Thursday, May 20, 2010

RE: fighting craziness with jerkiness

In case you didn't know, today is Everybody Draw Mohammed Day. I'm all for freedom of expression and against the violent responses to recent artistic depictions of Mohammed. But I'm not sure giving the finger to the extremists is a sufficiently good reason to offend the religious sensibilities of all the nice, normal, non-crazy-go-nuts members of the faith. I'm pretty confident the violent fundamentalist Muslim nutjobs don't speak for all of Islam in the same way that the Westboro Baptist Church doesn't represent the mainstream of Christian thought.

So no cartoon Mohammed from me today.

57 comments:

  1. A big fat raspberry for a poltical post on a what I considered a gaming website.

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  2. And a big thumbs up for speaking out about something that's important to you. And making a good point to boot.

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  3. I, in fact, love it when the OSR gets political. So far, the 21st Century is a good time for liberal thinkers. I don’t mean politically liberal, I mean responsible and creative thinking. Thanks for being responsible and creative and not being an Ugly American.

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  4. Steve8:06 AM

    I don't think it's political, I don't think it's creative and I don't think it's 'liberal'. It's simple common sense and goes back to the rule that we all learned as small children but seem to forget soon after, 'Treat others as you wish to be treated'.

    I applaud you sir. :)

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  5. I don't think the point of this exercise is to be a jerk. Rather, it is both a show of strength and a defense of free speech. While we are caving in to these extremists (see Cartoon Network) and inviting them to push us around even more, take a look at some of the things Fr. Zakaria Botros is saying about Muhammad on Arab TV:
    http://www.jihadwatch.org/2009/04/father-zakaria-botros-on-the-perverse-sexual-habits-of-the-prophet-part-v.html
    The result? Converts to Christianity — one of the best remedies to Islamic extremism.

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  6. Wow FrDave:

    I guess the next event will have to be "Everybody Draw Jesus Being Drawn & Quartered, Packaged and Sold Off by the Religious Right." Though of course they only bother selling the pieces that fit their ideology.

    Personally, I'm more in favor of converting Christian extremists to Islam. Islam already teaches that Jesus was the Messiah; what more are they going to get from Christians?

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  7. "A big fat raspberry for a poltical post on a what I considered a gaming website."

    Says the guy who brought up the dangers of left-wing ivory tower nonsense on his blog just last week!

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  8. Thanks for reminding me what today is!

    Self-censorship because you might "offend" someone is wrong. If the creators of "South Park" had no fear about showing Jesus looking at porn while Buddha snorted cocaine, if they felt free to show Jesus and then-President Bush defecating on each other, then to say they, or anyone, should be "sensitive" to the demands of Muslims that Mohammad not be shown at all, even in a completely innocuous fashion, is foolish and contrary to all the principles that liberal democracy is based on. Muslims who live in the West are free to protest, complain, or boycott material they find offensive, just as anyone else is, but they should not be free to bully or intimidate. The only proper response to such attempts is to mock them.

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  9. I don't think the point of this exercise is to be a jerk. Rather, it is both a show of strength and a defense of free speech.

    That is a good point to make. But I don't show my support for the exercise of free speech by burning the national colors. I just say "Hey, people totally have a right to burn the flag even though I think that's a dickish thing to do."

    Self-censorship because you might "offend" someone is wrong.

    I self-censor all the freakin' time! I can't control every mean-spirited or dumb-assed thought that pops into my head, but I have more control over how much of that garbage makes it into the rest of the world. Like I had this cute idea to start the response to your comment with "Fuck you, asshole" to make my point. But I held back because I thought maybe in civilized society that sort of rhetoric doesn't help much.

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  10. "Do unto others as they have done unto you."

    If someone shows respect for your right to speak, even if they disagree with you, you should respond with equal courtesy.

    If someone tells you that you CAN'T say something because he doesn't want you to, the only option is to shout it to his face.

    There is no such thing as a right to not be offended; there is such a thing as a right to be free of threats of violence. If threats are perceived as working, they will continue to be used.

    What is YOUR solution? Shut up? Give in? Start stoning women who are victims of rape? If you've once paid 'em the danegeld, you'll never be rid of the Dane. (If any Danes are offended, I'll... uh... draw a picture of a Viking! Yeah!)

    Compromise is only possible when people agree on basic principles. If someone does not believe in freedom of speech, there is no compromise or accommodation possible that is not de facto censorship.

    One side responds to offense by drawing pictures; the other side responds to offense by assassination. (See: Theo Van Gogh) Which side ought to respected? Which side is more rude? Would you rather have someone laugh at you or shoot you?

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  11. Which side ought to respected? Which side is more rude?

    Lizard, that position only makes any possible sense when there are exactly two sides. And even then I'm not sure you've got it right.

    I'm not arguing that anyone has a right to not be offended. I'm saying that I'm choosing to not give offense to a whole bunch of people who didn't start this hoedown.

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  12. Look, I'm not going to get too involved here, otherwise this'll turn into an all day thing for me, but I just want to point out that the choice here is obviously not "either draw Mohammed or admit that you support stoning and raping women!". And if you think it is, you really need to reexamine your assumptions..

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  13. Or, rather, "stoning women who have been raped."

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  14. At what point do you stop giving in, then?

    "Do not draw Mohammad, or we shoot you."

    "Well, OK, we won't draw Mohammad."

    "Very good. Now, stop showing religious programs which teach false religions. Or we shoot you."

    "Sure, I guess that makes sense. We're all friends here, right?"

    "Excellent. Now cease all sales of alcohol. Or we shoot you."

    Etc...

    Respecting other people's beliefs and values, and not forcing yours onto them, is good, proper, just, and essential for living in a multicultural society. However, when a tiny minority finds it can successfully use threats and force to silence dissent, it must be opposed, and peaceful acts of street theater -- which is what this is -- are an excellent way to do this. The only people, even among Muslims, likely to be truly offended are arrogant, self-righteous jerks who fume because they are denied the power to impose their will on others, and laughing at them is both more moral and more effective than shooting them. Creating clowns, not martyrs, is the way to go.

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  15. Lizard, who said I was giving in to anything? I'm not drawing Mohammed out of respect of all the faithful who _aren't_ threatening anyone. Why do I need to piss those people off to prove to *you* that I oppose Islamic fundamentalist terrorism?

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  16. "If the creators of "South Park" had no fear about showing Jesus looking at porn while Buddha snorted cocaine, if they felt free to show Jesus and then-President Bush defecating on each other, then to say they, or anyone, should be "sensitive" to the demands of Muslims that Mohammad not be shown at all, even in a completely innocuous fashion, is foolish and contrary to all the principles that liberal democracy is based on."

    Realizing 99% of the news media, whatever the slant, are a bunch of opportunistic, hypocritical scumbags is an essential part of the learning process I call "growing up".

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  17. You don't "need" to do anything. That's rather the point.

    I just don't think it's "offensive" to demonstrate against censorship, and I think that the "sensitivity" argument for NOT doing so incorrectly cedes the moral high ground to those who do not deserve it. By openly declaring your opposition, you stated you felt this was an improper response to the issue. That's you're belief and you're obviously entitled to both hold and express it. However, you did not state what you think a proper response WOULD be. What SHOULD people do, in your opinion, to show they disapprove? What's the PROPER reply, if this is improper?

    This is, by the way, not entirely unrelated to gaming: http://www.projo.com/news/content/INDIAN_WAR_GAME_03-15-10_46HKPR8_v28.3a62f30.html

    If I wanted to write an Al-Qadim style setting, how much "approval" should I seek from people whose religious beliefs might be offended? Would WOTC even attempt to publish something like Al-Qadim today, no matter how respectfully they approached the material?

    You may also remember the controversy, a decade or so back, over the Holocaust supplement for White Wolf's "Wraith", where people (who had never read the book, which was not yet out), declared that it was inherently offensive. (I have it, and it's an EXCELLENT book, and anyone offended by it is a moron.)

    So, yes, I am "sensitive" to sensitivity arguments. Once you open that door, you cannot shut it again.

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  18. I just don't think it's "offensive" to demonstrate against censorship, and I think that the "sensitivity" argument for NOT doing so incorrectly cedes the moral high ground to those who do not deserve it.

    I never said I was against demonstrating against censorship! Please quit putting words in my mouth and respond to my actual post, rather than your emotional reaction to it.

    However, you did not state what you think a proper response WOULD be. What SHOULD people do, in your opinion, to show they disapprove? What's the PROPER reply, if this is improper?

    I don't have to possess the right answer to share my intuition that this is the wrong one. I think Socrates' quasit has my back on that point.

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  19. Ooh, look, a hornet's nest! ;)

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  20. Anonymous10:58 AM

    I normally do not draw pictures of Mohammad. But if Islamist extremists are going to kill and/or threaten to kill than I will draw a picture of Muhammad. NOT in a disrespectful way like South Park would but I will draw him because I have lost 1/2 of my family in the Holocust. And a chuck of my American uncles and great uncles in WWII, Korea and Vietnam. Thank gosh my grandfather was lucky and learned to duck.
    I will draw him because that damn right is mine to express. Tell me not to and and I will do it just to piss em off. The right was bought and paid for at a price of people's lives. It is a benefit of the society I am apart of. I will die for you all to express or not express that right.

    Jeff, don't draw. I fully respect you not wanting to upset the normal Islam followers by antogonizing them. As I said I would draw a picture of Muhammad in a descent way. That would be my own personal constrant on my own free speech. If someone wanted to be a punk and draw Jesus or Muhammad in a bad light, their right to do so; I just think they are a disrespectful punk.

    BTW. I love your views on games and gaming.

    JB- If you want to have a picture day showing priest man boy love to point out the Catholic church issues, you can but it is dickish.

    The drawn and quarter Jesus was not relevent.

    Rick B

    P.S. I am glad that we can all post the different views and none of us will be killed because of it.

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  21. "I know this is wrong but I don't know what's right."

    Shrug.

    I believe this is what is usually called an "impasse". I guess I'm done on this topic.

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  22. Ascending armor class is for morons and poltroons!

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  23. Thanks, Jeff. :)

    The "us vs. them"-ness that this issue tends to devolve into annoys me. Nice to see someone with a slightly less apocalyptic view of things.

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  24. The problem is that the drawings are deeply offensive to people who have not infringed on the right to free speech. People are thus using their right to free speech in a totally jerky way.

    And frankly, given the stated aims, this whole exercise is counter-productive. This incident will help the extremists recruit folks on the borderline (see how little the West cares for us, and how they hate Islam -it's all true!), and simultaneously insult other people who should be a moderating influence supporting Western values such as free speech, freedom of association, etc.

    The putative blasphemy does not hurt them, or make a point to them, it actually helps them.

    Just because you can do a thing does not mean you should.

    Jeff, I salute you for being a thinking person.

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  25. @ Al: Sorry...I was half asleep when I commented and wasn't thinking logically.
    ; )

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  26. I had thoughts of drawing Mohammed and portraying him as a fierce, noble warrior. Would piss off the people that think the whole world should follow Muslim law and would also piss off the people who are participating just to fart all over Mohammed and Islam with no further thinking on the matter or clue what the "event" is supposed to mean.

    Alas, I cannot draw worth a shit.

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  27. Actually, Jim, that's a great idea (Mohammad as warrior). The hooplah isn't over a degrading or insulting image of Mohammad. It's over the image itself. Why? Because to (some) Muslims, simply making the image is a sin -- not the nature of the image, not how it's displayed or used, just the image itself, no matter how reverent or irreverent. In short, they are not just saying "Please don't be offensive". They are saying "Accept our idea of sin."

    Women showing too much bare skin, or walking out alone, is also a sin under some interpretations of Islam. So is being homosexual. Or proselytizing a different faith. We would not, I think, ask these strictures be obeyed, even if failing to do so offends some Muslims. Certain types of Christians and Jews find all of these offensive, as well, but no one seems to find it improper to ignore their wishes. Why treat Muslims any differently? Doesn't doing so imply they're incapable of living in a secular society? That their ability to adapt and adjust is inferior to that of other cultures?

    I frankly think a respectful, well-drawn, and impressive image of Mohammad would send a far stronger message about freedom of speech than a crude caricature.

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  28. Steve2:03 PM

    "Do unto others as they have done unto you."

    Pssst...you misquoted. This is often the case with the golden rule.

    It's "Do onto others as you would have them do onto you."

    I paraphrased it in an earlier post. I don't know where you got that, don't worry, you wouldn't be the first to mangle a quote to make a weak point.

    It's a bit proactive. It means, if you want to be treated with respect and dignity, treat people the same way. Your quoute means, "If someone is an asshole to me, I'm gonna be an asshole right back!" and there is no excuse for being an asshole. That's reactionary.

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  29. Just to clarify, I didn't misquote. I know what the golden rule is supposed to be, what it actually is ("He who has the gold, makes the rules.") and I know what I wrote.

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  30. Magnus2:21 PM

    Generally speaking, I would have no interest in drawing Muhammad. For one thing, I choose to be respectful of others religion etc. Secondly, don't we all have something better to do? Finally, I'm a lousy artist.

    However, this situation is different. The Islamic extremists have issued a direct threat. They are trying to control my actions and everyone else that lives in a free society. They have already murdered people over it this very issue and threaten to do the same to everyone else. When confronted and threatened I refuse to simply cower in fear. I choose to stand up for everyone’s right to free speech - including the extremist.

    And to those moderate Muslims that I might possibly offend: well I am sorry, but if they don't like it, then they should stand up to the extremists. The radicals could not operate effectively and threaten us all without the tacit acceptance of the moderates. Failure to stand against extremism is de-facto acceptance of it.

    We don't harbor killers and terrorists here in America. When some crazy right wing Christian goes on a killing rampage in an abortion clinic we put him in jail immediately. We don't tolerate it. Same thing with some left wing nut job tries to used violence to enforce his/her ideas. If the Muslim nations took care of their own crazy violent murderers, then I would be happy to go back to those other more important things and not bother with silly pictures of someone else’s prophet.

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  31. Anonymous2:56 PM

    Actually RICK B says...


    Preach it brother Magnus, preach it.

    That is the way many of us feel.
    We respect others and handle the extreme elements. Because we have freedom we learn to dislike the stench of oppression. As an early flag in our country's history said, " Don't tread on me."

    Again I appreciate other viewpoints here in Jeff's comments section. I do like the fact that I don't have others out in society that are going to kill me because I play a game with wizards, magic, and demons. That if I go to church instead of a mosque no one is going to kill because I went. And when I go onto campus the young ladies that are warm were little at all :)

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  32. Anonymous3:00 PM

    Dang typos...


    young ladies that are warm WEAR little at all :)



    Rick B

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  33. I won't be drawing any pictures of the prophet today... because I think it's a dumb idea. If I thought there was even an outside chance that drawing a picture of Mohammed would do anything other than stroke my own ego by making me feel like I was sticking it to some un-named 'enemy' when I was actually jut wasting time and paper, I'd get down to business.

    I just don't think having a gazillion people sitting down drawing pictures of Mohammed is going to make any Jihadist reconsider his views... if anything, the opposite will occur. And, when it comes to vain gestures and tilting at windmills, I'm vain enough to feel like I should come up with my own material.

    The creators of Southpark are big boys and don't need my help in defending themselves. And I suspect that trying to 'prove' to the fanatic that their beliefs are wrongheaded in this manner will do nothing positive.

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  34. Damn. People even get worked up about the stuff other people get worked up about.

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  35. Jeff Rients said...
    "Says the guy who brought up the dangers of left-wing ivory tower nonsense on his blog just last week!"

    That is a flatly dishonest response unworthy of you. Everything I brought up last week directly impacted some aspect of gaming.

    Your post would have too.. if the event was "everyone run Mohammed in D&D day". Sadly it wasn't. This was about nothing other then you getting on a political soapbox.

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  36. That is a flatly dishonest response unworthy of you. Everything I brought up last week directly impacted some aspect of gaming.

    Jeez, man. Sorry. I thought when you couched your chide in terms of blowing a raspberry you'd be in the proper humor for a little kidding back.

    Your post would have too.. if the event was "everyone run Mohammed in D&D day". Sadly it wasn't. This was about nothing other then you getting on a political soapbox.

    Well, sometimes I talk about the comical funnybooks as well and this nonsense has gained some traction in that corner of the nerdoverse. I'm sorry that it seemed like such an unnecessary non-sequiter.

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  37. Jeff Rients said...

    Call me cranky, but labeling me a hypocrite isn't funny on the best of days.

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  38. Cranky? Perish the thought!

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  39. Just because people have the freedom to say whatever they want, doesn't mean they should behave like a dick.

    How would folks react if it was "Burn A Racist Effigy Day", yeah I thought so…

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  40. You know, I've been waiting for the silence around the gameblog to break ever since you posted about what you were going to do with the 'profits' from your Cinder book.

    The tense wait has been worth the time! I love it most when people get interwebrage over someone expressing their opinions/views.

    I'm looking forward to 'piss in your corn flakes day' personally...

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  41. What if MY religion says its ok to draw mohammed as a prophet of god merely not the final one?

    Technically the muslim faith says don't draw people and certainly don't draw a prophet.

    The muslim faith has every bit as much right to complain about a visual portrayal of Jesus.

    So is it wrong of me to draw Jesus because it offends others? What if not drawing Jesus offends me? I don't think its a debate you can sit out of anymore than you can choose to be a bystander in a crime. Either you do something about it or your enable it.

    But by the same logic I feel you should be able to express your view that mine is a dick move.

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  42. Anonymous6:52 PM

    Oh man Jeff, what have you done? Look at all the crazy these people put on your blog :P

    Well I don't care, I'm drawing a Type V demon instead!

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  43. It's just a blog he's doing as a lark.

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  44. Nothing like some good old-fashioned attention-whoring in the OSR.

    How again is this shit related to gaming?

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  45. Hey just 'cause people game doesn't mean they live in an escapist cocoon.
    I understand these blogs are a nice "neutral" environment but if Jeff wants to call bullshit in cow pasture that' fine with me.
    It's the game of LIFE we're talkin about.

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  46. Jeff Rients>:
    I'm cranky, and don't you dare suggest otherwise!

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  47. I think P.Z. Meyers said it best on Paryngula:

    "You do not surrender to bullies. You also do not respond in kind, threatening to kill people who believe in the sanctity of stick figures. What you do is ridicule and weaken the blustering insistence on special privilege by showing repeatedly that they are powerless and look hypocritical and silly."

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  48. Yeah, this struck me as an extraordinarily bad idea as soon as I read about it. Nice to know I wasn't alone.

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  49. BiffTheYounger10:46 PM

    How dare you do something political as it offends my sense of what your blog should be. But only if its not an extreme conservative post, those are OK.

    Hey, let's all draw Jesus porn, since Christians refuse to reign in child molesting priests. And convert them to Islam too, that will solve the problem. It's not about religion, its about protecting children from child molesters.

    Screw the blog police, Jeff, post what you want.

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  50. I can't see what the point was of even mentioning that you weren't going to do a drawing. If you hadn't then I, for one, would never have heard of this idea.

    Which sort of leaves the post looking like good old fashioned flamebait - getting on your high horse so that you could tilt with other people on other horses who were bound to respond.

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  51. Well, Nagora, you totally fell for my sinister scheme, what with the getting up on your high regarding my motives.

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  52. Here are my opinions on this:
    http://rpgpundit.xanga.com/727449465/item/

    And here are my opinions on the RPG.net thread about this:
    http://rpgpundit.xanga.com/727601928/item/

    RPGPundit

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  53. FASERIP wrote: "How again is this shit related to gaming?"

    Ah, you must not have paid. If you paid for a subscription to the blog you get only the gaming posts.

    :-/

    In the mean time, if someone's giving you free ice cream all the time, it's bad form to complain when, once in a while, they give you a flavor you don't like.

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  54. Anonymous2:37 PM

    While I respect and appreciate your work, Jeff, I disagree with your post on this subject. It’s not uncommon at all for conservative religious persons get offended by other people’s behavior which violates their religious strictures. They might get offended over your or my choice to use profane language on blog posts. They might get offended over a woman (or a man’s) choice to wear little (by whatever their standard of “little” is) clothing on a hot day. They might get offended over my choice (or my job’s requirement) to work on the Sabbath. But you are not doing something wrong or inappropriate by saying “shit” on your blog. And the woman in the shorts is not doing something wrong by wearing a pair of shorts on a hot day. And I am not doing something wrong by working on Sunday. And it is not our duty to restrict our behavior in our daily lives to honor their religious restrictions.

    Bear in mind I’m not talking about walking into a Mosque in short shorts. Or yelling “shit” in a nunnery. That would be going out of your way to offend people, and would indeed be inappropriate. I’m talking about making the point in a polite and appropriate way. Everyone Draw Mohammed Day, as the original picture makes clear, is not about drawing offensive images of Mohammed and being an asshole. It’s about drawing INOFFENSIVE images of Mohammed, which are not hateful or hurtful to reasonable adults, which are only offensive to unreasonable assholes who want to improperly impose their religious strictures upon others. And in that spirit, I entirely support the idea. This is a public gesture of protest to violent bullies, thugs and extremists. But there is nothing in it that need be offensive to moderate Muslims, any more than orthodox Jews need to get pissed off because girls who AREN’T members of their religion sometimes wear skirts shorter than their ankles.

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  55. This is a rare instance where the 'moderate' Muslims seem to be closer to their faith than the 'radicals'. The prohibition on drawing Mohammed is to avoid idolatry, ie it only applies to Muslims. If a Muslim regards *any* depiction, by anyone, of Mohammed as blasphemous you are applying the standard that is applied to Allah, you are treating Mohammed as a demigod and you are yourself blaspheming against Islam. No good Muslim should regard non-derogatory depictions of Mohammed as blasphemous.

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