Saturday, May 15, 2010

Lars Vilks attacked again, house set on fire

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Lars Vilks caricature depicting Muhammad as a dog
Lars Vilks caricature depicting Muhammad as a dog
The crappy quality is more offensive to me, as an artist myself, than its content can ever be

Just last Wednesday, I commented on how Swedish artist Lars Vilks, known for his (rather bad) cartoons depicting the Islamic prophet Muhammad as a lowly dog, was attacked as he gave a lecture (on free speech, as irony would naturally have it). Things got even worse today: presently unidentified arsonists attacked his home and tried to burn it down while Vilks himself was absent. (No word that I can find on the extent of the damages.) Here’s an translated version of the original Swedish report.

Look, I understand that what Vilks did in drawing intentionally derogatory depictions of a religion’s beloved prophet was assuredly provocative and in bad taste (especially with drawings that bad … okay, I’ll stop beating that dead horse, now). Personally, I’d say that he shouldn’t have done it unless he expressly intended to prove a point; his caricatures were very politically charged yet lacked any real aim, serving only to offend a base of believers already known to be both easily offended and prone to violence. But, that doesn’t change anything. Vilks made a few crude drawings; in response, they physically attacking him and even set his freaking home on fire. This goes far beyond any sort of proportional response, no matter how you slice it. If someone calls you bad names or insults your momma, you don’t retaliate by beating them to an inch from death or nuking their home. You either find even better insults to hurl back, or better yet, you ignore them.

Lars Vilks
Lars Vilks
Doesn’t he look like he’s about to set you on fire?

What these vandals should have done is perhaps respond to Vilks’ provocation in kind: by mocking him in caricatures. Hell, make it an entire campaign devoted to smearing him if that’s what you want; anything goes, just as long as it’s legal and non-physical. For Pete’s sake, just look at the man [pictured, right]; he already looks like he’s just a few scotches and a wig short of a Doc Brown from hell. Not exactly the most difficult persona to lampoon.

If you’re so offended by a caricature, or any other work, that you feel you must respond in some manner, the mature and civilized way to deal with it is to return the favor, or write an angry letter, or start a freaking blog about it containing nothing more than rants. Whatever. When you respond to offensive but legal material in a criminal and violent manner, you lose any and all credibility and respect. You’re nothing more than a reactionary barbarian, and the only thing you deserve is more offense.

(via Pharyngula)