Update on Wisconsin College Atheist Group Drawing Muhammad on Campus

Yesterday, I mentioned that members of the Atheists, Humanists, & Agnostics group at the University of Wisconsin – Madison were going to draw stick figure images of Muhammad on their campus to stand up for their free speech rights.

The Muslim Student Association was not happy with this and said they would contact the Dean of Students.

Well, last night, the members of AHA did what they set out to do. They drew upwards of 100 stick figure Muhammads.

But.

The MSA group followed them as they did it and added the word “Ali” to each image.

In other words, this:

… became this:

It still says to me that the Muslim students can’t handle any criticism of their beliefs, but I guess it’s a clever way of handling the situation.

The atheists got the last laugh, though.

They stopped writing Muhammad.

Chris Calvey, the group’s president, has other images on their website. Including one very crude response from the Muslim students from “an agnostic who was vehemently opposed to the event.”

I think even though the atheists’ images of Muhammad were altered, the response from the MSA just goes to show how overly sensitive they are about something completely absurd — that no one else should be allowed to draw their prophet.

It’s a silly rule the rest of us don’t have to abide by, and if Muslims — radical or otherwise — are trying to tell us otherwise, we ought to fight back by civilly showing them that their religious laws don’t apply to us.

Kudos to Chris and his group for making this happen and I hope others follow in their footsteps.

  • Ben

    “Including one very crude response from the Muslim students.”

    As he says in the blog, the comment about someones mother was NOT written by Muslim students.

    From the article:
    “And then there was this one, NOT drawn by the MSA, but rather by an agnostic who was vehemently opposed to the event and categorically rejected all of our reasons for doing it.”

    Pretty important… you should probably fix that.

  • Tony

    You should have posted the obscene message. One wonders if the cows are lesbian cows or if the culprits of this charming bit of graffiti are confused about the nomenclature of bovine gender.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    From the AHA site:

    You’ve got to hand it to them, it was a creative and non-confrontational way to minimize the intolerable offense of seeing stick figures labeled Muhammad. It was a celebration of free speech for everyone!

    Changing someone else’s drawings to hide the original intent is not a “celebration of free speech for everyone.” Chris Calvey, get your head out of your ass and recognize Orwellian censorship for what it is.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    I would guess that systematically altering another group’s chalk drawing puts the MSA in violation of UW codes of behaviour for recognised student groups.

  • http://thegodlessmonster.com/ The Godless Monster

    If the authorities continue with their fence sitting by refusing to step in and do their job, physical confrontation over attempts by “moderate” Muslims to censor free speech will eventually be unavoidable.

  • Hmm

    I know it’s not popular opinion, but I think it -was- a creative non-confrontational way for them to alter the images. Sans the whole cow sex thing. But really, I think a lot of people are forgetting that we’re exactly that. People. Some people have other beliefs than us, some of those beliefs happen to be completely ridiculous. But drawing stick figures of muhammad around campus to antagonize a certain group of people is still snotty self-righteous behavior, not befitting of a group of people who call themselves humanists.
    Is it awesome? yes.
    Is it hilarious? No.
    Is it ok? Absolutely.
    Does it illustrate the compassion that atheists so desperately want to see from others, who we as a “group” see as misguided sheep who can’t detach themselves from a ridiculous deity? Not at all.

  • Siamang

    The Muslim students get bonus points for cheekiness, though.

    The whole demonstration was cheeky and cute on both sides. Which is why I like it.

  • Bob

    Seeing as Muhammad Ali is a convert to Islam and is also suffering from physical disabilities, sparing the caricature of Muhammad (the prophet) nonetheless continues to insult the prophet’s name AND throw a turd at an athlete still remembered for his prowess?

  • gski

    The principle is the same between altering these pictures vs. altering the atheist billboards or bus ads.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Hemant Mehta

    Ben — You’re right. I fixed it. Thanks!

  • Carlie

    I actually like the response of the MSA in this instance. Because it’s funny. I don’t think it rises to the level of the billboard vandalism – it’s not changing the message so much, because I could easily see the original group doing the same kind of thing: “It’s Mohammed!… Ali! Get it? Ha, we got you there!” I’m glad that’s the response they came up with. They’re still stating their opinion, but not in a way that eliminates the message of the other group.

  • Hmm

    Oops… in my comment, I meant that it WAS hilarious. Amazingly on both sides!

  • Zach

    They can’t seriously think they’re carrying out a sacred defense of Muhammad by drawing boxing gloves on him. Surely this makes it clear that the “offense” is feigned and they enjoy goofing off as much as anyone.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    I know it’s not popular opinion, but I think it -was- a creative non-confrontational way for them to alter the images.

    How is interfering with someone else’s right to free expression non-confrontational?

  • NewEnglandBob

    They should have signed the pictures as:

    “Muhammad-the pedophile,
    back stabbing murderer”

    … and therefore left no room for the MSA alteration.

  • TheNP

    Clever way to counter the AHA. Mild censorship… though still censorship. Kind of reminds me of when I was at Michigan State and the MSU Pagans and Campus Crusade for Christ started competing for sidewalk space.

  • http://thegodlessmonster.com/ The Godless Monster

    @NewEnglandBob,
    What you said….

  • Claudia

    Hmmm though not as bad as actually trying to stop the event or erasing the pictures, I still see this as encroaching on free speech. They are censoring the message by changing it to something else. If I write a sign that says “Fuck the Pope” and someone writes “Fuck the people who hate the Pope” then my speech has been shut down.

    Look at it this way, would it be a “celebration of free speech” for someone to write “Terrorist Loving” before “Muslim Student Association”?

    The idea was clever, and more smooth than their original threat, but the upshot is the same: they can’t handle someone expressing opinions they find offensive and react by trying to shut it down. In short, they aren’t ready for modernity.

  • Bob

    Insofar as this was not vandalism nor a physical attack, why not do nothing?

    Then, in the school paper, just state your case without recrimination or finger-pointing.

    “The objections to the portrayal of the Prophet Muhammad in any manner are based on (quote passage from Koran), and not because we lack the ability to laugh or take criticism.

    “While we respect the views of the AHA, the students of the MSA wanted to correct the misconceptions about a tenet of our faith.”

  • Satansbaby

    The beauty of the irony of people saying it’s the student’s right to free expression is that it was the MSA’s right to free expression as well. As backwards as they are.

  • John Mack

    How come the stick figures did not have beards?

  • http://www.holytape.etsy.com Holytape

    hmm,

    I don’t think this has much to do with converting people from Islam or converting people to atheism. This is about free speech. No one group has the right to stop another group from speaking, even if the speech is offensive to the first group. Blasphemy should never be censored, either by government action or the threat of violence.

    I think everyone responses was appropriate. AHA drew Mohammad which was their right, and I must say they drew him in the least offensive way possible. MSA responded in kind, by chalking of their own and complaining to the dean, each action was within their right. The Dean of Students heard the MSA grievance, but did not act, which was its responsibility. If the Dean of the Students or if MSA prevented the AHA from chalking, that would have crossed the line.

  • http://thegodlessmonster.com/ The Godless Monster

    @Bob,
    But then they’d be lying. They don’t respect anyone’s views (Why should they? I don’t have to respect views, either), much less their RIGHT to have and EXPRESS those views. That’s the real issue here. They want to stifle free speech….and the f*ckers did just that.
    And of course their objections are based in the Quran and to some extent, the Hadith. I think most folks already get that part. At any rate, why should it matter what their justification for censorship is? How is one reason (“it’s in our book”) a better argument than the other (“we’re thin-skinned”) when the end result (censorship) is the same?

  • http://thegodlessmonster.com/ The Godless Monster

    @Holytape,
    If the result of the Muslims actions was to undue or negate the message of the original chalk drawings, then they prevented free speech through an act of censorship.
    If you can justify that, then I can justify going to the nearest mosque and blowing up their minaret when the call to prayer is being performed to prevent dissemination of a message I disagree with. Difference in degree, not kind.

  • Jerry Priori

    Can’t we finally agree that “moderate Islam” is a myth? That the Muslim student group had to alter the stick figures in any way is absurd. If they really embraced the free expression of others, the stick figures would be greeted with nothing more than a “so what” shoulder shrug. They really do not seem to understand that we are in no way obligated to honor a single tenet of their religion. Their counter-action just makes their petty faith seem more ludicrous than it already seemed.

  • jtradke

    But drawing stick figures of muhammad around campus to antagonize a certain group of people is still snotty self-righteous behavior, not befitting of a group of people who call themselves humanists.

    Playing Tone Police and wagging your finger is also snotty, self-righteous behavior.

    It was not intended to antagonize Muslims, as the AHA took great pains to illustrate with their open letter to the Muslim student group. It was an act of protest, which by definition is going to upset someone.

    You might say that regardless of the AHA’s intentions, they ought to avoid offending others with their actions. Well, I find it extremely offensive that no one’s allowed to depict Muhammad. How do I decide whose offense deserves greater consideration?

  • Bob

    @Godless:

    I was only addressing the PR aspect of the problem, and not deconstructing inherent problems with Islam.

    Religion is largely an appeal-to-emotion situation, so what you’d want to do to be effective is paint yourself as the good guys, and make the other side look silly.

    As it stands, the AHA managed this quite nicely, and the MSA’s response only made themselves look bad.

  • http://thegodlessmonster.com/ The Godless Monster

    @Jerry Priori,

    Their counter-action just makes their petty faith seem more ludicrous than it already seemed.

    And perhaps more dangerous than most of us are willing to admit?

  • Mak

    This is just amusing. :D

    *doesn’t care to analyze*

  • http://thegodlessmonster.com/ The Godless Monster

    @Bob,

    I was only addressing the PR aspect of the problem, and not deconstructing inherent problems with Islam.

    I got that already. My point is that we have larger and more pressing issues to deal with than to contemplate whether or not the barbarians standing outside our front door with a sledgehammer are using proper or effective PR techniques. Let’s be glad they aren’t.

  • Tizzle

    The MSA acted in a light-hearted way, a fact I am surprised by, based on media coverage of most muslim groups. This was pretty mild.

    I am somewhat confused by the atheists here getting up in arms about it. They didn’t rub out the chalk or pour water on the figures. They were creative. I think it’s funny.

    The figures are made in chalk…they are going away as soon as it rains, or enough people walk over them. It’s not a permanent art installment here.

  • Bob

    @Godless:

    Granted. I work in television news, so it’s all about presentation to me.

  • jash

    I really liked the last two, censored and “muham – is this ok?” :D smart thinking there…

  • JustSayin’

    We need to boil this ostensibly complex issue down to its most basic form. I can’t really add anything to this discussion aside from pointing out (once more) that, inasmuch as any of us atheists are abiding by their prohibition to depict Mohammed, we are in fact lending credence to their archaic beliefs. In truth, however, we are under no obligation–moral or otherwise–to respect any aspect of their faith whatsoever. If we were, then would we not be Muslims ourselves? (I know from experience that I can respect an individual without extending that courtesy to what s/he imagines to be ultimate truth.) Further, speaking as a gay man, I am well aware that–as a whole–Muslims most certainly do not often respect my rights, not even on the most fundamental level: my right to exist. Just look how many gays and lesbians are put to death in those ass-backward countries where Islam has a stranglehold on the law. It’s truly horrific.

  • http://thegodlessmonster.com/ The Godless Monster

    @Tizzle,
    I remember responding to a complaint of a male subject who masturbated on a female patron of a movie theater back in the late 80′s. Upon arrival, my partner made a comment to me about the fact that the victim was in hysterics and crying.
    “What’s the big deal? It’s just jizz.”

  • Mark

    I think it was a brilliant response. If you play Go or Chess or any sport, sometimes you just have to admit that the other guy just played well.

    To those who are calling it censorship I call bullshit. The same who are comparing it to the billboard vandalism or blowing up a mosque.

    Chalk drawings are graffiti of a benign sort but still graffiti. No one has a right to have their graffiti go unchanged for any period.

  • http://thegodlessmonster.com/ The Godless Monster

    @Mark,
    You’re obsessing on the minutiae and missing the point(s) being made completely.
    There are underlying principles at work here…you do get that don’t you?
    The points that you make are irrelevant to the larger debate and simply declaring other people’s viewpoints as “bullshit” only serves to make you look like a silly, angry kid.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    Mark says: Chalk drawings are graffiti of a benign sort but still graffiti. No one has a right to have their graffiti go unchanged for any period.

    Do you say this out of knowledge of the UW code of conduct for student groups, or are you just talking out your *ss?

  • http://foo.ca richard

    I quite like the MSA re-attribution to Ali. It’s funny and doesn’t fool anyone. They also aren’t seeking purely legislative action to solve the issue, but they’re taking direct action; the same kind of direct action that the atheists are – and they’re perfectly within their right to answer in this way.

    I prefer the Ali alteration to buckets of water or other hiding of the issue; the alterations could be seen as a DIALOGUE, not a CENSORSHIP, at least.

  • http://thegodlessmonster.com/ The Godless Monster

    @richard

    …the same kind of direct action that the atheists are…

    Use of identical media (chalk)does not make their actions identical.

    the alterations could be seen as a DIALOGUE

    At some point a line must logically be drawn or this would quickly escalate into a “I know you are, but what am I?”, Tit-for-tat game. I have difficulty calling it dialogue. By your definition, a swastika scrawled over a synagogue’s Star of David with chalk could be construed as dialogue.

  • Nakor

    It’s true that the Muslims had just as much legal right to do as they did as the seculars had to take their actions. That said, the seculars were standing for free speech, while the very nature of the Muslim response was to protest free speech. So even if you don’t consider it censorship, it is still activism in favour of censorship. That makes it, at a minimum, distasteful, at least to me. At the same time, of course, it shows the world just what moderate Islam looks like.

  • Susan Robinson

    I think the students drawing and labeling them as Mohammed did a public service. It is important to desensitize people about criticism of their religious beliefs.

    Chalk drawings on public property are part of public dialogue. They can be changed by any member of the public for any reason. Defacing private property, such as a billboard, is another issue entirely.

    Next time they should try labeling the drawings with “Guess which Mohammed this is!” It’s not ok to draw him, but it is ok to name millions of mere humans after him?

  • JJR

    I would have drawn a beardy stick Muhammad in a turban next to the re-branded “Muhammad Ali” then drawn an arrow saying “named after this guy”….

    in the interest of furthering dialogue, of course.

  • Greg

    Whether it was legal, clever, humorous or not, I am scratching my head at the idea that the AHA weren’t being censored by the MSA.

    I like trying to find analogies to less volatile subjects than religion, so how about this:

    Someone writes ‘I LOVE YOU’ in the sand on the beach, and a rival for the woman’s affections sneaks along behind and adds: ‘R MUM’ to it.

  • Tizzle

    @The Godless Monster:
    Jizz is gross (full disclosure: I’m a lesbian). If someone threw chalk on me in a crowded theater, I would be less disturbed than if someone masturbated on me.

    What does that have to do with this subject? The muslims didn’t jizz all over the chalk drawings.

  • Alice

    I think their alterations in opposition to free speech are cute. I mean, they can utilize their freedom of speech to disagree with freedom of speech if they want to. I mean, you can tell that the Ali bit was added by someone else. The aha’s sentiment is still there.

  • Heidi

    Chalk war!! Sorry, but I think it’s funny. LOL.

    @The Godless Monster: Did you seriously just equate altering chalk stick figures to sexual assault?

  • Miko

    I love it.

    It’s a public forum, so the arguments comparing it to a billboard defacement fall flat. They used a different color so that it’s clear that the final image isn’t the work of a single author. They avoided using force (i.e., the university government) to solve their problems and instead found a creative way to address their issue via direct action.

    Meanwhile, AHA responded playfully in a few ways that got their key point across, and probably did so more strongly than if they had just chalked their original design without the help from the MSA. The modified designs, the figures labeled “CENSORED,” and so on are all going to encourage more discussion than the original stick figures would have. And best of all the peaceful way in which both groups got to say what they wanted to say underscores the fact that we are (well, most of us are) interested not in attacking Islam but in promoting the value of free speech on all topics and by all sides, no matter what.

    This is how people are supposed to resolve their differences, tolerate disagreements, and express their ideas in a free society. Props to both groups.

    @The Godless Monster:

    If the result of the Muslims actions was to undue or negate the message of the original chalk drawings, then they prevented free speech through an act of censorship.

    Not so. If the Westboro Baptist church tries to hold a demonstration, but gives up because a larger counter-demonstration joins them with signs bearing messages like “God hates figs” and “I am holding a sign,” then both sides got their free speech, even if one side got the result it wanted and the other side didn’t. Or, recall the last U.S. election cycle, in which Palin claimed that her free speech rights were being violated when journalists pointed out the stupid things she said. Free speech in no way means that everyone else has to shut up while you’re talking.

    If the authorities continue with their fence sitting by refusing to step in and do their job, physical confrontation over attempts by “moderate” Muslims to censor free speech will eventually be unavoidable. … [Their counter-action just makes their petty faith seem more ludicrous than it already seemed.] And perhaps more dangerous than most of us are willing to admit?

    Let’s parse your argument there: if the “authorities” don’t do what I want, then I’m going to start a physical confrontation with Muslims. Therefore, Islam is dangerous.

    Right…

    Sorry, but if that’s the best the Muslims can/are going to do in their alleged fight against free speech, then I’m more worried about your actions than about theirs.

  • Miko

    @Tizzle:

    The MSA acted in a light-hearted way, a fact I am surprised by, based on media coverage of most muslim groups

    A couple of things to consider:
    1) The media wants your eyes. They get them by making you afraid. If they’re going to make people afraid of a group, it’s easiest to target a marginalized group. Hence, don’t expect the media coverage to be balanced. If you want to find out what Muslims are really like, go meet some.

    2) Value polling data shows that Muslims in Western nations (and especially in the U.S.) have values that are far closer to the norms of their societies than to those of more repressive Muslim societies. And in those repressive societies, the government mandates certain views and enforces them with explicit violence, so it’s no surprise that people in those countries (pretend to) have those values. And those repressive governments have less to do with religion than they have to do with keeping the people scared enough that no one thinks to ask whether the government’s claim to own all of the oil in the country is legitimate. Islamic extremism is fueled by a small group of individuals who’ve found a way to make it profitable. The Qur’an has some pro-violence passages and some pro-peace passages, and in about the same proportions as the New Testament (both of which look like peaceniks compared to the Old Testament). Like the Bible, the Qur’an can be twisted to say whatever someone wants it to say.

  • Tizzle

    @Miko:

    You’re right, of course. I know better. I’m actually quite well read on (feminist) issues pertaining to Islamic societies. I must have been trying to sound cool or something.

    Interestingly, what I mean by ‘media’ is atheist blogs or twitter feeds, because that’s pretty much the only “news” I read right now.

  • muggle

    I don’t care. That’s hilarious. I always give people points for humor. Isn’t that something a lot of Atheists promote? Using humor to further their message? If not, why is Carlin so loved? I know why I love Carlin and I’m betting most fans do for like reasons.

    What the hell, Godless? Surely you can see then that no matter how the Muslims reacted, they were damned with you. They would have been vilified for being more hostile. They find some really, mild, non-violent way to counter-protest (it’s not just a counter protest when nonbeleivers resort to it), funny and amusing even, and they’re still vilified? No, you can’t condemn them no matter what they do unless you say they had no right to do anything in which case, who’s being repressive?

    Frankly, this gives me hope that they do have a sense of humor and the Muslims we have here in our colleges are not of the type that killed Theo Van Gough.

    I think the whole thing turned out well and bridged some gaps, which is great. I’m impressed. And I admit I was thinking the whole campaign rather juvenile. Shut my mouth. I need to lighten up. Cudos to both groups.

  • cathy

    I think that this response is pretty harmless and not overly inappropriate. You are upset by chalk images, you respond by altering them in what is, in your opinion, a humourous manner and report what you percieve to be an offensive action to the appropriate university official. That’s not violent, radical, or even atypical. Reporting to the Dean of Students is standard operating procedure when a student or group complains of discrimination. The dean of students at my university is involved in the discussion of changing a sexist policy that I objected to.

    I absolutely agree that being offended by a stick figure with a name is silly, but I can’t see anything about this that is outside of the range of normal response to other types of offensive behavior.

    Also, free speech laws apply to the government, not other groups. I think that this action is a bit childish, but it is not a violation of anyone’s rights.

  • Killer Bee

    @muggle,

    Surely you can see then that no matter how the Muslims reacted, they were damned with you.

    That’s the impression I got, too.

    A little harmless fun with chalk on a very public space is not going to doom individual liberty.

  • Mark

    GM>> You’re obsessing on the minutiae and missing the point(s) being made completely. There are underlying principles at work here…you do get that don’t you?

    The question is do you? Should moslems not respond? Does chalking a sidewalk somehow give someone dibs on that surface?

    The AHA chose the forum and medium, chalk and sidewalks. The MSA didn’t show up with buckets of water and scrub brushes. They responded in the same forum with the same media. Calling it censorship is bullshit (a common idiom for rhetorical excess).

    GM>>only serves to make you look like a silly, angry kid.

    Let me introduce you to the kettle.

  • Jerry Priori

    I agree very much with Godless Monster. That the whole thing may have been funny and/or tasteless is completely beside the point. The issue that strikes me is that anyone would care in the least that someone drew a stick figure and named it Mohamed. The difference between this protest and the violent murder of those who besmirch their pedophile “prophet” is a difference of degree, not of kind.

    I presume we’ve all seen Tim Mnichin’s “Pope Song” by now? I’m sure a lot of Catholics would find it extremely offensive, but not a single papist has threatened Tim’s life or caused the video to be banned or censored or altered.

    Altering the images was well within the rights of the Muslim group; I don’t think anyone here questions that. That they felt the stick figure drawings needed any kind of response just shows us that moderate Muslim means at best “non-violent”, but the ideas behind the reason for the counter-action is motivated by the same idiocy as the extremists.

    I think it’s very important to be aware of ideologies that use the principles of freedom to thwart those same principles.

  • Greg

    @Miko

    Not so. If the Westboro Baptist church tries to hold a demonstration, but gives up because a larger counter-demonstration joins them with signs bearing messages like “God hates figs” and “I am holding a sign,” then both sides got their free speech, even if one side got the result it wanted and the other side didn’t.

    Not a good analogy.

    A better analogy would be if the counter demonstrators joined them, took WB’s signs, and changed/added words to them. Then both groups left the area, leaving the signs behind stuck in the ground with no explanation of what took place.

    Not so much ‘both sides got free speech’ there, though.

    If the MSA had drawn their own stick figures alongside each one, then it wouldn’t have been a bad analogy. It also would have failed to do what the MSA wished to achieve.

    I just want to say quickly that I don’t really have any strong emotions either way on the rights and wrongs of this. Personally I think the MSA have come across as very childish, but that’s about it as to my emotions as regards this incident. Like I said earlier, however, I am left head scratching by claims that no censorship was going on here. I just can’t see it.

    I suspect that people may be claiming that no censorship was taking place merely because they are aware of what actually happened. (Eg they are aware that the AHA were planning this, and they are also aware that the MSA didn’t like it). But knowledge of what happened just means that the censorship failed to work on the person in the know, not that it wasn’t attempted, nor that it hasn’t succeeded with other people (people who had not had access to blogs like this one, for example, and had no inkling that this was going to happen).

    Incidentally, for those that haven’t looked at the link to the blog page, the (currently) last comment on it, by Jan, suggests that the MSA didn’t just add ‘Ali’ and boxing gloves to the pictures. (Apparently they also tried to make the ‘Muhammad’ illegible on some of the later figures, and this morning some people (who may or may not be of the MSA) merely washed out the word ‘Muhammad’.)

  • http://thegodlessmonster.com/ The Godless Monster

    Is there anyone else besides me in this thread that was raised Muslim, and lived and worked in a Muslim theocracy?
    I don’t presume to tell others about that of which I know nothing.
    I wish I was wrong in regards to my attitude and approach to Islam. I really do.
    Islam is no different to me than Nazism, and I give it no quarter. It deserves no respect and its attempts to impose itself on our democratic institutions should be met with aggressive and open resistance. I’d love to see what this group of babbling academics and kids would do if suddenly forced to deal with Islam on its terms. You stick with the theoretical, boys and girls, I prefer reality.

  • http://thegodlessmonster.com/ The Godless Monster

    “The Qur’an has some pro-violence passages and some pro-peace passages, and in about the same proportions as the New Testament (both of which look like peaceniks compared to the Old Testament). Like the Bible, the Qur’an can be twisted to say whatever someone wants it to say.”

    Interesting…what does the islamic rule of abrogation have to say about this subject? Nobody here knows? I’m shocked…

  • Killer Bee

    Is there anyone else besides me in this thread that was raised Muslim, and lived and worked in a Muslim theocracy?

    Everything I know about the Mid-East I learned from my dad:

    Don’t work in Kuwait and fool around with women unless your bags are packed and you’ve got a firm grip on your passport at all times. Other than that, the money’s good.
    Beirut is the Paris of the Middle East. And Paris is burning. Not so different from the actual Paris nowadays and for the same reason – too many goddam Muslims.

    He always gives the best advice, especially when he’s been drinking.

  • ckitching

    It’s still disappointing that these Muslims believe that their religious prohibitions should apply to others. Of course, this is hardly unique to Islam. Scientologists have been silencing people for years via lawyers. Christians always want their sexual prohibitions enforced by law. Etc.

  • http://religionsetspolitics.blogspot.com/ Joshua Zelinsky

    I find fascinating that the most negative response came from the agnostic. This almost seems like a caricature of the obnoxious agnostic who just wants to put their fingers in their ears and pretend they can’t hear anyone say anything at all.

  • Dream Theater

    Jeez… Next some overly sensitive group will start crossing out God from their money. Oh wait…

  • Andrew

    I would love to write something really insulting right now. But I’d like to be able to have intelligent discussions on here again so I won’t.

  • Deepak Shetty

    @The Godless Monster

    Interesting…what does the islamic rule of abrogation have to say about this subject?
    Nobody here knows? I’m shocked…

    Sigh.

  • Aj

    If you don’t want them to touch your chalk drawings you could always smother pig fat on them. Actually, this might lead to an escalation, where every time a Muslim tries to change the message, an atheist breaks another of their taboos. By threatening to legally silence atheists, they have shown that they do not respect freedom of expression, that should be reason enough not to respect their wishes.

    Some idiot wrote on the comments of the AHA blog that atheists should respect the “sacred significance” of drawing images of Muhammad. There are many things that I find sacred, many that Muslims completely disregard, one of which is being able to express myself without considering the dogmas of others. Respecting the religious dogmas of others is encouraging them, privileging them, it’s the equivalent of saying that atheists are second class citizens, their opinions, values, and ideas aren’t worthy.

  • Coran

    The next time someone starts chalking stick figures, they need to chalk them in pairs, with the caption “Only one of these is Mohammed”.

  • ElitistB

    I have to agree with others in that changing the pictures is censorship. Not soft censorship, but straight censorship. Altering the meaning of a message to something not intended by the original creator of the message can be considered no less.

    If I wrote “God hates” as an expression that the xian deity of Jahweh is not all good (because nothing all good can hate), and then someone comes along and writes “fags” afterwards, how is that not censorship?

  • Reginald Selkirk

    Nakor says: “It’s true that the Muslims had just as much legal right to do as they did as the seculars had to take their actions.

    Do you say that out of knowledge of the UW code of conduct for student groups, or are you just talking out your *ss?

  • DSimon

    I agree that altering someone else’s chalk drawings is an uncool, stifling move, even if you find a clever way to do it.

    It would’ve been far better if the MSA just drew their responses _next to_ the original drawings. That would be a real dialogue, especially if each group signed their own drawings so that passerby could see who drew what.

  • Jen

    I can see why it is worth discussing free speech here… but I think the little Muhammad Ali is super cute. Still can’t be all powerful if he didn’t make it rain right away, though.

  • john

    altering graffiti is a violation of free speech? banksy is the leading censor of the universe then. Yanno, just once, I’d like to see a story of an atheist that didn’t have a stick up his arse, you all are giving freethinkers a bad name.

  • http://www.what?.com joe

    When you say “It’s a silly rule the rest of us don’t have to abide by…” you say it as if it’s an absolute truth, not you own opinion.

    While I share that opinion, it’s my impression that many Muslims would not agree. The Koran appears to teach that a good Muslim has the duty to kill you to prevent this.

    I see this as a fundamental difference of “axioms” that makes a rational discussion impossible.

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  • Respect

    Yes you can say what you want, but why not choose love instead of hate.

    on a different note DYK: that the supreme court has a picture of the profit Muhammad in its chambers, along with Moses, the two greatest law makers.

  • http://radtea.livejournal.com Tom

    I’ve been promoting the “Mohamed Smiley” for some years now, although it has yet to catch on:

    0:-{= [Mohamed]

    If one wants to be particularly ironic, one can add a fuse to the turban:

    ~0:-{= [Mohamed]

    But be aware that if you do so, some follower of the religion of peace may threaten, assault or attempt to kill you.

    People of reason should issue an ultimatum to violent religious nutjobs of all faiths: the ridicule will continue until the killing stops. You quit bombing abortion clinics and assassinating doctors, quit knee-capping people you don’t like in Northern Ireland, quit stoning women who’ve been raped… and we’ll stop making fun of you. In the meantime, it’s open (humorous) season…

  • Ian

    I can see where the free speech people are coming from, but for the AHA to purposefully try to antagonize the MSA by disrespecting their beliefs is just stupid.

  • Kasey

    This was really stupid of the atheists and agnostics to do, why does it bother them so much that people believe differently than them? They are becoming just as intolerant as the people they criticize. =/

  • NewEnglandBob

    “This was really stupid of the atheists and agnostics to do, why does it bother them so much that people believe differently than them? They are becoming just as intolerant as the people they criticize.”

    Freedom of speech is intolerance? Your statement is inane, Kasey. You totally missed the point of why they did the chalking.

  • GerryGadfly

    So after scrolling a hundred plus comments here this is what I understand. A bunch of {college) kids, or undergrads, or degree challenged individuals, or whatever, drew some pictures on the sidewalk. Some other (college) kids, religious dudes, Muslims, fanatics, them, whatever, messed with their sidewalk drawings by adding stuff. Next all sorts of folks got in a huff because someones free speech or religion or whatever got stepped on. Dear (fill in appropriate superior figure or deity), this sounds frighteningly like a free speech democracy is trying to establish itself. Good work at defending against it and protecting the status quo.

  • Jess

    I am an agnostic, I love the Atheist billboards that have been popping up around the world. They are AWESOME! They attack anyone that believes in God, without singling out ONE GROUP. The chalk drawings are inappropriate, as are the comments above stating that Islam is “backwards” get to know some Muslims. They actually are far less annoying than the average bible-thumper or born again. I think that yes, you have the right to draw stick figures representing the prophet if you choose to, but why would you want to incite a fight? Atheism becomes just as bad as any religion when Atheists/Agnotics attack people for their beliefs. You have yours, and unless they are trying to convert you actively, LEAVE THEM ALONE.

  • NewEnglandBob

    All accommodationist horseshit from Jess.

    They tried to blow up a car in Times Square this week. Screw your “leave them alone”.

  • http://www.JasonCRomero.com Jason C. Romero

    They tried to blow up a car in Times Square this week. Screw your “leave them alone”.

    “They” also were the ones that alerted the police and “they” have denounced the attempt.

  • Jonesy

    I think the whole thing was clever. If the AHA is going to go around campus drawing pictures of Mohammed, then OBVIOUSLY there’s going to be a reaction. The MSA did it in a way that got their message across without obscuring in any meaningful way the AHA’s message. But now everyone’s getting up in arms about the AHA being censored and whining that their free speech was impinged upon, and we’re calling the MSA the ones with thin skin? Sounds like the AHA can dish it, but they can’t take it. Honestly, people, it was sidewalk chalk on a university campus. Let’s pick our battles here.

  • http://peoplesinformative.wordpress.com/ Student

    Frankly, I think the Muslims went about it well. Rather than overreacting by running to mommy, I mean the dean, they just changed the image. And you know what, it was funny. What they did was no more childish than going around drawing images with the express intent of insulting a specific group.

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  • GNape

    If you are asking for your personal rights to have a freedom of speech and be respected, why can you not offer the same respect to Muslim students. This is apparently a very important topic to them and its not just that non-Muslims cannot create an image of Muhammad no human can. Your actions to outwardly challenge a very important part of their faith is completely disrespectful. If you talk about this as a first amendment right issue, why would you as an atheist ever want to create an image of the prophet Muhammad. It’s almost like a five year old touching a hot stove just because his parents told him not to. You’re creating a hostile environment for the Muslim students at the university and leading to more antagonistic events later. I would hope that we could seek to grow closer together and learn through our differences to make a better union in our communities and our country. This petty arguing and conflicting is pushing people further apart. The AHA should be ashamed of themselves and apologize.


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