On May 20th I participated in the Everybody Draw Mohammed Day meme. It was created in response to Islamic threats against those who depict Mohammed, such as Lars Volk and the South Park guys. We believe that threats made by religious fundamentalists should not, cannot trump freedom of expression.
So in solidarity, we all drew silly pictures of Mohammed.
It was my last post before I left for New York. The next day I was sitting at the gate (I arrived five hours early, because I’m a dunce) when my phone rang. It was from “Unknown”.
“This had better not be the Great Vast Unknown. I’ve been looking forward to this trip for months and I don’t want the unfathomable void to blow my mind with my insignificance before I even get on the plane.”
It turned out to be a different unknown: the Globe editor’s room. I had forgotten that while this is my blog, it’s hosted by their site. They were concerned that the post was too offensive for the paper to host, and they were torn between my free speech and not offending the Globe’s Islamic readers. I obliged and let them disconnect the post until I could get to my computer the following week.
I have thought about it over the past few days, and I’ve decided that I’m going to ask that the post be restored.
It is offensive, no doubt. It’s kind of the whole point. I get offended all the time. The Globe’s Christian readers are probably offended all the time. Ditto the vegans, the Democrats, Republicans, Pagans, Kelly Maddy fans, etc. It is not the end of the world to be offended. And mere pictures don’t warrant death threats like Lars Volk has recieved.
It doesn’t make sense from a business perspective either- conservative Christians make a much bigger slice of the readership pie than Muslims, and I rib on them all the freaking time. For the record, I haven’t gotten any threats from either Muslims or Christians. Why are hypothetical extremist Muslims getting special treatment?
Perhaps the hypothetical Muslim reader was offended, not by the picture, but by my calling Islam a barbaric faith system. I stand by that opinion. Any religion that rejects science, dumps on one gender, and terrorizes and bullies nonbelievers, is barbaric. That goes for nearly all Abrahamic religions. Sorry. The fun, interactive portion that you can play along with at home is this: you don’t have to agree with me. You’re free to disagree, knock yourself out, but you’re not free to not be offended by my opinion. I don’t say “show reverence to my atheism, or I’ll put a death warrant on your head.” It would be nice of you, hypothetical extremist Muslim, if you extended the same courtesy to me. A countering blog post mocking me, as I have mocked you, would suffice.
Speaking of offense, this action is offensive to moderate Muslims as well. This is saying to them that they cannot handle encountering a different opinion than their own. You’re lumping them with the “bad Muslims” that terrorize Lars Volk and bring underwear bombs onto airplanes. I imagine the American Muslims on my Facebook agree with the principle “I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend your right to say it.”
I will keep the Mohammed post private as the Globe has requested. Hopefully, the Globe changes its mind and will allow the post to be restored fully.Then we all can have more integrity than Comedy Central.