What, hey, Everybody Draw Mohammed Day

For your eyes: Mohammed as a rabbit, Mohammed as a Lemmy Kilmister impersonator, and Mohammed as a cliche Twilight Zone type TV show alien spy.

The thing is, devout Muslims may consider a portrayal of Mohammed as offensive as they want, but they have no right and no justification in pushing their chosen restrictions on the rest of us. That they do is, I think, what is called “a monstrously disproportionate sense of entitlement”.

There’s no human right called “the right to not be offended”, and life would be nightmarishly absurd and bland if there was such a thing — every religion would be obliterated in a blaze of internecine disapproval, and I myself would be well served by my deeply mysterico-theological Erisian offendedness about sports on TV.

To mangle the words of a very unpopular speaker, one Aleister Crowley, people should have the right to speak what they will, to write what they will, to draw, paint, carve, etch, mould, build as they will. They should be bloody pissed if anyone tries to thwart those rights. This particular pissing contest called Everybody Draw Mohammed Day is just an expression of that righteous pissed-off-ness.

The reader is invited to imagine whatever he or she holds most dear — friends, family, a loved one, Dan “Cuddly Bear” Dennett, Mother Teresa, a particularly close imaginary friend, or one’s favorite brand of whiskey — being viciously and mockingly depicted in the pictures above; the reader should then, instead of seeking out me and punching me in the face, think whether his or her particular offense is justification enough for legal action, assault, arson, or murder. (Er, no, not. Right? Please?)

This is a question of free speech, and free speech is not some local cultural affectation; it is a necessary component of every just society ever imagined (by a brutal trick of redefinition if not otherwise); and one rather important component of free speech is it includes acknowledging the freedom of others to say discourteous crap one might not like, indeed to say even discourteous crap no-one much likes. That includes the occasional mouth-breather xenophobe (like some Mohammed-depicters), and, motivated by entirely different ideals, the occasional atheist not very fond of a religion (like some Mohammed-depicters) and, motivated again by entirely different ideals, the occasional troublemaker out for a cheap shock-and-laugh (like some Mohammed-depicters); but hey, the world ought to be just more than it ought to be nice. Just put that cudgel down, pick up a pen, and answer in kind.

(This ought not be construed as an invitation to produce images depicting me as a lapine horror movie Lemmy impersonator. Such blasphemy shall be answered with a fatwah!)

(Edit: This always happens. You do your best to say what you mean, and then find out someone smarter, like Greta Christina, has already done it better. Meanwhile, the government of Pakistan has reacted (Guardian), and drawn the great electric burkha over Youtube and Facebook. Snort, incredulity, abuse!)

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