Drawing Muhammad – First Amendment or Unnecessarily Offensive?

IMG_0040Recent events in Garland, Texas have created a media firestorm over the issue of whether or not people should be drawing cartoons of Muhammad.  In case you missed it, political activist Pamela Geller organized a “Jihad Watch Muhammad Art Exhibit and Cartoon Contest” at which two terrorists opened fire on a security guard before being shot and killed by police.   Some say Geller was within her First Amendment rights to have the event and others, mostly leftists and media, say she was wrong to do it, was responsible for the violence and should apologize.

Geller planned for the possibility of violence, allocating “thousands of dollars” for security and police at the event, just in case someone tried to duplicate the massacre at the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in France last January.  As it turns out, it was money well spent.  One security guard was wounded in the ankle before police officers shot and killed the well-armed terrorists.  They posted their plans online and made it clear they were Islamists who were attacking the event to kill people over the cartoons of Muhammad.

After the event and the attack, Geller defended her decision to hold the event, saying, “Putting up with being offended is essential in a pluralistic society in which people differ on basic truths. If a group will not stand for being offended without resorting to violence, that group will rule unopposed, while everyone else lives in fear.”

While she absolutely did have the First Amendment right to hold this event, I disagree completely with her doing it.  Now before some of you have the knee-jerk reaction that I’m a terrorist-apologist or a leftist who doesn’t understand the First Amendment, let me ask you to read the rest of this post before believing that.

Initially, I thought Geller’s event was a good idea and a way to show Islamists that not everyone will acquiesce to their beliefs and demands, but I have changed my opinion upon further reflection.  Yes, holding the event does demonstrate that not everyone will adhere to the Islamists demands that no one show anything depicting their prophet Muhammad.  But to what end?  Geller and others have said that giving in to the Islamists demands to not show cartoons of Muhammad gives them a victory.  I disagree with that thinking.  Looking at the events from a different perspective, if you apply the same motivation to atheists or anti-Christians, doesn’t that say to them that they should hold events that are offensive to Christians?  That they should continue to churn out ‘art’ that consists of a Catholic crucifix submerged in a jar of urine or a painting of Jesus that has been smeared with excrement?  After all, if they submit to outrage and demands that such things not be done, aren’t they giving Christians a victory?

Now I’m not suggesting at all that people really start doing such things.  There’s been enough of it already.  My point is, not doing things that there’s really no point in doing, just to show someone that you have the right to do it, is offensive in its nature.  The cartoons of Muhammad are not what is offensive here; deliberately setting out to do something offensive to others’ religion is what I find offensive.  With that said, don’t think for one fraction of a second that I believe that gives Muslims the right to respond with violence.  Absolutely not.  For years now, Christians and followers of other religions in the United States have had to contend with a never-ending stream of offensive events such as the ‘art’ I mentioned.  Mocking Christianity and other religions has become great sport for certain factions of our society and while some profit from doing so, others seem to do it merely for the hateful pleasure of antagonizing people with whom they disagree about religion.  And how many times have Christians or others responded by donning bullet-proof jackets and launching violent attacks?  Zero.

While I disagree with Geller holding this event, do not make the mistake of thinking I blame her for the violence.  Quite the contrary.  One hundred percent of the blame for the violence rests with the terrorists who were shot down before they could carry out their deadly plan.  Oh, but Geller provoked them, some in the media say.  They say the terrorists wouldn’t have been there if it wasn’t for her event.  While that may be true, that argument could also be used to justify violent attacks by Christians on ‘artists’ who make displays that are offensive to Christians.  Would the media defend such attacks and place all the blame on the artist and his urine?  Hardly.  The media’s hypocrisy knows no boundaries.  No, the blame for violence always rests with those who decide to commit it.  Geller is right about one thing – putting up with being offended is essential in a pluralistic society.  It seems that too often lately, people respond with violence when something happens they don’t like or someone says or does something that offends them.

Geller’s event did offend people, but that isn’t the reason that it should not have been held.  It shouldn’t have been held because the stated purpose for having it – showing others that you have the right to do something they find offensive – violates the decency by which our society should strive to live.  Her event has received widespread praise for essentially giving radical Islam the middle finger and exercising First Amendment rights when the media says it shouldn’t happen.  The media is right that Geller should not have held this event, but not one person in the media was correct about the reason why.  Some in the media said that ‘hate speech’ shouldn’t be allowed even under the First Amendment.  Well perhaps they aren’t aware that freedom of the press doesn’t make them arbiters of the First Amendment.

I agree with Pamela Geller on a lot of things, but not on this.  This event seems to have been planned for two purposes – showing Islamists that their demands mean nothing and to stroke the ego of Pamela Geller.  She’s received a lot of attention for this, both negative as well as positive.  Americans already show Islamists that their demands mean nothing.  They demand we convert to Islam and live under Sharia law.  We don’t and won’t.  What purpose does it serve to hold this event just to agitate unnecessarily?

Americans, especially Christians, should look at this from a different perspective.  How would we feel if Muslim Americans decided to hold ‘art’ contests depicting things like I mentioned previously – Catholic crucifix submerged in a jar of urine and a painting of Jesus that has been smeared with excrement?  They certainly have a First Amendment right to do so, but anyone who is honest with themselves will admit that they would be offended by such an event.  So why do the same to them?  It serves no honorable purpose whatsoever.

Matthew 7:12 – “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them.”

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2 comments to Drawing Muhammad – First Amendment or Unnecessarily Offensive?

  • I couldn’t agree more, Charles. I agree with Pamela Gellar’s right to hold the event, but not with her stated intentions. We should all keep in mind that it is best to show respect to someone else’s religion, even if we wholeheartedly disagree with what they believe. That’s the right thing to do.

    As long as they keep their hands, their guns, and their bombs to themselves, then so be it. Once they step across that line, then they will have to learn that lesson in the same manner in which it was taught in Garland.

    • While I can completely understand why so many would think this was a great idea and an event that should be endlessly repeated, I hope they don’t do it.

      But if it is held again, should any terrorists use their AK-47s to object, I hope they are also introduced to the Second Amendment, as the two dead terrorists in Garland were.

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