Thomas Galvin
Purveyor of Fine Pulp Fiction

Triquetra
Strong people are harder to kill than weak people, and more useful in general -Mark Rippetoe

The most precious freedom we have is the freedom of speech. Without the freedom to speak our minds, all of our other liberties would be at risk. Without the freedom to speak our minds, society would stagnate.

But what many people don’t realize is that the freedom of speech carries along with it another, often overlooked freedom: the right to be wrong.

Freedom of speech means nothing if you’re saying something everyone agrees with. Freedom of speech is worthless if it’s only used to repeat things everyone already believes. The real test, the real value, is in using our freedom to challenge the status quo, to say things that are controversial. America was founded on the belied that we don’t need to be protected from controversy, and that we don’t need to be told what is true. We get to decide that for ourselves. Furthermore, the freedom of speech eliminates a different freedom: if we are free to speak, you are not free from being offended. In fact, it’s almost guaranteed.

When Glenn Beck says that President Obama is leading this nation down the same path as Nazi Germany, he’s being an ignorant ass. When Fred Phelps says that “god hates fags,” he’s being a hateful bigot. But we should all be thankful that they have the freedom to be hateful, ignorant bigots, because if they aren’t silenced, then we are still free to speak, too.

But not everyone agrees with this. Some people think we need to be protected from “dangerous” speech. Some claim that we aren’t fit to decide what is true and what is false. Some insist that they are the arbiters of what can and cannot be said.

When a Danish newspaper printed twelve cartoons of the Muslim prophet Muhammad, radical Muslims declared it an act of blasphemy. Three men were arrested for plotting the assassination of Kurt Westergaard, one of the artists whose cartoon was printed.

Muslim extremists believe they have the right to tell us what to say, and whom to depict – or not. The most radical back up this claim with threats of death. Maybe they’re right: maybe Muhammad is god’s prophet, and maybe I will go to hell for disrespecting him. But that’s between me and god. Even if they’re right, while I’m still on Earth, while I’m still an American, I still have the right to be wrong.

That’s why I’m taking part in Everybody Draw Muhammad Day. Not to offend, but to prove a point: our freedom is more important than your comfort.

Muhammad

Update: it looks like the original Facebook page has been removed. The new one is here.

Update the Second: There’s an official blog now.

0 Responses to “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day”

  1. Hasbi says:

    you dont want to offend? just trying to make a point?

    are you not a professional? trust me this is probably the worse mistake of your life.

    you actually rather hurt thousands of people, just to make a point? free speech is it ?

    you are insulting a faith, a religious belief ! what do you think will happen now? the more you encourage this, the worse it will get. and you know better than anyone, what goes around, comes around. its sad really that we live in a world with so much hatred..and then instead of admitiing that, you cover it up by saying …just want to prove a point!
    i could say rude comments to you, but what good would that bring? you have hurt my feelings beyond belief really, for what reason? why? what dod i do to you? …..anyways no worries, iknow i am a better person. and no matter what you say or draw…i will always have the satisfaction knowing i am a better person than you, and ofcourse much much wiser. And most importantly a respectful person. i would never want to hurt anyone ever. hope your attempt to prove your point deems worthwhile… i can hardly wait…

  2. Ash says:

    Hasbi, with your comment you have hurt and offended millions of non-muslims who 1) believe in the right to free speech and 2) don’t agree that they have to follow the rules of a religion that they are not part of.

    I don’t understand, on this basis, how you could ever claim to be a ‘better’ or more ‘respectful’ person than anyone else.

    The only reason for this day is because some Muslims think it is ok to threaten, hurt, kill or even just claim moral superiority over people who do not follow religious rules of a religion they don’t even believe in.

    Have you decided not to eat beef because Hindus think it’s wrong to eat beef? Would you be upset (and want to speak out about it)if a Hindu threatened you if you did?

    Please, just think about this…

  3. Beth says:

    So maybe I’m completely unqualified to give an educated response to this, but I’m going to exercise my freedom of speech anyway.

    Who cares who’s offended and who’s not?
    It seems like everyone is so focused on not offending others, but does it ever work? NO! Because there is always going to be someone somewhere who doesn’t agree with everything you say &/or do. You can’t make everybody happy. It’s just life.

    When you’re trying so hard not to offend the Muslims, you’re offending the Christians and vice versa. We’re trying to be sensitive to everyone’s beliefs and that’s fine, but not everyone is going to be sensitive to yours. Get over it. Focus on what is important to YOU and YOUR family and stop being so sensitive just because some random person/group of people said they don’t share the same beliefs. Move on.

    Does it matter if I’m a Muslim or a Christian or a Hindu or any other religion? To me it does because it’s MY faith- MY relationship with God (or whatever deity you choose to believe in), but why does it matter to everyone else? Whether or I’m right or wrong, I’m still the one that has to reap the benefits or pay the price. Not You. (And I’m not talking to anyone personally, lol- I’m just using “you” in the general sense).

    I know it’s naive to say that we should all just agree to disagree and that it will NEVER happen, but what good does it do to argue over it? None. It’s the cause of wars & hate crimes by people who all believe their way is the right way and desperately want everyone else in the world to conform to their ideas of what is right and what is wrong. That, in my opinion, makes it more about a power trip than it does your desire to meet whatever religious goals you’ve set for yourself. So, unless you’re planning to take some sort of physical action against me, my family or everyone who doesn’t believe the same way you do, I really don’t care what anyone says (or draws) regarding my faith.

    The beautiful thing about freedom is that is means you have a choice. I can choose to get all bent out of shape and make a big fuss because somebody has a vastly opposing belief system than I do or I can choose to not be offended and/or just let it go. Personally, I’d rather save my breath to use for more constructive things.

    Thanks for this blog post- Looks like it might be a great debate forum lol. (and personally, I agree with you Thomas.)

  4. Sam says:

    Hey thomas,you know i’m a big fan right? so please try to find it in you to read what i have to say and don’t pass judgments.
    I’m a proud Muslim, i wouldn’t trade it for the world in fact i’d rather lose it all but keep my religion. i have to be honest with you this post of yours made me cry… not because i’m angry, although i am but how can i expect you to understand?, our prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is basically a stranger to you, so how can i convince you to stop insulting somebody just because he’s important to me? but think of it like this, say you have a daughter you love her more that anything in this world you spend your life trying to protect her from whatever bad things that could happen, you’d simply die for her, now lets say i came and spread some nasty and offensive rumor about your precious baby out of my ignorance of her. now how would you feel, i bet you’d be angry. what if i said i’m practicing my freedom of speech would that make it ok? now take all the anger and frustration you feel and multiply it with a million, that’s how those comments make us Muslims feel.
    Again i’m not angry at you, i’m angry you’re doing it just to do it…
    i bet you’re a reasonable man, now let me suggest you ask a Muslim friend if you have any about Muhammad (pbuh)or may be read a book or two, i’m not asking you to convert to Islam, not at all, all i’m asking is for you to “do your homework” do all the research, or even Bing him :D before you commit to an opinion.
    Finally, if all else ways fail you, i’ll be more than ready to answer any question you might have in mind about Muhammad (pbuh: by the way this means “Peace Be Upon Him”)

  5. Thomas says:

    Hasbi:

    One of the problems in the world today is that religious belief is given an automatic pass. People – Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Wiccans – can believe all kinds of crazy things, and we just smile and nod and say “well, that’s just what they believe.”

    I don’t. People that think the Pope is infallible are wrong. People who refuse to take their children to the doctor because Jesus will heal them are wrong. People that think Muhammad is so precious that a stick figure labeled with his name is blasphemy are wrong.

    The difference, in this case, is that the people who think these stick figures are wrong are, in some cases, willing to murder us to make their point. Screw that.

    I’m not a religious person. I think all of these belief systems are at least a little silly. But right now I’m pointing out the fact that murdering someone because they drew a cartoon is immoral and stupid.

  6. Thomas says:

    Ash: exactly.

  7. Thomas says:

    Beth: I agree about the power trip. I’m amazed at how many people seem to think their god needs help enforcing his/her/its religious rules. I mean, sure, $deity could smite me for drawing this, thus proving to all that he/she/it is real, but instead, he/she/it will let his/her/its followers come after me.

  8. Thomas says:

    Sam: I used to be in your shoes, except I was a Christian, not a Muslim. Although I walked away from all of that, I can kind of relate to your feelings. I would have been upset if someone had drawn a picture of Jesus performing fellatio or something.

    But, and this is one of the key points, this is a stick figure. I didn’t draw Muhammad with a bomb for a turban, or put his head on the body of a dog. It’s a stick figure. If you drew a stick figure of my daughter (or girlfriend, which is more realistic), I would shrug and get on with my life.

    And even if I had gone out of my way to be offensive, would that be worthy of a death sentence? There are people in the world that think so. But they don’t get to control what I say, and they don’t particularly frighten me. They don’t get to win.

    And for what it’s worth, while I’m nothing like a scholar on Islam, I have read the Quaran, and a handful of books on the religion. Real books, not Bill O’Reilly Wants to Kill the Darkies books.

  9. Terri says:

    I’d like to say something to Sam. He compares his love for Muhommad to the love a father has for his daughter. OK, I can get that. But Sam, can you get this? Imagine a father loved that same daughter very much, and his daughter became very famous. A figure known world-wide. And then the father said, for no reason any of us could understand, that it would be deeply offensive if anyone were to ever draw her – even in a flattering way. Even if she were a stick figure. And that some of your friends would be willing to *kill* anyone who dared to draw a stick figure of this girl. Surely you’d see it was ridiculous. You’d see that this is the kind of bullying that we need to stand up against.

    If you are offended by an activity, don’t do the activity. I personally hate country-western music. I don’t listen to it. I don’t force everyone else not to listen to it.

    Yes, they are drawing Mohommad to make a point. That ridiculous threats don’t work.

  10. Thomas says:

    Terri: I agree, except for one thing. Not all of these threats are ridiculous… some of them are very real, and deadly serious.

  11. Thomas says:

    Also, a question for any Muslim readers: are you really in danger of falling into idolatry because of this picture? Because that’s how the prohibition got started.

  12. JustinW says:

    It is funny to me that people will say they are offended by something that demonstrates freedom of speech but when they exorcise their freedom of speech that inevitably will be offensive to someone else they do not care. I ask all Muslims (especially those that live in countries that are majority non-Muslim) would you enjoy your liberties being taken away by those who feel offended or threatened in any way by your religious beliefs, dress, culture? Because I guarantee people do feel that way toward your religion. Yet your rights are protected. Please respect the rights of others to not have to conform to your beliefs and we can all work toward protecting freedom of speech and to practice whatever religion or lack thereof you choose.

  13. Ritesh says:

    Tom, I knew you were going to make a post on this
    Organized religion is for noobs… Paganism FTW!
    You know those long, dark, cold winter months… that’s my Sun god being mad at you for burning too much fossil fuel :)

  14. Thomas says:

    JustinW : agreed.

  15. Thomas says:

    Ritesh: I do kind of have a rager for Thor…

  16. Kevin says:

    RE: Those offended few.

    So a stick figure is offensive to the, as you loosely referenced, holiest of the holy… How does he feel about you proclaiming your mortal interpretation of his being as a fact? Rather presumptuous, don’t you think?

    Written language started as pictures. That’s what letters are, little pictures that represent sounds. By even writing (or typing) his name, you have violated your very own principles by depicting him in a “material” way. Ain’t logic a bitch?

    If you were Japanese, I’d suggest you do the honorable thing and off yourself………..do the honorable thing, and off yourself.

  17. lucas says:

    It’s stupidity founders’ day or what? and that stick is supposed to look like someone?…you maybe? Seriously; you make me laugh! You’re educated, right? Do your homework; the Prophet was a beautiful man.
    Have you seen any muslim make fun of other prophets, ‘jesus’ maybe? No; and you will never see that. In Islam no one makes fun of prophets, they are all, ‘jesus’ included, messengers carrying one simple message: there is only one God and it is God.
    Since you read so well between the lines, set the vampire diaries aside, go to the library and maybe, just maybe you’ll be enlightened.

  18. Thomas says:

    Lucas, I’ve seen Muslims threaten to murder people because of cartoons. That’s way worse than making fun of someone. Anyone.

    Muslims have a religious rule against drawing Muhammad. That’s fine. Some seek to impose this rule on the rest of society. That’s not fine, and we’re politely saying, “sorry, no.” This is a secular society, and religious rules don’t apply to us. We get to draw stick figures, eat ham, and listen to rock and roll. The people who think these things tarnish the soul are free to abstain, but they don”t get to tell us what to do.

  19. lucy says:

    And I’ve seen Christians killing people, kids and babies, over mere oil: Iraq, Afghanistan…I can’t imagine something worse. As far as I know, no prophets are drawn in Islam, including ‘jesus’, those people were and are very special. Your logic is flawed and provocative. Anyway I agree with Lucas; your comment has insight!

  20. Thomas says:

    Hi Lucy.

    No doubt, what’s happening in Iraq is disgusting and imoral. I don’t disagree with that, though I do disagree that it’s a religious issue.

    The point of these drawings, however, is that even if no prophets are drawn in Islam, that prohibition has nothing to do with us, the people of other religions, or the people of no religion at all. Telling us not to draw Muhammad would be like an Hassidic Jew telling us not to eat pork or cut our beards. If that’s how they choose to live, fine, but it doesn’t mean we have to follow the same rules.

    Furthermore, no public or historical figure, be they a political leader or a prophet, is above question, or even mockery. Muslims believe that Muhammad was a great man bringing the word of god to the people, and they have every right to promote that belief. But I, and millions of others, don’t believe that, and we, too, have the right to promote that (lack of) belief.

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