Draw Mohammed? No, but…

I know today was declared, “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day” on the interwebz, but the notion stuck in my craw a little bit. I tend toward Ann Althouse’s view:

I don’t like the in-your-face message that we don’t care about what other people hold sacred. Back in the days of the “Piss Christ” controversy, I wouldn’t have supported an “Everybody Dunk a Crucifix in a Jar of Urine Day” to protest censorship. Dunking a crucifix in a jar of urine is something I have a perfect right to do, but it would gratuitously hurt many Christian bystanders to the controversy. I think opposing violence (and censorship) can be done in much better ways.

Moreover, I think when we give license to this sort of thing we risk getting all-too-comfortable with becoming all that we hate.

However, I do think that of all the arguments I have read “for” EDMD, Bookworms has been the best thought-out, and I appreciate it.

I’m still not going to draw Mohammed, for stated reasons. However, our friend and intrepid flash-cartoon-experimenter Brian J. has given us a new video, and it sort of relates, a little:

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Trump

    “I don’t like the in-your-face message that we don’t care about what other people hold sacred. Back in the days of the “Piss Christ” controversy, I wouldn’t have supported an “Everybody Dunk a Crucifix in a Jar of Urine Day” to protest censorship.”

    …. Except it’s not about protesting something as mundane as censorship, is it? Don’t you think there’s a wee bit more at stake here?

    “Moreover, I think when we give license to this sort of thing we risk getting all-too-comfortable with becoming all that we hate.”

    …. I understand your view, I respect your reasons for them, they’re honest and consistent with your views. And I respectfully state that you’re wrong- at least partly. You’re basically constructing a moral equivilance theory here. We become what we hate? So if I draw Mohammad- even if I draw him in a provacative, even offensive, light, that’s the equal of what happened to Lars Vileks or Theo Van Gough, or even what happened to Parker and Stone? Pushback against that sort of thing can never be bad.

    And somebody has to do it. Even if you have a good reason to sit on the sidelines of this particular kerfuffle, I think you have to admit that if nobody pushes back, if we go meekly into the night like we are doing, the consequences are much much worse?

  • Mutnodjmet

    The video was a hoot.

  • Left Coast Conservative

    I respectfully disagree with you here Anchoress. As much as I may not want this particular battle to come to my door, it is here – the history of Islam, (let alone their teachings) doesn’t leave much room for passivity. I agree that we don’t have to draw ridiculous or vile cartoons, but we can draw a picture of Mo – it’s been done for century’s, just not by an infidel.
    Remembering Malta and Lapanto, Vienna, Paris, New York, Madrid, Morocco, Egypt, Darfur, Sudan, Indonesia, India, Turkey, Constantinople, Croatia, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and the villages, hamlets, cities and remote outposts scattered around the world – all negatively influenced by Islam since at least 700 AD – remembering, praying and standing in the gap. Christ is on the side of life. Can we say the same for Islam?

    [And this is why I offered a link to Bookworm's excellent piece, which I found to be very thoughtful. I appreciate all of these arguments, but my processing goes on. As Popeye might say, I yam what I yam and my guts is my guts. :-) -admin]

  • Greta

    We are all in this conflict wheter we want to be or not. It has been brought to our shores and each day new mosques are being built within our country. Unfortunately what is being taught in the vast majority of those mosques is the radical beliefs that are causing many of the problems. When someone comes into your house and craps on your rug, you have a right and an obligation to defend your house. When the moslems condemn those in the streets with their hate filled signs and chants, when they outright condemn all terrorism of any type, when they state clearly that what is in the koran about jihad was of that time but should not be used today just as much of what is in the old testament does not apply to our country today. I often think that without Christ and the new testament, we would not be the country we are today. Imagine a country formed only with the old testament.
    What creates this type of response is the response to the cartoons, but also to anything that in any way disparages in their mind their faith or its founder. You can disapprove or even show some anger, but not call for violence and killing.

  • fozzy

    Once again, the “Piss Christ” controversy was not about censorship. Andres Serrano can dunk a hundred crucifixes in his body fluids and I will be offended but he absolutely has the right to do it. The scandal was that he was paid taxpayers money to do it.

  • http://psalm46-11.blogspot.com Michael Hallman

    I went back and forth all day about whether or not I supported the idea. Ultimately I decided that the principle of double effect came into play: it is not the intention to offend Muslims, but rather the intention here is to stand up to those who believe they can intimidate us with violence; the unintended effect is that Muslims may be offended. I wrote about it here if anyone is interested…

  • Joseph

    I agree that drawing Mohammed as a pig or some such thing is no better than depicting a gay Jesus, and those of us who are sincere Christians should bear that in mind. However, we should also bear in mind that the reactions to these drawings, or films like Theo Van Gogh’s, are far more offensive than what they are protesting. Also, Islamic law may prohibit any depiction at all, good or bad, of Mohammed, but Muslims have no right to impose that on us, or to expect us to obey a command of a religion that we do not share. I think that is the point of this “Draw Mohammed” thing. I would not want to offend those Muslims who are peaceful (whether or not their peacefulness is in spite of their religion’s teachings), but I don’t want to live under Sharia law either. One more thing: the “P*** Christ” controversy was not about censorship, but about sponsorship. I don’t recall anyone saying that this “art” should be banned, only that it shouldn’t have gotten a federal grant, supported by taxpayers.

  • http://vita-nostra-in-ecclesia.blogspot.com Bender

    It is a false equivilence that draws a parallel between a crucifix in urine and drawing a stick figure of a person and writing the name Mohammed underneath it.

    In the one case, the outrage and offense is demonstrably rational and reasoned. In the other, it is an irrational, arbitrary, and manufactured “outrage” intended to do nothing other than oppress and impose one’s will upon another.

    If anyone wants to draw a picture of Jesus, more power to him. No one will “smite your neck” Daniel Pearl style.

  • Pingback: Catholic News Headlines May 20, 2010 « Catholic News

  • skeeter

    While I am no artist, nor do I have any particular desire to draw Mohammed, I do support this demonstration. It reminds me of the scene in Exodus (I think) where a blond, blue eyed Jewish girl is speaking about having to wear a yellow star sewn on her clothes, and all her neighbors, Jewish and not, also wore yellow stars, thus destroying the power of Nazi attempt to isolate the Jews in that Scandinavian country.

    And that support would not be so necessary but for the fact that the Muslims are violent against those who do not share their views, even as were the Nazis.

    Islam is not a religion, it is a political system, with a religious shell.

    I’m not a big one for hanging “dangles” from a rear view mirror, but I have a little Mc Donald’s “Piglet” hanging there. I put it up after the Muslims wanted to eliminate “Winnie the Pooh” from schools and libraries in the UK because of this little character. FREE PIGLET!

  • Hantchu

    Why is merely drawing Mohammed the equivalent of exhibiting a crucifix in urine? I’d think it would have to be more like drawing Mohammed with urine.

    Defacing things with excrement is an intrinsic act of offense; drawing is perhaps a theological one, but not universal.

    I am reminded of those who accused the Jews of desecrating the Host. If we don’t believe in the significance of the object, why would we bother. Would not the very act of bothering be granting significance to the object?

  • http://jscafenette.com/ Manny

    I am completely in Ann Althouse’s corner on this. There is no reason to purposesly go out of one’s way to insult other’s sense of the sacred. I get infuriated with those fundementalist atheists that constantly and intentionally ridicule Christianity just to belittle it. There is no reason to belittle Islam. The first ammendment guarentees one the right to free speech, but one ought to have responsilbilities with it. After all it’s good manners.

  • Peter West

    I have trouble seeing the correspondence between the offences of drawing Muhammed and the “Piss Christ.” Putting a crucifix in urine is not specifically prohibited in any Christian confession of which I am aware. The action is _inherently_ offensive. Try dunking the flag (pick a country) in urine, or a copy of the Constitution, or the office-bearer’s sash of some neighbourhood association. Is it possible to mistake the meaning of such a gesture?

    The drawing of an image carries no such _inherent_ offence. In most places, depending on the subject matter and style of the drawing, such a drawing can itself be an act of the greatest possible respect, even reverence.

    Islam’s attitude to images is iconoclastic. All of the great mosaic depictions of Christ and the saints in the Hagia Sophia were plastered over (and thankfully not destroyed). The Bamiyan Buddhas were not treated so gently. The screaming and ranting about images of Muhammed is less than the tip of this particular iceberg. By submitting to the frenzied demands of various Islamic mobs in the matter of Muhammed’s image we are all acting either as a tolerant and indulgent parent with a tantrum-throwing child, or as the civilian population of an unarmed country, cowed by the army on the border. Which it is depends on your point of view. The result is the same.

    For Orthodox Jews, it is wrong to perform any of a great number of tasks on the Sabbath. When a Jewish community exists as a minority within another community, those Jews will observe the Sabbath to the best of their ability, and be neither offended nor aggressive when others do not observe it.

    Within Israel, the possibility exists that the polity may enforce the Sabbath restrictions by law, through their democratic institutions. Rumour has it that some groups within Israel take it upon themselves to enforce adherence to some such restrictions irrespective of the law. Such behaviour is problematical in a democracy, but falls far short of death threats, and occurs only in the Jewish State.

    As I understand it, in Scotland for many years, laws and regulations enacted by the democratic polity enforced many Sabbath restrictions on Sunday. In some places the playground swings were locked up. As the character of the polity changes, so does the legislation. By the same token, the playground swings would have been unchained on Saturday, irrespective of the views of Scottish Jews.

    The behaviours that are expected and those that are rejected in a society are determined by long tradition, and to some extent by democratic legislation in democratic places. Minorities in a culture must learn to live with expectations foreign to them, and to hope that they will be cut sufficient slack to enable them to practice their own traditions, more or less comprehensively. That is, unless the society is not a democracy, and the minority is an occupying army, for instance.

    The point that Bookworm made about being covertly converted into a Muslim is, I think, wrong. What we are covertly being drawn into is dhimmitude. Like dhimmis, we acknowledge the right of Islam to rule us, and to extract from us its tribute for the privilege of living in a form of civil servitude. The critical component is the recognition, tacit or otherwise, of the validity of the demands of Islam. And Islam is _very_ demanding. Western categories of religious tolerance, or live and let live, or the recognition of the right of conscience of every person to seek and worship God as his conscience dictates; these categories have no purchase in Islamic thought.

    It is this fundamental and intractable intolerance that we see raging in the Islamic world, and that we see seeping from the cracks in the facades of Muslim apologists in Western societies.

    I understand your reluctance to offer a deliberate offence to anyone else. However, when you deny the demands of that toddler, and when you make demands of that teenager, you are not concerned with the deep offence you give them when you do what you must. The threat that they will cease to love you is, rightly, ignored, even though teenagers can carry an impressive grudge.

    When you respond to the army at the border with an assertion of your freedom and your preparedness to defend it, you give also a mighty offence, and at great, real, risk to yourself and your whole way of life. It must still be done, if we are not to live as slaves, or as dhimmis.

    EDMD may not be the moment to take such a step, but sooner or later you will have to, and the later it is left, the greater the cost will be.

  • tim maguire

    I am completely NOT an Althouse’s corner. Not least (but also not most) because her foundational assumption is wrong–there is no prohibition against drawing pictures of Mohamed, so the notion that it will offend innocent moderate Muslims is a non-starter. (The Islamic prohibition is against drawing ANY representational art.)

    But even if Althouse were not mistaken on this point, she would still be wrong because drawing pictures of Mohamed is not done as an insult to Mohaned, but as a show of solidarity with the victims of these threats of violence.

    There is a difference. Shall we chisel Mohamed off the frieze behind the Supreme Court? After all…

    Althouse is wrong for far too many other reasons to go in to here, among them that she thinks it’s just fine for “real” artists to draw pictures of Mohamed. It’s just not ok for us “non-artist” hacks to do it. Her silly elitist liberal roots are showing.

    How does one show they will not be cowed by threats of violence other than to refuse to refrain from engaging in the activity that drew the threat? Seriously–how is one?

    Here’s my last–ultimately, this fight is for moderate Muslims to fight and win. By rights, we should be on the sidelines (only a Muslim has a right to say which brand of Islam is authentic, no Jew or Christian or Buddhist or Hindu can join that debate). But moderate Muslims (who do exist) are not doing their part, instead they, with a very small number of courageous exceptions, have been the ones on the sidelines. They have left us to fight their battle and they have no right to object to any nonviolent means we may adopt.

    Again, this is their battle which we are engaged in solely because they as a group have chosen to ignore their responsibility.

  • http://vita-nostra-in-ecclesia.blogspot.com Bender

    There is no reason to purposesly go out of one’s way to insult other’s sense of the sacred.

    And yet, people have absolutely no problem with going out of their way to insult other people’s sense of liberty and reasonable expression in a free society by suggesting that we should hold ourselves captive to the irrational and unreasoned demands of quasi-religious, wholly-political radical extremists.

    The suggestion that we should all just shut the hell up by not making a few objectively inoffensive drawings is far more offensive than those drawings could ever be.

  • dry valleys

    We should make the point that we have the right to mock & cricature religion. It IS people who are accused of being needessly offensive who often make progress. How many people would have told Charles Bradlaugh that he was rocking the boat & should keep his views to himself?

    When we get Iranian gays being denied asylum because being “discreet” will keep them from being slaughtered by the secret police (it won’t- & the new government in Britin is aware of this), when we get these two men being persecuted in Malawi for expressing their love for each other, it’s about time we westerners made the point that we value living in a secular liberal democracy where we have the right to treat Islam in the way that Life of Brian treated Christianity.

    So this is the right thing to do, & if it offends people that’s because they get offended at the drop of a hat & can’t demand that the world tiptoe round them.

    Although I know a lot of Muslims, & like most of them, I do not support their religion. I neither believe in its theological teachings, nor do I think it benefits society.

    In Britain there is just this hazy assumption that anything to do with “faith” (of any sort- it doesn’t matter much to the chattering classes) is automatically good & should be placed above any question. There always has been, which is why these cartoons a few years ago weren’t published here.

    There is a time & place for softies & one for firebrands. You need to have both sorts for an effective strategy to be in place, & parody that seems gratuitious & mindless can be good. Even if it wasn’t, people would still have the right to do it.

  • dry valleys

    As for this iconoclasm that goes with Islam. The Taliban blew up the Buddhas of Bamiyan too. You wouldn’t find an atheist doing that.

    [And then there is this conversation -admin]

  • dry valleys

    Did you hear about how the government in Pakistan banned Facebook & Youtube? As if they didn’t have better things to do, like keeping their citizens alive & helping them escape grinding poverty?

  • Supertradmum

    May I add that Mohammed is a person, a human being and Jesus Christ is the God-Man, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity. To draw Mohammed may be insensitive and in bad taste, but to mock Christ is blasphemy. There is a difference.