|Cartoon of Muhammad with a bomb-turban, by Kurt Westergaard|
Last May 20 was “Everybody Draw Muhammad Day”, an event created originally as a farce in response to thinly-veiled death threats from radical Muslim group Revolution Muslim that led Comedy Central to censor South Park’s 200th episode, which purportedly featured the Islamic prophet Muhammad, any depictions of whom are expressly forbidden under Islamic law. (Never mind the fact that Muhammad has already been in South Park back in July of 2001 and that no-one so much as raised an eyebrow at the time.)
Of course, “Draw Muhammad Day” served as an occasion to send a peaceful and creative message to Muslims, particularly the radicals: that their laws forbidding them from depicting their beloved prophet does not apply to non-Muslims, and that everyone else can very well wipe their ass with Muhammad-themed toilet paper if they wished. Muslims do not have the right to force others to obey their own silly rules, just as no-one else has any right to impose their own religious customs upon Muslims.
But then, try telling that to a group of people whose mindset dictates that any offense towards their prophet or beliefs, no matter how trivial, must be met with outrage and violence and death threats. So, naturally, the cartoonist who originally launched “Everybody Draw Muhammad Day”, Molly Norris, received the treatment reserved to blasphemers like Kurt Westergaard and Lars Vilks with clerics calling for her death and so on, even though she tried to remove herself from the event once it began gathering steam.
So now, there is no more Molly Norris. Oh, not that she’s been killed or anything – she’s just decided to follow the urgent advice of FBI security specialists and is now “going ghost”, similar to entering a witness protection program: changing her identity, moving and basically wiping her slate clean. Erasing her entire life and social history – because of some reactionary, religion-fueled fanatics who can’t handle the fact that other people have no obligation to respect their superstitions and ridiculous rules and customs.
|Cartoon of Muhammad as a dog, by Lars Vilks|
There are doubtlessly some – hopefully not many – who would argue that Norris deserved what she got, that she shouldn’t have “played with fire” and should have just stayed silent and not provoked the angry, poo-flinging Islamist monkeys. On the face of it, this seems to echo something I have stated before and appears to be less a condemnation and more of a commonsensical pronouncement: the fact that the violent nutjobs are in the wrong changes little to the fact that they’re violent nutjobs who will happily try and hurt you if you so much as look at them the wrong way. As they say, you can’t debate and reason your way out a knife-wielding lunatic. Knowing that you stuck up to your principles will be small comfort once you’re six feet under.
But though sitting down and shutting up may appear to be the practical approach, the reality is that it is, in fact, the wrong way to handle such cases. When you have rabid assholes willing to hurt or kill just to try and impose their dogma and laws upon others, the right way to react is not to stay back and do nothing, but to rise up and shout them down, to let it be known that they do not have the right to do what they are doing and that they cannot stop anyone from saying or believing whatever the hell they want. What needs to happen is for more and more people to do this, to let their voices be heard, until we have an overwhelming majority of people rising up like a tsunami against the evil-minded bigots to crush them into the ignominy where they belong.
The basic truth of any free society is that its people will only remain free so long as they fight for their rights and liberties whenever they fall under attack, from enemies both foreign and domestic. The best way to find yourself oppressed is to sit back and do nothing as tyrants and extremists slowly but surely get their way and erode your own rights in order to fit their narrow-minded ideology.
It’s for this reason that outcries such as “Everybody Draw Muhammad Day”, the notorious Danish Muhammad cartoons, International Blasphemy Day and any other events of the sort must not only be actively defended and participated in, but most also be spread around and, yes, rammed down people’s throats. This does not mean displaying vile and pointless bigotry, such as “Burn a Koran Day”, which serves absolutely no purpose and is intended solely as a display of reactionary dickishness. It means uniting our voices as one: We will not obey your rules, and if you think you have the power or the right to force your violent, oppressive and destructive ways upon us, then in the words of the great Jon Stewart: Go fuck yourselves.
|Cartoon: “Other prophets have followers with a sense of humour!…” by Zapiro|