Reactions from Everybody Draw Muhammad Day

How is it possible that I got more Muhammad images *after* I posted the compilation than before it?

I don’t have time to post all the new ones I’m getting but this one by Louis made me laugh:

And this one from Lyz was simple and effective:

A few other Everybody Draw Muhammad Day related activities have also happened since Thursday.

The University of South Carolina Pastafarians couldn’t chalk their campus, so they put up flyers with the image of Muhammad:

“Our participation in this event is not to promote blasphemy or religious hatred,” said Pastafarians president Axton Crolley. “It is to be able to act on the freedoms guaranteed us by the constitution without fear for our safety afterward.”

“In recognition of Benjamin Franklin’s great insight that ‘Those who sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither,’ we must peacefully assert and exercise our rights for their safety and longevity, and encourage others to speak up as well,” Crolley added.

There was no major backlash there as far as I know.

Harvard’s Humanist chaplain Greg Epstein wrote a piece for CNN about the day. In an email from his office, the piece was touted this way:

Greg takes a balanced view, affirming the need for freedom of expression and the good intentions of those who have used the Day to defend it…

The problem is he is sticking up for the Muslims who are “hurt” by the drawings and not the atheists who are courageous enough to draw Muhammad.

He commended the Muslim students for responding to the Muhammad stick figures by adding the word “Ali” to many of the drawings:

As an atheist (or better yet, call me a Humanist: one who emphasizes doing good without God) who longs for fellow Humanists to gain respectability in this religious nation, I begrudgingly admit the Muslims’ approach in this incident is superior in humor and civility.

“Superior in humor and civility”? Hardly. It was clever, sure, but it just showed me that they can’t stomach the idea of anyone else not honoring their personal beliefs. That’s far from superior.

It gets worse later on, when Greg criticizes the atheists’ drawings:

These chalk drawings are not a seminar on free speech; they are the atheist equivalent of the campus sidewalk preachers who used to irk me back in college.

In other words, Greg is saying these two things are identical:

Not. Even. Close.

Greg defends Eboo Patel, who called the atheists who drew the stick figures “jerks” and “bigots” (even though Greg says they’re not bigots):

What Eboo and other Muslims are saying when they criticize the chalking campaign is, ‘please find a less hurtful way to protect free speech; you’re within your rights to do it this way, but we can’t help but see it as, at best, unfriendly in the extreme.’

No. What the moderate Muslims are saying is: “Free speech is fine but only as long as you never criticize our beliefs.” And that’s not free speech at all.

They’re welcome to dislike it. But that’s about it.

The atheists are the brave ones here, not the Muslims who have to (*gasp*) walk past smiling, happy stick figures.

Meanwhile, Patel is being especially deceitful. As one friend pointed out, look at what he writes in this piece for Inside Higher Ed:

In case you missed it, “Everybody Draw Muhammad Day,” which is today, is a campaign that has hit several campuses already and has the potential to scale, fast.

The only ingredients you need are a handful of students who believe they are crusaders for free speech, some chalk and the cover of darkness.

“Cover of darkness”?! Implying that the atheists drew the images secretly, when no one else was around? That’s not true at all.

The atheist groups didn’t do this with stealth, after midnight, cloaked by the darkness. Hell, a couple of the groups even emailed the Muslim student leaders beforehand to let them know what they were doing! They did it right out in the open for everyone to see.

I have yet to hear a convincing argument as to why atheists should not have drawn Muhammad.

As long as Muslims keep objecting to it (and use threats and violence to put a stop to it), we’ll keep drawing Muhammads in response.

  • Evan

    I reposted the image I drew on my own LiveJournal. Most comments I received were supportive. Then I got one where she said she wanted me to remove her as a friend as she had already defriended me. She said she was a Muslim and I insulted her. Basically she missed the entire point. And of all the controversial (and sometimes graphic) things that I talk about on my LiveJournal, she decided to quit reading because I drew a happy Muhammad who says “Peace”.

  • Kristian Gore

    The Koran forbids the believer from creating images of god or Mohammad, it doesn’t say anything about the none believers. As far as I know we all go to hell if we draw Mohammad or not. Now if we were to hang bacon strips everywhere, then I could see that as offensive.

  • Chas

    Any response, besides bodily harm, is within their right to do. Is anyone surprised that some Muslins and liberals would take offense or that this action would be considered hate speech? We need to be careful to not appearing to take offense at their response, so we don’t dilute the point of the exercise.

    This action was peaceful, many people got the point, and got fairly wide press.

    Hooray for the good guys!

  • http://mentaldeviant.wordpress.com Christian (my name, not my religion)

    I’m a devout atheist. However, I still don’t see how inflammatory “language” is productive free speech. Do I disrespect another merely because I don’t believe as he does? I’m quite conflicted about this whole “Draw Mohammad” event. I would no sooner draw a nude picture of my friend’s deceased mother and publicly display it than I would create a caricature of someone’s perceived deity. Do I side with the suggestions of violence and condemnation? Not at all…but there are much more creative ways to express dissent and displeasure. This just smacks of juvenile playground taunting.

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

    Well, I don’t know about you, but I’ve got the death threats piling in pretty steadily. Nothing is more terrifying than receiving electronic death threats from 25,000 virginal, 20-something, hygienically challenged engineering grad students. Of course, since I am an Arab AND an apostate AND an atheist, this whole thing has made me rather popular with the whole “I keel you!” crowd. I’m a traitor in a big way. Apparently, I have also now been transformed into a Jew, which is okay, because I’m already circumcised, I have a brother that’s an attorney and I love Cohen’s pickled herring.

  • http://whatpalebluedot.blogspot.com/ WhatPaleBlueDot

    To be fair, as evidenced by some of the pictures I saw, and many commenting on the FB group, a lot of them WERE jerks and bigots. But, it’s certainly not a prerequisite for drawing stick figures.

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

    @WhatPaleBlueDot,
    Well, if you look at Mr. Wellington’s many comments throughout Jihad Watch, it becomes readily apparent to anyone with half a brain that dislike of Islamic extremism is secondary to other more sinister considerations.

  • Mak

    I think the most convincing argument I’ve seen so far is that the day didn’t help us convince anyone of the truth of our position- that it just alienated moderate Muslims and confirmed to the radical ones that we hate them, especially since so many outright bigots jumped on board. That’s actually a reasonable argument. The problem with it is that the point was never to try to sway radical Muslims to atheism or to make the moderates feel good. It was to promote our right to free speech even when that speech makes people angry. There’s a time for protest, and this was it- outreach can be separate if it needs to be. Man, I hate tone arguments.

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

    @Mak,

    “There’s a time for protest, and this was it- outreach can be separate if it needs to be.”

    Exactly.

  • Greg

    (Note: I’m not the Greg in the article! ;) )

    I find it amazing how this has been warped into an atheist v Muslim thing by certain people.

    It wasn’t and it isn’t.

    It’s a Free Speech v Muslim thing.

    It just happens that the atheists were the only people in some places to stand up for it.

  • http://cafeeine.wordpress.com Cafeeine

    We need to be careful to not appearing to take offense at their response, so we don’t dilute the point of the exercise.

    Actually, I disagree. We can take as much offense as we feel inclined to, as long as we express it through civilized discourse, not expect it to be automatically redressed and not threaten a bodycount if it isn’t. That is, in my opinion the whole point of the exercise.

  • http://reanhouse.blogspot.com Sarah

    @Eboo Patel: you keep on using the word “bigot”. I do not think it means what you think it means.

  • Hitch

    What bothers me is that civility is used as a way to push censorship.

    This whole idea that one cannot draw Muhammed without offending is a story conjured to protect any critical expression at all that involves Muhammed.

    It’s gone so far that smiling stick figures are labeled swastikas. I think the right response is keep doing it and keep the symbols as positive as possible. Sane people will recognize that a smiling stick figure with a positive message next to it simply cannot be the hate-speech that people like Eboo Patel it appear to be.

    Also use historic depictions. This further breaks down the narrative that even believers get offended by it, when part of the offense is actually constructed, depending on faction (Shi’a, Sunni) and other factors.

    Many Muslims will not consider a smiling stick figure offensive, though some will.

    But that is the point. Quite a number of folks were offended when Rosa Parks refused to make space for a white person. Being offended does not mean that you are right, or your justification for the offense taken can or should be honored.

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

    @Christian,

    “I’m a devout atheist. However, I still don’t see how inflammatory “language” is productive free speech.”

    If by productive, you mean bringing Muslims around to understanding our side…that’s probably not going to happen.
    I’ll do some gratuitous self-quoting from my blog to better make my point:

    “It’s guaranteed that most Muslims came away from the day’s events with nothing but an increased hatred for the West and contempt for democratic institutions. It doesn’t matter, that was a done deal anyway. The coalescing of the Islamic world into a definitive, destructive force against the West is a process that was begun 14 centuries ago and was only briefly interrupted by the Crusades and then later, by European & Soviet colonialism.

    If we didn’t convince the Muslim community that we were right, then what was the purpose of all of this? What was the point?

    As with the “Don’t believe in God?” billboards, this was a way for so many of us to let others in our community know that they are not alone. We’re in this struggle together. That’s the point.

    Together we sent out a message to those who would rely on violence to force their way of life on us:
    Fuck you.

    In that we got that message across, I’d say we were rather “productive”.

  • RPJ

    It was clever, sure, but it just showed me that they can’t stomach the idea of anyone else not honoring their personal beliefs.

    *cough* Isn’t it the fundies in another debate who are always moving the goalposts?

    The point of the day was to promote free speech, and protest those who would censor free speech and even kill over something that is both inane and non-applicable to those not in the sect.

    The response was…to exercise their own free speech, and change your stick figures or their labels. Not throw bombs. The Muslims did exactly as you wanted going into this – griping “well…they still suck” just sounds like this whole thing was a bad-faith exercise in poking snakes with a stick. Were you hoping they would throw bombs?

    Or are YOUR drawings now the undefilable ones?

    Don’t get me wrong, I supported the day…but the point has been made now, and if you’re not careful, you’re going to turn the victory into an egg and smash it on your own face.

  • Brian C Posey

    I think both sides of this argument (for the most part) actually agree more than may be obvious. I’m betting most of the anti-drawing people would not be in favor of anyone being able to force those drawing the images to stop.

  • Gibbon

    The Godless Monster

    In that we got that message across, I’d say we were rather “productive”.

    Well, you message smacks of arrogance and lies.

    It was not the fault of the Islamic world that a rift was created between the West and Muslims, rather it was caused by 19th century European colonialism when the European states declared that ALL Christians and Jews fell under its jurisdiction, regardless of where they were. For roughly twelve centuries Muslims were tolerant of Christians and Jews, even towards the end under the Ottomans.

    Does it need mentioning that from roughly the 14th century through to the present day Europe and the West have been the heart of the vast majority of global events? How can the Islamic world be blamed for all problems, including this rift, during the period when most aggression has come from Europe and the West? Who initiated the crusades? Who started the deadliest and largest religious wars in history: the Reformation wars? Where did two world wars start? Where did colonialism start? Where did the Great Depression start? Where did the recent recession start?

    There is something oddly bizarre and nonsensical about the claim that somehow the problems between the Muslim world and the West have nothing to do with the latter being bigger and more assertive on the world stage. Muslims may comprise roughly 1.4 billion people worldwide, but that means nothing when it is the West that has the bulk of the world’s assets and is significantly more advanced technologically, especially in the weapons department.

    If we didn’t convince the Muslim community that we were right, then what was the purpose of all of this? What was the point?

    There is the arrogance; the sheer chutzpah to claim that you have a truth that everyone else should be convinced of and also possess. How about you instead stop trying to force you view onto them; that you’re right and they’re wrong, and instead let them live their lives the way they wish. It was the whole agenda of trying to force Muslims into a different way of life that created the rift between the Islamic World and the West in the first place: European Colonialism.

    Does the Islamic world bear any responsibility for the current rift between it and the West? Yes, a number of Muslims have helped perpetuate it, but the Islamic world bears no more responsibility than the West does. Keep in mind who the bigger and more dominant one is.

  • AxeGrrl

    Gibbon wrote (in bold):

    If we didn’t convince the Muslim community that we were right, then what was the purpose of all of this? What was the point?

    There is the arrogance; the sheer chutzpah to claim that you have a truth that everyone else should be convinced of and also possess. How about you instead stop trying to force you view onto them; that you’re right and they’re wrong, and instead let them live their lives the way they wish. It was the whole agenda of trying to force Muslims into a different way of life that created the rift between the Islamic World and the West in the first place

    Gibbon, I think you’ve misconstrued/mixed-up some things. You do realize that the person you quoted was talking about free speech when he/she said ‘we were right’ and WASN’T suggesting that Muslims should relinquish their beliefs/religion, yes?

    What, exactly, is ‘arrogant’ about suggesting that no one should sit back and just accept mafia-esque tactics like death threats over the drawing of stick figures? Please explain the ‘arrogance’ in that.

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

    @Gibbon,
    I didn’t get past:

    “Well, you message smacks of arrogance and lies.”

    I hope it took a long time to write.
    GFY,
    TGM

  • Hitch

    “It was not the fault of the Islamic world that a rift was created between the West and Muslims, rather it was caused by 19th century European colonialism when the European states declared that ALL Christians and Jews fell under its jurisdiction, regardless of where they were.”

    This is a point that comes up a lot. The historic aspect have truth value. But of course there is a problem. The notion of historic guilt is very tricky if not outright rejectable one.

    So Lars Vilks deserves to live in fear because some European kings and queens decided that expanding into other continent was a good idea?

    I don’t agree that for a minute.

    Truth is that all injustices are injustices. And one does not justify turning a blind eye towards the other.

    But I have to say that I persistently fail to deliver this message and middle eastern historic guilt and blame is one of the most toxic things not only in this debate but in the misery of lives on the ground in the region right now.

    That and historic and religiously mandates rights to land, and the inability to have an international body that has any mechanism to deal with international disputes in anything that could be seen as democratic.

  • http://bigwhiteogre.blogspot.com Jon

    Maybe next month we should all scream the “N” word in public in the faces of black people. I bet we could find somewhere a handful of idiots that beat up someone for using the “N” word. Let’s use that as justification to be obnoxious to the entire black population. We need to stand up for free speech.

  • http://bigwhiteogre.blogspot.com Jon

    “That and historic and religiously mandates rights to land, and the inability to have an international body that has any mechanism to deal with international disputes in anything that could be seen as democratic.”

    The problem with that international body is that the US and Israel have lots of weapons which permit them to ignore the will of the entire world. The fault does not lie with the UN but with the United States and it’s opposition to democracy.

  • Samiimas

    Maybe next month we should all scream the “N” word in public in the faces of black people. I bet we could find somewhere a handful of idiots that beat up someone for using the “N” word. Let’s use that as justification to be obnoxious to the entire black population. We need to stand up for free speech.

    Yeah remember how those journalists received death threats for just posting a cartoon with black people and how the death threats have gotten so bad that Comedy Central and other major networks refuse to show a black person on television even on shows where they go out of their way to insult every single other race?

    Exactly the same situation. Seriously though, I love how you try to compare it to the N-word. Writing ‘Muslims are sand******s” would be comparable to your hypothetical. A comparison to this is drawing an offensive picture of Jesus, Buddha or another religious figure which happens every single day without anyone caring.

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

    @Jon,

    “The fault does not lie with the UN but with the United States and it’s opposition to democracy.”

    Our foreign policy in the Middle East has been shaped almost exclusively by three factors: 1)by the needs of Israel
    2)by the needs of big oil interests and
    3)by the Christian fundamentalist bloc which is under the sway of the pro-Israeli lobby.
    It has nothing to do with the U.S. being opposed to democracy. In addition, none of the FACTS I’ve just noted have anything to do with protecting my right to criticize or openly mock a religion. I’m finished on this thread, it’s getting way off topic.

  • Hitch

    Jon: A smiling stick figure is not the n-word. All our children draw them every day.

    Yes we need to stand up that positive symbols stay positive and are not claimed to be swastikas and n-words. They are not. You apologize intolerance through false and rather nasty analogies.

    On the UN, as I said it’s currently non-functional. I don’t think that the idea of the body is wrong. I think that many of the main stake holders do not want to make it better but coopt it for their agendas. This also goes for the OIC btw, not just the US and Israel. Thank goodness the whole blashpemy law thing failed.

  • Samiimas

    Jon: A smiling stick figure is not the n-word. All our children draw them every day.

    He seems to be using the favorite strategy. Earlier today I saw someone whining that we could never have a ‘draw jewish stereotypes day’. Yeah, you read that right. He was claiming that a movement that started with an episode of South frickin Park wouldn’t ever make fun of Jews. *because as you know tons of embassies have been firebombed because someone from their country posted an offensive cartoon about Moses*

  • Nathan

    Christian (the 4th post from the top) is right. Here are some facts: 1. Freedom of speech is a wonderful thing. 2. Muslims hate it when someone depicts Muhammad.
    Please be reasonable people. The quality of a drawing doesn’t mask its intentions. If you drew two stick figures side by side smiling and wrote “Me doing your mom” over the picture, that’s a hateful disrespectful act, and I would certainly tear it down and rip it up. Sure, freedom of speech gives you the right, but why not use the freedom responsibly, not to belittle the beliefs of people you don’t understand. This is why people fear Atheists. If you hold nothing sacred, you have no sense of respect for what others consider sacred and off-limits. Prove me wrong, please. No more childish protests.

  • http://miketheinfidel.blogspot.com/ MikeTheInfidel

    Give us a good, rational reason to respect what you consider sacred and off-limits and we will. The reason Muslims expect us to respect what they consider sacred and off-limits is because their dogma teaches them everybody should. There’s nothing rational or reasonable about it.

    And no. People fear atheists because they’re told lies about what atheists believe or will do.

  • http://bigwhiteogre.blogspot.com Jon

    Samiimas, the depiction of a black person on television is not offensive to anyone, but using the “N” word is offensive to many and can lead to violence. So your analogy is fundamentally flawed and not “exactly the same situation.”

    It’s very easy to imagine a small group of African Americans becoming violent when someone exercises their free speech rights and uses the “N” word. Would it make sense to subject the entire African American population to this obnoxious phrase as a show of solidarity and defense of free speech?

  • http://miketheinfidel.blogspot.com/ MikeTheInfidel

    Jon, just give it up. Your analogy is inapt. Muslims are choosing to force tolerance for their irrational dogma on other people, not a tolerance for their skin color.

  • Kelley

    Hello there!

    I helped distribute flyers for “Draw Muhammed Day” at the Univ of South Carolina, and while we did not have any backlash from campus, we did have a lot of controversy on our facebook event page for it – both from actual members of our own group disagreeing with us, and a few Muslims (some who were listed as living in Pakistan?)…

    We had around 66 who said that they were attending, but when it came right down to it, only three people showed up to post flyers. Axton (the new president), Logan (events coordinator), and myself. Which was fine, but a bit disheartening. We’re out of school which is perhaps why no one really showed up, but we still did it. :)

  • RPJ

    Nathan said:

    If you drew two stick figures side by side smiling and wrote “Me doing your mom” over the picture, that’s a hateful disrespectful act, and I would certainly tear it down and rip it up. Sure, freedom of speech gives you the right

    Stop confusing the issue. The issue is that Muslims threatened (and enacted violence) over the pictures, not that they took offense. Your argument is irrelevant.

    Jon wrote:

    Samiimas, the depiction of a black person on television is not offensive to anyone, but using the “N” word is offensive to many and can lead to violence.

    Are you suggesting that violence is a proper response to the N word? It is not, and those who become violent over it are wrong in exactly the same way as Muslims that become violent over a drawing of Muhammad.

    No one has the right not to be offended, and taking offense does not give anyone the right for violence.

  • Greg

    I have to say that I find these people who try to compare drawing Muhammad to calling people ‘niggers’ hilarious.

    It’s as if they are deliberately ignoring everything that has ever been written about the event, and why it was done.

    1. Being a Muslim is a choice to follow a certain set of beliefs. (At least in theory: granted indoctrination and the death penalty of apostasy make this harder in practice, but it’s a safe enough start I think).

    Unless you are Michael Jackson, the colour of your skin isn’t a choice.

    2. The Koran tells Muslims that believers in Islam cannot draw images of the prophet Muhammad in order to prevent idolisation of said prophet.

    The word ‘nigger’ and any offence that is caused by it is so dissimilar I can’t even figure out how to compare it so as to show the difference.

    3. The Muslim has a choice as to how to interpret their holy book.

    Did I mention that skin colour isn’t a choice?

    4. People have not only recently received death threats and been assaulted for not following a law set out for Muslims only (drawing Muhammad) but also died because of it.

    This has not happened in relation to the word ‘nigger’.

    5. Draw Muhammad Day, and similar activities have been clearly explained as a show of solidarity for those people who have had their free speech and their lives threatened. It has been explained that causing offence is not the object of the exercise, but merely the protection of our (and others’) rights.

    There has been no similar exercise needed nor attempted as regards the word ‘nigger’.

    6. Draw Muhammad Day (and other, similar events) has in no way forced people to observe the drawn stick figures.

    If the analogy of ‘screaming nigger in black people’s faces’ was to have the slightest chance to work, Draw Muhammad Day would have had to involve people drawing Muhammad, and then running after Muslims, sticking it in front of their faces, yelling ‘this is Muhammad’ over and over again.

    7. There is no possible reason why people who are not Islamic should be forced to follow the words in the Koran. People can, however, choose to follow the Koran.

    Did I mention that skin colour is not a choice? Also, last time I checked, black people are not demanding we all do what they tell us to or die.

    Let’s get this straight:

    No Draw Muhammad Day would ever have arisen, if not for the threats, and physical harm done by Muslims for the innocuous crime of drawing a picture – a thing, remember, that their holy book only forbids for Muslims, and not non-Muslims (as if that should actually make a difference, even if it did forbid it). Draw Muhammad day was a reactive movement, not proactive.

    Incidentally, please don’t forget that there is a history of Muslims drawing depictions of their Prophet Muhammad.

    I could go on, but if people haven’t got the point by now, they never will.

    Greg

    P.S. Nathan – I find it exceptionally offensive that religion even exists. As a result, to avoid being a hypocrite, may I suggest that you:

    Never, ever again mention your religion or religious beliefs in front of anybody. Never make any action that in any way stems from your religious beliefs. Do everything in your power to avoid religion existing.

    Thank you.

    And no, I do not seriously expect you to do that – although you should if you truly meant what you said, and met one person who believes religion is offensive and everyone (no matter who) should do their best to get rid of it.

    I’m sorry that wasn’t more respectful, but this idea that no atheist understands the idea of the sacred is so obviously ridiculous that I have a hard time taking you seriously. This may surprise you, but a large number of atheists have at one time or another (gasp!) been religious, and even (gasp!) held things sacred. In fact (WOW!) some atheists even hold certain things sacred now.

    Incidentally, in case you haven’t got my point by now, there is little more immature than to assume that because someone disagrees with you, they do not understand your position.

    Stop calling people childish – especially people you have never met, or had any contact of any sort with. Speaking solely from a selfish point of view, it makes me irritable, and prone to writing snarky messages.

    (I find them therapeutic)

  • Hitch

    Let’s summarize:

    1) A stick figure per se is neutral, if smiling rather positive
    2) The name Muhammad is very common, and neutral or positive without further detail
    3) Believers perceive the prophet as positive
    4) Muhammad has been depicted throughout history by some Muslims and some non-believers. No repercussions.
    5) Muslims participated in Draw Muhammad Day, though through caligraphy.
    6) Many moderate Muslims have expressed that they are not all that offended by the event or the neutral or positive depictions.
    7) The mandate to not draw Muhammad is to prevent idolatry by believers, comes from a Hadith and Hadiths are flexibly interpreted by different groups within Islam. Shi’a have in general been more open to the concept of depiction.
    8) It is rather clear that the notion of idolatry only has any sense for believers.

    Yet drawing a smiling stick figure (positive) with the label Muhammad (positive) that some Muslims approve of (positive) is somehow the same as speech that is only out there to insult and offend without anything else going on?

    Absolutely not.

    On top of this:

    *) People have died or are under threat for having criticized Islam, or having depicted Muhammad in a way that drew displeasure

    I cannot help but think that people who compare this to the n-word are missing more than just one point.

  • Gibbon

    AxeGrrl

    You do realize that the person you quoted was talking about free speech when he/she said ‘we were right’ and WASN’T suggesting that Muslims should relinquish their beliefs/religion, yes?

    I will concede that I misinterpreted what TGM said. But if we were to take his message for what it is supposed to say ‘that “we were right” to produce images of Mohammed’, then he is still wrong. As far as I can tell the idea behind this whole campaign was to do exactly what the Islamist extremists condemned purely for the sake of free speech; in other words, depict Mohammed “because you can do it”. I can’t help but feel that that is the worst reason possible for non-Muslims to produce images of Mohammed, as well as being really immature.

    What leads this idea down the path to immorality though is that it was done in full knowledge of the fact that many Muslims would be offended by it. It seems this whole campaign was done to spite Muslims; they’re offended by it, so you do it.

    Hitch

    This is a point that comes up a lot. The historic aspect have truth value. But of course there is a problem. The notion of historic guilt is very tricky if not outright rejectable one.

    This is not about guilt; it’s about recognising all relevant parties and their contributions and then those parties taking responsibility for their actions. A viable example of what I’m talking about would be the United States and Britain apologising to Iran for what they did to the country in 1953. Again, it is about recognising how Europe contributed to the rift and taking responsibility for those actions, hopefully with the intent of making amends for those actions. And I don’t see why they shouldn’t, the Australian PM Kevin Rudd for example, apologised to the Aboriginies a year or two ago for what the Australian government did with their children decades ago.

    So Lars Vilks deserves to live in fear because some European kings and queens decided that expanding into other continent was a good idea?

    I don’t agree that for a minute.

    Well, considering that Muslims tolerated both Jews and Christians prior to European colonisation of the Islamic world in the 19th century, I would be curious as to how you can regard Europeans, let alone Lars Vilks as entirely undeserving of Muslim condemnation. For that matter, Vilks can’t pretend that his part of the world is an innocent victim in the conflict, especially in light of attempts to ban the burqa in certain European nations, which is only going to make the continent and its people even less innocent, and just deepen the divide.

    RPJ

    No one has the right not to be offended, and taking offense does not give anyone the right for violence.

    But neither does anyone have the right to offend. You may have the right to free speech but that does not mean that you can go out and intentionally offend people, if it did then I would be within my bounds to punch any random person for no reason. You may inadvertently offend someone when there is no intent to offend, but that is no fault of your own, it is the result of the other person and how they interpret. But when you say something while knowing full well that someone will be offended and you don’t care that they will be, then you can’t claim to be doing the right thing.

    Greg

    The Koran tells Muslims that believers in Islam cannot draw images of the prophet Muhammad in order to prevent idolisation of said prophet.

    Actually the Qur’an contains no injunctions against visual representations of the Prophet Mohammed, it is only certain hadith that do so. Keep in mind that if it were in the Qur’an then Shi’a Muslims would be just as averse to the images as well, but because they have reverence for the Prophet unlike Sunni’s, (which is what the division between the two is fundamentally about) they don’t have nearly as much of a problem with visual depictions of the Prophet, so long as it is done respectfully (which Draw Mohammed Day does not do).

  • Hitch

    This is not about guilt; it’s about recognising all relevant parties and their contributions and then those parties taking responsibility for their actions.

    That’s exactly historic guilt and it’s also “clan” or group guilt. Many many people recognise all the things you mention. But Vilks was not present when colonial powers made their decisions and had no say at all about it. He has by definition exactly no responsibility.

    This is what I mean by historic guilt. Trying to pin false responsibility on people based on very vague labels such as “European”. And second aspect is the “clan guilt” because he is held “responsible” solely for belonging to said label.

    I reject both. I am not responsible for the murders my neighbor does just because we live in the same town.

    But I reject this for a second much stronger reason. It is our responsibility to prevent harm right here and right now. It’s irresponsible to wait until some other party gives some lip service (like an apology) to stop harm.

    This is what is at stake. This whole: “The world would be better if some heads of states apologized” is a distraction from actually doing the right thing right here and now. It’s an apology for harm that is being perpectuated right here and right now because “oh but they haven’t apologized yet”.

    I think that is a shameful position.

    Well, considering that Muslims tolerated both Jews and Christians prior to European colonisation of the Islamic world in the 19th century, I would be curious as to how you can regard Europeans, let alone Lars Vilks as entirely undeserving of Muslim condemnation.

    This fully explains my response to this. Your attitude is inhumane. Vilks is not responsible in any way for what happened before he was even born and I find your attitude towards his harrassment contemptible.

    I also reject that whole group rhetoric. “Muslims” “Christians” “Jews” “Europe”… You do not speak for any of these groups neither do I, even if I may in some sense belong to some of them. You do not have nor deserve to be recognized as being granted that agency. You simply do not speak or know about any of these groups. It justifies the horrible concept of “clan guilt” and is ultimately simply prejudice and to be rejected.

    I think you need to learn what guilt really is and learn to not spread it around like butter over generations and especially over innocent people. Overall it is best to reject guilt. Rather learn what responsibility really is and take care of yours right now and make no excuses by pointing fingers at others.

    That’s all I have to say about this.

  • http://bigwhiteogre.blogspot.com Jon

    It’s interesting to me that when the defenders of “Draw Mohammad Day” come up with analogies the analogies involve actions that aren’t offensive to anyone. Don’t you think being offensive is a key ingredient of a successful analogy in this case? Hemant talks about Hindus and eating Bic Macs. No Hindus have ever expressed anger at the eating of Bic Macs that I know of. Samiimas suggests drawing black people in a cartoon, as if anybody finds that offensive. “This is like getting upset because you were drawing in a cartoon or because someone else ate meat.”

    No it’s not like that because nobody ever does get upset about such things. People do get offended at use of the “N” word and cursing. A successful analogy might use those behaviors.

    Actually Greg, religion is less of a choice than you are letting on. If you were born in Saudi Arabia you’d be a Muslim. You can try and convince yourself that you’re so much better than everyone else and capable of seeing through the crap despite the intense cultural pressures, but it’s truly a rare individual that can accomplish those things. Many from Muslim nations are poor and illiterate, having often been bombed and crushed by the government of the people now trying to offend their religious sensibilities.

    I have to wonder how many of the people supporting this offensive behavior actually have Muslim friends. It’s much easier to be obnoxious when you can completely lack empathy and that is easier to do when you don’t know anyone like that. I have Christian, Muslim, and atheist friends. I would not treat any of them in an offensive way simply because a tiny minority of members of any of the groups acted violently or wickedly. Perhaps if you had Muslim friends you’d see the needless hurt you are inflicting.

  • Hitch

    It’s interesting to me that when the defenders of “Draw Mohammad Day” come up with analogies the analogies involve actions that aren’t offensive to anyone.

    Let me give you an example. Giordano Bruno dared to expouse views different and perceived critical of Catholicism and considered highly offenive. He was killed for it.

    Question is: Should people have stood up in solidarity with him and said, “No we oppose the silencing and share his right to speak even if it is deemed offensive”. Absolutely.

    This is exactly what we are doing. Religions have always claimed offense when being criticized. The only way to criticize religions is to risk causing offense.

    Are catholic priests offended when there is a cartoon depiction child abuse involving a priest? Absolutely. Should we be silent to not offend and let the children who took about hang dry without support? Absolutely not. Because there is greater harm out there to be prevented.

    If you do not understand this I cannot help you.

    Some people consider passages of the Qu’ran offensive. Should that mean that noone can talk or depict or reproduce these passages? Absolutely not. Taking offense has to be reflected. We do not want to offend, but we cannot simply take that as moral compass, because it is not. Taking offense cannot get in the way of discussing valid and especially difficult points.

    I oppose banding the violent passages of the Qu’ran just as much as I oppose banning smiling stick figures. I support your view. Problem is that you do not return the favor.

  • Greg

    Jon – if you noticed, I did allow for indoctrination and the death penalty for apostasy. I said it was a safe place to start for numerous reasons, but to cut down on space, here’s the only one of them I need:

    Whilst it is impossible to change your skin colour, it is not impossible to change your beliefs. It may be very hard, but that is irrelevant. It is possible. A choice has to be made.

    Telling me that I’m trying to convince myself I’m better than other people is ridiculous, not to mention has no bearing on the matter. As a matter of fact, among other qualities, I was (and possibly still am) very gullible. I accepted what I was told as truth without questioning – I would have been a perfect candidate for child indoctrination. Luckily I was not heavily indoctrinated, and managed to extricate myself rather painlessly. I like to think that I would have pulled out of it regardless, purely from the manner of the way I left it, but I am under no illusions that I had it easy from the point of view of religion.

    But the simple fact is that there is no space for your poisoning the well in this discussion. The very fact that you said “religion is less of a choice than you are letting on” has ceded me my point, for you have admitted that it is a choice. That means that your ridiculous analogy fails immediately.

    By the way, religious believers that admit the only reason they hold their beliefs is because of where they are born are very few, and generally they find this sort of suggestion extremely offensive. (Incidentally, as a result, you might want to refrain from saying something so offensive if you believe that drawing a stick figure with a smiley face is taboo). You see, I was just trying to avoid offence by granting that.

    As for:

    It’s interesting to me that when the defenders of “Draw Mohammad Day” come up with analogies the analogies involve actions that aren’t offensive to anyone. Don’t you think being offensive is a key ingredient of a successful analogy in this case?

    I think I might be getting where you are coming from here… what, in essence, you are saying:

    “Any analogy which doesn’t already grant (pro bono) that Muslims are right to be offended, and also right to demand we follow their rules is unfair.”

    (/sarcasm)

    The analogies given are ones based off things other cultures/religions find taboo. The fact that these people don’t go around threatening to kill us for not following them too is the whole bloomin’ point.

    One final thing. No-one is saying people aren’t allowed to be offended. All we are saying is that they are not allowed to dictate to other people as to what they can or can’t say/do based only upon the fact that they have been offended.

    If they can come up with clear, logical, reasons as to why it is a bad thing to draw Muhammad, then they should. The fact that they resort to ‘it offends me’ shows that they can’t.

  • Aaron

    It’s interesting to me that when the defenders of “Draw Mohammad Day” come up with analogies the analogies involve actions that aren’t offensive to anyone. Don’t you think being offensive is a key ingredient of a successful analogy in this case?

    This is a large part of the problem that others are having a hard part expressing. Muslims are getting offended by things that no one else would find offensive. It has gotten so bad that we are now labeling what in any other religion would be considered a fundamentalist as a moderate Muslim. Therefore it is hard to find an appropriate analogy.

  • Hitch

    There are reform and progressive Muslims, but as best I can tell those have vanishing followings and no noticable momentum, let along any sort of visible public voice. I’d be very happy to support reformist movements in Islam, but it seems almost impossible to identify it.

    A form of Islam that actually seeks pluralistic toleration would be no problem for me at all. There are highly secular Muslims but they tend to be very apolitical. Those that are political are likely persecuted by their fellow believers.

  • Aj

    Gibbon,

    But when you say something while knowing full well that someone will be offended and you don’t care that they will be, then you can’t claim to be doing the right thing.

    So you know for future reference. Suggesting that people should apologise for things that their ancestors did is offensive to me, this also counts for blaming me for something another European did. Suggesting that truth is relative, that it’s arrogant to claim that you’re right and someone else is wrong, is offensive to me and to reason. Lets see if you can live by your own rules, because I’m sure I can find other things to be offended by, because this nonsense encourages people, especially religious ones, to get offended.

  • http://miketheinfidel.blogspot.com/ MikeTheInfidel

    Jon, you’re fighting awfully hard to say that we should never do anything to offend someone, even if they’re offended for completely irrational and unreasonable reasons.

    I reject the claim by Muslims of any stripe that, out of respect for their religious beliefs, we non-Muslims must also follow their dogmas. I’m sorry – no. They have no right to ask me to do that, and I will refuse to do so. The request is not reasonable. It’s like a vegetarian saying that people eating meat offends them, so we too must not eat meat. I respect that they may not wish to eat meat, but I am not under their control and it would not be reasonable to ask me to submit to it.

  • http://bigwhiteogre.blogspot.com Jon

    Greg and MikeTheInfidel it is clear to me that you have an empathy deficiency. Trying to walk in another person’s shoes is obviously very difficult for you, whether that is a person of faith or a person that is making arguments against your position. The gross distortions of what I’m saying are so off the mark that it makes it easy for me to understand why you have no qualms about being obnoxious to others. You are not empathetic people.

    I do try to understand your views. I understand that making these images is intended to provide a layer of protection for free expression. Making this common makes it safe. I understand that it is not reasonable to be offended at a stick figure of a religious person.

    But I also understand what it is like to be religious because I used to be deeply religious. To see Jesus depicted in an offensive way doesn’t matter a bit to me now, but had atheists subjected this to me while I was a Christian in a major campaign I can understand how I would have reacted. I would have been very angry and probably become further entrenched in my beliefs that atheists were just wicked people and I would want nothing to do with their views.

    In fact most atheists were a major turn off to me. It was the efforts of one particular atheist that treated me respectfully that made a huge difference for me. He wanted to understand my arguments and critique them in their strongest possible terms. You guys simply make efforts to caricature what I’m saying. It says to me you are just in your own world and not really trying to walk in another person’s shoes.

    The assertion, Greg, that my analogies amount to saying that Muslims are right to be offended is very wide of the mark. Mike, to assert that I’m claiming that non Muslims must follow Muslim dogmas just has nothing to do with what I’m saying. Do you really think I’m saying that it should not be permissible to draw Mohammad? Do you really think I’m saying that Muslims should be allowed to dictate what we can and cannot say? These and other statements make clear to me that your mind is just not at a place where you could consider another perspective. You are not interacting with my arguments. Yours is the kind of approach that drives people further into religion.

  • http://bigwhiteogre.blogspot.com Jon

    Here’s RPG supposedly replying to me:

    ” Are you suggesting that violence is a proper response to the N word? It is not, and those who become violent over it are wrong in exactly the same way as Muslims that become violent over a drawing of Muhammad.

    No one has the right not to be offended, and taking offense does not give anyone the right for violence.”

    So it’s not just Greg and Mike of course. It’s a repeating pattern. Complete failure to actually deal with what I’m saying. Never have I suggested violence is the appropriate response. Never have I said that people have a right to not be offended. Never have I said that taking offense justifies violence. This kind of response is so unserious it makes me realize that, sadly, the expected gap in rationality between the religious and irreligious is not as wide as I expected it to be.

  • Aj

    Jon,

    It’s interesting to me that when the defenders of “Draw Mohammad Day” come up with analogies the analogies involve actions that aren’t offensive to anyone. Don’t you think being offensive is a key ingredient of a successful analogy in this case?

    You know how being openly homosexual is offensive to some Christians, and that they say it’s an abomination and offensive to God? It’s a bit like a group of homosexuals, in spite of those religious people making threats, creating parades and expressing their homosexuality.

    It’s very easy to imagine a small group of African Americans becoming violent when someone exercises their free speech rights and uses the “N” word. Would it make sense to subject the entire African American population to this obnoxious phrase as a show of solidarity and defense of free speech?

    There’s quite a difference. “Nigger” is commonly meant as derogatory and mostly racist. There’s a difference between insulting someone and breaking their taboos. I think that’s your fundamental deficiency, being able to distinguish between insults and taboos.

    No it’s not like that because nobody ever does get upset about such things. People do get offended at use of the “N” word and cursing. A successful analogy might use those behaviors.

    “Swearing is a really important part of one’s life. It would be impossible to go through life without swearing, without enjoying swearing.” – Stephen Fry

    I’d defend the right to curse. If you don’t fucking like it, you can fuck off. If there is ever a need, I’m all for Shout a Curse Day.

    It’s not like you, Jon, had any intention of not offending people with your comments. That seems highly hypocritical. I doubt very much that people like being accused of empathy deficiency. Yet that’s to be expected, that’s how you people roll.

  • Hitch

    Jon, you say:

    Trying to walk in another person’s shoes is obviously very difficult for you

    Comes across as very paradoxical. You only walk in the shoes of those who you support, but not in the shoes of the rest of us.

    Walk in my shoes and you will understand that nonbelievers are a much more oppressed group than you can imagine. We cannot even draw smiling stick figures without being called insensitive (or worse). We cannot voice an opinion without being calls aggressive or arrogant. We cannot talk about reason without being called heartless and emotional robots. We have presidents proclaim that we should not even be considered citizen. We are told that we are evil and will go to hell.

    And you seriously want to talk about sensitivity and perspective taking?

    I think if you talk about walking in another person’s shoes, I think you should try it some time.

    And I think you completely misjudge how much perspective atheists take. But we tend to weigh perspectives against broader principles. So someone saying they are offended is simply not enough. I am offended that people disrespect my opinions. That doesn’t give me the right to demand that I get respect for my opinions.

    It’s the same for all. Fair. Everybody deserves the same privileges. Doesn’t matter if you belief in X or Y. That’s how much perspective we take. We will defend your right to your opinion and only demand in return that we can have ours.

  • Gibbon

    Hitch

    Many many people recognise all the things you mention. But Vilks was not present when colonial powers made their decisions and had no say at all about it. He has by definition exactly no responsibility.

    The individual persons responsible for the colonising may not be present today, but the governments still are. The same bodies and structures and their national boundaries exist today in very much the same form as they did back then. All those colonising powers are still around: Britain, Spain, France, the Netherlands. The governments of these nations making apologies for the wrongs they have done in the past would be a huge stepping stone towards improving relations with the nations that their policies impacted and continue to hurt. The apology it self would not make amends, but it would be a starting point towards doing so.

    What people like Lars Vilks do with these derogatory cartoons of theirs is in no way helpful or constructive to building the much needed relations between modern Western nations and Muslims, nor does banning the burqa or the niqab help. In fact that last one, which Belgium and France are about to do, will only make things worse.

    I reject both. I am not responsible for the murders my neighbor does just because we live in the same town.

    But you are when the murder is committed by your government. You are even more so responsible when that government is set up so that it is elected by and derives its power from the consent of the governed, which obviously includes you as well as all other citizens. You’re not exactly innocent when YOUR democratically elected government commits an atrocity. You gave that power to the people who did the bad things.

    I think that is a shameful position.

    So am I to assume then that you think the Rudd government shouldn’t have apologised for what previous Australian governments did to Aborigine children? You know, the Stolen Generation?

    This fully explains my response to this. Your attitude is inhumane.

    Right. So it is inhumane to give Muslims consideration equal to that given to everyone else, and to not favour any one group over any other. If it was Muslims taking first swing in the fight I would not hesitate to condemn them, but in this case they didn’t take the first swing. You only consider my attitude inhumane because I dare to criticise Draw Mohammed Day and Lars Vilks and those others who have shown a derogatory attitude towards Muslims. You don’t like it that I’m treating Muslims with respect and dignity, so you call me inhuman.

    Vilks is not responsible in any way for what happened before he was even born and I find your attitude towards his harrassment contemptible.

    The more contemptible person is Lars Vilks. He drew an image of Mohammed that any half-arsed moron would know Muslims would take offense at, yet he and so many of his supporters, including new-atheists, are angry/pissed-off/offended that Muslims would express anger and offense or threaten him. There is no doubt that Vilks knew his cartoon would offend Muslims when he drew it, (Mohammed with the body of a dog; I’m sure everyone here knows that Muslims consider dogs to be ritually unclean), so I can’t have any sympathy for him and the situation he is in; he brought it on him self.

    I also reject that whole group rhetoric.

    Of course you do, because if there is one thing that atheists, new or otherwise, reject is anything that does not promote individuality. Modern atheism is the rejection of group behaviour and thought; it is why atheists will always be a minority and religion will always exist. The human condition is dominated not by the need to be an individual but rather by the need to belong to a group.

    I think you need to learn what guilt really is and learn to not spread it around like butter over generations and especially over innocent people.

    Again, I’m not talking about guilt, I know exactly what that is; generally is it having a bad feeling about something one has previously done. But I’m not suggesting that anyone should feel bad about errors made in the past, I’m simply suggesting that errors of the past be recognised, including for how they have contributed to the present situation, and make amends for; you don’t have to feel guilt to recognise that you have done something wrong. Assigning responsibility does not require that a moral judgement be made of the parties involved; all it requires is assessing the level of contribution each party has made to the relevant events.

    Note: ‘responsibility’ is NOT synonymous with ‘guilt’.

    Aj

    Suggesting that truth is relative, that it’s arrogant to claim that you’re right and someone else is wrong, is offensive to me and to reason.

    It is contemptible to suggest that a secular society is superior simply by virtue of it being secular. Being secular as opposed to religious does not make anything better, the great experiment with secular ideologies that was the 20th century proves that. To suggest that science is superior to religion because the former produces an empirically accurate understanding of nature is contemptible, especially when science has done so much damage. By the way it IS arrogant to claim that you know the truth and those who believe otherwise don’t, it is pure ego; there is nothing honourable about that attitude.

    MikeTheInfidel

    I reject the claim by Muslims of any stripe that, out of respect for their religious beliefs, we non-Muslims must also follow their dogmas. I’m sorry – no.

    So would you keep your shoes on if you entered a mosque? Would you at least respect the etiquette of Muslims if you engaged with one of them? Or would you simply show a callous and insulting disregard towards them or their religion, either in public or in the privacy of the home of a Muslim? Would you shout at the top of your voice a profanity while within the confines of a church? Would you leave any part of a pig inside a synagogue? Would you do anything in the public square that you knew would definitely offend religious sensibilities?

  • http://miketheinfidel.blogspot.com/ MikeTheInfidel

    Are you really having that hard a time understanding what I’m saying, or are you willfully ignoring it?

    No, I wouldn’t do things that go against basic common courtesy. Some PEOPLE ask me to remove my shoes when I go in their house – that’s a reasonable request. I also don’t make a habit of shouting obscenities or leaving bits of pigs around. I do, however, DOODLE.

    Are you honestly arguing that we MUST follow the dogmas of every religion we don’t belong to at all times, even when in PUBLIC, and that to do less is to be callous and insulting? Give me a break!

  • Greg

    Greg and MikeTheInfidel it is clear to me that you have an empathy deficiency. Trying to walk in another person’s shoes is obviously very difficult for you, whether that is a person of faith or a person that is making arguments against your position. The gross distortions of what I’m saying are so off the mark that it makes it easy for me to understand why you have no qualms about being obnoxious to others. You are not empathetic people.

    ::chuckles::

    You don’t know me. You are completely oblivious. I know people who actually know me who would disagree with you, but personal attacks are rather irrelevant, aren’t they?

    Being empathic does not mean agreeing with your opponent, nor tiptoeing around a subject. You seem to have a very odd notion of the meanings of words.

    em·pa·thy (mp-th)
    n.
    1. Identification with and understanding of another’s situation, feelings, and motives. See Synonyms at pity.
    2. The attribution of one’s own feelings to an object.

    It is perfectly possible to identify with people’s feelings, and yet still take a step backwards and look at things in a more objective light. I understand that some people are irrational enough to take offence at stick figures, despite that belief being at odds with their own holy book. That doesn’t mean I have to submit to their hurt feelings, or that I am not allowed to say that they are completely irrational.

    As for distorting what you are saying – you may have noticed I included a (/sarcasm) after the piece I wrote that you particularly objected to. There is a reason I did this: it was the only way I could make any sort of sense of your comments but I doubted you truly believed them. It was, however, a fair enough approximation to what you were saying, even if not what you might believe. Insisting that it was compared to something that ’caused offence’ could only have made sense if there were repercussions caused as a direct result of the offence, because otherwise you have no way of knowing whether they take offence or not.

    Trying to claim that Hindus do not take offence when people are eating beefburgers is to claim that you can read minds. Of every single Hindu out there. It’s ridiculous. There is no reason not to believe that some Hindus take offence, but have the modicum of self control and rationality needed not to threaten people for not following their rules.

    And that is the whole point of Draw Muhammad Day:

    It was in response to threats.

    You keep hoping that if you don’t mention it or refer to it, then it will simply go away and the proponents of Free Speech were in fact the ones being aggressive. They weren’t: they were being defensive.

    Incidentally, I, and I am prepared to wager, a great deal of other people, would do similar protests no matter who the group people are standing up to. If it so happened that it was an atheistic group doing the censoring and threatening, I would stand up to them.

    I’m not sure why we are still even talking, because you have already ceded me my point anyway. It’s just odd that you continue to spout off insults left, right and centre.

  • Gibbon

    MikeTheInfidel

    Are you honestly arguing that we MUST follow the dogmas of every religion we don’t belong to at all times, even when in PUBLIC, and that to do less is to be callous and insulting? Give me a break!

    Somehow I don’t think the majority of these Muslims are asking that you follow the tenets of their religion, rather that you just show some respect. It’s the Golden Rule: do unto others as you would have them do unto you, and what we should desire more than anything else is respect. So why would we depict Mohammed when we know that is only going to create tension and hatred?

    If the reason is to criticise Islam then open up the Qur’an and criticise any passage that you consider problematic, depicting the Prophet in any fashion is not criticism of Islam.

    But if the reason is to show support for the South Park creators, then you are only going to receive hatred and threats from the extremists.

    However, if the reason is to support or defend free speech, then you are not exactly making a positive case for free speech amongst Muslims, as you are simply exploiting that right in order to insult and disrespect them. How can you expect Muslims from any non-Western culture to hold a positive view of the basic rights when they have being used to do negative things, particularly towards Muslims and Islam?

  • http://bigwhiteogre.blogspot.com Jon

    AJ says:

    “I’d defend the right to curse. If you don’t fucking like it, you can fuck off. If there is ever a need, I’m all for Shout a Curse Day.”

    Are you suggesting I wouldn’t defend the right to curse? If so we’ll add yours to the pile of straw men here.

    Hitch says:

    “So someone saying they are offended is simply not enough. I am offended that people disrespect my opinions. That doesn’t give me the right to demand that I get respect for my opinions.”

    Who the hell said anything different? You guys are weird. Is this beliefnet or something? And by the way I’m an atheist so I think I know what it’s like to walk in an atheists shoes.

    Greg, I know you well enough to know that you make bad arguments. Straw men. That’s common for those that aren’t good with “Identification with and understanding of another’s situation, feelings, and motives.”

    You say:

    “Being empathic does not mean agreeing with your opponent, nor tiptoeing around a subject.”

    That’s pretty pathetic. You once again have failed to understand another’s situation and failed to grasp my argument and where I’m coming from. My criticism is not about you agreeing with your opponent but about showing that you understand your opponent. Once again you do not.

    You say:

    “That doesn’t mean I have to submit to their hurt feelings, or that I am not allowed to say that they are completely irrational.”

    You’re on a roll Greg. Who claims you’re not “allowed to say that they are completely irrational.” You must feel pretty smart crushing all these weak arguments that nobody made.

    “Trying to claim that Hindus do not take offence when people are eating beefburgers is to claim that you can read minds. Of every single Hindu out there. It’s ridiculous.”

    You’re ridiculous, because I didn’t say NO Hindu’s take offense but no Hindu’s THAT I KNOW OF have taken offense. But then that would require you to interact with what I’m actually saying.

    I could cede your point that there is a tiny degree of choice such that maybe 1% of the population might be expected to have the tools and knowledge to extract themselves from the faith, but I don’t think that justifies being obnoxious to the rest. We all know that illiterate elderly Muslims are virtually incapable of changing their beliefs.

    So maybe you’ll be joining Muslims in “Deny the Holocaust Day” which apparently is being promoted by some. Of course lots of prison sentences (uses of force) have been applied to those that denied the holocaust. Personally I’m not offended by holocaust denial, probably because my life hasn’t been touched as personally by it. However I can understand, because I’m an empathetic person, how it could be offensive to certain Jews. So in my world I would discourage this behavior from Muslims. Not that I think it shouldn’t be permissible. Not that I think we should muzzle our speech due to the emotional sensitivities of others necessarily. But I’ll expect to see you out there denying the holocaust for free speech.

  • plutosdad

    Besides, his request, that people use the F word for gay, or N word for black people, was also already done by South Park in two other episodes.

    And while people were offended, no one threatened anyone with death. So there you have it.

  • Greg

    Jon – you’re projecting an incredible amount. Unlike you, I don’t want to get into a flame war, and so this will be my last post, although it will be a longish one, because I don’t particularly like being continuously misrepresented by people.

    Because that is what you are doing at the moment. Misrepresenting me. Flaming me. Ad hom. attacks.

    Take an example:

    Greg, I know you well enough to know that you make bad arguments. Straw men.

    Really? Would you like to show me why they are strawmen then? I have done my best to understand the things that you have said. I am always open to corrections. Merely misunderstanding an opponent’s argument does not mean a person is making bad arguments – it just means that the point has not been adequately conveyed from one person to the other (whoever’s fault it is). Strawmanning is intentionally misrepresenting your opponent in order to easily defeat a non-existent argument. You know the responsible, mature, empathic thing to do here? Believe it or not, it isn’t to insult the other person, and tell them they are strawmanning you. It is to explain why what they think is your argument is not the case.

    Speaking of which…

    That’s pretty pathetic. You once again have failed to understand another’s situation and failed to grasp my argument and where I’m coming from. My criticism is not about you agreeing with your opponent but about showing that you understand your opponent. Once again you do not.

    You know – there is a second possibility here. Other than me not being ‘empathic’ that is. Maybe you are not making particularly good, or clear arguments. Maybe you are not arguing for what you think you are arguing for.

    Look, this is what has happened:

    I have addressed your attempt to compare Draw Muhammad Day to shouting ‘nigger’ in the faces of black people. I have shown just why I find the idea ludicrous. You have ceded me the argument by your comments, and then continued to argue. I have already said that I don’t understand why this conversation is still going on.

    If you want to keep arguing against Draw Muhammad Day, then do. Just use a different analogy. One that actually has some kind of similarity to it.

    You’re on a roll Greg. Who claims you’re not “allowed to say that they are completely irrational.” You must feel pretty smart crushing all these weak arguments that nobody made.

    You do by defending censorship for things merely because they offend people. Just because I am responding to the logical conclusion of your statements does not mean that I am strawmanning them.

    You’re ridiculous, because I didn’t say NO Hindu’s take offense but no Hindu’s THAT I KNOW OF have taken offense. But then that would require you to interact with what I’m actually saying.

    Like I said, projecting.

    Ok, to be fair, I possibly could have made my argument a little clearer. I was being deliberately snarky because I happen to find some of the things you have said, not to mention your attitude, offensive.

    Offence is something which is impossible to gauge. It is not possible to know whether somebody has not taken offence, or has taken offence but just is not responding to it. It is also difficult to regulate – can you truly control whether you or someone else find something offensive or not? (A bit like thought crimes.)

    You can not say that someone has not taken offence with 100% surety. Nor can you say with 100% surety that someone has taken offence, rather than merely pretending to, and using it as an excuse. Therefore, you have no way of judging whether or not offence has been taken. (Well, yet, anyway, the more scientists find out about the brain, it may be possible in the future I suppose… There may be a bit of outcry about it if it ever got that far mind…)

    As a result, the only way your earlier claim that the analogies should be ones that ’cause offence’ could make any sense that I can see, is by taking offence to mean provoke a justifiable violent reaction from the ‘offended’. This doesn’t mean they are offended, it only means that have taken violent action whilst claiming to be offended.

    Given that a lot of the discussion upon this subject has been about the lack of justifiability for the offence, let alone the reaction caused in the name of offence, to compare it to something where people are widely considered justified in taking offence (a racial term with more than just negative connotations) is to cede a contested point.

    Hence my (clearly marked) sarcastic comment essentially about you wanting us to assume your argument by allowing your analogy.

    could cede your point that there is a tiny degree of choice such that maybe 1% of the population might be expected to have the tools and knowledge to extract themselves from the faith, but I don’t think that justifies being obnoxious to the rest. We all know that illiterate elderly Muslims are virtually incapable of changing their beliefs.

    More projection. I have said nor inferred nothing of the kind.

    My point is that you cannot compare something which fundamentally has no choice (skin colour) to something which fundamentally has a choice (religious beliefs). It is a BAD analogy.

    So maybe you’ll be joining Muslims in “Deny the Holocaust Day” which apparently is being promoted by some. Of course lots of prison sentences (uses of force) have been applied to those that denied the holocaust. Personally I’m not offended by holocaust denial, probably because my life hasn’t been touched as personally by it. However I can understand, because I’m an empathetic person, how it could be offensive to certain Jews. So in my world I would discourage this behavior from Muslims. Not that I think it shouldn’t be permissible. Not that I think would should muzzle our speech due to the emotional sensitivities of others necessarily. But I’ll expect to see you out there denying the holocaust for free speech.

    Sorry – I must have missed this – I thought the Deny the Holocaust thing was very recent. I didn’t know that there had been time for the creator of this facebook thing to receive death threats, and censorship?

    Strange, I can’t see anything in news reports suggesting that there have been any death threats or the like yet. You weren’t strawmanning me were you?

    Look – I am well aware that at times I have been ‘needlessly’ aggressive in my tone. (I use the quotes for a reason). I could have been calmer and less combative in my approach. However, there was a point behind it:

    I happen to find things offensive too. I found things that have been said in this thread offensive. So I replied in kind – I said things in a way I thought might rile the people who offended me in turn. The point wasn’t to start a never ending cycle of offence (I was actually hoping someone would tell me I offended them so I could make this point) – it was to show that words and ideas on their own are never enough to justify violence. I had a choice.

    I could:

    a) Do nothing. Not reply to these people who were offending me.

    b) Try to be calm and inoffensive. (Despite the fact that other people were already doing this and getting nowhere.)

    c) What I did.

    d) Start threatening violence.

    I’m pretty sure that you did not for one minute, like me, consider d) Jon. I’m pretty sure that you could come up with a lot of reasons not to.

    That is what DMD is essentially about. There were people who made explicitly offensive and provocative pictures, yes, and while I would fight for their right to draw them, I would never do it myself.

    But if you want to criticise their lack of feeling and empathy then criticise THEM not DMD, or anyone who like me supported the idea of DMD.

    Call them jerks all you want – I respect your right to free speech – and their right to call you one back, and defend themselves.

  • Greg

    To late to edit… I just want to make it clear that the people I was offended by (as mentioned above) were the people making such a big deal about not offending other people.

    I would not have replied in a volatile style if they had not been offending me and at the same time criticising people for giving offence.

  • http://miketheinfidel.blogspot.com/ MikeTheInfidel

    Gibbon:

    Somehow I don’t think the majority of these Muslims are asking that you follow the tenets of their religion, rather that you just show some respect.

    Except… yes they are. Were it not for the tenets of their religion, they wouldn’t be offended by these drawings. The actual content of the drawings is completely irrelevant to them – the mere fact that they EXIST is what offends them.

    And they’re not offended because they’ve reached a rational conclusion that this is an offensive act. They’re offended because their religious dogma commands them to be.

    When I’m asked not to perform an action that is forbidden by their dogma because their dogma says it’s offensive, yes, that’s asking me to follow their dogma!

    This is what you and Jon seem to be missing entirely – that it’s not about them. It’s about rejecting their assertion (and that of any similarly dogmatic religious person) that they have a right to inject their dogma into my life and control the way I conduct myself. It’s absurd and does not deserve respect.

    It’s like saying that, since part of the dogma of fundamentalist Christians is to refuse to teach birth control methods to their kids, I should be willing to refuse to teach them to my kids as well if they say that doing so would offend them.

    It’s patently ridiculous and should be laughed off as such. And the fact that liberal and moderate Muslims share in the nonsensical dogma does not mean we should reject it any less.

    I ask you, what would you have us do? Clearly, the fact that they’re offended by simple stick figures and smiley faces means that you’re not going to get anywhere with any kind of interfaith dialogue. You’d be giving concession after concession to their dogmas.

  • http://miketheinfidel.blogspot.com/ MikeTheInfidel

    Oh, and as for your bullshit snide remarks about having an empathy deficiency: This is what I made, Jon – http://i49.tinypic.com/28vr589.jpg

    Excuse me if I can’t feel sorry for hurting someone’s feelings with THAT PICTURE. Their feelings are not hurt based on something that I can empathize with; they’re hurt because their dogma says they MUST be hurt.

    Next time you want to start making assumptions about how someone took part in an activity you don’t like, think twice and actually put forth the effort to find out what they really did.

  • Aj

    Jon,

    Are you suggesting I wouldn’t defend the right to curse? If so we’ll add yours to the pile of straw men here.

    No, I said I agreed with you that drawing Mohammed and cursing are analogous, and that I support both in a protest to those that want to censor it.

    Gibbon,

    It is contemptible to suggest that a secular society is superior simply by virtue of it being secular. Being secular as opposed to religious does not make anything better, the great experiment with secular ideologies that was the 20th century proves that. To suggest that science is superior to religion because the former produces an empirically accurate understanding of nature is contemptible, especially when science has done so much damage. By the way it IS arrogant to claim that you know the truth and those who believe otherwise don’t, it is pure ego; there is nothing honourable about that attitude.

    I agree, that something is secular doesn’t necessarily make something better. Secular ideologies can be worse than religious ones. However, being religious necessarily makes something worse. If you take a religious society, and remove the religion, I think that does make a better society. I think Western Europe, as it has increasingly become more secular, has become better than it was. Bringing up communist totalitarian ideology and calling it “secular” is dishonest and a straw man, but that’s not surprising given that you seem to have contempt for the truth. As societies understand nature more, are more skeptical, and employ enlightenment principles they get better.

    Science is superior to religion because it gives us an accurate understanding of nature. Science has caused no damage, knowing something doesn’t damage anything. It’s not arrogant to believe you are right when there is a mountain of evidence behind you, and the person who believes differently is a wishthinker with anecdotes and delusions. You’re on the internet, if you don’t like science, go live in a cave and lick some slime.


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