Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Referential Mania

"We live in a noisy world. Basic listening is difficult. Extracting sense from sound is even harder. The manufacturer Mattel blames the alleged proselytization on a misunderstanding caused by distortion and cheap foreign-manufactured electronics. "Because the original soundtrack is compressed into a file that can be played through an inexpensive toy speaker," says Mattel, "actual sounds may be imprecise or distorted." What they are saying is that proper audio fidelity would have prevented a collective misinterpretation of religious fidelity. Mass-manufactured gibberish ("baby babble with no real sentence structure") was misinterpreted as having meaning. Amidst intentional nonsense and unavoidable noise, a seemingly non-existent signal was heard, and acted upon. Zeal is the word we're looking for. Or is it exegesis?"

This is just so bizarre I wish I could have made it up. It just shows that a lot of people are so wrapped up in this intense and illogical fear of Islam that they are reading irrational meanings into every insipid "signal."  The doll is even being referred to as an "Islamic doll" by some. Incredible. Not that it matters to the kind of people who would be making these claims, or that this is even relevant, but if we were to really get technical, the Islamic take on this would actually be an outright condemnation of the doll since Islam does not allow its adherents to make figures that bear a human form in religious works. Mattel's response should not have been to blame the distortion but to point out the ignorance of such a claim, but I guess that wouldn't have been the best PR move... 

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