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“Everybody Draw Mohammed Day” — What’s a Progressive To Do?

You can be forgiven if you don’t know what to think about the latest crazy meme running around the innertubes. Apparently, a recent episode of South Park was censored before it aired by Comedy Central, after they received a veiled threat because the episode contained images of the prophet Mohammed.

OMG, censorship, that’s bad, right? We should be against that, right? So in retaliation, a Facebook group was formed to promote “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day“. Even Jon Stewart slammed Islamic intolerance:

So why is this complicated? Well, there are some things that just don’t add up. First of all, the show didn’t have an actual image of Mohammed before it was censored. Instead, it had someone disguised in a friendly bear suit, which the show said was Mohammed (see image at right). Second, South Park has depicted Mohammed (using an actual image) in a previous episode and didn’t receive any threats, so why now?

But what might be a very interesting twist is that the New York based website “Revolution Muslim” where the “veiled threat” was made was actually founded by a former orthodox Israeli. Another major contributor is the grandson of someone who was on the board of the Jewish Anti-Defamation League. And many of the statements released on their website seem purposely designed to get people pissed off at radical Muslims. For example, they sent “get well” wishes to the guy who shot 13 people at Fort Hood, and praised the killing of Daniel Pearl.

I’m not saying that there is proof that “Revolution Muslim” is an Israeli front group designed to stir up anger against Muslims, but if they were, they would be doing a damn good job of it. And there are enough suspicious coincidences around this website to make me question it.

On the other hand, there has been actual violence by radical Muslims that seeks to silence anti-Muslim views. For example, Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh was murdered after making a documentary critical of the treatment of women in Islam. And the Danish cartoonist who drew a caricature of Mohammed has received numerous death threats and was forced to retire.

Nevertheless, is the answer really to purposely draw images of Mohammed in order to purposely piss people off? Speaking of piss, do you remember the artwork “Piss Christ” from 1987 that angered Christians by depicting a small plastic crucifix submerged in a glass of the artist’s urine? The violent reaction forced the show to be cancelled. Would an appropriate response back then to such obvious censorship to be a “Everybody Piss on Jesus” day?

I think cartoonist August J. Pollak has the right answer:

© August J. Pollak

See also his blog post about the whole thing.



  1. Quidam wrote:

    I think there is a larger value to publishing cartoons of Mohammet. The purpose is not simply to ‘piss off people’, it’s to respond to outrageous threats – that have indeed been carried out.

    By flooding media with cartoons and not allowing ourselves to be intimidated the issue is I believe defused. The violent outrage cannot be sustained indefinitely and I do think it important that threats of violence are rebuffed.

    Monday, April 26, 2010 at 10:50 am | Permalink
  2. Sammy wrote:

    Specifically with Matt and Trey the answer is “Yes” they really are trying to piss people off. Christians, Jews, Tom Cruise (a whole segment with him in a house full of closets and working in a fudge-packing factory), and anyone else they can offend. That is their schtick.

    Monday, April 26, 2010 at 11:50 am | Permalink
  3. starluna wrote:

    How about possibly talking with practicing Moslems in order to understand why this may be considered offensive? Rather than assuming that it is some irrational reaction by crazies, perhaps there is something to be learned by at least engaging in the discourse with the people whose faith appears to be being maligned here. Even if it is only the fundamentalists who are making threats, at least we may walk away with a better understanding of someone else’s cultural and spiritual perspective.

    Monday, April 26, 2010 at 1:09 pm | Permalink
  4. Iron Knee wrote:

    Starluna, you mean, like, actually listen to each other and have a real conversation? That’s unAmerican®!

    And to Quidam, what if this “threat” is coming from some Israeli/CIA COINTELPRO site that is purposely trying to get you angry at Muslims? Would that make any difference to you?

    Monday, April 26, 2010 at 1:22 pm | Permalink
  5. Effis wrote:

    It’s not really much of a religion if you are threatened with death for being critical, or for making fun of it. Jews, Catholics, Protestants, Voodo adherents and the like seem to do righteous indignation quite well and then get on with their faith. Seems to me Muslims have an extreme case of inferiority complex combined with murderous rage. Sounds like more of a cult. Then again, maybe they are just peace-loving altruist psychopaths.

    Monday, April 26, 2010 at 2:10 pm | Permalink
  6. Quidam wrote:

    How about possibly talking with practicing Moslems in order to understand why this may be considered offensive?
    How about possibly talking with people in order to understand why death threats may be considered offensive? Knowing that the Q’ran bans idolatry just as the Bible does does not justify violence. There are Hadith that ban ALL representative art. Should we close all art galleries so as not to give offense to fundamentalists? Protestant sects ban graven images of Jesus, Catholics like to have a tortured Jesus on their crosses – should they be required to remove Jesus from their crucifixes so as not to offend Protestants? Of course not.

    The religious are welcome to follow their own prohibitions they are not welcome to insist that everyone else follow them

    And to Quidam, what if this “threat” is coming from some Israeli/CIA COINTELPRO site that is purposely trying to get you angry at Muslims? Would that make any difference to you?
    I’m not angry at Muslims. I am angry at people that make and try to carry out death threats and demand that everyone follow the proscriptions of their religion.

    Monday, April 26, 2010 at 2:22 pm | Permalink
  7. Iron Knee wrote:

    Quidam, you seem to be ignoring my question. You say you are angry because someone posted a threat (and a veiled one at that) on a website.

    1) What if that threat was made by an Israeli who was trying to invoke precisely that response from you?

    2) Even if the person who posted it was sincere, is that a good reason to go after all Muslims, even those Muslims who would be equally offended by death threats?

    3) Is it even possible to have a reasonable discussion about this?

    Monday, April 26, 2010 at 2:27 pm | Permalink
  8. Quidam wrote:

    I’m not ignoring it and of course we can have a reasonable discussion, isn’t that what we’re doing?

    Firstly there have been real threats and attempts on the lives of cartoonists who have portrayed Mohamed. Not veiled threats on a website. People breaking doors down with axes.

    The suggestion that it might not be a True Muslim making the threat is irrelevant. The response is harmless and trivial. No more offensive than those billboards that say “Don’t believe in God? You’re not alone” that get True Christians so worked up they have to pull them down with their trucks.

    The threats have clearly been effective if you consider drawing cartoons of Mohamed as ‘going after all Muslims’. It’s no more ‘going after Muslims’ than my using a condom is ‘going after Catholics’ or having a blood transfusion is ‘going after Jehovah’s Witlessness’ or voting Democrat is ‘going after Republicans’.

    Monday, April 26, 2010 at 7:08 pm | Permalink
  9. starluna wrote:

    Wow, Effis – just get on with your intolerant self. Apparently you’ve never heard of the Army of God. Or Eric Robert Rudolph. Or Scott Roeder. Or the Concerned Christians who were planning to attack holy sites in Jerusalem. Or the Jewish Defense League (in the 1980s at least). Or more recently, the Hutaree. You might also say these Judeo-Christian folks had a religious inferiority complex mixed with murderous rage, and they’ve been fairly successful. I won’t even mention the KKK, which was anti-semitic and anti-Catholic and based some of their rationale on a distorted reading of selected parts of the Christian Bible.

    Come to think if it, I’ve never heard of a Moslem fundamentalist involved in the many bombings and other acts of violence targeting women’s health clinics in the U.S. In all the years that I had to wade through anti-abortion demonstrators on my way to have a pap smear at a Planned Parenthood, can’t say I ever once saw a Moslem and certainly never had passages of the Koran shouted at me.

    Indeed, in all of the books that parents have demanded to be banned, I can only recall those coming from Christian parents who are either upset about the use of the Bible in it (remember the request to ban Fahrenheit 451 in Texas) or because they are uncomfortable with the mention of the vagina (as recently seen in Virginia with the unabridged version of the Diary of Anne Frank).

    Indeed, if there is an inferiority complex going on in this country, I’d say that race is being won by the Christians hands down.

    Monday, April 26, 2010 at 7:47 pm | Permalink
  10. starluna wrote:

    Quiddam – who said anything about justifying violence? I can understand why an individual may perpetrate an act of violence without excusing it. And I don’t think that is a special talent.

    I personally believe that there very little real effort made by most Americans (who are largely Christian) to understand what is so offensive about the portrayal of the Prophet Muhammad. I’m not convinced by your explanation either. I saw some of the cartoons that were the source of violence in Denmark and could actually understand, without excusing the violence, why the devout might find it offensive. Those cartoons portrayed the Prophet as a terrorist. The violence that followed is unjustifiable. The outrage over the offense, however, is completely understandable. Just as I understand why Christians would be offended by “art” that displays a crucifix in a jar a urine. Any act of violence perpetrated on the artist is unjustifiable. But the offense is completely understandable.

    I would interpret the publishing cartoon of the Prophet simply for the purposes of showing off your own power as simply being an bully. And the effect is not harmless or trivial, because all it does is attempt to reify the superiority of the Western belief that we can do whatever the hell we want, no matter who it offends, even when done for no good reason at all. If you are intending to trivialize someone’s faith or contribute to the belittling of an over-stereotyped religious minority, then you go right ahead and publish all of the offensive cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad you want.

    Monday, April 26, 2010 at 8:16 pm | Permalink
  11. Michael Dare wrote:

    The whole issue is bogus. There are thousands of images of Mohammed throughout the ages. Mohammed is on the north frieze of the US Supreme court. Check out

    Tuesday, April 27, 2010 at 10:44 am | Permalink
  12. Effis wrote:

    Starluna, I stand corrected and no, I don’t recognise any of those names – and should probably preface all of my posts with an ‘I’m Canadian so excuse my ignorance’. Still, I find American politics fascinating and more exciting than the Great White North. Still, in the great province of Quebec the current topic is whether to ban Burkas. That’s a whole other issue.

    I guess it’s the dogma of the religion that stands out as being intolerant, probably because it’s the ‘topic du jour’ and stands out in Europe (Denmark) as a tenent that is regularly used as a threat and then acted on. I acknowledge the many Christian nutbars making not-so-idle threats but they are not normally supported by the Church in an official capacity as far as I know. When was the last time the Pope issued a Fatwa or declared holy war against non-believers?

    My apologies for coming across as intolerant – I despise all haters equally. 😉

    Tuesday, April 27, 2010 at 8:23 pm | Permalink
  13. Alex wrote:

    I being christian my self believe that respect of any other religion is must. no one have right to to raise finger on any religion or do blasphemy. we should all refrain from doing this regardless of what religion we belong to. such things could only demolish peace between human beings. fact is that no one from any religion is so much devotee and following its teachings. there are som many things christians doing in todays world world which is agaist the christianity but they thing think they are doing the right and even churches don’t refrain them…the same case is with islam, every denomination in islam have thier own traditions and customs not even truly founf in islam. But just a minute! the whole world is in pain and blood today..there is no peace and love, there is no regard for each other. daily thousands of people die in the name of god or for the sake of freedom. but for any such cause man is behind that.if not every muslim is good, than not every christian is bad. we have to realise what we are doing. how long we keep fighting like this? We being human should realise the regard of of every religion and every ethic and every person. we should mind our own business. we have to find a way to over come such things that beoming hurdle between peace among all nations rather than acting like animal…..

    Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at 3:44 pm | Permalink
  14. Skeptoicus wrote:

    Would an appropriate response back then to such obvious censorship to be a “Everybody Piss on Jesus” day?

    !!! YES !!!

    Wednesday, December 1, 2010 at 6:19 am | Permalink