As many of you know, May 20 was the second annual Draw Muhammad Day. Participation in it was to allegedly promote free speech. This day originated from Muslims sending death threats to the creators of South Park for portraying the Prophet Muhammad in one of their episodes. Depicting the Prophet Muhammad is a big no-no in Islam, and some extremists erroneously thinks everyone must abide by this rule, even non-Muslims. Comedy Central folded to these whims and took the episode down. This outraged many people, and in response, Draw Muhammad Day was born!
First of all, I don’t think Comedy Central’s withdrawal was good. Not everyone is a Muslim and therefore is not obligated to adhere to Islam’s tenants. Practicing Jews don’t demand non-Jews to refrain from eating pork, so I don’t feel like I or anybody should kowtow to beliefs not his or her own. Secondly, freedom of expression is fundamental to the exchange of ideas and should not be tossed so easily aside as it was.
Where I take issue with Draw Muhammad Day is not the idea to depict Muhammad for the sake of free expression, though I think there are tactically better ways to support this cornerstone of our civilization such as blogging or voting for that matter, but in what the event has been mutated in to.
In their zeal, some of its celebrants, certainly not all, have used it as fodder for their campaign against Islam. I’ve noticed during my limited experience on the Internet a prejudice against Islam. Obviously, this is rooted in 9/11, and the Internet had provided a cloak of anonymity ideal for being nasty. I believe this anti-Islam sentiment, although understandable, is irrational, unfair and needs to desist. Not every Muslim is a terrorist, a pedophile or shoots AK-47s into the air. Stereotypes like these already abound on the Internet, but with Draw Muhammad Day, this racist filth has multiplied. Too many times I see bombs strapped to Muhammad or “sand-nigger” written in the drawings of Muhammad. I have seen videos of people burning Korans in association with Draw Muhammad Day.
Instead of being in support of free speech or expression, Draw Muhammad Day has devolved into a childish, smear-fest against Islam. What do these bigoted sketches have to do with the First Amendment? Nothing. What civilized society delights in demeaning people with racist sketches? What Enlightened people relishes in burning books and their ideas? Free-thinkers don’t ignite books; they read, study and evaluate them. That’s the how Marketplace of Ideas functions. Ideas are weighed and measured, and if found false, are put aside. And those who wish to still subscribe to them are allowed to in dignity. The Draw Muhammad Day I’ve experienced does not do this.
Sadly yet ironically, instead of championing liberal free thought, it is an immature display of close-minded and backwards thinking — the very thing it was purported to fight against.
The joke is on us, and I’m not laughing.