The great jazz musician Dave Brubeck died yesterday. Here’s the Brubeck gold quote:
“Jazz is about freedom within discipline,” he said in a 2005 interview with The Associated Press. “Usually a dictatorship like in Russia and Germany will prevent jazz from being played because it just seemed to represent freedom, democracy and the United States.
“Many people don’t understand how disciplined you have to be to play jazz. … And that is really the idea of democracy — freedom within the Constitution or discipline. You don’t just get out there and do anything you want.”
Getting out there and doing anything you want is the adolescent definition of freedom– a definition that confuses freedom with license. While slavish rule-following is mechanical and deadening, undisciplined self-expression collapses into its own narcissistic banality. Greatness in any field– art, business, athletics, religion, politics, education, farming– is grounded BOTH in the rules and limitations of that field, AND then improvises in response to the unique needs of the moment.
Greatness knows the rules, and when/how to break them. Jazz is one of America’s great gifts to the world.
via Dave Brubeck, Legend Who Helped Define Jazz, Dies : NPR.
We’ve been following some of the violence in Pakistan incited by wrong-headed interpretations of religion and piety. While this recently-adopted resolution by the United Nations Human Rights Council does not change Pakistan’s (or any other country’s) anti-blasphemy laws, it is a statement by the international body that the key principle here is individual conscience and freedom of belief.
While some on the lunatic left might cry “foul” because of the seeming cultural imperialism of such liberal Western ideas as individual conscience and religious freedom, this is a case where the best moral reasoning of our Western philosophical inheritance trumps any well-intentioned cultural sensitivity.
In our own nation, it remains helpful for us to stand for the beauty, richness, and rightness of religious plurality; and also for the right of believers (and non-believers) to live and practice in the light of discernment.
Here is Howard Friedman’s summary:
In a major policy shift, the 47-member United Nations Human Rights Council [on March 24th] unanimously adopted a Resolution on Freedom of Religion or Belief which omits any reference to the concept of “defamation of religion” and instead focuses on the individual’s right to freedom of belief. [The] U.S.-based Human Rights First campaign called the resolution “a huge achievement because…it focuses on the protection of individuals rather than religions.”
For many years, the Organization of the Islamic Conference had pressed to create a concept of “defamation of religion” that has been widely criticized in the United States and by a number of other Western countries. Muslim countries set aside that 12-year campaign and joined in approving [March 24th’s] resolution.
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom issued a statement applauding the Human Rights Council’s action. USCIRF said in part that it welcomes the Council’s “significant step away from the pernicious ‘defamation of religions’ concept.” It explained: “The defamation concept undermines individual rights to freedom of religion and expression; exacerbates religious intolerance, discrimination, and violence; and provides international support for domestic blasphemy laws that often have led to gross human rights abuses.”
via Religion Clause: UN Human Rights Council Adopts Resolution on Freedom of Belief That Drops “Defamation of Religion” Concept.
This item is included here as a follow-up to my earlier posts on the assassination of a provincial governor in Pakistan, Salman Taseer:
WASHINGTON: The United States is not asking Pakistan to change or repeal the blasphemy law but is encouraging the government to prevent possible discriminations and potentials for abuse, says Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy and Human Rights Michael H. Posner. “We are reluctant to prescribe changes and alternatives,” said Mr. Posner when asked what changes he believed Pakistan needed to make to prevent discriminatory applications of this law. “But we do believe that people should be free to practice their religion.”
via US seeks end to discriminatory applications for blasphemy | Pakistan | DAWN.COM.