Because of this, I also despise seeing those freedoms used to stir hatred or violence. When I see such freedoms threatened or abused (see my previous post), I can't stand by idly and do nothing.
So this Thursday, in support of free speech and in support of exercising it with some decency, I'm participating in Everybody Draw Mohammad Day by sharing this post, and just for today using this background image for this website:
To be fair, since this all about freedom of speech, I've tried to include everyone in this drawing business so nobody feels like they're getting picked on: Muslims, Christians, Hindus, Buddhists and yes even those with no religious beliefs (since we all have a mom) have been included. Yeah that's right -- I may have not included a deity for you, but I drew your mom! Ha!
Oh, right, and Al Gore too... just because I can.
I've made an effort to go easy on everyone, and not be unduly disrespectful. Still, if you find the image offensive, I hope you'll share why in the comments below, but only after first considering the following.
Tolerance and RespectFreedom of expression is a wonderful thing. It facilitates open discussion about important issues affecting society, including the ability to call out and deal with corruption and abuse inside social institutions like governments and religions. It also allows people live their life as best they can, and to speak up against anyone who tries to force them to live otherwise. Without that right to criticize, societies run the risk of losing themselves to tyranny, and individuals risk becoming ostracized from the rest of their community (or worse) over otherwise trivial disputes.
With this freedom, however, comes the need to demonstrate mutual tolerance and respect. Tolerance isn't a one way street. More specifically, freedom of expression requires that we tolerate others when they say something offensive. It is the small price we each must pay for ensuring our own unpopular or offensive ideas and beliefs are tolerated by those who disagree with them.
That said, I hope it's clear why nobody should feel threatened and freak out about Everybody Draw Muhammad Day. They're cartoons... yes, cartoons mocking something sacred, but they're still just cartoons. No decent member of a free society should feel anyone is justified in killing or threatenint to harm someone over something like the videos below, or even the videos an images mentioned in my previous post.
Everyone Draw Muhammad Day is about one thing: making clear that cartoons that mock religion must be tolerated in a free society. It's as simple as this: in the modern world, where ideas can travel around the globe in seconds, and where people from all cultures live along side one another as neighbors -- there is no room for threats of violence motivated by aniconism:
Aniconism is the practice or belief in avoiding or shunning the graphic representation of divine beings or religious figures, or in different manifestations, any human beings or living creatures.Again, to be fair, it's worth mentioning that the concept is not unique to fundamentalist Islam. It appears in some forms of Christianity (e.g. no "graven images"), in Judaism and in non-Abrahamic religions as well.
The world today is too diverse and too small a place for anyone to reasonably expect everyone else to act as though their religion or culture is somehow immune from criticism. Nobody should be immune from criticism. Nobody should tolerate censorship or the use of terrorism by those who believe otherwise.