A reader writes in defending Muslim wrath

January 18, 2015 • 2:08 pm

I’m doing science today and, as my brain is busy trying to avoid using the passive voice while writing a paper, I’ll save my neurons for that and put up a few easy-to-write posts.

First-time commenter “J. Lee” sent his/her take on a post, and rather than approve it, burying it among comments from several days ago, I thought I’d put it above the fold and let readers respond however they want. Lee mounts a defense of Muslim outrage and a critique of Charlie Hebdo for provoking that outrage with its drawings of Muhammad.

The first bit in italics is from my post, “CBC wimps out on showing the Charlie Hebdo cartoons“. I’ll direct J. Lee to the responses after a few days. Here you go:

You can judge the honesty and commitment to free speech of a journalist or newspaper by whether or not they’ll publish the [Charlie Hebdo cartoons]

To Muslims, all visual depictions of Mohammed are sacrilege.

For a Muslim, seeing such a thing in print would be akin to you discovering that someone had drawn your child’s naked body, including the genitals, labeled it with your child’s name, and distributed it globally.

The cartoonist might point out, “This is a caricature–see how hilariously we contorted your child’s genitals? This is freedom of speech! We do caricatures of everybody–why would we skip over your child?”

Would you “get the joke” and chuckle along with them?

The caricatures of Mohammed are a form of hate speech. I see nothing cowardly in the decision of mainstream media not to participate in hate speech.

It seems that many in the West have decided that all Muslims are evil because a few have committed atrocities, and therefore they’re all fair game for anything from torture to bullying. That’s a recipe for a truly global WWIII with no safe havens.

There’s no courage involved in striking a bold pose and saying “Bring it on!”

My only personal comment involves the last line. “No courage”—really? The folks at Charlie Hebdo knew what could happen to them, and published anyway. Does it take more courage to do that than to withhold publication of cartoons to save your skin?

122 thoughts on “A reader writes in defending Muslim wrath

  1. Seems to me that J.Lee is both utterly ignorant of the subject on which he comments, and fatuously morally impaired.

    The asinine comparison with a drawing of a child is so off-base I’m not quite sure where to begin. But safe to say that the two are not analogous, and the fact that J.Lee thinks they are betrays a woeful lack of knowledge about the subject.

    It couldn’t be more clear from this post that J.Lee is not a Muslim, doesn’t understand Islam or what it actually is, and has invented an apology that would embarrass most apologists who actually know the faith.

      1. And an appropriate one. BTW, it isn’t ad hominem. J. Lee exhibits no expertise of what depictions of Mo mean to Muslims. I doubt that about half of them worry much about it, but then, who knows. The emailer is grossly oversimplifying and greatly exaggerating. So tired of haoles telling everyone what the kanakas think.

      2. When it’s true, it isn’t an insult nor an ad hominem, it’s a description.

        It’s too bad you are unable or unwilling to comprehend that.

        1. At the risk of being pedantic, an ad hominem is an attack against a person rather than specific arguments of that person. The above fits that description.

          What’s important though is that while being ad hominem, the above isn’t fallacious, because the attack is (possibly – I’m not an expert on islam) accurate and relevant.

          1. As usual, the urge to prove another person is in error overrules truth, courtesy, and even common sense.

            Thank you for demonstrating the proof of that.

          2. I’m not sure I get your meaning. I’m simply referring to the generally accepted meaning of ‘ad hominem’, which differs from what you mentioned but does support your fundamental case (i.e. that the criticism can’t be waved away as a ‘mere’ ad hominem).


            “Ad hominem reasoning is not always fallacious, for example, when it relates to the credibility of statements of fact or when used in certain kinds of moral and practical reasoning”

    1. Poor J Lee is just trying to find an image that is as offensive to us as one of Mohammed is to Muslims. No need to over-analyse it.

      I think the problem is that we are detached from the magical power of the sacred (the “magical” power of the “sacred” to be quite clear) that tips them over the edge to mindless violence. It’s as if large crowds behaved like some jilted husbands, lashing out wildly.

  2. When will the religious get over this preoccupation with people’s genitals.. And sorry, showing a representation of Mohammed (something Muslims have already done in the past) is absolutely nothing like showing a picture of a child’s genitals. On the other hand Mohammed seemed to have no problem with uncovering a child’s privates.

    1. JP..you took the words right out of my mouth! It’s only offensive when someone ELSE does it! Frankly, I think beheadings, stonings, burnings and mass kidnappings/rapes, etc, are MUCH more ”offensive” than a cartoon. But, I’m not advocating a return of the actions. Muslims do enough of that themselves…to ”infidels” and to other Muslims.

  3. Ok. I have a religion too. In it, anyone eating any type of meat kills a soul and is akin to murder.

    This applies not just to me but to society because it is a universal, revealed Truth not just a tradition of mine. So, please change YOUR society to accomodate my religion.

    Further, if you don’t comply, my peacefulness will show up by murdering… you get the idea.

  4. Wait — did J Lee just call Muhammad a naked child?

    Better watch out, J Lee. You’ve just branded yourself an apostate. I guess you’re about to discover firsthand just why Islam is barbaric. For your own sake, I hope you live in a Western nation where you can seek the protection of a moral society.


    1. And those images in the Guardian were also posted by the head of the Canadian Muslims. They are beautiful artworks, and it’s a shame so any are denying themselves the pleasure of seeing them. He also tw**ted a ‘Charlie Hebdo’ cartoon of Mohammed. He, and many other Muslims, are secure enough in their beliefs to handle a bit of satire – too many lack that maturity.

      There is NO prohibition of depicting Mohammed in the Qur’an. I don’t know where the idea came from, but to me it sounds like another excuse for bad behaviour.

      1. Oh, and a picture of an adult who is either long dead or didn’t even exist is a bit different to a living innocent child.

  5. If someone drew such a picture of my child I would be upset.

    I would not execute the person who drew the picture.

    That difference is the only thing that matters. That difference is the difference between someone who lives, free of religion and other forms of dogma in the year 2015, and someone who is still living in the 6th century.

  6. I don’t object to Moslem outrage over cartoons they deem offensive. It is that they allow their outrage to dictate the commission of immoral acts of violence to which I take exception.

    Some of us are often offended by Neo-Natzi rhetoric and action but rather than kill any of them we steadfastly defend their right to freedom of expression.

  7. If all religions were perfect and true in every other way and yet believed in the concept of blasphemy, they would all be contemptible.
    Are religions so weak that a few words, however unkind, cruel,uncouth, disrespectful will harm them? Cannot religions withstand bad words?

    the act or offense of speaking sacrilegiously about God or sacred things; profane talk.
    “he was detained on charges of blasphemy”
    synonyms: profanity, sacrilege, irreligion, irreverence, taking the Lord’s name in vain, swearing, curse, cursing, impiety, desecration;

    1. Humor is kryptonite to religion precisely because religious figures are both fictional and ridiculous. Most religions can only survive with some kind of concept of blasphemy. Usually it’s only socially enforced, but it is always necessary. That is all they’ve got to go on, after all. The only evidence anyone ever sees for God/Allah/Jesus is the reverence other people express for those figures. Without that, if people were allowed to think and say what naturally occurs to them about religious figures and stories, which is usually to notice how ridiculous it is, most forms of religion would evaporate.

      This is in stark contrast to real things, which withstand criticism and ridicule rather better.

    1. It’s a very poor analogy.

      A depiction of an actual child that stands a good chance of being used inappropriately is nothing like depicting a fictional character.

      The only semblance of analogy is that the parent and the Muslim both dislike the respective depictions. In that case you might as well say depicting Muhammed is analogous to serving gas station hot dogs. I dislike has station hot dogs.

  8. J. Lee:

    Your first sentence is true, “To Muslims, all visual depictions of Mohammed are sacrilege.” to Muslims not to non-Muslims; so why would Muslims force non-Muslims to conform to their beliefs?

    After this sentence, you make a false equivalency – drawing someone’s naked child and distributing it in ways that could not be controlled and could lead to abuse of the child is not the same as someone drawing a picture of Mohammed. Muslims may feel it is the same thing but that doesn’t make it the same thing – that makes that equivalency outrageous. Yes, what I said may be offensive but I would say it to anyone with an illogical belief regardless of whether that belief is religious or secular.

    1. Spot on! We protect our children from being exploited sexually. There would be legal sanctions in place to punish those who would try to exploit a child in this manner. Religious beliefs are not immune to criticism or ridicule because they are a worldview. You have the right to believe as you wish but you don’t have the right to force your belief on others.

    2. “To Muslims, all visual depictions of Mohammed are sacrilege.” is not actually a true statement. Almost all modern Muslims feel images of the prophet should be avoided, most are mildly offended by these images, and a distressingly large minority feel they are blasphemy, deserving death.

      The Koran does not prohibit images of Mohammed, only later hadith writings do. There have been periods when mainstream Muslims felt art depicting Mohammed was okay. Throughout the history of the muslim faith there has been a strong aversion to idols.

      Any ideology that calls for severe punishments, even death, for harmless acts, is in fact an immoral ideology.

  9. Would you “get the joke” and chuckle along with them?

    Why no, silly, I’d shoot them or throw them off a building. Maybe both, praise Allah.

  10. When someone like J. Lee pronounces that “Muslims” do this or that, he obviously does not know Muslims. They are very diverse culturally, ethnically, and socially. They are NOT one entity, or race, or class. That is like saying because Christian creationists believe the world is 6,000 years old, that ALL Christians believe it. Such nonsense.

  11. I don’t understand J.Lee’s comparison between Muhammad and my hypothetical naked child. I can get the love for the two may be comparable but I can’t see how just seeing an image of Muhammad would be as offensive as child abuse. How is an image of Muhammad hate speech?

    1. The wikipedia description of hate speech includes a “display which is forbidden because it may incite violence”. With this definition I can see how some images of the prophet are hate speech. But because images do incite violence then they should be shown. Those who are so easily riled into violence need to be criticised in anyway to stop them from being so destructive. Because these images do incite violence and that violence has stopped these images from being shown then it goes to prove that violence can actually solve problems, although temporarily. Hate speech should be met with more speech. Very few people were aware of the existence of Charlie Hebdo, Jyllands-Posten or the Innocence of Muslims film until some Muslims became so violent, making these images global news and easily available. It should be irrelevant that your prophet has been insulted by a few infidels compared to your prophet being the excuse for actual death and destruction.

      1. If you define hate speech as speech that leads to violence, than you have to include all the nonsense based on superstition blabbered by christian religions accusing gays of being sinners, denying women of their rights over their own bodies, denying contraception, all speech that has led to many deaths and much misery over the centuries. A good example is the “hate speech” by the Catholic Church that has led to the infection with HIV and death of perhaps hundred thousands of people in Africa.

        1. Generally, hate speech is defined as speech advocating violence against a identifiable person or group of people.

          A picture of Mohammed is not advocating violence against anyone.

  12. Uh, I think J. Lee misses two points:

    1) The mainstream media are cowards for reporting on speech they refuse to reveal; not because they won’t engage in “hate” speech.

    “Bob should be punished for what he said!”

    “What did he say?”

    “I’m not telling.” <- cowardice

    2) Free speech includes hate speech.

  13. The commenter is trying to defend a right of religious practice, and I can sympathize with that in general. However, in this case it is unrealistic to expect that this practice will be upheld in totality.
    Telling political cartoonists (who do not subscribe to that particular religion) to not make cartoons of a particular person is like telling an writer about food to not write about a particular souffle. Maybe some writers will go along, but the souffle is gonna get written about on a semi-regular basis by somebody.

  14. There are so many things wrong with “J. Lee’s” logic, that I see no need for a rebuttal. I will answer his/her rhetorical question. I would find a caricature of my son’s mutilated genitals distributed over the media, offensive, and in poor taste. I would still respect the right to print it and I would use any legal means at my disposal to make that clear to the offending party.

  15. I am Glop from the planet Blop. At my planet Flop is sacred, so when you go around with two hands and two feet like that it is basically calling our God a loser. So you must die.

  16. False equivalency is such a tiresome tactic. In one case there is actual probability of harm to an innocent – in the other – not. I posted a number of panels on this subject over the last couple of weeks including an algorithm on dealing with being offended. They are posted on the site if anyone is interested.

  17. Is the challenge: You think it’s okay to portray Mohammed, but wrong to portray a child’s genitals – so what’s the difference?

    Put like that, the question almost answers itself, with too many points of difference to be able to catalogue.

    Who knows – some misguided Muslims might feel about depicting Mohammed the way we’d feel about depicting a specific child naked, but if they want other people who don’t share these feelings to act upon them they’ll just have to go through the tedious process of justifying there position – explaining why it’s morally wrong to depict Mohammed, using arguments that could reasonably be expected to convince us.

    The same is true with child pornography, actually. If a child pornographer asks, “What is wrong with what I’m doing?” and the best answer we can give is, “I don’t know; it just makes me uncomfortable,” then we don’t have a case.

    1. You point to another significant question.

      Since when should we have an automatic assumption of sexualization associated with child nudity? Does that not say something rather disturbing about those who see a naked child and immediately think of sex?


      1. Since the police started arresting people for taking pictures of their children in the bath, after the pictures being reported by operators in a print shop.
        Yes, silver-salts-on paper prints in a photographers shop. That long ago. The first case I can remember hearing of was in the late 1980s, but that probably wasn’t the absolute first.

      2. I think that assumption is being made in this thread because J. Lee specified that a non-parent was creating and distributing the depiction of the child.

        Parents, extended family, and even friends of the family are of course around those parents’ naked children all the time. No big deal. Distributing images of other peoples’ naked children, without, as J. Lee implies, parental consent, is extremely inappropriate and really can mean only one thing.

        1. Even still, it’s common in other societies for children to run around naked on the streets (weather permitting), and it wasn’t all that long ago that they did so in the West as well. Which, in turn, makes me wonder how much of our obsession with child pornography stems from the very fact that it’s a taboo. Indeed, I rather suspect that the number of assaults on children would be lesser in a society that didn’t automatically associate child nudity with sexualization the way ours does.


          1. I think it comes down to intent.

            If a young child wants to run around the neighborhood sans pull-up, I think that shouldn’t necessarily be a big deal, either. But there is no sexual intent involved on anyone’s part in that scenario.

            One could maybe imagine a scenario in which sone third party creates and distributes images of your naked child with no sexual intent, but in the real world, when someone does that, far far far and away the overwhelming chances are it’s sexual. When someone creates and distributes images of naked children in the real world, the smart money says the association with sex is real, not simply a default assumption.

            I would guess that the taboo concerning child pornography arises from the fact that they are more vulnerable than adults, both physically and mentally. They cannot defend themselves, and they cannot give competent consent.

  18. For a Muslim, seeing such a thing in print would be akin to you discovering that someone had drawn your child’s naked body, including the genitals, labeled it with your child’s name, and distributed it globally.

    Such a depiction would be illegal because it causes harm to an actual, existing person, which Muhammad is not. A better analogy would be libel. I can write that Muhammad (or Christ for that matter) was pedophile without fear of being sued.

    There are many things that various religions consider sacrilege, so they don’t do them. They don’t murder others for doing them. Insisting that no one depict Muhammad is expecting everyone to obey the tenets of Islam, not respect them.

    1. Despite what J Lee may have heard about the USA, Corporations- like Godz- are not actual living human beings, and therefore are unaffected by say, someone insulting a person’s *mother.*

  19. While I don’t agree with J. Lee at all, I think there’s something that can be learned from his post.

    Too often, anti-religion liberals are blind to the fact that we have our own “sacred cows” in our own cultures. Thus, if someone criticizes a religious myth or irreverently depicts a religious figure, a defense that is sometimes wheeled out is “I love Harry Potter, but I’m not going to get mad if someone parodies it.”

    Harry Potter is not yet a “myth” in the same way that, say, Batman has become. But even Batman isn’t a myth in a complete sense because few people have emotional investment towards it. How about caricatures, though, of say Lincoln, Washington, MLK or Frederick Douglass? While I agree that such caricatures ought to be allowed, I want to make the point that the personal relationships people have with such figures are more akin to what a religious person might feel. Particularly, if I were an American expatriate living somewhere else, it would pain me slightly to see Washington or Lincoln depicted irreverently.

      1. Duly noted 🙂 I think the “holy cow” effect may be greater in subaltern groups. I’ve seen Indians balk at a westerner critiquing Gandhi, and I expect attacks on Douglass or MLK would have the same effect on black Americans. In India itself, “Untouchable” groups are very keen to make sure that a prominent “Untouchable” civil rights activist, lawyer, and statesman– B.R. Ambedkar– is properly respected.

        1. You do not need to go all the way to the “subalterns” to find people getting offended by criticism of historical figures. It is easy to find Churchill fan pages on the web getting very offended by any discussion of Churchill’s role in the Bengal Famine, and putting up all sort of apologia in his support.

        2. The funny thing about Mahatma Gandhi is that while it is indeed true that most Indians “balk” at a foreigner criticizing him, there is quite a robust and mainstream indigenous tradition of criticizing his actions. For example, most of the people I know in India respect Gandhi but also argue that Gandhi did not do enough to support Chandrashekhar Azad and Bhagat Singh, and also that he mistreated Subhash Chandra Bose while showing an undue favoritism towards Nehru.

          1. PS,

            I’m aware that Gandhi isn’t quite as fashionable now and that his popularity has been affected by both the rise of the Hindu Right and, on the other end of the spectrum, the rise of B.R. Ambedkar.

    1. I do not know if this is true but here is Lincoln telling a joke about putting George Washingtons’ portrait in a water closet. The quality is terrible, I know.

      1. Haha. As I noted above, maybe my attempt at “empathy” is inapplicable to Lincoln or other such figures.

        But different cultures have different standards on what “profanes” their sacred cows. I’ve noticed that Hindus, while certainly being offended in some instances, don’t find particular types of humor about their gods offensive. Flipping it, American Christians don’t seem to mind mixing Christianity with rock music or commenting on the similarity of the blblical name Boaz to the word “ass.” (There’s a status that was floating around Facebook about how women shouldn’t marry Po-az or Cheap-az, but should find Boaz.) Hindus would be mortified.

        1. Even flippant and rude depictions of Christ will register a protest of a sort that is essentially tame these days. Maybe a judge will charge you with public indecency/trespassing for face humping a Jesus statue.
          But I think a couple centuries ago it would be pretty serious, and of course many centuries ago we had the Inquisition.

        2. I’m somewhat baffled by how Muslims can’t abide images of Mohammed, but have no problem naming boys afrer him – though not teddybears.

          Christians have been split over images, and non-Laatin Christians aren’t comfortable calling boys Jesus.

          1. Thanks, Shuggy, that was exactly the kind of cross-cultural comparison I was looking for. Curious indeed.

          2. And again, just clarifying that my post was in no way meant to defend violations of free speech, but just to see where free speech’s discontents were coming from. No doubt the naked child example was silly, but that was where the reader was trying to go.

  20. I’m unable to find any reference in the qu’ran prohibiting depictions of Muhammad. There are portraits of him found here [http://tarekfatah.com/images-of-prophet-muhammad-from-islamic-art-and-history-before-the-clan-of-ibn-saud-took-islam-hostage/] He appears in various illustrated manuscripts starting in the 13th century.
    This sacrilege nonsense is a tenet of the Wahhabi sect and parroted by muslims ignorant of their own history and culture. It is used primarily to buttress blasphemy laws who serve no other purpose than to silence dissent. In light of that, J Lee’s argument is as specious as it is ignorant in a well meaning way.
    I’m encouraged to see muslims speaking out, some for the first time, against Islamic violence in meaningful ways other than the usual fig leaves offered by apologist organizations of CAIR’s ilk. As well they should, as they are the ones who first suffer at the hands of ISIS and the extremist fundamentals.

    1. What little I know (and it ain’t much) was that the prophet was said to not want his image to be used b/c all focus should be on Allah rather than on idolatry of a man.
      What is I think ‘off’ about the over-the-top prohibition of having his image in any form is that idolatry of ‘Mo is exactly what has happened.

  21. The question is, what is the appropriate RESPONSE to offensive use of free speech?

    I don’t think it can ever be physical violence or murder, do you?

    How about legal sanctions, shunning, counter speech, and the other methods we’ve utilized in a civilized society? What WOULD you do if someone was posting drawings of your naked child– I think you’d find most of the world as disgusted with the perpetrators as you were and shunning them accordingly. I don’t think you’d find very many people who’d think it appropriate to cut their heads off.

    The same goes for people insulting the Pope’s mother. We all understand that would hurt his feeligs. But hurt feelings don’t justify murder.

    Believers need to trust their gods to fight their own battles and civilized people need to unite in their notion that freedom of speech is not just for speech you agree with. Moreover, it is never ever justification for violence. Shame on those who think otherwise.

  22. I’m trying to trace through the logic of this argument.
    The counterargument is that the drawing of the child presents a real danger to the child ( by inspiring pedophiles) while the drawing of Mohammed is a danger to no one; its merely offensive. The Muslim will counter that on the contrary, drawing the prophet is extremely dangerous to everyone because it violates God’s law. The non-Muslim counters that they don’t believe that and the Muslim says they do. This is where the argument must end.
    None of us has the right to come up with arbitrary offenses and demand that others not trespass on them. There must be some objective, legitimate reason for claiming offense. For the case of drawing the prophet the only way it can be legitimate is if there is some truth to it – there really is a God who is offended by it. In a secular society we can’t recognize any legitimacy in being offended by this.

  23. “The caricatures of Mohammed are a form of hate speech.”

    A claim – that something is so merely and solely because some human primate SAYS so.

    What if someone created a painting/photo/cartoon with the caption, “This is not Mohammed.” Would you have a problem with that?

    1. Jesus and Mo did that, said Mo was just a stunt double. For some reason, that didn’t appease the liberals that were upset by it.

  24. Translation: Muslims are super super sensitive. And we all need to treat them with kid gloves, because they can’t handle this stuff like us adults.

  25. On the weekend I just watched the very amusing animated film “Sita Sings the Blues” by Nina Paley. It’s a public domain re-telling of the Ramayana with Sita performing some very nice 1920’s jazz numbers sung by Annette Hanshaw. It has commentary on the story questioning many of the elements of the story, such as wether Rama is actually as good and nice as the Hindus would believe.

    I have not heard of any Hindus threatening the film maker with violence, being overly insulted at the depiction of their gods as cartoon characters or trying to have the feminist criticism included in the story repressed. An Indian I spoke to yesterday about the film said it was a good idea to have the story put in a way that western audiences would appreciate, so that
    they could get to understand some of India’s culture.

    Why are the Hindu gods not offended by being represented or having it’s prophets, gurus or whatever you call them represented wheras the the Muslim version of the abrahamic god is? There is something about the Islamic prohibition of creating images that is about repressing human creativity.

    Furthermore think it unfair and stupid that those who do not profess to following a religion should be bound by any of its rules.

    1. I’m inclined to think that disenfranchised Muslims feel there is justice in achieving a caliphate. Under that regime, nobody would be able to violate The Rules. It’s just a matter of time.

    2. wether Rama is actually as good and nice as the Hindus would believe.

      There is actually a long and popular “Hindu” tradition of criticizing Rama’s actions towards Sita, even among Rama devotees. For example, my mother, who is quite religious, used to have a cassette of devotional songs one of which questioned why Rama should be called the “best among men” given his treatment of Sita. One of the refrains in the song was “O King (the reference is to Rama), become a man, and pretend not to be a god.” In fact, criticisms of actions of mythological avatars is considered a normal form of “worship” in many branches of Hinduism.

      It turns out the song (the audio is in Hindi) is from a devotional Bollywood movies produced in the 1970s, and was sung by one of the most popular Indian playback singers, Lata Mangeshkar. As far as I can find, there have never been any protests about the song or the film.

  26. Refraining from depictions of Muhummad is a religious practice. Those of the religion have no right or reasonable expectation that non-believers will follow their practice…and certainly no rememdy becuase the choose to be offended by that.

    Jews have rules for what happens on Sabbath. Should the be offended when Muslims living beside them don’t follow their religious practices? Should they kill them because they are offended?

    And as for your drawing of the genitals of my naked child, not withstanding child pornogrpahy laws (which is beyond the scope now), I would defend your right to do that.

  27. J Lee is using the example of a child b/c any right-thinking person would be angry if a child is being targeted. The trouble with this analogy is that Mohammed was an Adult – not to mention no longer living – and incapable of being hurt emotionally or physically by cartoons or other writings. Would you be angry if someone targeted your Adult child in this way? Maybe, but surely not to kill. Would you be angry if someone targeted your Adult friend or neighbor like this? Possibly, but definitely not to kill. So J Lee’s argument is just manipulative, illogical and probably inaccurate in that Charlie Hebdo is unlikely to have published a cartoon insulting a child (I admit I don’t know for sure)(child version of Mohammed or Jesus doesn’t count b/c as I said, Adult already).

  28. Right, sacrilege and child exploitation are not two sides of the same coin. Also, if you and/or your sect views depictions of Muhammad as being sacrilegious then don’t depict him. However, I could understand how someone drawing Muhammad’s genitals could be seen as rude.

    1. There’s also the curve ball that not all depictions of child nudity are exploitative, nor are all depictions of Mo sacrilegious.

  29. If I think that a plate of spaghetti is sacred, you have no obligation to share my view.

    As far as the kid thing: the issue is that there is some potential harm to the kid. Muhammed died a long time ago (if he lived at all).

    Now, of course, Muslims are free to denounce drawings just as people are free to denounce, say, Mormons baptizing dead people from other faiths. But you can’t stop it legally and you certainly can’t physically harm them for doing so.

  30. I agree with boblevel44 that J.Lee needs to be more specific in his comments.

    I would rewrite J.Lees paragraph of,”It seems that many in the West have decided that all Muslims are evil because a few have committed atrocities, and therefore they’re all fair game for anything from torture to bullying. That’s a recipe for a truly global WWIII with no safe havens.”

    As:”Some people in the West fear that there will be an increase in the number of atrocities committed under the banner of Islam because of the examples that are shown on t.v. where people who claim to represent a faction of Islam have murdered people & called for some sort of Jihad.

    Maybe more people in the West would be reassured that this will not happen if it could be shown that the majority of Western muslims would describe themselves as secular muslims who, though they have been brought up with the stories of the Koran, view them as mostly invented stories. Therefore they can safely ignore the verses which incite people to commit violence in an attempt to intimidate people into submitting to certain religious practices & beliefs. Although they value the Koran as historical texts they would hope that people would recognize them as primitive guesses & early attempts at law making rather than a manual for 21st century living. Additionally they recognize that 2015 English common law is more humane & civilized than most versions of Shariah, aiming to maximize human well being and minimize human suffering. However they still hold that it is possible to pick the odd cherry out of the Koran and it can provide an interesting contrast to modern thought, an opportunity to say,’ thankfully we no longer live under that early middle ages world view'”

  31. Did he just basically say that if we insist on continually drawing the profit Mohammed, that they will start WW3?? Over a cartoon?

    Any people who would be willing to do that, do not deserve to live in a civilized modern day society. They don’t deserve any modern coveniences like running water, sanitation, or even food grown from agriculture. And when I say modern, I mean any human inventions since 800AD…as a former US Marine, I have been asked to hold ground for really dumb reasons, but this guy and those like him should be removed from the planet earth, or at least made to live in a small part of it.

    I hate that his attitude chills me to the bone because now there is fear in my heart, and when people have fear in their hearts…well, bad things happen.

  32. If I could add something I’d say to Lee that we DO post ACTUAL pix of people’s kids, especially if it’s the president’s daughter drunk at a college party or wearing a controversial rap group’s logo. Surely not as extreme as the hypothetical naked child with mutilated genitals but I wouldn’t put it past some rags who would if there were no child protection laws. But I digress.

    Lee, the more “important” or public you are, the more of a target you become. Richard Dawkins takes a lot of hell for all of us atheists because he’s kind of the figure head. If you could knock him out, us lesser known would suffer from the trickle down. So with Islam, if we can take out the figure head, show Muhammad ain’t quite all that, maybe the dominoes will start falling.

    Anyhow, not sure if I’m clear, maybe even a bit moving away from the argument but, well…there ya have it.

  33. The flaw in Lee’s discussion is the extreme superior position he seems to place religious belief. To simply say that any drawing that shows a religious figure is forbidden by the world is quite the request and it is a kind of foolish demand if you just think about it.

    In a free society could he actually think of any demand such as this or any other that would be meaningful to all. Maybe something bad about the pope or jesus? Certainly not. Anyone can print on these subjects and say what they want at any time, and hopefully without harm coming to him. They could do the same about any political figure in a free society.

    It must also be clear that intimidation does not work in free societies either. The coward is the one who refuses to print and has allowed fear or intimidation to win. Yes, you can always ask for this withholding of opinion or picture if you want, but you should never expect it.

  34. J. Lee tells us that Muslims universally find depictions of Muhammad offensive. We know this is not true, but even if some do, are we morally obliged to obey?

    No. Why not? Because people do not have the right not to be offended. But in case Mr. Lee finds this unsatisfying, I must ask him, why does Mr. Lee not also demand we not offend Muslims by our predilection to breed pigeons?

    In fact, many Muslims are deeply offended by people who do nothing!
    Some Muslims are offended by those who don’t follow Islam, and they murder these poor infidels. Does J. Lee expect us all to convert, or does he not agree with all Muslims who are offended in myriad ways?

    The sad reality is in many Islamic countries it’s extremely easy to cause a Muslim offense. We hear about it happening all the time, people being arrested, imprisoned, whipped, stoned or beheaded. In Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and many other countries. By something as simple as a girl going to school. Some Muslims are offended by any Western style learning.

    Some Muslims are offended by non Muslims very existence. It’s a no win situation for us. We find ourselves always waiting for the next demand.

    Sorry J. Lee but many Muslims are easily offended. It’s not really about offense, it’s just an excuse to exert control over others and force your beliefs onto others.

    I will repeat that so I am clear. It’s not about offense, it’s about forcing your beliefs onto others, and about controlling others.

    It’s not going to happen.

  35. Stephen Fry:

    “It’s now very common to hear people say, ‘I’m rather offended by that.’ As if that gives them certain rights. It’s actually nothing more… than a whine. ‘I find that offensive.’ It has no meaning; it has no purpose; it has no reason to be respected as a phrase. ‘I am offended by that.’ Well, so fucking what.”

    But as articulette wrote, the real issue is whether the response is in any way justified, and plainly it isn’t. You have a right to be offended, you have no right not to be offended, and offence is absolutely no justification for violence.

  36. Let’s pretend for a moment that the analogy makes any sense. If drawing a child’s genitals is analogous to drawing Mohammed then the attack in CH is analogous to strapping a bomb to that child and taking out the child and as many innocent people as possible. The two are not remotely comparable, and with regard to children, only one of these things is actually occurring in today’s world.

  37. In response to J. Lee’s posting:
    It might be that most Muslims view depictions of Mohammed as sacrilege. Probably Christians are distressed by some depictions of Christ e.g. Serrano’s Piss Christ. But so what? One is not free to impose arbitrary rules on others simply because one abides by them oneself. These images are not of a living (or even recent) human person – and possibly not of a real human person at all. It is remarkable to imagine that publishing a drawing of Mohammed or Jesus is in any way similar to displaying a demeaning picture or drawing of a living human person – child or otherwise. Of course, J. Lee is correct; promulgating demeaning pictures of private living human persons is not free speech. Caricatures of public persons are another matter, but that was not the point of the comment. Drawings of Mohammed have nothing to do with naked pictures of a child – or adult. Mohammed is simply a symbol of Islam; the criticism is really of the religion. There is not necessarily any intent to harm Islam, simply to express an opinion about it. A naked picture of a child is clearly intended to harm the child.
    There appears to be considerable confusion about the concept of hate speech. Hate speech is directed toward individuals or specific groups – not toward ideas. The Charlie Hebdo cartoons were not about Muslim human persons but rather a collection of ideas known as Islam, the religion. Despite the recently expressed opinion of Pope Francis, religious ideas and doctrines are not protected from criticism, caricature, ridicule, or shaming. We have seen the totalitarian state that issues from such protection – up through the Enlightenment at the hands of Christians and even now in many Muslim-dominated countries.
    Yes, some in the West have taken a dim view of Muslims as persons, but I do not believe it is a majority. I cannot say if the proportion is more or less than the proportion of Muslims who hold a similarly unfavorable opinion of westerners. These opinions regarding human persons – on both sides –seem to me to be based on religious ideas and intolerance and lead to harm to individuals. In contrast, the Charlie Hebdo cartoons and other religious satire are about ideas and doctrine. They are not directed toward individuals or even groups of persons – although some have not shown the maturity to distinguish between criticism of ideas and denigration of human persons.
    In past centuries Catholicism was the most dangerous religion. It required real courage to speak out against the Church’s authority and many did not survive the experience. The Renaissance, the Enlightenment, scientific progress all conspired to diminish her power. While still doing great harm in much of the world, she no longer actively kills people for criticizing her doctrines and holding contrary ideas. Today Islam has assumed the mantle of most dangerous religion. Many adherents of Islam are quite willing to kill those who criticize its tenants and disagree with its doctrines. The lack of any central authority in Islam means that members of the faithful can proclaim any belief for which support can be found in the Koran or the hadith – and that means almost anything. Each new sect has ideas more extreme and violent than the last. And who’s to say what is or is not ‘true’ Islam.
    So today it is necessary to speak out against the cruelty, misogyny, intolerance, and backwardness of Islam. That is what Charlie Hebdo does. And, yes, that requires courage and the conviction of one’s belief in personal liberty. The murders are sufficient evidence.

    1. “A naked picture of a child is clearly intended to harm the child.”

      I think that’s overstating it, even in this context. Harm may be inevitable (although I’m not yet convinced it necessarily is), but that doesn’t mean that was the intent.

      Given the way J. Lee worded it he/she could have been describing an illustration for something like Gray’s Anatomy, although I presume that wasn’t the intention.

  38. Who would not be outraged over witnessing the disgustingly mocking depiction of our precious gods and children. We can howl and moan about the indignities that have been inflicted on us but that does not give us an excuse to take matters in our own hands and kill our transgressors. As well we should not expect to have people making excuses for our actions by implying that we are simply victims of those who provoked us.

  39. “To Muslims, all visual depictions of Mohammed are sacrilege.”

    So? They aren’t sacrilege for non-muslims.

    “For a Muslim, seeing such a thing in print would be akin to you discovering that someone had drawn your child’s naked body, including the genitals, labeled it with your child’s name, and distributed it globally.”

    No, it really wouldn’t. And that is the first problem. The two are not remotely comparable. What you’re saying is that Muslims will react in the same way as I would if someone had done that with my child, which just highlights the irrationality of the reaction

    “The cartoonist might point out, “This is a caricature–see how hilariously we contorted your child’s genitals? This is freedom of speech! We do caricatures of everybody–why would we skip over your child?”

    Would you “get the joke” and chuckle along with them?”

    Wait, are you really comparing satire to gratuitous child nudity as if that is remotely resonable? Really?

    “The caricatures of Mohammed are a form of hate speech. I see nothing cowardly in the decision of mainstream media not to participate in hate speech.”

    You have no understanding of what hate speech is.

    “It seems that many in the West have decided that all Muslims are evil because a few have committed atrocities, and therefore they’re all fair game for anything from torture to bullying. ”

    This is true, and its lamentable. Its also irrelevant to the issue. CH were not among those who those all Muslims are evil, even as they placed themselves in danger from the ones who where. You seem to think that satire and criticism are the same thing as abuse. This is not so.

    “There’s no courage involved in striking a bold pose and saying “Bring it on!”

    Ah, as opposed to the courageous stance of “cowering in the rear in your yellowed underpants for fear that the irrational might decide that you offend their delicate sensibilities”

  40. My father-in-law was a career Army officer. He was posted in Western Europe in the 60s and 70s. He told me about driving through Athens Greece and seeing the statute of President Harry Truman defaced. It angered him to see this kind of disrespect since the US had helped free Greece from the Nazis during WWII and then helped rebuild the country via the Marshall Plan. He never once thought he should stop and commit violence against any Greek citizens who had attacked the statue despite being offended by their behavior. (I rarely go to this website but they have a good story on the Truman statue at http://www.nationaljournal.com/politics/the-poor-tortured-bombed-painted-truman-statue-in-athens-20131203)

    There are many productive ways to show your displeasure at a display or act you find offensive. Committing violence is not one of them.

  41. Great, now were on to ‘the drawing of Mohammed is like distributing child porn’. Seriously???!!! A drawing of a human male, who by all accounts was very war-like and engaged in a form of paedophilia by marrying a six-year-old girl and raping her when she was nine (she was Aisha, I think the twelfth wife). But that is a digression. But the point is that it seems ridiculous for a religion to ban pictures of a man who lived hundreds of years ago (and by other accounts in tradition, even natural forms are banned). If a world leader attempted to prohibit pictures of themselves from being shown we would laugh in his/her face! QualiaSoup has some good takes on critical thinking:

  42. I can only suggest that you visit a Muslim country and experience your rights to criticize and express yourself. These rights are taken for granted in the west and have been hard won through centuries of suppression and misery.
    Collectively we have found that we can live with different values and held views contrary to ones own without resorting to violence, it’s called self control and being civil it has this remarkable effect of making your neighbourhood a less hostile place to live.
    If you wish to call this a form of hate speech (the visual depictions) then you are going to have to explain why this doctrine that promotes so much of it (hate) has the right to kill when utterances and pictorial slights are made against it’s figurehead, sacrilege is not an explanation it’s a poor excuse.
    Freedom of speech belongs to no one and everyone, freedom to counter any claim and protest is fair and exceptable, murder is not.
    Therefore as news agencies, mainstream media which thrive on stories like Charlie Hebdo fell glaringly short on delivering a true factual account by not publishing the so called offending material.
    Everyone deserved to see why these people were murdered, freedom of speech.

    1. Also, pictures I can’t see that I’m told are offensive may be worse in my imagination than they are in reality.

  43. I think the analogy fails specifically because of the innocence of my child, and my innocence in re using interpretations of my child’s utterances to oppress a billion people for 1,500 years.

    Suppose I were in the leadership of a movement which used said interpretations of said utterances for said oppression, there is every chance that a satirist might create a caricature of my sacred child in order to 1) piss me off, 2) expose my hypocrisy to the world and 3) attempt to undermine my authority with my oppressed followers.

    Would my followers and I feel offended? We most likely would. Would it be understandable if that offense resulted in violence? It might be. Would we be justified in acting on that violent impulse? No. Should anyone value my feelings about my sacred child above the human rights of the people I have been oppressing in my child’s name? Not if they care the least bit about liberating my followers.

    I have yet to see anyone opine in sympathy with Muslims and against Charlie Hebdo cartoons who sincerely and accurately articulated both the context of Islam and the editorial intent of the cartoons. I think it’s pretty obvious why a person like Jerry’s correspondent has to ignore context: reality destroys the argument completely.

  44. For a Muslim, seeing such a thing in print would be akin to you discovering that someone had drawn your child’s naked body, including the genitals, labeled it with your child’s name, and distributed it globally.

    It may feel like their ‘baby’, but it is just an idea. A poorly thought out, unevidenced and hugely immoral idea at that.

    This is the problem, not the solution: a major religion’s adherents can’t or won’t distinguish a religious idea from an impersonal fact.

    The comparison is especially asinine, since the hero figure of the muhammedanist myth would probably be diagnosed as a pedophile today. If you don’t want people mentioning that fact, don’t go there!

  45. To say that we shouldn’t criticize Muhammad has no more sense than an expectation that we shouldn’t criticize L. Ron Hubbard, or Joseph Smith, or Joseph Stalin.

    As one Charlie Hebdo journalist put it, “How can we be a newspaper about debate, about satire without attacking religions, the largest corporations in the world, generating a lot of money, which have a crazy amount of power, which have power over life and death in many societies”


    As for “To Muslims, all visual depictions of Mohammed are sacrilege.”

    What if the Nazis or KKK members said that to them all depictions, cartoons or even mentions, of Adolf Hitler are sacrilege, would anyone toe the line drawn by these people?

  46. PS While Muslims are busy being offended by nudity in a satiric cartoon, porn is exploding in the Middle East.


    Some of the data are really disturbing as they expose searches for things like zoophilia and incest:

    “According to data released by Google, six of the top eight porn-searching countries are Muslim states. Pakistan tops the list at number one, followed by Egypt at number two. Iran, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and Turkey come in at numbers four, five, seven and eight, respectively. Pakistan leads the way in porn searches for animals like pigs, donkeys, dogs, cats and snakes.

    According to research put out by PornMD, the terms “creamy squirt,” “blowjob” and even “Kendra Wilkinson” (Hugh Hefner’s former girlfriend) appear on the top 10 most-searched terms coming out of countries like Iraq, Syria and Iran. The word “Arab” is the number-one searched porn term in Egypt, Iran and Syria. Some get a little creepier. “Pain” lands at Iraq’s fourth most-searched term, while “father daughter” and “brother sister” come in at numbers four and five for Syria. Both the words “mother” and “mom” appear on Egypt’s top 10 list.”

    1. In exactly the way that the “red states” in the U.S. — the “family values/anti-porn” voters — are exactly the states with the largest amount of per capita porn viewing.

  47. I’ve been hearing that Muslims must not exhibit images of their prophet. According to historical explanations, this is because Mohammed did not wish to be idolized like a god of some sort, as he was a man and I assume a flawed human being too. Non-Muslims do not share the same beliefs about Islam and therefore are not intending to idolize Mohammed. In a twisted way, Muslims seem to miss the idea that to murder to protect Mohammed’s name and image is indeed a form of idolatry.

    1. Oh, while we’re at it, historical evidence shows that Mohammed asked his wife to cover up, for purely pragmatic reasons given the dangerous times in which they lived. She was being targeted by Mohammed’s enemies, and so a disguise was necessary. He did not order other Muslims to wear any hijab or niqab or whatever.

  48. When we limit speech or depictions based on what the perceived reaction to them might be, we are tacitly stating that whomever has the most extreme reaction has the right to dictate national and international policy.

    Yes, if we refuse to allow cartoons of Mohammed because some Muslims riot, we are acceding to mob rule.

    But as things are in the enlightened west, we still refuse to allow drawings of naked children because some people might view them as an invitation to commit a crime — instead of locking away people actually committing abuse, we allow the fear of what they might do to function in exactly the way that fear of murder from rioters does. In that sense, J. Lee’s analogy is apt — but his conclusion is one I disagree with 180 degrees.

  49. I haven’t read every post on this thread but depictions of Mohammed only cause a problem for the Sunnis. To the Shia it’s not so much of a problem.

    In addition there are thousands of paintings etc, of the Prophet in art galleries around the world.

  50. This guy’s broad strokes about “all muslims” aside, paralleling an individual youth with a public and largely mythicized dead person is a false equivalency. mo is not anyone’s child, mutilated in jest, and offered to the pervs of the world. Mo is the modern figurehead of a belief system. and like in any belief system, to question, analyze and criticize the beliefs of islam is no different than criticizing it’s figurehead. we criticize movements and their leaders everywhere, and that includes Mo – the founder and demi-god of islam is not a naked little boy. he is not off limits. the dictates of free speech demand that we tolerate Mo’s ideas AND their critique. that is how we avoid WWIII, but if you want to threaten WWIII over this, i will gladly step up to the plate and die there.

  51. Charlie Hebdo was/is a tiny little anarchical magazine read by very few people. Satire was/is their business. You can appreciate their sense of humour or not. Personally, I think it was/is a bit outdated. However, the point is that nothing Charlie Hebdo did was illegal in France. How dare Muslims (a nervy and violent minority within a minority) dare tell France how to run their country? Religion and the state are strictly separated in France and that’s why we demonstrated so that it stays that way!

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