Skepticism

It’s Everybody Draw Mohammed Day!

As elegantly v-logged by Rebecca, today is Everybody Draw Mohammed Day. Because the originator of the idea has pulled out (one assumes she’s experienced some unpleasant correspondence), I believe that one essential element of the project is up for interpretation…

which Mohammed?

And so I happily present to you, in honour of Everybody Draw Mohammed Day, an elegant portrait of Mohammed created especially for Skepchick by DC Turner.

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113 Comments

  1. @Stevie: It’s a transliteration, so there’s no truly correct spelling, strictly speaking. I think “Muhammad” is supposed to be most accurate, but “Mohammed” is a popular spelling.

    @Izzy: My wife offered to write the label on the bottle in Arabic, but I sorta felt that would defeat the purpose. ;-)

  2. I’ve been delayed on it due to graduation but I’ve been working on a fantasy pulp art one in the style of the old 70s 80s paintings and all…might be late but it’s done in the spirit of the day~!

  3. @ZenMonkey: Unless I didn’t read it clearly, she doesn’t state whether or not she’s received any death threats, which is what I meant. She says the nicest emails she had have been from Muslims, but nothing about the worst.

    I find her attitude very silly and niave. SHE can draw ‘Mohammed cartoons’ as a protest (albeit ones without Mohammed in, as is the one in my post), but we would be wrong and offensive to. Or something. Oh wait, the old ‘I was joking!’ defence.

  4. @marilove: I could really live without this trend of people’s opinions one doesn’t agree with being dismissed as “stupid.” I’m getting very tired of the way discussion gets shut down by this kind of reaction. So all I’ll say is that she has a perfectly legitimate personal reason for not wanting to be involved, which you over-simplified quite a bit there.

    And I’m done.

  5. If she’s covering her ass, then fine: do what you need to to survive. We are never going to have the profile she does in regards to this event, so we won’t face the same danger and if it were me, I can’t say how brave I would be.

    If she really believes the things she’s saying, then she’s clueless and doesn’t even understand the purpose of the movement she sparked.

  6. the less people who care, the better. When pictures of mohammed can get published without anyone threatening violence, then we win.

    That said, I think someone upthread got some threats on their facebook.

    Also: Pakistan.

  7. Well, I’m not just talking about extremists, I’m talking about skeptics outside of this site and maybe one or two others. The whole thing has just been met by a complete wave of indifference.

  8. I would have expected some non-skeptical support or discussion of it, or something. Outside of Skepchick, and Pharyngula, and a couple other skeptical blogs, there’s no interest in or support of the idea.

  9. I must not be explaining myself properly. I’m not talking about news stories, or Muslim reactions to it. I’m talking about support of the idea outside of this little circle of skeptics. In other words, non-skeptics are not participating in this, not drawing anything for it, and they don’t care one way or the other about it.

  10. Most people aren’t going to jump in on this one because of the threat of violence. Skeptics tend to be outspoken, and less afraid of offending.

    In the days leading up to this, I sent a lot of information out to friends of mine. I knew most of them would be interested but not quick to join in, but what the hell. We talked quite a bit about it and I’ve had three people I would never have assumed would care telling me that they’ve finished their drawings and have been bugging the people they work with to see if they’ll join in too.

  11. Truth be told though, I am a bit dismayed at the Facebook page, many of the 10,000 images and thousands of comments are needlessly offensive or racist. I guess there is a certain amount of detritus that one should expect for this kind of thing, but I do think it kind of misses the point. I don’t think images of Mo doing a pig is anything other than juvinile. Luckily those seem to be a minority, but it still leaves me feeling uncomfortable. I don’t like racists, and I don’t want to be associated with them.

  12. So I’ve been considering getting an iphone for quite some time and have recently been seriously put off by several instances of Apple’s draconian censorship (oh noes, teh pronz!!) of apps. I think this is pretty much the last straw for me. I’ll be getting Google’s Nexus One instead.

  13. Yeah, I’m saddened by the pictures that are outright offensive. That’s not really the point of this day, and it’s why I went out of my way to draw Muhammad doing nothing but standing there smiling. This isn’t about offending Muslims, this is about free speech. You can have a sense of humor if you want about your drawing, but to go out of your way to offend people only hurts this movement.

  14. Real life example, what “Everybody Draw Muhammad Day” is all about: http://melliferax.wordpress.com/2010/05/20/to-draw-or-not-to-draw/

    She has my full sympathy!

    And the situation she finds herself in is exactly what needs to be countered. E.g., by giving the delusional mad-men a few billion more targets.

    Get over it! They’ll hurt and kill us anyway: New York, London, Madrid, and all the smaller attacks. It’s time to speak up and take the hits as a society, and to stop letting high-profile individuals take them for us, those are rare already.

    Quietly looking the other way, whilst some people act against what you believe in as fundamentally right, will cost you what you treasure in the end. The Germans did that; only a few decades ago.

    Not saying we are there yet, not saying we won’t get there again. After all, we are all still the same dumb humans.

  15. Eh.. wanted to add to #69 that it isn’t as bad as it sounds there. Get a statistic on terror and hate crime casualties and hold it next to your deaths in car accidents and transportation, and everything is put into perspective. :)

    @Magnus H.: Android phone, great, but compare Nexus1 to HTC, value/money, just a hint.

  16. @Ben: Man is she ever right! I wanted to do this and I argued for it but that little voice in the back of my head told me to refrain from posting anything on my blog because I have a daughter, and I don’t want to not be there for her should some idiot find me some how.

    Like she said: THAT IS FUCKED UP.

    If I were not a mother, I’d be plastering my drawings all over the place but my need to protect my daughter and myself FOR my daughter overrules.

    And that’s really pretty sick.

  17. I knew that we’d have lots of racist imagery, and that was something I too didn’t want to support. That’s why my picture (much like @Scott Ewen’s) is just Mohammad, and it says “Hi! I’m a prophet named Muhammad! I’m the guy who came up with Islam. It’s a religion of peace. So please don’t kill the guy who drew this. His free speech trumps your indignation.”

  18. Maybe I’m naive, but is there any place that we can see the South Park bit that started this whole thing? Because, frankly, I can imagine South Park being pretty damn offensive. Not saying that excuses death threats, but really very few things on South Park are ever *just* a picture. And how many death threats did they get? There’s still a lot of missing pieces before I’ll consider being a giant ass. “Your right to swing your fist ends where my nose begins” and some of the cartoons I’ve seen for EDMD have been way past any line of decency/respect, and all about being blatantly offensive.

  19. I’ve debated for the past week whether to participate in this. It was only today that I decided to take the step. In this time, my main fear was offending Muslim friends. I don’t have a desire to offend people. But at the same time, I don’t have a desire to sit by and let others offend me—because I am deeply offended by the fact that people are trying to restrict other peoples freedoms. And I take comfort in knowing that if I ever did have the desire to draw Muhammad, I would be able to without fear.
    I also hesitated in participating because I didn’t want to class myself with so many others that are exploiting this in an attempt to spread their hate for Muslims. The message really does become lost when people draw overtly offensive images.
    So…I ended up drawing something quite tame:
    http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=4547177&op=5&o=all&view=all&subj=121369914543425&aid=-1&oid=121369914543425&id=619371344
    Which I feel almost counters the anti-idolatry issue.

    @Puck: I like your message a lot.

  20. I completely agree that deliberately drawing nasty or obscene pictures is OTT, given that in polite society such images are generally considered rude, regardless of the religious angle. That said, as long as said images don’t breach any rules of the sites they’re uploaded to, then those who draw them have as much right to their expression as I do.

    I for one wouldn’t express my protest with a rude image, but if someone wants to appear to be racist or anti-Muslim rather than anti-death threat, then they are entitled to show that side of themselves.

    I thought that the very benign ‘pun’ angle of DC Turner’s image was a perfect protest – it shows the silliness of saying you can draw one person but not another. If anything, it’s WORSE to draw Mohammed Al Fayed, because what he looks like is verifiable and he might take offence at the portrait, unlike dead holy guys.

    Of course, the arrogance of those who claim to be so close to their god that they speak for him and insist that he wants those who blaspheme to die, is part of the issue, so it’s not a surprise that some people choose to express today with a little arrogance of their own, by way of Mo-penis or whatever the trendy obscene images are.

  21. This “day” , in my opinion, should be called “two wrongs don’t make a right” day. Though I understand the intent I just didn’t like the concept. No matter how atrocious the first response was that indeed provoked this day, intentional disrespect makes no sense to me. I know I’m an outlier , specifically in this community on this topic, but since we ARE a community, I thought I’d express my dissenting opinion.

  22. I don’t see what we’re doing as wrong (well, most of us… the guys intentionally being offensive, I don’t agree with). We’re defying a rule that other people decided they have to obey, and therefore everyone else has to obey as well.

  23. @Loona: Someone on FB heard on NPR that the page’s own administrators took it down because of the over-the-top images.

    That’s the best I have for a citation, unfortunately, but I’d still say wait for the actual story before jumping to any conclusions.

  24. UGH! Why does the reply arrow almost never work for me? I turned off Adblock and everything. Oh well, I’m replying to Marilove @82:

    I know you can still see everything on the internet through safari on an iphone (which just makes Apples censorship of apps that much more ridiculous), but still…no flash? lame.

    Specifically, I really don’t like the ridiculous hoops they’re making Grindr jump through to stay on the app store and the outright bans they’ve slapped on other similar apps. If I’m plonking down $200 for a phone, I’m going to run whatever the hell programs I want on it and I’d seriously resent being told what I can and can’t see by the company I bought it from. So far as I know, Google isn’t censoring their Andriod apps……yet. /offtopic

  25. @Scott Ewen: I just checked that thread you linked to. I can’t believe anyone can say this and expect to be taken seriously:

    We have laws that prevent excessive sexual abuse against children for example.

    Yep. That’s right. We have laws that prevent excessive sexual abuse against children. Because, you know, just some sexual abuse against children is ok. All things in moderation, people.

    People who set out to defend the indefensible say the darndest things.

  26. @Andrés Diplotti: Yeah, I think that’s the part where I checked out of the discussion. It’s weird, that argument seems to come up a lot in arguments where I’m defending free speech. There needs to be a new Godwin’s law about that, any time there’s a discussion about free speech, someone will equate free speech with child porn.

  27. @halincoh: Thank you, I hoped I was not the only one thinking this.

    I am not a religious person, but I feel that freedom of religion is something that we should respect. Intentionally doing something that offends a group of people to make a point not only seems hateful to me, but just does not seem like something a rational thinker would do. This is like saying since you hate me so I am going to hate you too, and not just you, but the whole Muslim community as well…even though most of them don’t share your hateful attitude. What’s next, sending death threats of our own? I mean hey why not we have freedom of speech right? There is something seriously wrong here, on both sides. Someone anyone please explain to me the logic behind this.

  28. I did draw one – yesterday. It’s the 21st now. But I’ll share my basic stick figure made in paint with you anyway, because I feel left out.
    http://twitpic.com/1p85j5

    I also wanted to say that people who bring up child porn in discussions of free speech are idiots, because child porn is not covered by free speech. Hate speech, threatening to commit a crime and inciting others to commit a crime, also not free speech. Those people threatening us for drawing Muhammed are the criminals, not us.

  29. @Scott Ewen, I think what most commenters of your picture fail to realize is that the average muslim is about as offended by a drawing of Mohammed as the average jew is by watching someone eat bacon. As in, not at all. The Quran doesn’t say it’s sinful to look at images of the prophet, just like the Thorah doesn’t say watching someone eat pork is a sin.

    The ones who are offended are exactly the people who need to get over themselves.

    Or to put it more succinctly: concern troll is concerned.

    I also noticed the odd phrasing @Andrés Diplotti pointed out. I’d say this would be Godwin’s pedo-corrolary.

  30. @halincoh: @icontrolelectrons:

    did you guys not read the comments or are you just being dense on purpose? If not offending people is the most important thing to you then you are guaranteed never to make a difference in the world and to always be trampled over by people who are louder and angrier about their opinions than you. Sorry, not all beliefs are worth respecting, and in this case the value of our own autonomy is more important than the value of someone’s religious symbol.

    I think PZ’s ‘Crackergate’ falls under the sort of needless provocation that you’re talking about because no catholics were threatening violence over stolen communion wafers, but in this case real people are being censored by violence and fear.

  31. @icontrolelectrons: I keep seeing responses like this, and it keeps frustrating me. So I am not picking on you, just replying.

    Here are three things that ARE offensive uses of free speech:

    1) Jews Suck
    2) Hindus Suck
    3) Muslims Suck

    All three are protected speech, but deliberately offensive.

    Here are three other things you might do:
    1) Eat a cheese burger (something some devout Jews are prohibited from doing)

    2) Eat a beef jerky (something some devout Hindus are prohibited from doing)

    3) Draw Mohammad (something some devout Muslims are prohibited from doing)

    It would be bizarre and wrong if the devout Jews were offended when you ate the cheese burger.

    It would be bizarre and wrong if the devout Hindus were offended when you ate the beef jerky.

    See where this is going? A religious group cannot dictate the behavior of people who are not a part of that group. Their religious prohibitions mean nothing to people who are not a member of their religion.

    Now, I disagree with people using this day to draw deliberately offensive pictures of Mo. But let’s not conflate that with the real issue: Someone’s religious prohibitions cannot be forced onto people who don’t practice that religion.

  32. @bluescat48: There are several portraits and busts, actually, mostly created by Europeans, I imagine. The whole ‘no image whatsoever’ thing didn’t start really getting enforced until the mid-20th century, as I recall. So there are still some portraits and such around that haven’t been destroyed.

  33. @mikerattlesnake:

    I think PZ’s ‘Crackergate’ falls under the sort of needless provocation that you’re talking about because no catholics were threatening violence over stolen communion wafers, but in this case real people are being censored by violence and fear.

    Not to go too far off-topic, but, yes they were. Webster Cook received death threats over his wafer before PZ said a thing about it. When he stood up for the guy, then PZ started getting the threats.

    An important thing to remember is that, on some level, it doesn’t matter if drawing Muhammad makes us assholes. As long as we’re not threatening to kill anyone, the assholes are still the good guys.

  34. @Magnus H.: I think Steve Job’s reasons for “banning” porn in the AppStore is pretty legit, though: If you allow porn in the AppStroe, it’ll take over. It’ll be porn, porn, porn, and more porn. And companies can still make iPhone-ready sites to view their porn. So, no, there is no censorship going on; it’s just not allowed in the AppStore. Big deal.

    But it doesn’t matter. It’s his company and he can do whatever he wants.

    And flash sucks, so I don’t have much of a problem with that. But that’s just my personal opinion.

    I’m not even a big Apple fan. I have an iPhone, but only because it made the most financial sense (I really wanted a droid, but in the end it isn’t a big deal). Otherwise, I’ve never owned an iPod and actually prefer other mp3 players to anything Apple products.

  35. @marilove: Well yea, it’s certainly a privately owned company that he can do whatever he wants as the CEO of and therefore not a freedom of speech issue, but that doesn’t absolve him of accusations of censorship when that’s what’s happening. If Jobsy wants to make buying into “the apple ecosystem” a patronizing, gatekeeper-like experience -as he seems intent on doing, that’s fine, but I’m going to have to take my money elsewhere.

  36. *** EDMD aftermath ***

    I was very intrigued to find, that the protesters “Against Nationwide Government Ban of Facebook” in Karachi, Pakistan, had exactly the same trouble to get through to the emotional public as any critical thinker in our part of the world, when confronted with a not-so-well-informed mass of people. Their experiences are just so alike to how things would go down over here! Amazing.

    http://teeth.com.pk/blog/2010/05/22/facebook-press-conference-my-position

    People are people, and reason isn’t really for the intellectual lazy anywhere in the world. I never doubted that.

    Although I completely disagree with their assessment of the EDMD, I am in fact convinced that the whole event would never have been necessary in the first place, if there were a lot more reasonable, thinking people like they appear to be. Again, probably in both “camps”. To close with my favorite quote of this whole affair: “Peace out!”

  37. @Magnus H.: If you got the time, watch this week’s http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IY3U2GXhz44 Google Keynote Day 2 about Android with annotations directed at Apple ;) It’s fun.
    Disclaimer: I do believe there are people more compatible with an iPhone than an Android phone. A handful, maybe. I also would never draw an iPhone and upload it to FB, so please put away those pitchforks! Thanks. :P

  38. @ icontrolelectrons and DataJack

    Very well said – both of you.

    “But let’s not conflate that with the real issue: Someone’s religious prohibitions cannot be forced onto people who don’t practice that religion.”

    I completely agree and this point is not forgotten by me. I abhor what initiated this. I simply disagree with the response.

    @ Mikerattlesnake’s “dense on purpose” comment. There is a difference between offending people as a biproduct of attempting to positively “make a difference in the world” and intentionally offending under the cloak of making a change. I think this is the latter. Am I right? Dunno. Rarely is anyone absolutely right or wrong as perspective always influences rightness in shades of gray. I didn’t appreciate the insult. Anonymity, even amongst skeptical “friends” increases aggressive speach. Argue or debate my points, but please don’t attack the debater.

  39. @DataJack:
    First off, I’m a fan of a good debate, so I do not feel attacked, nor am I attacking.
    With that said, I eat cheeseburgers and beef jerky because I find them tasty, and these are things I would normally do in my daily life. I do not do these things to offend anyone, and I do not go out of my way to do them because I know it is offensive to some people. I find it rather hard to believe that so many people draw images of Mohammed on a regular basis. For example, some cultures eat with their fingers, other cultures find this offensive. The people eating with their fingers do so because that is what they do, not because it’s everyone eat with your fingers to offend someone else day.

    The other issue I have here is well, this all started with South Park, I love the show, but I know it is not to be taken seriously and that it is intentionally politically incorrect. Unfortunately we have one group of people taking it seriously as a personal attack on their beliefs, and another group of people imitating it and deliberately doing something they know is offensive to some people.
    I would think that the legal system is a more honorable way to deal with a death threat than a bunch of people getting together and mocking an entire culture in a South Park style offend-athon, but it appears I am a minority on this matter.
    The real issue is not about forcing religious beliefs or even freedom of speech. The real issue is that a person threatened to murder another person. Religion or beliefs should not even be a factor in the resolution of this matter.

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