May 202010

So it’s “Everyone Draw Muhammad Day” (or maybe “Everybody Draw Muhammad Day,” or is it “Mohammad” —no one seems to be sure) and of course everyone is dying to know what I will come up with. I’ve had figuratively thousands of people breathlessly asking when I will get around to making My Pronouncement. “What sort of hilarious picture will you draw, Bill?” “What’s your considered opinion on the pros and cons of the whole thing, Bill?” “Bill! Bill! Tell us what to think!” And finally I was like, “what am I, your prophet?”


Mostly I think it’s not worth devoting a lot of my brainpower to. In short: some Muslims are offended by depictions of Muhammad. Some Muslims are lunatics and think it’s OK to kill people over this, just like some Christians, Jews, and atheists are lunatics and think it’s OK to kill people over various real and imaginary insults. A lot of “decent” Muslims are getting a lot more worked up about these stupid cartoons than they did when people tried to kill cartoonists in the name of their god. A lot of decent non-Muslims want to make a point about this.

But this is the Internet, and all the crazies are out in force on both sides. If you look at online discussions like those in the Facebook group, you will find a few people on both sides making good, reasonable points. But mostly you will find what you expect: people on each side hurling insults at each other and not accomplishing anything other than to reinforce stereotypes and give the loonies an excuse to riot. For every Muslim saying that we will all burn in hell for drawing pictures you will also find a non-Muslim making the usual claims about all Muslims being terrorists, etc.

I say if you’re offended by images of your prophet, god, ingrown toenail, whatever, don’t look at them. Instead of fulminating over the insult to your religion, spend some time thinking about why your god would possibly care, and more importantly, what you can do about the crazy people who give your religion a bad name and provoked this whole thing.

The picture above, by the way, comes from the Mohammed Image Archive, which is a collection of depictions of Muhammad in art throughout the history of Islam. Many of the images were created by Muslims: different flavors of Islam have different ideas about whether depictions of Muhammad are allowed, and the nuttier sects will send you to hell for any depiction of an animate being.

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