Monday, May 21, 2012

Draw Mohammed Day 2012

I forgot today was the third annual  Draw Mohammed Day, a popular internet movement born out of frustration with violent reactions to simple parodies such as cartoons.  While I had mixed feelings about it, on the whole I think these kind of movements are quite appropriate.  Islam is one of the last ideologies in the world where thought crimes, even by non-adherents can result in rather violent over-reactions.

People are right to insist on an unfettered right to make fun of something as a form of free speech or conscience. In our western tradition we have quite a long history of satire and mockery.  We finally got to a point in our civilization where we (mostly) no longer persecute people for mocking the sacred or important. Partly because of the spread of democracy and the corresponding individual rights it contains, but also because authoritarianism and intimidation never worked as way to change people's minds. Everyone knows it doesn't work.

I can't draw so I submit the above stock cartoon as my depiction of the prophet.  If I could draw I would make something subtle and tasteful.  I would make Mohammed a woman.  If the founder of Islam were a woman it would be the greatest irony of history.  It would drop a bomb on the widespread misogyny of religion in general, and Islam in particular.

The other problem is I don't really have a firm opinion on whether Mohammed actually existed or not. Like Jesus, there are a number of possibilities, from being made up completely, to being a composite of a few people, to being a real person obscured wholly by mythology.  So all this outrage could be over someone who didn't exist.

I am an atheist, someone who rejects god and gods, revelation,  and superstitions. As a result it doesn't interest me too much to get overly obsessive about one particular religion.  Among the social media types who argue about religion and culture there is definitely a sub-culture of Islamophobia.   I don't really wish to get involved with that level of hatred.  I think it's okay to hate ideas or ideologies, but not people or groups of people. It's irrational. In Canada nowadays you more than likely have friends, co-workers, and neighbors who are Muslim.  We have to co-exist.

And besides, if you wake up one day and find out you sound just like Mark Steyn or Ezra Levant, it's game over for your brain.

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