Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Je Ne Veux Pas Être Pammie Geller

Sunday night, a pair of Islamic would-be killers tried to attack a deliberately provocative "Cartoon Mohammed" event in Garland, Texas. Armed guards killed them before they could carry out their plans; an unarmed security guard ("probably the only unarmed person in Texas," writes Clay Jones) was wounded in the 15-second gunfight. The So-Called Islamic State (SCIS) has claimed responsibility for the attempted mass murder.

The "Muhammad Art Exhibit and Contest" was organized by professional defiler of the prophet, Pamela Geller, and I have no doubt that this outcome was everything she had hoped for.

Now, I'm not above dipping my pen into some blasphemous ink from time to time...
This cartoon from 2005, a year before the Jyllands-Posten cartoon controversy, and six years before Charlie Hebdo's Mohammed cover (yet three years after Doug Marlette's "What Would Mohammed Drive" cartoon), doesn't include Mohammed -- but not because I set out to be sensitive to Islamic sensibilities. I simply didn't have a place for him in the cartoon. If I were redrawing the cartoon today, I wouldn't gratuitously stick Mohammed into it just to piss off the homicidal wing of his religion.

Not even for a $10,000 prize.

99.94% of the time, cartooning the founder of a religion is unnecessary.  Christ rolling his eyes has already been done (Marlette, again), and God delegates bouncer duty to St. Peter in all those eulogy cartoons set at the Pearly Gates. Overwhelmingly, it's the modern-day mouthpieces of religion who end up deserving of cartoon criticism.

I've seen the cartoons of Ms. Geller's contest compared to Andres Serrano's "Piss Christ," which depicts a plastic crucifix submerged in the artist's urine and won the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art's "Awards in the Visual Arts" competition in 1987. It is a very offensive piece of art, it is true. That competition, however, was not expressly limited to art intended to offend Christians, as Ms. Geller's contest was expressly limited to cartoons intended to offend Muslims. The Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art does not have attacking Christianity as its mission statement.

Let me be clear, here. I am against mass murder and attempted mass murder. I'm against the murder, or attempted murder of editorial cartoonists. I believe in free speech, and that this right extends to Stéphane Charbonnier, Bosch Fawstin and Larry Flynt.

To paraphrase Voltaire, "I may defend your right to say what you say, but I will disapprove of it to the death."

Or perhaps these Hebdo cartoonists say it better.

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