Open competition in the marketplace of ideas is one of the great strengths of our civilization. We have a long tradition using words for the purpose of informing, protesting, lamenting, complaining, lampooning, and encouraging others. Battles for hearts and minds occur primarily with words, though of course other media -- like music and television –are also influential. (Hey, maybe even blogs!)
I heard a report this week that brings home the power of words – and the efforts of others to suppress words with violence. This report comes from someone I know who is spending part of the summer in Denmark. He is affiliated with a Christian organization that has put together a band made up of college-age students. They are touring the country, playing their music (a mix of both secular and Christian-themed songs, mostly modern rock styles), and talking with people about their faith. They have played concerts for some sizable groups of people who come to hear their music and their beliefs, and some stay on to speak further with them.
They have been touring for nearly a month now, and so far they have been quite well received. However, this week, the police advised them not to perform. The reason: they were concerned about riots by Islamic activists.
This struck me as sad and encouraging at the same time. On one hand, it is sad when a country known for efforts to bring liberty to others and with strong historical Christian roots becomes a place where people must worry about this kind of violence. On the other hand, it is encouraging to know that these young people had a message so powerful it would induce Islamo-Fascists to riot.
Rioting and violence betray an inability to compete in the marketplace of ideas. It is curious that message based on love, forgiveness, freedom, and hope would induce this behavior. But that may say something about the kind of alternative message they prefer.