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Posts Tagged ‘mohammed’

Bah, I completely missed that it’s Everybody Draw Mohammed Day until Crispian’s reminder. It’s too late to do anything new about it now. Time for a repost:

You can go back and read what I thought about this three years ago, if you’re desperate for an opinion. It hasn’t shifted much since then.

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A couple of weeks ago, a particularly intellectual and astute Muslim totally destroyed some heretics’ arguments with his superior powers of logic and deduction. Before they’d even spoken, he conclusively demonstrated that the facts were entirely on his side, and that any rebuttals made by the non-believers would necessarily be false.

By which I mean he threatened them and had a debate cancelled.

Still, I’m sure they were all persuaded. I’m sure that everyone there who might have believed something derogative of the holy Prophet Muhammad – say, that he had multiple wives and had sex with at least one pre-pubescent child – now realises that it’s not true, for the obvious reason that if they were to say that it’s true then they might be violently attacked. To still believe the truth of such a fact, even in the furthest recesses of one’s mind, would be an affront to reason.

So, well done, Islamists with no interest in debate or discovery but who are willing to attack and harm others for crimes of thought. You won in a way that really matters.

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– No damn President of mine is going to celebrate Kwanzaa. At least, no African President.

– This black kid shouldn’t have run from those cops. It’s “illogical”. I mean, it’s not like they were going to hurt him.

– “Mohammed had a thing for little girls.” Any law which locks people up for saying this is repugnant. Any law which has to resort to the technicality that, because Mohammed stayed with his nine-year-old wife until she was eighteen, such comments constitute “incitement”, is batshit insane. And yes, the law can still go hang if that first sentence was replaced by “The Holocaust never happened”.

– Apparently you can be prevented from taking a plane out of London if you’re in possession of the wrong kind of political literature, on the apparent grounds that you might “upset” the other passengers by passing it around among them. Wow, they’re not even pretending this is about legitimate safety concerns any more.

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The Heresiarch is characteristically spot-on in his take on the matter of the recently firebombed French magazine that had dared to publish blasphemous cartoon images of the prophet Mohammed. In particular, he’s taking on the idea that an organisation that goes out of its way to deliberately cause offense to millions of peace-loving Muslims deserves no sympathy when a small violent faction is driven to bloody vengeance.

I think when I do this it’s called a pull-quote:

The irony is that this kind of argument is a form of Islamophobia itself, both because it demonstrates actual fear of Muslims (they might bomb us) and because it caricatures them as all the same, all equally thin-skinned and all interested in nothing beyond upholding the dignity of their holy prophet. But in fact Muslims (whether they know it or not; many do) have much more than other people to gain from a lifting of the taboo on criticising any aspect of their religion, whether Sharia law, the Koran or the personality of Mohammed.

This is exactly right. If the over-sensitive cultural taboo wasn’t so keenly and aggressively in place, then cartoonists and satirists wouldn’t find it nearly such a rich vein of subject matter. Magazines wouldn’t bother putting the images in question on their covers, because there’d be no worthwhile point to be made by doing so; and so the extremists subgroups wouldn’t keep firebombing people and reinforcing the public image of Muslims as violent reactionaries who the rest of us ought to fear. Surely that unfortunately widespread perception is more damaging and hurtful to the majority of Muslims than the occasional drawing of their prophet.

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Now a cartoon doesn’t even have to have the Muslim prophet in it at all to be refused by multiple newspapers, presumably out of fear of some sort of retribution.

Here it is:

It’s a straight-forward play on the “Where’s Wally?” series of books and other assorted media, with a reference to the fact that depictions of Muhammad are especially controversial at the present time.

It doesn’t actually include an image of Muhammad. But people are scared of the repercussions anyway. And the Muslim extremists who they’re scared of want us to feel like this.

That’s not the only thing they want, obviously. It’s not quite as simple as using this rejection of a cartoon strip as a bellwether for whether or not the terrorists have won. But it’s an interesting state of mind to contemplate; that they genuinely want us to be living in fear of offending them with an entirely innocuous expression of free speech.

I’m still touting defiance as a worthwhile response. I just hope I never have to get scared myself of what will happen as a result of my doing something like this.

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I somehow missed that it’s International Blasphemy Day today until pretty late in the evening. Just for the sake of keeping up appearances, I’ll repeat a few things from last time:

– I deny the divinity of the holy spirit.

– Here’s a picture I made of the prophet Muhammed doing a dance: O-Z—<

– I believe in and worship your preferred god/gods, and fully subscribe to your belief system of choice. And now I don't, they're all fake. Universal apostasy FTW.

– That piece of halibut was good enough for Jehovah.

– The flying spaghetti monster is rhetorically useful, but entirely fictitious. And pirates aren't that interesting.

Nothing is sacred. Night night.

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The backlash following Everybody Draw Muhammad Day has begun. The Facebook page for “Everybody draw Holocaust day” is, as I post this, “liked” by 1,271 people.

And, well, obviously they’re all entirely welcome to draw pictures of the Holocaust happening, or not happening. They’re certainly free to highlight the other genocidal atrocities in recent human history that don’t get as much attention, even if they want to throw a distinctly anti-Semitic slant on it. But it’s clear that it’s little more than a petty foot-stomping tantrum in response to people’s religious sensibilities being offended. The page description begins:

The difference is that you draw Lies about Muhammad and we draw Truth about you.

What does a drawing of a lie about Muhammad look like? Was my drawing a lie because he wasn’t really that skinny? The only statement made about Muhammad by most of the pictures drawn of him is that religious zealots don’t get to impose their own laws on the rest of us. People have been killed over this issue, and so we’re making a stand for our free speech by defiantly publishing pictures that some people don’t want us to. Nobody’s lying about anything, and you have to be pitiably thin-skinned to take it that way.

It’s a shame it’s so wacky, because in places they have a germ of a point. These people should have the right to question the accepted historical narrative of the Holocaust, however batshit insane and culturally offensive the way they go about it. In one of the group’s photo albums, there’s a snapshot of this Wikipedia page, which lists various notable convictions that have been made against people for the crime of Holocaust denial in parts of Europe. People have been fined thousands of Euros and imprisoned for years for expressing what I can only assume are their honest beliefs. It’s such an offensive opinion that people don’t even want to have to hear it.

And that is wrong. But the message is getting lost in a wave of anger and indignation against the people who have caused a different kind of offense against Muhammad. The way the founded of the group sees it, “[t]he secularist world proudly parades and legitimizes” this unfair punishment. By recounting it on Wikipedia, apparently.

So, yeah. The remedy for bad speech continues to be more speech, rather than silence. And religious fundamentalists continue not to understand anything.

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The prophet Muhammad is said to have lived around 570-632 C.E., and is a sacred figure to the world’s 1.5 billion followers of the religion of Islam.

He didn’t look anything like the above picture, but that’s because I’m very bad at drawing.

Depictions of the prophet Muhammad are forbidden under Islamic law, and they have historically made a lot of Muslims very angry. In 2005, a series of satirical cartoons which included images of Muhammad, published in a Dutch Danish newspaper, led to worldwide protests, arson, and the deaths of over a hundred people. If you type “Dutch cartoons” into Google, the top result sends you here, to Wikipedia’s description of these events – even though they were in fact Danish cartoons, as I failed to recognise when writing this, or during any of the subsequent redrafts and proofreads, until it was pointed out to me. I leave my idiocy largely intact, in case anyone in the future is ever tempted to take me seriously.

And now, as evidenced above by the extremely offensive image created and published by myself, I am gleefully joining in with all this wanton destruction.

Sorry about that.

I don’t mean to offend people on this blog.

That may sound disingenuous, but it’s actually true. It’d be daft of me not to think that some people will be offended by things they read here sometimes. Maybe they’ll disagree profoundly with my worldview, or disapprove of irreverence on certain important subjects – or perhaps they’ll be insulted because I wrote a fiery rhetorical diatribe telling them to fuck off.

But offending people is not to be found anywhere on my list of intended objectives. Not when it comes to posting this picture of Muhammad, and not on the vast majority of the rest of this blog. I make arguments and express frustration and do lots of things that people will find offensive. But it’s never just about pissing people off.

I understand that it’s something which might well happen, though. And I apologise for that. But it’s something that I’m entitled to do, and that I need to do. For the simple reason that there are people – screaming hordes of violent, irrational people – who don’t want me to be able to do it at all.

Yes, it’s contrarian of me. Yes, I’m doing something I’d never normally have any wish to do, and I’m only doing it now because of how much it infuriates and antagonises certain people. Yes, it’s comparable to the kind of childish instinct which sets your button-pushing finger twitching when you see a button marked “DO NOT PUSH”.

You know what, though? I’m okay with infuriating and antagonising this particular lunatic fringe. The lunatic fringe who destroy property and murder people over a cartoon drawing. And when the button is my button, in my house, why the hell should anyone get to tell me what I can and can’t do with it?

There are people shouting threats of death against anyone who dares to commit this trivial act – and how we respond to those threats goes a good way toward defining us as people. If our reaction is to do as we’re told by the dangerous maniacs, to sit quietly and not cause a fuss, to chastise others who exercise their freedoms in a way that gets them hurt, to cower and hope that nothing bad will happen… then who does that make us? And what will happen when these same lunatics start making other rules for us to live by?

I wrote this article last year in response to the “Crackergate” furore, in which PZ Myers desecrated a communion wafer. I still support what he did, and the arguments I make there are just as appropriate today. These fanatics want us to be scared, and we do what we do because fuck them.

There’s one thing that’s not agreed upon by everyone taking part in Everybody Draw Muhammad Day, and that’s the nature of the pictures themselves, and how intrinsically offensive they should be. My own drawing is extremely careless and inartistic, and entirely innocuous as a result. Some people have gone further, though, and come up with extremely provocative and deliberately offensive drawings, designed to provoke ire even regardless of the taboo against depicting the prophet at all. I’ll let you do your own search for pictures of Muhammad engaging in bestiality, for instance.

I’m not entirely decided on this point myself, but I’m fairly sure that this latter approach is at best unnecessary, and at worst counter-productive. These pictures are actually offensive in their own right, and while they are still unquestionably protected by the basic right of free speech, a lot of moderate Muslims are going to be justifiably annoyed and alienated by this. These moderates, who would normally be completely on our side in condemning extremist acts of violence, might voice their legitimate complaints at just how offensive these obscene depictions of Muhammad are – and this might mean they get unfairly lumped in with the raving complaints of the extremists themselves.

And don’t forget, these extremists are fucking nuts. You don’t need to draw Muhammad doing anything remotely controversial for a substantial bloc of wackos to flip their lids. They lose their shit over fucking stick-figures. Save yourself the effort.

So. I think I’m about done. Any points I’ve missed have been more than adequately covered by the Friendly Atheist and Greta Christina, among many others. Hemant also has a compilation of Muhammad images submitted by readers, many of which are wonderfully clever and creative. And don’t forget the Mohammed Image Archive.

Have you violated someone’s tyrannical and anti-humanistic law today?

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No politics in this entry!

Hoo-frickin’-rah. I’ve been way too focused on stuff this blog’s not even really meant to be about lately. So, on today’s menu, we have pseudo-medicine, crappy science journalism, anti-humanistic pandering, and pissing off Muslims. Ah, that’s much better. (Even if my mum doesn’t like it so much and wishes I’d stick to politics instead of this Atheism business.)

– Mark Crislip, writing for Science-Based Medicine, has provided nine answers to nine questions which are supposed to “stump every pro-vaccine advocate”. It continues to hurt, quite how pitiful the arguments of the anti-vaccine movement are. They genuinely seem to think that asking for scientific trials demonstrating the safety of vaccines is really something no doctor could ever possibly respond to. And the only way I can imagine someone thinking that is if they are utterly incompetent at doing any kind of scientific research.

Although, I suppose one alternate explanation may be hinted at in the phrasing of the question, and would imply a different kind of idiocy altogether. In asking…

Could you please provide one double-blind, placebo-controlled study that can prove the safety and effectiveness of vaccines?

…it’s possible that whatever bozo wrote these questions expects one single study, taken in isolation, to utterly and irrefutably settle the safety and effectiveness of all vaccines, now and forever. Which is ridiculous. You also get creationists who seem to be demanding a single example of a fossil that proves the entire theory of evolution, not understanding that it’s a complex and multi-faceted model built up over time and supported by increasingly vast sums of individual data.

The first study that Crislip found (in just under a minute) specifically looks at the “23-valent pneumococcal vaccine”, and its effects in a particular demographic with regard to a specific disease. There are lots of others like it, but no single paper is going to prove “all vaccines are safe”. And fortunately, doctors and scientists don’t conclude that all vaccines are safe based on a single study, and have never claimed any such thing.

– In other news, fuck you, Daily Mail. This is one of those stories where it almost doesn’t matter if the guy’s technically correct about most things. If you’re going to claim that science proves “on average, men are more intelligent than women”, but that you’re not being sexist, you need to go out of your way to clarify the implications. You need to try extra specially hard to acknowledge that misogyny and prejudice do exist, and cause a real problem for many women, and that female oppression is not a myth that can be explained away by simple biological differences alone.

Otherwise you’re just perpetuating the idea that all gender difference is caused by men being innately superior to women, and then you’re as bad as any sexist, racist, homophobic, or otherwise prejudiced and patronising fuck you care to name.

– The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is okay with female genital mutilation, so long as it’s only a little bit, and so long as the parents really want their infant daughter’s clitoris sliced up.

Yeah. Everyone in that story can get fucked, pretty much.

– And finally, I’m still all for Everybody Draw Mohammed Day. Which is not something the skeptical movement is united on, but I’m yet to hear a good argument against it.

The only real reason offered that we shouldn’t provocatively draw stick figures and label them with the name Mohammed/Muhammad is that it offends many Western Muslims who haven’t done anything to merit their personal beliefs being disrespected. And this isn’t an utterly pointless argument to be carelessly brushed aside. It behooves secularist activists to provide some context to what they’re doing, and to let the majority of at least moderately reasonable Muslims know why we’re doing this, and that it’s not meant as a personal attack against them, but a defence of a free speech that’s under serious threat. Which is what the Atheists, Humanists & Agnostics at UW – Madison did recently.

But it still needs to be done. Because people don’t want us to even be able to draw stick figures labelled with Mohammed’s name. And fuck those people.

And it’s not just the ultra-radical extreme fringe where this oppression of free speech is going on. Comedy Central felt the need to censor episodes of South Park recently, because of fears for the safety of its employees, and Matt and Trey received death threats following their depiction of a bear suit that was said to have Mohammed inside. The Muslim Student Association claimed that the AHA’s planned action – which, remember, was to draw some stick figures and give them a name – was “illegal by the constitution of the University of Wisconsin (88-12 RACIST AND OTHER DISCRIMINATORY CONDUCT POLICY)”. And the drawings were defaced, presumably by someone not happy with their content.

Hemant quotes the part of a statement from the AHA president that nails it:

A common sentiment I’ve heard the past few days went a little something like this: “I’m totally in favor of free speech and all, but what you’re doing is needlessly offensive. Just because you can draw Muhammad doesn’t mean that you should.”

And my response was simple — we shall see if I can.

As it turns out, no, you cannot draw depictions of Muhammad in Madison. At least, not without having them immediately changed to pictures of Muhammad Ali, and not without having them censored the next day. Let’s imagine an alternate universe. Let’s say the drawings were never tampered with, but instead were met with nothing more than shrugged shoulders and public admonishment for our childish behavior. In this scenario the egg would be on our faces. Instead, suffice it to say that our point has been proven. The right to criticize religion and perform blasphemous acts needs to be defended more than ever.

You don’t get to take away my rights and then tell me it doesn’t matter because I wouldn’t or shouldn’t ever want to exercise them. There are people trying to do exactly that, and they need to be told where to shove it. To any more moderate Muslims, such as those who serve in the military and fight to defend the civilised world and its freedoms, and who feel worlds away from the extremist zealots who blow themselves up for the sake of some perverted interpretation of your religion, we’re sorry if we offend you as a byproduct of asserting our free expression. But, frankly, I kinda hoped more of you would be with us on this.

Here’s the Mohammed Image Archive. Go nuts.

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Yeah, I’m back, apologies for the sloth. I’ll try and stick to the other six next time.

Or:

Yeah, I’m back, apologies for the sloth. I don’t know how he got in here, but he chewed up my internet connection pretty good and then fell asleep on top of the router. There was no shifting him, and the tech support guy wouldn’t touch it until I’d got him out the way.

Anyway. Here are some things.

– I didn’t realise that Everybody Draw Mohammed Day was a thing until too late, but luckily I did happen to include a likeness of the sacred prophet in my last post anyway, just for the hell of it.

– But that was last week. Today is the day that Boobquake is upon us. This one merits a little background, if you’re not familiar. An Iranian cleric made some waves recently by claiming that immodestly dressed women cause earthquakes. Or, the impure thoughts that women give men by dressing revealingly is what causes an increase in tectonic activity. Something stupid like that, anyway.

This is obviously some pretty sexist bullshit, so one intrepid blogging bosom-owner decided to take action. Her suggestion was that for one day – today – women deliberately wear more revealing and immodest clothes than normal, and see how the plates of the Earth’s crust respond. Could the might of female indecorousness truly provoke a boobquake?

It’s a fairly light-hearted bit of fun, but some people don’t like it, even if they’re not demented Muslim clerics. I’m not going to get into the debate about the scientific rigour or feminist implications of this right now, but Maymay has some good ideas. I think trying to get together a whole new movement on the same day was possibly a tactical mistake, but a Femquake sounds like something I could get behind.

Of course, I also had to spend way too much of my work day on Twitter earlier trying to come up with names for what the male equivalent of such an event as a Boobquake would be. The best I could do at short notice was Ballcano.

Also, the Skepchicks talk about breasts.

– There are no inconsistencies in the Bible. And, there are lots of inconsistencies in the Bible. I’m both right!

– Hey, you remember how loads of Catholic priests raped hundreds of children, and the Pope was among those who covered it up? And did you hear about this jokey memo circulated among the British Foreign Office recently, regarding the Pope’s upcoming UK visit, which made some silly suggestions of ways he might like to spend his time here, such as opening an abortion clinic, or performing a duet with the Queen? Those two things, they’re not quite on the same scale, are they? I mean, one of those is proportionately far worse than the other, right? Between the child rape conspiracy and the list of jokes?

Well, Melanie Phillips agrees with you. Um… sort of.

– And lastly, if you don’t want to read an article titled The Truth About Cocaine Vaginas, then I don’t even know you, man.

– Last-minute addendum: I know at least one person reading this was expecting to read something outrageous about interior design. I hope you learned something today about setting your sights too high.

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