RE: Cartoon meme

From: Keith Henson (
Date: Sat 11 Feb 2006 - 20:25:49 GMT

  • Next message: Keith Henson: "Re: Cartoon meme"

    At 07:10 PM 2/10/2006 -0800, Tim Rhodes wrote:

    snip (good data points)

    >As we can see, immediately following the Jan 6 dismissal of the case against
    >Jyllands-Posten other papers begin publishing the cartoons; in part as
    >"meta-stories" covering the "free speech v. hate speech" case against J-P.
    >This rapidly increases the dissemination of this story (meme) across a much
    >larger audience -- one which also includes a Muslim population already
    >familiar with the back-story and primed to react to what will see as an
    >injustice perpetrated against them by the Danish legal system.
    >The pattern of expansion and reaction here is very reminiscent of the Rodney
    >King riots in Los Angeles several years ago.

    Only in the broadest outline. The riots were triggered by a court decision.

    >The extreme emotional reaction & resulting riots do not follow in a direct
    >line from the initial meme distribution (I.E. the cartoon's publication or
    >airing of the video of Rodney King's beating by police), but rather come as
    >reaction to the perception by the minority group that it is unable to find
    >appropriate justice within the society's laws.

    As someone who has been subjected to "social injustice," I can tell you it is often a side effect of economics. Money is more important than skin color or religion. I might add that the riots happened in places where they were *not* a minority.

    >I think one may be misguided in hoping to understand the recent furor by
    >simply tracking the expansion of the initial memes (cartoons) themselves
    >without concentrating an equal focus on the memetic variations, mutations,
    >and meta-memes that become associated with it.

    I think the deeper levels of human psychology, particularly that exposed by an evolutionary view of the traits favored in the long selection when our ancestors were hunter gatherers is at least as important as the details of a particular meme.

    But at the meta level, the "cartoon meme" is bringing the Europeans into alignment with the US. Western culture is tolerant only up to a point. I think the tolerance is only because a bleak future view engendered from falling income per capita has been rare for a number of decades in western culture (due partly to falling birth rate but mostly due to high economic growth).

    This has suppressed xenophobic class memes and/or promoted the tolerance meme or meta-meme. But those who hold western culture are still humans. Attack them or make them think they are going to be attacked and they turn just as vicious as any other humans on the planet.

    Western cultures are armed with weapons of frightening potency, and most of the capacity to produce food in excess of what they need. While a war caused disruption of oil production in the mid east would hurt them, a war caused shutoff of food exports would starve tens of millions in the mid east.

    It's a dire business.

    Keith Henson

    PS. I will try to get the war paper up somewhere it can be examined and commented on in the next few days.

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