Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Well it's a popular name...

Cartoon Brew reported on a Draw Mohammed Day that seemed to be gathering support on Facebook, in response to the censorship of a recent South Park episode. It started just as a little cartoon, not a real thing and people have jumped on the idea and it gathered momentum. The idea is this - on May 20th, loads of people will draw Mohammed in protest over censorship that comes about through threats and intimidation. I guess it's safety in numbers.

As I read the comments and discussed it with others on the Brew boards, my thoughts on it went back and forth quite a bit. I'm still not 100% sure what I think of it to be honest.

My first immediate thought was that this is a great idea. Simply because I don't think people should bow to threats. That shouldn't be indulged. And I object to the idea that somebody elses religious beliefs should dictate what I should or shouldn't do.

There have been many comments that say this drawing day would be disrespectful to ordinary Muslims. This is true, and unfortunate. But that anyone should be driven by fear to censor a point that, actually, was about censorship, well, where's the respect there?

But it's not so much about respect really. It's about fear. Fear of death threats like those going back all the way to Salman Rushdie. Fear of those threats being carried out, like they were with provocative filmmaker Theo Van Gogh.

The world has been tip-toeing around recently for fear of becoming the next target. I know I'm pretty sure I don't have the balls to take part in Draw Mohammed Day.

That is all sorts of wrong.

And it's not really about Islam. It could be any religion, group, whatever. It is not right to threaten others who don't follow your beliefs. Not right to kill them. Not right to censor them through fear. It could be death threats from tea-drinking vicars, morris dancers, shoemaker elves. Really doesn't matter who it is.

And when people are pushed, as they are right now, sooner or later, they push back. First in small ways, like this drawing day. And then in bigger ways. It's not going to end well. I don't like it one bit. Worst thing is, this fear may give some sort of power to Muslim extremists, but it's going to give far more power to those who wish to spread anti-Muslim hate.

It's not going to end well.

No, I don't think I'll be drawing Mohammed. Not out of respect. Out of fear. They rarely go together. I may make my own little protest. Draw a pig or something. But not Mohammed.

I'll leave this with a thought I had on that Brew posts about beliefs. For me, if the systems and beliefs can stand up to scrutiny, can feel that certain and that right, they shouldn’t ever need threats to back them up. They are what they are. If I’m wrong, I hope it’s Allah or God himself who sorts me out in an afterlife, not a fallible mortal who takes it on himself to act on what he perceives to be the word of an almighty.


[v i a n] said...

well, its a provocative way to response to censorship.
but yeah, its a popular name.
i have 5 friends with that name, but here we pronounce it Muhammad.
i even make 3 pictures of them in drawing class.

"been there, done that. What are you talking about?"


Andy Latham said...

I just find the whole world to be sorely lacking in sense of humour. Everyone's so quick to pounce on the slightest thing that might be deemed to cause offence. Does it really matter if someone is offended? Is being offended really that bad? I'd say I'd rather avoid stubbing my toe more than avoid being offended. I'm happy for people to make jokes about me, and I am capable of enjoying it myself when they do. Hell I make jokes about myself. And what's more, everyone I've ever met who can do the same has had a good, enjoyable life.

Red Pill Junkie said...

I suppose I'm also ambivalent toward all this. IMO intolerant people end up being their worst enemies. The idea is to simply let them hang themselves with their own tongue.

What I don't particularly like is how viscerally rabid the anonymous groups that inhabit the interwebs can become. They can turn into an unstoppable mob in an instant. The line between legitimate freedom of speech and trolling is becoming blurrier and blurrier.

Sure I defend the right to humor. And sometimes it's necessary that someone makes fun of you, in order to force you to look into yourself and understand your motivations or convictions. But often times after the jive, people don't turn introspective; they get angry. And with anger there can't be no open-mindedness. So the whole exercise becomes pointless.

I think intelligent people have the capacity to discern when a comedian or a satirist is making a gag intended for intelligent criticism —e.g. Bill Hicks— or when it's just a lazy shot at another person's imperfections, when it's merely intended to hurt for a quick laugh —e.g. if some lame stand-up comedian on a wedding party starts to make fun of the best man's obesity just for the hell of it— Unfortunately, the world doesn't have ample stocks of intelligent people.