Lately the news of threats against Matt Stone & Trey Parker, the creators of South Park, for displaying a likeness of the Muslim prophet Muhammad have gotten a lot of press. And I’ve decided to post my views on the matter. Usually, mostly because I am surrounded by it, when I talk about religious woo & stupidity I am referring to Christian fundamentalism. But this post is going to be dedicated to taking on what is becoming increasingly obvious to me – the creeping influence of politically-correct arguments made on behalf of fundamentalist Islam with the intention of shutting down any & all criticism and/or free inquiry regarding that religion. I have a pithy two word response to this notion: F%@k that!
Bottom line: when dealing with fundamentalist religion, especially when faced with a brand of fundamentalism so whacked out that it preaches violence against critics (such as the modern-day radical “Islamists”), in my view you have but one of two choices:
1. Cater to the fundamentalists and watch your liberty slowly slip away, or
2. embrace your fundamental freedoms – such as the freedom of inquiry & expression. This means you’re going to have a fight on your hands.
Guess which one I choose?
I won’t go into a long screed on how I think the South Park guys are just totally badass for having the guts to take on, well, everyone’s goofy beliefs and poke fun at them (even hardcore atheists such as Richard Dawkins). I also won’t waste time pillorying the weak-kneed panzies over at Comedy Central for capitulating to a bunch of idiotic radical Muslims who should be, if anything, basically ignored. I won’t even take more than this line to point out the obvious: if you cannot handle your religious beliefs being questioned and, sometimes, being ridiculed by non-believers, then you have deeper issues that need to be addressed and should go live on an island in the middle of nowhere.
In the spirit of fighting back against this creeping notion that “we cannot criticize the religious beliefs or take a chance on ‘offending’ anyone who holds such belief”, specifically regarding Islam, I want to pass along a really great idea I stumbled upon a few days back: Draw Muhammad Day (DMD).
May 20th, 2010, will mark the first DMD – despite the fact that the cartoonist who originally came up with the idea decided to back out. It’ll happen regardless, because now the whole idea of DMD has gone completely viral on the Internet. No doubt that some people will take this opportunity to draw the prophet Muhammad in a less-than-glamorous light, such as outlined by this image…
… and I’m sure that some jerks will come up with many much more offensive images than that which are specifically designed to offend. Fine by me – being a jerk is well within the bounds of free speech; but, in my view, being a jerk isn’t what DMD should be about… it should be about promoting free inquiry/expression. What is bothersome to me, more than anything, is the notion among some of these radical Muslims that any depiction of Muhammad is somehow offensive, and that to spare them from “offense” everyone else (including many moderate Muslims) should cater to their whims. It is also worth noting that the image of Muhammad has been depicted countless times over the course of history, even by various Muslim cultures – this is an important detail the radicals would rather have you not know!