Don't get me wrong - I think we should have the freedom to draw whatever the hell we want and be free from threats of deadly force. I think all the people who threatened physical harm to the original cartoonist are despicable, but this way of going about it is frankly extremely damaging.
Note: I am not Muslim, I am an atheist, and I want to apologize on behalf of atheists who have unfortunately chosen to participant in this disgusting farce. They do not speak for all of us. But, moving along...
Most Muslims are against violent reprisal. Are they offended? Yes, but like every other controversial issue in the world, only the extremists would go to the end of harming someone. The internet community that has fueled the popularity of EDMD is ignorant of this, and their numbers are muddied by the many racists and bigots also in participation for the wrong reasons. It's like if the KKK showed up at your political protest - there goes your credibility. As organizers of a principled stand for your rights, you need to make sure that your group cannot be conflated with racists, bigots, and other nasty people. The community around EDMD has done an extremely poor job at it (IMHO mostly because a lot of the core people spreading this around are themselves racist).
It is, frankly, juvenile, especially once you read some of the discussion by people who actually are participating in this.
Imagine if a group of atheists firebombed a church for making fun of atheism, and the Christians' response is instituting a "mock atheism day". Does this solve any problems? Does it create more understanding? Does this help improve the view, from either side, that most people are actually reasonable, sane people?
No, it simply promotes more polarizing viewpoints, more extremism, and eventually more violence from both sides. It is counterproductive and I'm embarrassed that so many atheists, who like to proclaim themselves freethinkers, have gotten on this bandwagon.
This isn't a principled stand in response to extremist action - this is an indiscriminate melee of offensive content that is not targeted at the groups and people actually responsible for making threats against people's lives for their expression. Speaking to my Muslim friends, they are as appalled by the violence of extremists as we are - the correct course of action is to work with moderate and liberal Muslims to combat the actions of extremists, not to alienate and offend the allies we need most.
This took place in a swedish university during a lecture about religion and freedom of speech. The video that Lars Vilks showed during this clip was made by an iranian artist. Before this he had showed examples of offensive material directed at christianity etc.
And there is a funny kind of double standard involved, because practically nobody objects when artists offend religions where the response to the alleged offence isn't violent.
EDIT: A few days after this attack, "somebody" tried to firebomb Vilk's house. All because of a series of rather tame drawings like this one:
But comparing it to reactions to offensive material about Christianity is impossible; they just react differently is all.
The history and teachings of Islam differ drastically from the way modern Christianity has gone.
Defending the faith is still a core part of the Muslim religion - whereas Christian churches have been steadily pushing people away from those ideas. It explains why there is a difference.
As to why the individuals do what they do; well that is a personal liability. I suggest that there are those who would do the same if Christianity preached similar teachings in the modern day (indeed, plenty of them did in the past. And look at the Christian extremists - who foster much the same ideas)
The attackers were swedish citizens.
This sounds exactly like the excuses and double standards I was refering to: "There is no excuse, but [insert excuse]."
What I am talking about is that the way Christianity and Islam preach you should react to attacks like this are entirely different. Hence the different reactions. So you can't say "why do attacks on Christianity not get the same reaction" - because the answer is obvious.
There is no excuse; but there is a reason. :)
Here's an example which might help show my point: there is a difference between the way a "religious" Glasgow Rangers football supporter and a Bath Town supporter will react if you call their teams sissies (i.e. the stereotype Glasgow guy would punch you in the face while the Bath guy would ignore you).
(EDIT: I realised that is a very UK centric example. Insert any sports team with religious and fervent followers for Glasgow and one with passionate but reserved followers for Bath)
EDIT2: if you wish to downvote feel free; but it would be interesting to hear why you disagree (this is based on observation of the two religions so I could be wrong)
Attacks on Christianity don't get the same reaction because in most places it's the dominant religion, but that's not to say there's not violence associated with Christianity. The history of Northern Ireland is more complicated than simple religion, but that is an important aspect of the Troubles.
I'm not sure it entirely invalidates my theory - but it certainly makes it more complex :) cheers.
What I mean by double standard and excuses is the tendency to always add 'reasons' when it comes to islam.
Why do this behavior need to be taken on other terms than personal responsibility and the norms of civil conduct? It's not like the attackers - due to their religious affiliation and reasons derived from this - lack choice.
Why do this behavior need to be taken on other terms than personal responsibility and the norms of civil conduct?
Clearly on a personal level their actions are their own responsibility and decisions - and are wrong.
But on a macro level there is just a reason why Muslims react this way and others don't. I think it's important to actually set out those reasons because somewhere in there we may begin to find a solution.
[NB I did not downvote you]
Could it really be that liberalism, after a 200 (should we count the enlightenment too?) year winning streak (at least), might have found it's kryptonite. The movement that made it safe, legal and even reputable to piss all over christian morals. That made national socialists -- once a formidable force in european politics -- a powerless group with whom any association carries social stigma whose violent elements were easily destroyed. And now, faced with a different enemy, liberals seems to have lost their nerve.
Muslims that are offended need to get over it. They will if we don't treat them like delicate children.
That's the problem with this plan. It doesn't recognize the degrees of antagonism involved. It posits that there is "being OK with cartoons of Mohammad" and "being so not ok with those cartoons as to be incompatible with civilization", and excludes the vast middle ground.
Or, to the extent that it acknowledges that there is a middle, it posits that any social or cultural price is worth paying to demonstrate that we can't be pushed around by a tiny, virtually powerless minority whose actions aren't in any way influenced by these cartoons anyways.
Lets not beat around the bush; this protest was born out of fear.
And so the extremists aims are met.
There are a huge number of rational people.
They would like to even the odds a little.
To do that, they will do things to move people from the "rational" column to the "extremist" column.
Being members of a tiny extremist minority, they have little direct ability to move anyone anywhere.
So, instead of simply trying to persuade more Muslims to support their ultimately futile cause, they provoke us into doing the persuading. By making Muslims into "others". Because when the KKK marches in Skokie, we're uniformly disgusted. But when thousands of people draw cartoons of Mohammad, they're lionized.
You have to be --- literally, you have to be willfully ignorant to believe that death threats to cartoonists are designed to cow us into not depicting Mohammad.
What bothers me about this whole thing is not that we're offending Muslims. What bothers me is that we're so easily manipulated.
Or was it actually just someone murdering someone who was critical of Islam, because they didn't like the fact he was critical of Islam?
But in this case fear. It is their most powerful weapon by far.
Individuals and the media can be manipulated into raising their profile and spreading fear. There is an excellent book called "risk" by dan Gardner which deals with the topic in great detail.
So how does reacting to bunk threats (threats, not actions) like this fit?
It's fear; pure and simple.
As to the first bit - your just constructing an idiotic scenario that doesn't exist. The attackers in Sweden are not deliberately trying to cause fear - thy are just trying to hurt a guy. However at some point in the background is someone who understands the impact of their actions on a wider scale.
Many men exist within the echelons of terrorists. Many may not communicate together - but they don't really need to. The plan is brutally simple and uncomplicated; cause terror.
I don't think it is possible to claim there isn't a climate of fear in the western world. We see it every week almost.
"The attackers in Sweden are not deliberately trying to cause fear - thy are just trying to hurt a guy."
What I was trying to say was: of course they were creating fear, they must have know that they were, wich is why I find the statement "they did not want to create fear" puzzling.
if nothing else the protest is confused - who is it directed at? Extremists? I fail to see how playing their game is clever.
Sure, they might be caused by gays initially feeling scared when they're alone and isolated. But joining together to march for something you believe in is an attempt to overcome this fear by uniting.
That's the way I see Draw Mohammed Day. Safety in numbers. It's a response to fear, not an expression of fear. South Park was censored because the TV executives were scared. We want to show we don't have to be scared.
This isn't really showing unity thought. The threats are non-credible but you are giving them credence. It does feel a lot like a fearful reaction. And very little to do with unity - because the chosen symbol alienates Muslims from the protest.
Think of it this way; if someon blogged random death threats because of a cartoon of George w bush would weaigh and ignore it? Why the double standard here then?
There is no credible threat, but some appear afraid enough to see it as one.
These threats are highly credible.
I'm sorry if many muslims are offended by this, but that's really to do with their own lack of self confidence. Nobody's lost an eye, limb or a life by the actions of Mohammed drawers. It's a picture, for goodness sake!
Perhaps we disagree about what a positive symbol is. I happen to believe the artistic result of freedom of expression is a positive symbol.
But this protest is reacting to the wider majority of empty threats.
The rest of your post is just worrying. You may not understand why offense is taken at a picture, I agree and to me it seems silly.
But that doesn't give us the right to essentially say "shush, you're being silly. Let us get on with our protest please". It's a bit patronizing :-)
think of it this way: all Muslims are discluded from this protest. How is that unity?
(also, this ain't freedom of artistic expression. It's a deliberate attempt to get at the terrorists with imaea they don't like... That's a negative image in my mind :-))
(though "win" is a relative term - "further their aims" is more realistic)
The social contracts are codified in our laws. And the laws says that blasphemy is legal.
The other, Christian, side of the Swedish krona:
And those laws, equally, don't say that it is illegal to be offended by blasphemy.
As much as I would fight for the right of people to draw Mohammed I would fight for an individual Muslims right to feel offended by that drawing.
Nobody's talking about legality.
Blasphemy used to be illegal all over the Western world, but isn't anymore. Death sentence were metered out in e.g. mid 19th century Sweden -- for much less than Ecce Homo (see previous comment) and Piss Christ.
It is important to lampoon and jeer at ideologies/religions, especially those that insist they have the ultimate Truth and are above criticism.
(Racism/slavery went the other way; it used to be accepted -- but like intolerance to blasphemy, it was put behind us, at least in the West.)
As a Christian I certainly don't like Jesus constantly being mocked -- but I also think he is perfectly capable of defending himself. Christianity has a clear response. Jesus is our hero. When he was mocked, tortured and murdered he laid down his life. Most of his closest followers died in the same way. The whole question is central to Christianity.
Does anyone have any examples of a concise response that a "peace-loving Muslim" might give to an "extremist Muslim?" ... why do more Muslims not speak out more often against extremists?
While it's fun for some to mock part of someone elses religion and I absolutely advocate free speech we need to see this as what it is. It's trolling. If you want to stick it to the extremists then do something the moderates can unite with you against them. No moderate could support EDMD because it specifically goes against the teachings of one of their holy books.
Rather than ask for a response that a peace loving muslim might give an extremist muslim, ask yourself what a peace loving Christian would give by way of a response to an extremist Christian should Jesus be mocked. There you will find your answer.
Interestingly (or perhaps not) this doesn't just apply to Mohammed. This applies to all prophets in Islam, including Jesus and Moses. It's because idolatry is the worship of something other than god and to muslims there is only the one god, although he's the same god as the god in all Abrahamic faiths, just interpreted differently.
The same way Christians should be constantly and publicly apologetic for the crazy abortion clinic bombers?
My impression from Muslim friends is that they do, but internally - and I can't blame them. Muslims face an increasingly cold attitude from people in America, and unity against the face of discrimination is important. Without speaking from personal experience, I suspect that nobody wants to get into an internal witch-hunt (who's the extremist bomber?!) that will simply fracture the community.
Perhaps they would be more willing to speak out against extremists if they thought the rest of their country had their backs. But let's face it - looking at this discussion (and knowing that attitudes in the general population is markedly worse), we don't. The moderates are between a rock and a hard place - on one side a public that fears and loathes them, and on the other a bunch of murderous fiends that look like them, and claim to be one of them.
The French got their church out of their daily lives -- and don't seem exactly nostalgic for its influence... I'd guess they use the term to mean that they come from a culture with Christian influences.
(I call myself "Protestant atheist".)
That's abject nonsense. Intentionally offending people doesn't make them grow up. It makes them feel aggrieved.
(I acknowledge that many idiots on the Facebook page were intentionally offending people)
But what this is really about is intentionally defending our freedom of speech whilst at the same time accepting the necessary, but unintentional, side effect of offending people.
But frankly, who cares? These people can choose whether or not to be offended by this. If they think we're stupid so be it, they don't have to engage with us.
What's childish is the notion that there's no cost to offending people, or that the cost must not matter because there's a principle attached to it. You have free speech whether or not you choose to use it to offend Muslims. Muslims will tolerate your free speech, because that's the social contract, and we enforce the social contract with the enormous, virtually unstoppable resources of Western Civilization.
We knew that before this demonstration, we'll know it afterwards. The only thing that's going to change is that many tens of thousands of people will be pointlessly alienated so that people like you can feel good about themselves.
The only thing that's going to change is that many tens of thousands of people will be pointlessly alienated
I disagree with that. I hope that -- and the reason I support this movement is that -- we will all feel stronger as a society which values freedom of expression.
It certainly was not about feeling good about myself. I feel bad about offending anyone, but I think demonstrating our belief in free speech is more important.
Thanks, you've put exactly into words the idea I've been struggling to sketch out for the last few days.
Given that you have that impression, I understand why you reacted the way you did, but your impression is incorrect.
It's like saying that when I use a gun to defend my house from a burglar wearing a red hat, that my aim is to kill people with red hats. Completely missing the point.
The aim of this movement is to defend free speech (my house) from extremists (burglars) not people who happen to be muslim (wear red hats).
I might also add that the Swedish artist discussed now (Vilks), has a history of provocation in his work. Not only for muslims. He also made a cartoon of one of these, which imho clearly overshadows the Muhammed reference:
I would avoid saying "HN demands" anything, since this thread shows that people's views here are all over the map.
I think you're misinterpreting their intention. Rather than saying people don't have the right to be offended, they're saying people don't have the right to kill over the offense.
The point is that some things are more important than avoiding offending people (particularly, I might add, over something so ridiculous as drawing a picture).
Why is it so hard to extend the same courtesy to Muslims?
Posting something on the internet (or broadcasting a TV show) that no-one has to see if they don't want to is something entirely different.
In order to end violence, people must undergo cognitive dissonance, realize that one belief they hold prescribes death and another belief they hold prescribes that they shouldn't. The resolve this dissonance by permanently discarding the belief that prescribes them to kill, by encountering a situation that shows this belief to be absurd. People will NOT introspect on their deeply held beliefs unless beneficial situations like Everybody Draw Mohammed day occur.
Because if it's written in some holy text, it must mean modern practitioners still follow it to the T, right?
"Thou shalt not wear a garment of divers sorts, as of woolen and linen together." - Deuteronomy 22:11
It seems disturbing that those who are anti-Islam use the same fucked up interpretations of Quranic texts that the extremists themselves use. Kind of a sick irony I suppose.
The problem is that many practitioners do follow texts to a T, and I believe that's the point of most religious systems.
It's important to note that christian descendant and "allies" control the majority of media. Eg. in Albania there is an estimation of 80/20% of Muslims (majority non practitioners)/Christians, while the government administration 80/20% Christians/Muslims.
EDIT: I was talking about worldwide majority, not national or regional.
That's something you should think about. At least the Chinese government stated it publicly, while others mask it as democracy freedom.
I talk about governments and politics, but you should count religion in it. Do you think the Catholic Church (eg. the Vatican) doesn't influence decisions of governments? (I know something about this)
100% straw-man, I never quoted the Quran? I was referring to modern day. At least 2006 I recall the U.S. had to get Karzai to intervene in and order the release of a defendent facing execution in Afghanistan.
The claim you need to try and contest is "religion is intrinsically violent"
You should clarify what you meant by the above.
(a) "You... [do] not recognize that religion [in general] is intrinsically violent."
(b) "You... [do] not recognize that [that particular] religion[, Islam,] is intrinsically violent."
Actually, it depends on what you do when they show up.
> Imagine if a group of atheists firebombed a church for making fun of atheism, and the Christians' response is instituting a "mock atheism day". Does this solve any problems? Does it create more understanding? Does this help improve the view, from either side, that most people are actually reasonable, sane people?
I'll bite - what was your response when various Christians objected to "Piss Christ"?
We're currently saying "we have to avoid anything that might offend Muslims because some of them might go violent". At some point, other groups are going to see if that generalizes.
> Speaking to my Muslim friends, they are as appalled by the violence of extremists as we are
Good for them. I note that Japanese-Americans turned in the few saboteurs during WWII. Italian-Americans turn on the Mafia. And so on. I hope that Muslims are doing the same.
Not sure I was around for that one - but I highly doubt I would've participated in a worldwide public shaming of all Christians, which is really what this thing boils down to.
> "We're currently saying "we have to avoid anything that might offend Muslims because some of them might go violent"."
No, that's not what we're saying at all. What we're saying is "there's no need to troll and antagonize everyone of a particular belief just because a small minority of them are violent assholes". There's nothing in here that capitulates our freedoms to religious belief - drawing Mohammed is still legal, but for the sake of everyone getting along on this big lonely rock, maybe we shouldn't.
Leveraging your freedoms to its maximum extent, even to the grave offense of others, is not protecting it, despite what some people seem to think. Your freedoms do not absolve from good taste and judgment.
Let me put this in another way. Your neighbor is deeply offended, by, say lawnmowers. You still have the right to mow your lawn - and it would be unreasonable for him to ask you to ask you to stop mowing your lawn. But instead, you ridicule him for it and invite all the neighbors over to have a big lawn-mowing party. That's the line between exercising your freedom, and simply being a jackass.
EDMD, IMHO, falls on the wrong side of this line.
I disagree, this is the only way to test the limits of our rights. Our freedoms are defined everyday by circumstances beyond what the law states.
EDMD is a reaction to the self-censorship of the mainstream media. It's a reaction to a debate, one which has terms of discourse dictated by one side via fear. When a cartoon is so controversial someone gets killed, the public needs to understand the reason, context, and history. This cannot happen without free debate. Censoring the offending image is the anti-thesis of informative journalism.
I don't think this issue has much to do with Islam proper, it's more a chastisement of the American media. Burning an American flag would be a good parallel, another sacred cow gets slaughtered. If you can't recognize the underlying symbology of course it seems pointless and provocative.
> Not sure I was around for that one - but I highly doubt I would've participated in a worldwide public shaming of all Christians, which is really what this thing boils down to.
"Piss Christ" was an intentional provocation. Would you have told Christians to get over it?
> > "We're currently saying "we have to avoid anything that might offend Muslims because some of them might go violent"."
> No, that's not what we're saying at all.
Actually, it is. It may not be what you intend to say, but it's what you're saying.
They threaten violence "unless" and you're doing as they demand. Your excuse for doing so doesn't matter.
I'd argue that the lack of blasphemy laws in the US has been an good thing. Arguing for defacto equivalents seems unwise.
However, if you're going to do so, it's unclear why Muslims should be a special case.
So, what are you going to do when another group starts saying "don't say things that we don't like or we'll get violent"?
> That's the line between exercising your freedom, and simply being a jackass.
You seem to think that they're distinct - they're not. Being a jackass is a subset.
However, even if they were, you're saying that given the choice between siding with jackasses and thugs, you'll take thugs.
No - there isn't another option, even if you need one so you can feel good about yourself.
It is like parents shreking in horror because Harry Potter promotes witchcraft. No matter what religions you have, intolerance should not be allowed.
After all, free speech isn't about what speech you like or what I like, but what people hate. Someday, you're going to be on the opposite side.
I'm 110% with 'potatolicious on this. The people saying we shouldn't have to go out of our way to avoid offending Muslims are, of course, right. But there's no cause to go out of our way to offend Muslims, either.
If I was a Islamist culture-warrior, things like "Draw Muhammad Day" would be a coup for me; it might even have been the reason why I'd threaten the lives of cartoonists. To provoke a counterproductive response from the west.
I mean, all we have to do is draw a very important prophet, for god sake! We don't even have Mommahad do bad things them for them to get offended.
Someone will get offended. Somebody will say politically incorrect things.
I don't like other people to act like children when Christians endure religious satire and people saying all Christians are hypocrite or something horrible, daily.
You don't see Christians going around murdering political cartoonists for offending them do you?
That's a little intolerant; you might not understand why they feel that way (I certainly don't) but it doesn't allow you to sneer at such things.
Sure, that is all we need to do. Does that mean we should make a point of doing it?
Walking around nude in front of visitors you your home is, clearly, going to offend some people. That is something I don't really understand because it is just bits, and we all have em!
But would you deliberately take your clothes off when you had visitors? As opposed to accidentally opening the door naked to someone?
There is a difference I think.
I'm sure the ones who are ready to kill people for drawing Muhammad will be so impressed by your principled defense of free speech that they will see the error of their ways...
Seriously, the only thing this will accomplish is to convince those that would NOT murder you but still consider what you are doing extremely rude that you care not one whit about what they think is important. In case you didn't reflect on what you just posted, you are exactly advocating special treatment for Muslims just because they were offended.
The way I see it, if the West, or primarily non-Muslims, are the ones battling these extremists, we're already screwed. Now, instead of a fight between violent extremists and peaceful moderates, you have introduced elements of race and politics (it is easy, for example, for EDMD to be perceived as Western insensitivity and arrogance). Fundamentalists will find ways to exploit this marvelously.
I wouldn't draw Mohammed at all - the best thing you can do IMHO is something that targets the extremists exclusively - something moderate and liberal Muslims won't find offensive. This way you can get them behind it also - it is far easier to remove a group's credibility and relevance when a large group of "their people" are also united against it. Involving Muslims in the solution to this problem is the key - otherwise it just ends up looking like a modern day Crusade.
Edit: I mean, if they had been asked nicely I would totally agree with you. But it must be made clear that threats are not an appropriate way to deal with religious issues.
But what result are you (or Mohammed Doodlers - "MoDoods"?) hoping to achieve?
And will antagonizing militant muslims help achieve that goal?
Edit: the point is you're antagonizing waaaay more (likely on the order of 1 billion or more) than the people you're trying to, which is counter-productive.
I'm under the impression that this started when a cartoonist drew a picture of Mohammed, inspiring violent threats from all over. South Park was simply dogpiling on this (as they do with all other contentious issues) - the notable part of South Park's involvement is that Comedy Central actually moved to self-censor.
"A prominent Iranian newspaper says it is going to hold a competition for cartoons on the Holocaust to test whether the West will apply the principle of freedom of expression to the Nazi genocide against Jews as it did to the caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad."
My point is just that everyone (atheists, christians, muslims, jews) needs stop being immature and realize that trying your best to piss off people with a different opinion is just going to cause polarization and make them think their way of thinking is correct.
The wikipedia page on freedom of speech (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedom_of_speech) says this:
In practice, the right to freedom of speech is not absolute in any country and the right is commonly subject to limitations, such as on "hate speech".
According to the Freedom Forum Organization, legal systems, and society at large, recognize limits on the freedom of speech, particularly when freedom of speech conflicts with other values or rights. Limitations to freedom of speech may follow the "harm principle" or the "offense principle", for example in the case of pornography or "hate speech"
And the page on hate speech (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hate_speech) says this:
Hate speech is, outside the law, any communication which disparages a person or a group on the basis of some characteristic such as race or sexual orientation. In law, hate speech is any speech, gesture or conduct, writing, or display which is forbidden because it may incite violence or prejudicial action against or by a protected individual or group, or because it disparages or intimidates a protected individual or group. The law may identify a protected individual or a protected group by race, gender, ethnicity, nationality, religion, sexual orientation, or other characteristic.
The one thing that bugs me the most is how quickly different aspects of the discussion quickly get muddled into a big mess
1 - You're about as free to draw Mohammed as a protester is free to say "burn the infidels". Heck, when it comes to controversial issues, people make life threats all the time.
2 - If you say something and someone kills you because of it, that's not a free speech violation. It's a criminal offense. They are completely different things.
3 - What a broadcasting corporation elects not to show on their air time doesn't have much to do with what you, as a individual can say, according to the law.
If the government told the TV station not to air something, then we have a free speech violation. If the government throws you in jail for saying something, then you have a free speech violation.
Did any of the two happen? No. Then, don't even mention free speech.
Did you insult your neighbour and subsequently got beaten up? That's 1) your responsibility to not say stupid stuff and 2) criminal law jurisdiction if you do get hurt because you said stupid stuff.
That being said, generally on HN one-liners that don't really add substantial elements to the discussions are downmodded to oblivion in an attempt to keep this place from degenerating into reddit ;)
> That being said, generally on HN one-liners that don't really add substantial elements to the discussions are downmodded to oblivion in an attempt to keep this place from degenerating into reddit ;)
ha. fair enough. though the long version of what i meant is "hells yes, thanks for saying this more eloquently than I could've".
Every individual has a right to speech, so long as they are speaking in public or on property that they have a legitimate right to use (either via ownership or by voluntary agreement with the owner). No one - no matter how offended they might be by an idea - has any right to employ force or the threat of force to silence another.
When people threaten violent action against someone for offending their religious ideas, they must be challenged and stopped. Without the freedom to speak, we lose all hope of defending our rights by peaceful means.
But this isn't what this is. This is, to use your analogy, someone protesting all Christians in response to some extreme ones that blow up abortion clinics.
This is going to do very little good, but a whole lot of harm to inter-faith relations everywhere.
It isn't really like protesting Christians per se.
It's a bit more like using a symbol dear to Christians' hearts (say, Jesus himself) and then creating a political cartoon that shows Jesus operating as a terrorist and shooting doctors who perform abortions, or blowing up clinics.
While depicting Jesus as a terrorist would be offensive to most or all Christians, this is a perfectly permissible political cartoon. 
This "Draw Muhammad" exercise is a perfectly sensible way for those of us who don't wish to bow down to the threats of Islamic-inspired fascism to contribute our little part to a protest. To say "I live in a republic where the rule of law includes freedom of speech, and not a freedom not to be offended. If you don't like it, draw something that offends me right back."
 Coincidentally, it would do a great job of contrasting the message of peace that Jesus preached, with the wanton violence perpetrated by some of his contemporary followers.
An elderly neighbour noticed the poster and alerted the police. A gaggle of bobbies arrived shortly there after, pushed there way into his home and told told the now handcuffed afacer that the poster had to be taken down.
When he asked why, he was told that it caused offense. When he asked what the criteria was for that which is determined to be offensive, he was told "that which any reasonable person would find alarming, harassing or distressful" In a hilarious conversation with an inspector of the police some time later, he asked whether he might be allowed to use the word 'tosser' in place. 'No' came the answer. Masturbater?..still 'No'. He suggested onanist as a last resort which flumoxed the inspector. Full article here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2010/may/11/david-cameron-poste...
My point is that here is a case where freedom of speech is restricted by a government, but we don't see anybody rallying support for 'David Cameron is a Wanker day' not that many people wouldn't enjoy it.
Similarly The European Union's Framework decision on Racism and Xenophobia states that denying or grossly trivialising "crimes of genocide" should be made "punishable in all EU Member States" but we don't see anybody rallying for a '6 million jews didn't die in the holocast' day.
Why is that? I think that although this 'everybody draw mohammed day' wants to wear the mask of 'supporting free speech' - it is at it's heart really just an excuse to bash religionists - an easy target. What's offensive to some, is not offensive to others. If we are to have restrictions in society on what we can and cannot say, do, write or draw then what exactly does and does not get restricted will often be because of some bias on behalf of the lawmaker. In this case the US law sides with the caricaturists, in another instance it might not.
Europe has worrying levels of political censorship, of course, but they always have and always will. The difference is that no one actually killed anyone for saying "David Cameron Is A Wanker". "John Terry Is A Wanker" might get you bludgeoned to death with a wadded up newspaper, of course, but then football hooliganism is not nearly as tolerated as Islamic hooliganism. That's really the root of the problem here, isn't it?
You didn't react emotionally, didn't appeal to "can't we all just get along", and provided plenty of analogous cases for comparison.
You've given me a lot to think about. This is one of the reasons why Hacker News is great!
For what it's worth: I disagree with your argument and think it is rebuttable, but it was measured and considered and I'll learn a lot thinking about why I disagree with you.
edit: That's what happens in Europe now. (A mild example.)
The murder of Theo van Gogh and subsequent threats against other artists, authors, etc. are terrible acts. No one should be killed for such expression.
But I have to say - I find any "juvenile attempt to troll a religious group," well, juvenile and trollish. It is uncivil and rude. It promotes division and distrust, and actively destroys the work many have put into creating safe atmospheres of expression and mutual respect by ridiculing a religious community.
I am not a Muslim. The closest affiliation I'd claim might be with some liberal emerging christianities. But I believe in respecting others enough not to make fun of deeply-held beliefs, which I myself do not hold and which do not impact my life but are absolutely central to the worldviews and spirituality of a very signification portion of the world's citizens.
I'd suggest that "valuing free speech and reason" needn't involve encouraging socially destructive behavior intent on marginalizing a people group, self-selected or not.
When I first watched the south park episode I was very confused.. then I watched the backlash unfold.
I think this movement is needed to get this out into the open. What would you say if Skin Heads, KKK, or any other racist organization threaten violence and we bowed out.. stopped the presses and let them have their way.
This is what we are doing by tip toeing around the issue in our country, censoring our media, and for what? We need exactly this movement because it is "uncivil and rude".
Nothing promotes more division and distrust like murdering someone for drawing an image or punching someone in the face for it. Yes, if you think about it as "trolling a religious group" it does sound juvenile. But you think about it as an act of solidarity with those who have been killed or punched in the face, then it makes more sense.
Locke was in it for the lulz, no doubt.
I think some religious groups need to learn about the Streisend Effect.
It is _my_ opinion that anyone who participates in this is a sheep with a "me too" mentality.
I do not follow any religion, but that does not give
me the right to ridicule things that others hold dear.
No, that would be the US Constitution's first amendment. Conversely, you do not have a right to not have the beliefs you hold dear ridiculed. There is no legal protection against having one's beliefs ridiculed. That's because it's not a big deal. Get over it.
So your cartoon was censored. Maybe you are the one who needs to get over it.
As for the cartoon, it was likely a mistake to give in to the threats, as it simply validates them and invites more.
And just to put it out there; I have no problem with you (I don't know you) and I am not trying to argue directly with you. Your's was just the reply link I clicked.
You have to learn how to think in principle (and identify the correct principles - those that will advance and enhance your life), or your life will turn out to be a mess.
Everyone should be free to choose this for themselves, and to tell anyone they can about what they think, without being threatened.
Anybody that would have been against drawing the Prophet (pbuh) before, will be even moreso now. This day will only 'prove' their assertions that Islam and the West are 'against' one another.
And for rational people that just let things slide... well they're not going to be affected by this either.
So what is really happening here?
I can tell you that as a Muslim I do feel attacked and provoked. Pretty much every one of my regular community sites has a discussion/thread on this topic, so it's difficult for me to avoid it without changing my regular Internet routine for the day.
Now, I know that the stupidness of this day isn't directed at me. I'm entirely cognizant that this is a natural reaction by certain groups of people that feel strongly about censorship.
So as a Muslim I'm not offended. But I am annoyed. I'm annoyed with the people promoting and enacting this day. I'm annoyed with the extremists that caused the violence that triggered this reaction. I'm annoyed with the oppressive history that helped create these extremists. I'm annoyed with the corrupt politicians and self-seeking 'religious' folk that manipulate people into doing evil acts.
Essentially this stupid day is just reminding me that there are a lot of stupid and annoying people out there. Most days I can ignore that and focus on the great things that people do (like here on HN).
So what this day did is just made me feel annoyed.
I also know that I'm pretty reasonable and rational. If someone like me feels annoyed I know there are other people out there that are going to find even more reason and justification to fuel their violent acts. And that's just going to escalate the situation with an escalated response. All of which will annoy me.
Ahh screw this. I'm going outside. ---- without my iPhone.
You may not understand this, but censoring South Park was a huge harm to liberal principles.
It really serves no purpose and only causes minds 'close' to be 'closed' a little harder, and for people that are moderate to be upset for no good reason at all.
The extremists will be delighted; they get to propagate fear and use this as propaganda.
Moderate Muslims will probably consider it a bit childish (and may be offended, that's their right I suppose)
Anti-westernism will be bolstered a little more in the Muslim states
And people like myself just feel a bit embarrassed to be on the "same side" as these people.
Now, if someone wants to sit down and discuss how we could perform a grown up show of strength and unity against extremism then I'm all for it.
(I think the first point is the most important one; clearly this is going to backfire because it is the reaction the extremists where looking/hoping for. It's progressing to the point where they don't need to bother trying the actual terrorism any more - certain elements in Western society are scared to death and reacting to just words...)
If someone is "anti-western" because of exploitative child labour, pillaging natural resources of the third world, etc. then great, let's sit down and talk.
But harmlessly drawing pictures? Come on.
What I'm trying to say is that the profile of the US (the general symbol of Westernism in Islamic states) is already extremely low. A lot of people consider the US rude and intolerant; that's just the image that has unfortunately developed.
Ordinary people in those states are probably looking at this and thinking "well this just proves it doesn't it".
I'm not sure alienating people further is a clever idea (us vs. them is one reason why extremism is fostered on both sides).
It's not even really about causing offence (as already pointed out, everyone is offended by someone) but about "proving" to people in those states we don't really understand the problem...
This is pitched as sticking a finger up to extremists; a sentiment I utterly agree with. What it actually is is feeding them ammunition, and potentially causing more resentment in Mulsim countries. I can't help feeling there is a better way to stick that finger up :)
Also; this stinks of fear to me.
What if I'm offended when you wear your hat backwards and threaten to kill you? What's less special about me than about muslims?
It's a culture thing. Like.. why do some innocent (to us) gestures in Japan cause offence? It appears inexplicable.
> What if I'm offended when you wear your hat backwards and threaten to kill you?
What if your whole street is made uncomfortable by me wearing my hat backwards - but don't want to kill me for it. Is me walking up and down the street for a day with my hat on backwards a particularly good way to denounce you?
I'd argue there are better ways; like exposing you to the wider world (obviously, the solution to extremism is a harder problem)
I see it as an attempt for us as a liberal society to join in an affirmation of our principles.
Perhaps others will be offended, but uniting as a society around our treasured values is more important. Bringing the moderate muslims into the fold can happen later, once we're sure that our fold actually exists and is what we think it is (tolerant and liberal).
Sorry, that was just an example of IMO a better way to react to your hypothetical extremism. It was a bad one but I was trying to avoid suggesting reporting you to the police (which was a worse one :P).
i.e. it was a solution rather than a "show".
In terms of a real solution to this problem.. well clearly the most sensible one is to ignore the majority of the threats (it avoids propagating fear and forces the extremists out of the limelight - one of their greatest weapons).
That's odd, I thought this day was about fighting intolerance, not supporting it.
Funny. Intolerance is being used in two diametrically opposed ways here:
1) Can Muslims tolerate other's rights to express themselves?
2) Can Freedom-Of-Speecher's tolerate Muslim's intolerance?
Is tolerating intolerance tolerant or intolerant?
It seems almost like a koan.
I think the truly tolerant person would be very much like a "stoner" here: tolerating both those who draw pictures of Muhammad, and tolerating (read: understanding) the outrage of Muslims. "OK man... I see you're drawing a picture... OK man... I see you're stabbing that other dude..."
That right there is ultimate tolerance. Holding to no belief in other words.
Where do you find yourself?
I don't think it's about that. One Muslim living in an Arab state (who I discuss these issues with) said the following:
People here won't be too bothered about Americans drawing Mohammed in itself. What they will roll their eyes at is the fact that those people think they are making some big statement when, actually, it is the reaction expected of them by extremists. It's getting predictable - and it is the ignorance that is getting tedious
Personally I have no belief (as you put it). I do think this is silly and misses the point though :)
This article basically sums up my thoughts on it. Yes, it's not nice to unfairly antagonize people. However, when it comes down to freedom of speech and being too worried about offending someone on their ridiculous standards, something has to be done. I'm all for living in peace and harmony with people, but I'll be damned if I'm going to censor myself like that or be threatened for drawing a picture. I'm fine if you want to follow whatever rules you feel your god or prophet would like you to uphold (as long as they don't lead you to harming someone else) and as long as you don't try to impose them on others. That's when a line is crossed.
CAIR: A Muslim Response to 'Draw Muhammad Day'
However that does not make dragging this out and going to extremes to further offend a group of people ok. I am Muslim myself, though not devout and lived my my entire life in America (luckily traveled a lot as well). My father converted to Islam so we also don't have a long ancestral/cultural tradition around Islam.
I find South Park utterly offensive and choose not to watch it, whether they are making fun of Jews, or Jesus, or whatever. The big difference here is that Jesus has been depicted in pictures for thousands of years, in churches and everywhere, so a stupid tee shirt with Jesus drinking a beer has somehow become not so terribly offensive in 2010.
In Islam it is Haram(not advised) to create depictions of the Prophet Mohammed (pboh). There are no pictures of any Prophets in Mosques, and just because people of other religions or no religion don't find it offensive does not make it so. Muslims have a very bad image right now so there is an feeling of antagonism in these types of situations. Its all a bit weird, but intelligent people should just respect other peoples differences rather then dictating how and what is viewed as offensive.
Anyone who wants to kill you for drawing a picture already wants to kill you for other reasons, they just haven't singled you out yet. If you're participating in this because you want to stand up to a violent threat, you fail. You're simply saying "I'm afraid of the boogieman, and I can't stand up to him without a herd to hide me".
The censorship argument is equally ridiculous. The media censors all kinds of information that would piss of their advertisers and audiences, and a cartoon of a dead religious figure surely ranks among the least significant to anyone's daily life. If you want to get pissed about something, get pissed about the utterly insignificant bullshit that gets paraded around as news every day (hint: EDMD would be a good start).
You don't advance a cause by being antagonistic like this. If you have a problem with Muslims committing violence because of insults to Mohammed (and you should have a problem with that, no matter what your creed) then you don't achieve much by insulting him some more.
The better way would be to take it one-on-one with people that display such tendencies (and i'm thinking of moderate Muslims here) that can express in terms that both parties understand why this is not a big deal. Not in a group confrontation like this, mob intelligence is on the whole a lot lower than individual intelligence.
The original cartoons were a provocation, this is raising the stakes. What is needed is de-escalation and less fundamentalism, by all parties.
You will not change peoples minds by antagonizing them and polarizing the issue.
Religious people (of all religions) will have to come to terms with the fact that their religious laws do not apply to those that do not share that religion. This will take another 1,000 years and a few more actions like this and it might take 2,000 years.
-Abraham Lincoln, first inaugural address
And even then it took some doing. And even today there are some 'holdouts' who think that was all a big mistake.
The people pushing this are just as stupid as the people that get upset over Mohammed being depicted.
They're just preaching to the choir and in the meantime will achieve the opposite of what they want to achieve.
You are not going to solve this with a confrontation, only with education.
Slavery could be solved with confrontation, and sufficient force. And I don't think you'd like to see this escalate the way the slavery issue did.
The cartoons are an attempt at education - you say "only with education" will this be solved, so then you should agree that antagonizing with cartoons, in a way that is educational, should work... but somehow I have a feeling that you are going to disagree with yourself again.
The cartoons are not an attempt at education, merely at escalation.
If I walk up to an American and burn a flag chances are they'll get violent. What's the difference here ?
Kick someones symbol on purpose and you kick the person behind it. If you do not wish to be kicked back you educate, not confront.
Of course it is stupid, but this is no less stupid, and childish to boot.
I thought you meant that athiests should talk one-on-one with moderate muslims.
Why do people feel that because they disagree with someone they must be rude and hurt their feelings. This is a really bad example of protest in my opinion...
For that, I truly, truly apologize.
Sorry doesn't necessarily mean that you are apologizing; it simply means that something is causing you sorrow, and I can certainly see how it could cause someone sorrow that someone else holds a viewpoint that you believe is inferior.
I disagree. You wouldn't say 'but' after it. You might say, "I'm sorry, and" - explaining why, and indicating why you thought otherwise. But that's not what happened here.
"I'm sorry, but" is trash-talk. It doesn't belong here.
A more accurate analogy would be like blowing up one bad guy and the blast knocking the hats off some nearby good guys. They might get mortally offended that you knocked their hats off, but they should get over themselves. There are more important things to worry about in life.