What disturbed me the most, and still does, about news reports of Pope Benedict's comments and the reaction among Muslims, is that in none of the reports was there any mention of context. The first few reports failed to even mention that he was quoting someone else, making it seem like he had just gone crazy. By the second day, the reports uniformly contained the information that it was a quote, and a very old one. Yet, there was no mention of the context, that is, the way in which the quote was used. This is the sort of thing that drives me towards the deep end, and makes me think that my considerations on the current Dim Age are actually understated instead of exaggerated.
Why is this important? Well, if the words are not your own, then the only thing connecting them to you is why you are quoting them. The fact is, given the news reports, there was no way of determining whether Pope Benedict was agreeing with the quote, the main view, or using it as an example of previous misunderstandings. In the later context he may even have been using the quote in order to vehemently disagree with it, there was no way of knowing. However, everyone seemed to know. They didn't seem to need that information, or think it relevant enough to include in their news reports.
The same attitude is prevalent across the board in our reporting and presenting. It drives me up the wall when I see someone interviewed who clearly just contradicted what they said not five minutes ago, and the interviewer doesn't seem to even notice let alone think it worth mentioning, or, *gasp* bringing it up and asking about it.
How much damage was done, and will be done in the end? It is hard to say. There were reports of indiscriminant fire-bombings of churches for one. There was a increase in the perception of an irreconcilable divide between religions and cultures for another. And in the end, we will never know.
The actual context of the quote, should you be one of the few who may consider that important, was in arguing against the spread of religion by violence. An argument against holy war, almost started or deepened another one. If that information had been included the reports would not have been so sensational, nor as dangerous. They may have just been considered unwise, or an incomplete picture. Who knows? We never will. Nor will we know the next time.