Responses to “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day”

Mohammad in the style of Piet Mondrian (artist unknown)

May 20 is “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day,” an annual protest in support of free speech. It began earlier this year as a response to Comedy Central’s decision to censor episode 201 of its television show, South Park, which contained images of the prophet Mohammad. Comedy Central’s decision came in response to thinly-veiled death threats posted on a radical Islamic website based in this country (RevolutionMuslim.com). Read the full story here and here.

Needless to say, “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day” has been highly controversial. What follows is a compilation of some of most interesting opinions I found in Wikipedia’s very lengthy and detailed articles about the incident and the protest. I’ll start with the objections:

Objections to “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day”

“Depictions of Muhammad offend millions of Muslims who are no part of the violent threats.” (Ann Althouse, law professor, blogger)

“[Depicting Muhammad] defines those others—Muslims—as being outside of our culture, unworthy of the courtesy we readily accord to insiders.” (James Taranto, The Wall Street Journal)

“[Depicting Muhammad] attempts to battle religious zealotry with rudeness and sacrilege…” (Bill Walsh, Bedford Minuteman)

“As a cartoon, it was mildly amusing. As a campaign, it’s crass and gratuitously offensive.” (Janet Albrechtsen, The Australian)

“[The event is] a blasphemous faux-holiday…that will only serve to reinforce broader American misunderstandings of Islam and Muslims.” (Jeremy F. Walton, The Revealer)

“It is clear that some feel great satisfaction at what they see as ‘sticking it to the Muslims.’” (Franz Kruger, Mail & Guardian)

“Juvenile… an irresponsible poke-in-the-eye.” (Bilal Baloch, The Guardian)

“[It is] debatable whether freedom of expression should extend to material that is offensive to the sensibilities, traditions and beliefs of religious, ethnic, or other communities.” (Editorial in Dawn, published in Pakistan)

Support for “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day”

“Everybody Draw Mohammed Day is a chance to reinstate offense and sincerity to their proper place, freed from terror or silence. … The proper (and, at the risk of looking jingoistic, American) way to combat bad speech is with better speech. To silence and be silenced are the refuge of cowards.” (Jordan Manalastas, Daily Bruin)

“Americans love their free speech and have had enough of those who think they can dictate the limits of that fundamental right. […] Draw to any heart’s discontent. It’s a free country. For now.” (Kathleen Parker, The Washington Post)

“In the South Park episode that started all this, Buddha does lines of coke and there was an episode where Cartman started a Christian rock band that sang very homo-erotic songs. Yet there is one religious figure we can’t make fun of. The point of the episode that started the controversy is that celebrities wanted Muhammad’s power not to be ridiculed. How come non-Muslims aren’t allowed to make jokes?” (Michael C. Moynihan, Reason magazine’s “Hit & Run blog)

“… I realize that in a free society, someone is always going to be doing or saying something that will offend somebody somewhere. I also realize that more free speech, not censorship, is the answer.” (Pam Meister, Family Security Matters)

“The bottom line is that the First Amendment guarantees free speech including criticism of all peoples. We are an equal-opportunity offense country. To censor ourselves to avoid upsetting a certain group (in a cartoon no less) is un-American.” (Andrew Mellon, Big Journalism)

“Indignation from those who claim the right to engage in criticism of religion is as important as the indignation that comes from the Muslim side.” (Helge Ronning, Institute of Media and Communication, University of Oslo)

“In a democratic society where free speech is vigilantly protected, it is perfectly reasonable to call out censorship, particularly when it springs from some form of tyrannical religious extremism.” (Liliana Segura, staff writer at AlterNet.com)

“No one has a right to an audience or even to a sympathetic hearing, much less an engaged audience. But no one should be beaten or killed or imprisoned simply for speaking their mind or praying to one god as opposed to the other or none at all or getting on with the small business of living their life in peaceful fashion. If we cannot or will not defend that principle with a full throat, then we deserve to choke on whatever jihadists of all stripes can force down our throats… Our Draw Mohammed contest is not a frivolous exercise of hip, ironic, hoolarious sacrilege toward a minority religion in the United States (though even that deserves all the protection that the most serioso political commentary commands). It’s a defense of what is at the core of a society that is painfully incompetent at delivering on its promise of freedom, tolerance, and equal rights.” (Nick Gillespie, Reason magazine)

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