Speech is not violence

Claiming speech is violence will result in violence.

Last week, Salman Rushdie was to address the Chautauqua Institution on the topic of freedom of speech. He has some experience with those who would stifle it. Thirty three years ago he wrote a book titled The Satanic Verses. He was in hiding for the next decade. And it turns out that wasn’t long enough.

For his title, he looked at a few words in the Quran, as interpreted by some Islamic historians. Islamic fundamentalists are triggered by the concept raised by those co-religionists as long ago as ~900AD. In any case, Rushdie was writing a novel. Fiction.

It’s no surprise, though, that Rushdie’s daring to discuss it was not well received in certain quarters. He upset the same Islamist fanatics who encouraged the slaughter at Charlie Hebdo, the murder of Theo Van Gogh, the threats to the Jyllands-Posten for publishing cartoons, the mass shooting at Bataclan and Pulse, and other murders, arsons and riots too common to detail.

Fundamentalist Islam insists religion and the State are one. Naturally, then, Rushdie’s temerity provoked a Muslim cleric and Head-of-State (Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini) to issue a bounty for Rushdie’s death in 1989.

AKA a ‘fatwa.’ In polities where church and state are separated, we don’t yet have a special term for state religion-sanctioned murder. We are working toward it via the Church of George Floyd, the Cathedral of Transexual Pronounism, the Pieties of the Green New Deal, and the rite of Skin Color Original Sin, but we aren’t there yet.

That does not mean progress is not being made here. This week a militant follower of Islam with ties to Iran stabbed Rushdie a dozen times. As yet, the police can’t find a motive. You have to wonder how the find their own butts.

Rushdie’s stabbing is merely a reminder that “don’t say anything we don’t like to hear” fanatics can be dangerous. We have some of our own.

Every day needs to be ‘Everybody Draw Mohammed day.’ Here’s a comprehensive “compendium of images that depict Mohammed (the 7th-century founder of Islam), spanning all historical periods, cultures, genres, styles, formats and themes.”

Here’s my own paltry contribution.

Every day needs to be ‘Everybody write The Satanic Verses day.’

Rushdie’s stabbing is ethically no different from the persecution of Kyle Rittenhouse, the firing of James Damore, the threats against J. D. Rowling, or the demonization of Nicholas Sandmann.

Everybody Draw Mohammed Day Update

“If it’s not the Crusades, it’s the cartoons.”

I am reminded by Mind Numbed Robot, (Everybody Draw Mohammed Day 2010) to direct you to these earlier TOC posts. I am sure you’ll enjoy them all, but I think April 26 is definitive:

Saturday, April 24, 2010
“Everybody Draw Mohammed Day”

Monday, April 26, 2010
Everybody Burn a Flag with Mohammed’s Image Day

Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Accommodating diversity

Saturday, May 01, 2010
The Mohammed Image Archive

While I’m here, let me link some other comment of note today:

Everybody Draws Mohammed Day [Mark Steyn]

The New Free Speech Movement

Everybody Draw Mohammed Day

You can tell what it is supposed to be from the post title.How Mohammed might have been drawn if South Park had ever actually depicted him.

H/T Openoffice Draw, without which this would have been even worse. I don’t know if software is able to have a fatwa declared against it. OO will just have to take its chances, I guess.

See also:

Announcing Blazingcatfur’s Everybody Draw Mohammed Day Contest Finalists..set to music too…a really Mohammedan enraging tune in fact


Why We’re Having an Everybody Draw Mohammed Contest on Thursday May 20

The Mohammed Image Archive

Is here.

A sample:

“Mohammed’s Flight from Mecca in 622 AD; Algerian color postcard from the 1920s or ’30s. Mohammed is the figure entering the cave. The original postcard is in a private collection.
(Hat tip: Martin H.)”

Everybody Draw Mohammed Day is May 20th. Join in the centuries long tradition and add to the archive.

Accommodating diversity

…or, how to appease fanatics stuck in the 12th Century.

Not Even in South Park?
Russ Douthat – NYT

This is what decadence looks like: a frantic coarseness that “bravely” trashes its own values and traditions, and then knuckles under swiftly to totalitarianism and brute force.

‘South Park’ and the Informal Fatwa
Ayaan Hirsi Ali – WSJ

…do stories of Muhammad where his image is shown as much as possible. These stories do not have to be negative or insulting, they just need to spread the risk. The aim is to confront hypersensitive Muslims with more targets than they can possibly contend with.

Another important advantage of such a campaign is to accustom Muslims to the kind of treatment that the followers of other religions have long been used to. After the “South Park” episode in question there was no threatening response from Buddhists, Christians and Jews…


Everybody Burn a Flag with Mohammed’s Image Day

James Taranto, whose missives I read daily and greatly appreciate, has decided that “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day” is maybe not a good idea:

Everybody Burn the Flag
If we don’t act like inconsiderate jerks, the terrorists will have won!

He describes an epiphany on the subject, occasioned by an Ann Althouse post. I extensively quote Mr. Taranto’s thoughts here because I have reactions to many of them.

The “South Park” Muhammad meshugass in turn inspired a joke that is being taken too seriously. MyNorthwest.com, the Web site of three Seattle radio stations, reports that Seattle cartoonist Molly Norris “wanted to counter the fear. She has declared May 20th ‘Everybody Draw Mohammed Day.’ ” The story reproduces Norris’s strip, which depicts an anthropomorphic teacup declaring, “I am the real likeness of Mohammad” and other household items–a cherry, a domino, a spool of thread–claiming that, no, they are the prophet’s image.

Blogress Ann Althouse notes that commentators across the political spectrum–Glenn Reynolds, HotAir.com, Dan Savage, Reason magazine–are endorsing the idea, apparently in all seriousness. Which prompts an update to the MyNorthwest.com story:

After the massive response to the cartoon Norris posted this on her website:

I make cartoons about current, cultural events. I made a cartoon of a “poster” entitled “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day!” with a nonexistent group’s name–Citizens Against Citizens Against Humor–drawn on the cartoon also. I did not intend for my cartoon to go viral. I did not intend to be the focus of any “group.” I practice the first amendment by drawing what I wish. This particular cartoon of a “poster” seems to have struck a gigantic nerve, something I was totally unprepared for. I am going back to the drawing table now!

Our reflexive response to “Everybody Draw Mohammad Day”–which we too thought was serious, not having seen Norris’s cartoon or her disclaimer–was sympathetic. But Althouse prompted us to reconsider. Here is her objection:

Depictions of Muhammad offend millions of Muslims who are no part of the violent threats. In pushing back some people, you also hurt a lot of people who aren’t doing anything. . . .

I don’t like the in-your-face message that we don’t care about what other people hold sacred. …

At the same time, real artists like the “South Park” guys or (maybe) Andre Serrano should go on with their work, using shock to the extent that they see fit. Shock is an old artist’s move. Epater la bourgeoisie. Shock will get a reaction, and it will make some people mad. They are allowed to get mad. That was the point. Of course, they’ll have to control their violent impulses.

People need to learn to deal with getting mad when they hear or see speech that enrages them, even when it is intended to enrage them. But how are we outsiders to the artwork supposed to contribute the the [sic] process of their learning how to deal with free expression?

…Until 1989, it was a crime in some states to burn the American flag as a political statement. In Texas v. Johnson the U.S. Supreme Court held that this is protected symbolic speech. In ensuing years members of Congress repeatedly tried to propose a constitutional amendment permitting the criminalization of flag burning. It is the view of this column that flag burning is and should remain protected speech. We deplore it nonetheless, and we think holding an “Everybody Burn the Flag Day” would be stupid, obnoxious and counterproductive if one seeks to persuade others that flag burning should be tolerated.

…[W]e would not endorse or participate in an “Everybody Shout a Racial Slur Day” or an “Everybody Deny the Holocaust Day” to make the point.

Why is “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day” different? Because the taboo against depictions of Muhammad is not a part of America’s common culture. The taboos against flag burning, racial slurs and Holocaust denial are. The problem with the “in-your-face message” of “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day” is not just that it is inconsiderate of the sensibilities of others, but that it defines those others–Muslims–as being outside of our culture, unworthy of the courtesy we readily accord to insiders. It is an unwise message to send, assuming that one does not wish to make an enemy of the entire Muslim world.

First of all, “Everybody draw Mohammed Day” could be a joke if death threats weren’t involved. However, that isn’t the case, and self-censorship is not how we encourage moderate Muslims living in our culture to speak out against their fanatic co-religionists. What’s the message for moderates? What’s the message for the fanatics?

Second, the question of racial slurs and Holocaust denial are trademarks of those very Islamist fundamentalists being defended because of their association with Muslims who neither foam at the mouth, nor open it to complain about their brethren.

If fanatic Muslims can say these things in America, I’ll be damned if I’ll accept the idea we can’t say they are idiots. If they can enforce this and other death penalty offenses in their own countries then they live in inferior cultures, and I’ll be damned if I’ll encourage them to intimidate ours.

Third, for Taranto’s main analogy to hold we would be talking about death threats over a drawing of somebody burning our flag. Tangentially, we might consider the insult to our culture they display in stomping on our flag. It’s a bigger deal for them than burning, as I understand it.

Fourth, I would say of flag burning, as has SCOTUS, “Get over it.”

Fifth, maybe the “millions of Muslims who are no part of the violent threats” should push back on those Muslims who are part of violent threats. That way Islam might only be subjected to the same frequency and intensity of ridicule that every other religion has experienced at the hands of South Park. Oh, wait, that would be a lot worse wouldn’t it?

Sixth, May 20th is still “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day” even if the originator of the idea has withdrawn from fear of beheading.

Finally, we don’t, in fact, “care about what other people hold sacred,” when it arises from the same spirit and intellectual rigor as voodoo. We do insist, “[T]hey’ll have to control their violent impulses.” And why should they not control their violent impulses whether the offender is a “real” artist or not?

We can burn our own flag because that only offends some of us, but we’d better not be offending others to whom we offer the privilege of burning our flag and protection for calling us infidels who deserve to die.

“The problem with the “in-your-face message” of “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day” is not just that it is inconsiderate of the sensibilities of others, but that it defines those others–Muslims–as being outside of our culture, unworthy of the courtesy we readily accord to insiders.” Yes it does define those who advertise, or acquiesce to, the idea that a drawing is worthy of death as “outside our culture.” What’s wrong with that?

If we grant the power to ridicule, then we grant the power to ridicule. That’s how it is in our culture. As Mark Steyn points out:

…In a more culturally confident age, the British in India were faced with the practice of “suttee” – the tradition of burning widows on the funeral pyres of their husbands. Gen. Sir Charles Napier was impeccably multicultural:

“You say that it is your custom to burn widows. Very well. We also have a custom: When men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their necks, and we hang them. Build your funeral pyre; beside it, my carpenters will build a gallows. You may follow your custom. And then we will follow ours.”

Instead of cultural confidence, we have Ann Althouse writing this:

In pushing back some people, you also hurt a lot of people who aren’t doing anything (other than protecting their own interests by declining to pressure the extremists who are hurting the reputation of their religion).

Allowing your religion to come into disrepute is “protecting” your interests? I’d call it a cultural judgment with which you acquiesce through your silence. Not unlike those in India who were quite happy to watch suttee. Or as Martin Niemöller said of the Nazis, “First they came for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist. Then they came for the Jews…” Do these moderate Muslims think they are not targets just as soon as practicable?

And Althouse goes on to this, reminiscent of Della Sentilles,

…how are we outsiders to the artwork supposed to contribute the the [sic] process of their learning how to deal with free expression?

Well, they’ve had several hundred years to acclimate. I mean, we assimilated algebra, but there hasn’t been much since.

It’s – “Get a life. When you moderate Muslims rise up and call farce on the Islamic leaders who urge a new holocaust and describe America as the Great Satan, then maybe we’ll think about observing your loosely held 12th Century iconographic distinctions.” Of course, if you get that far, we probably won’t have to.

(For the Andre Serrano reference, see TOC’s own effort to offend every religion here.)

Update 8:31:
Regarding the third point: Actually, we would be talking about death threats over a drawing of somebody burning a bear suit rumored to contain our flag, but didn’t.