Friday, May 20, 2011

Everybody Draw Mohammed Day

Yes, this is the second annual Everybody Draw Mohammed Day.

I'm not an artist myself - I mean I'm really not an artist (in grade school, I drew a picture of a woman that my classmates thought was a gorilla) - so I thought I'd just include the above link to submissions by others. (Clearly, many of them aren't artists, either!)

What's the point? Well, basically, you can believe anything you want, but you can't force everyone else to believe it, too.

The whole prohibition on drawing Mohammed is especially ridiculous. Apparently, it's not even in the Koran. And the idea was to avoid worshiping a graven image, basically to keep believers from worshiping Mohammed instead of Allah.

But I'm not Muslim, so there's absolutely no danger of me worshiping Mohammed! And this hysteria over cartoons and drawings of Mohammed just shows that Muslims have indeed turned to worshiping him. It's funny, but this whole controversy just demonstrates what the prohibition was meant to prevent in the first place.

Well, I suppose it's just human nature, huh? At least, it seems to be natural for believers. (I can't say I really worship anything, though I do love, of course.)

At any rate, Everybody Draw Mohammed Day is intended to support freedom of speech and freedom of religion. Governments and corporations have been hopeless cowards on this issue, so it's up to individuals to stand up for what's right. You have the right to believe whatever you want. And you have the right to say what you want, with only very, very narrow restrictions to protect public safety and privacy.

You do not have the right to not have your feelings hurt. You do not have the right to force everyone else to believe as you do. You do not have the right to even demand respect.

The answer to free speech is more free speech. If you don't like what you see and hear, then you can express that opinion - peacefully - just like I can express my opinion. Does my opinion differ from yours? Too bad. Your opinion differs from mine, but you don't see me behaving like a mindless barbarian. If you don't like what I write here, leave me a comment.

For the most part, Christianity has learned to live with freedom of speech and freedom of religion. And note that those freedoms - including the strict separation of church and state - haven't hurt Christianity in America in the slightest.

Well, the vast majority of American Muslims understand that, I'm sure (better than many Christians do, since Muslims are such a minority here). But overseas, most Muslims live in primitive societies ruled by dictatorial regimes. They haven't had any experience with civil rights. (No, that doesn't excuse them, not when it comes to violence.)

And it seems to be the nature of many, if not most, true believers to want to force their beliefs on others. In America, Christians have been chipping away at the separation between church and state for more than 200 years. Luckily, other Americans - Christian and non-Christian alike - have resisted abandoning our cherished freedoms.

But those freedoms are always at risk. It requires eternal vigilance, and it's not easy. This isn't much, but I try to do my part. What about you?

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