I suspected that nogodsforme would have an interesting take on this topic.
Mine continues to be a little bit different. I support the freedom of speech, and I adamantly support the freedom of both artistic expression and the freedom to organize and protest. At first glance, that is what this movement appears to be. But it isn’t.
If someone wants to create a visual representation of Mohammed as a piece of art, then the person should be able to do that. If somebody wants to create a visual representation of some guy getting a blow job, then the person should be able to do that.
But artists creating each of these representations need to be aware of the fact that 1) someone is going to be offended and 2) because this piece of art is going to offend a subset of the population, it is not really appropriate to display it as “public art.” While it is possible that both pieces might be worthy of a museum display, I think it is fair to say that both images might be inappropriate for a courthouse, or a playground or a supermarket. Why? Because we live in a society in which we respect each other and we kind of go through life trying not to intentionally piss each other off.
But this isn’t about an artist’s freedom to create a piece of art when a large percentage of the participants are drawing stick figures. It is a protest.
In terms of protest, sometimes the general public is not supportive of a particular form or protest, but end up “getting the message” anyway. I think we can see that in the occupy movement. A crotchety elderly gentleman I share the elevator with frequently has suggested on several occasions that the protesters “take a bath.” But recently, he has started talking about the fact that the rich don’t pay their fair share of taxes. He might not support the protest, but somehow, he got the message.
So what message do you think the Muslim and the non-Muslim world is going to get from this protest? That Muslims get offended by artistic renditions of their prophets? And that some of them get really really really pissed off?
Jesus is one of their prophets, and quite frankly, I’ve never heard any Muslims bitch about the Christian practice of painting him and making statues and wearing necklaces with his dead body on a cross. I mean, I’m sure there are some fundamentalist lunatics who find it really offensive. But for the most part, Muslims don’t bitch about it because it isn’t about them.
But pictures of Mohammed? They kind of know that pictures of Mohammad are about them. The message that the Muslim world is getting is that they are despised and that we want to show them how much by symbolically attacking what is precious to them. They take it as an attack. And why wouldn’t they?
If you want to attack Islam, then question why they think that God is so merciful for letting Abraham slaughter a goat instead of his son. If you want to attack Islam, then question human rights issues (especially women’s rights and immigrants’ rights) in the various theocracies. If you want to attack Islam, then ask why a religion which puts so much emphasis on charity allows its pious oil rich sultans to import slave labor from South Asia in the 21st century. If you want to expose the evils of lunatic fundamentalists, then demonstrate how similar the Muslim fundamentalists and the Christian fundamentalists really are.
But don’t consciously provoke billions of human beings just because you can.