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A letter to the Editor opposing the view that Salman Rushdie brought the fatwah upon himself, published in The Australian, 9 January 1991, p.10

It seems to me that the Reverend Michael Giffin cannot, merely by the device of flattering his proposed victim, lessen the impact of the death sentence he appears to be advocating for blasphemy (The Australian, Letters, 2 January 1991).

Let us all get one thing straight: Salman Rushdie's act was to publish some words. I have not read those words (I ground to a halt circa page 80 -- 'quality' literature is not my idea of good reading). Perhaps those words were not 'appropriate'. Possibly they were not 'sensitive'. Maybe they were even offensive. But they were only words.

Rushdie has not ordered the taking of hostages.

Rushdie has not led an entire nation into irrational hatred.

Rushdie has not arranged for the screaming torture of his political enemies to their deaths.

Rushdie has only scribbled a few words.

Adolph Hitler deserved to die for his crimes. He did not deserve to die for writing Mein Kampf. Rushdie has committed no crime.

There seems to be a disturbing (and hopefully small) element within the Christian churches expressing ambivalence about the Ayatollah's sentence. It is perhaps understandable that the religious would seek to preserve their Gods' positions of freedom from criticism. It is unconscionable that they should align themselves with tyrants of the worst kind in so doing.

Rushdie is not a victim of his own cleverness. He is a victim of a man who pursued his beliefs even unto the death of others -- many, many others.

© 1991 - Stephen Dawson