not a propaganda film released by the White House. This was the work of a private individual linked to that nutcase Pastor Terry Jones. This only goes to show the sheer brutalism, stupidity and tunnel vision of those who attacked the embassy in Benghazi.

Bacile claims that "Islam is a cancer, period." Wrong. Ignorance is a cancer. And it is this same ignorance shared by Bacile and those in Libya that has led to the death of an ambassador who sought to help a post-dictatorship nation rebuild itself.

The owner of the Sony Handycam claims that he did not expect such a vicious response to his work. Garbage. Did Bacile not read of the controversy and riots that followed the publication of cartoons of the prophet in a Danish newspaper? The riots were instigated by showing Muhammad. What did he expect to happen if he outright insulted the chief figure of one of the most, according to him, cancerous faiths? And was he not aware of the fatwah placed on Salman Rushdie by the Ayatollah Khomeini in 1989 after the release of The Satanic Verses?

And here we come to an interesting point: that one must never censor oneself out of fear of the reaction one's work may generate. And this is absolutely true. One must stand by his work if its meaning is, well, meaningful. But unfortunately, this is not the case with Innocence of Muslims. It ain't no masterpiece, or award winning piece of work.

The School of Hollywood teaches us that the trailer of a film is often a compilation of its best parts. If that is truly the case, then watching the rest of the movie would be a form of torture fit for Gitmo. The writing is pathetic, the acting is atrocious; there is nothing redeeming of the work. It will not introduce any fresh, well-thought out arguments to the discourse surrounding Islam; it will not contribute anything worthwhile. It is merely a brazen, childish, irresponsible attack on a religion whose violent extremists are known to make a mountain out of an anthill. (again, look to the Danish cartoon incident.)

Innocence of Muslims will not point out the flaws of Islam. Rather, it will be the consequences of the "film," "movie," or what have you, that will. In short, Bacile instigated, provoked a group whose extremists he very well knew -- remember, "Islam is a cancer, period." -- would react violently and barbarically to a piece of trash such as this.

Maybe there is no work of art that is worth the loss of life, but at the very least, when individuals are killed over their work, we hope to be able to learn something from the creation in question, we hope that there is some consolatory value in an unnecessary sacrifice. Such is not the case here. These were unnecessary murders, and there is nothing to be gained from the incident save the reassurance that the cancer of cancers -- ignorance -- exists on both sides of the Atlantic.