Monday, May 4, 2015

Muhammad Cartoon Contest and 'Piss Christ'

Two gunmen were killed in Garland, Texas, after they opened fire at a security guard working at an event, a contest of cartoons depicting Muhammad.

From AP:

Two gunmen were killed Sunday after opening fire on a security officer outside a provocative contest for cartoon depictions of Prophet Muhammad in Texas and a bomb squad was called in to search their vehicle as a precaution, authorities said.
Notice AP reporters Nomaan Merchant and Jamie Stengle use the term "Prophet Muhammad," as if he actually is "Prophet Muhammad."

Gee, Jesus Christ doesn't get that sort of respect from the Associated Press. Jesus is not definitively referred to as the Son of God, the Savior, in AP articles.

The men drove up to the Curtis Culwell Center in the Dallas suburb of Garland as the contest was scheduled to end and began shooting at a security officer, the City of Garland said in a statement. Garland police officers returned fire, killing the men.

"Because of the situation of what was going on today and the history of what we've been told has happened at other events like this, we are considering their car (is) possibly containing a bomb," Officer Joe Harn, a spokesman for the Garland Police Department, said at a news conference.

Police are not aware of any ongoing threat and had not received any credible threats before the event, Harn said.

Harn said it was not immediately clear whether the shooting was connected to the event inside, a contest hosted by the New York-based American Freedom Defense Initiative that would award $10,000 for the best cartoon depicting the Prophet Muhammad.

Such drawings are deemed insulting to many followers of Islam and have sparked violence around the world. According to mainstream Islamic tradition, any physical depiction of the Prophet Muhammad - even a respectful one - is considered blasphemous.
There's this thing about a free society. Chances are, you're going to be offended. Not all people will show you the respect you would like. Your religious beliefs will be dismissed and mocked.

What do you do?

You certainly don't act out violently.

On Februrary 4, 2006, I wrote:

I think it's highly offensive to ridicule the beliefs of others. I believe in tolerance. I think it's possible to disagree without being disrespectful.

I can empathize with Muslims that are offended by cartoons that they consider to be mocking their faith. I understand their outrage. I really do.

As a Catholic, I am bombarded with affronts to my religion in the form of cartoons, jokes, editorials, and comments.


I have no problem comprehending the Muslims' feelings of being assaulted. On a regular basis, I share those same feelings in respect to my personal faith.

HOWEVER, I realize that I live in a free society, and being insulted comes with the territory. Liberty can be a double-edged sword. The society that permits me to practice Catholicism freely also permits others to freely degrade it.

The U.S. even grants tax dollars to support artists that choose to attack my religious beliefs.

If one of the cartoons, an image of Mohammed, hung on a gallery wall in New York would that incite violence or would it be art?

We know Piss Christ, Andres Serrano's photograph of a crucifix submerged in his own urine, was defended by liberals. That was deemed artistic expression, not desecration. Although it caused some uproar and offended some Christians in the U.S. in the late 1980s, there were no riots. The fact that the National Endowment for the Arts was supporting Serrano's "art," that tax dollars had gone to the creator of Piss Christ, irritated many; but there were no fires, no calls for beheadings.

In 1999, "artist" Chris Ofili's The Holy Virgin Mary, with its elephant dung and pornographic images in a picture of the Virgin Mary, was controversial and sparked protests. Again, no deaths or riots resulted because of this tasteless "work of art." Again, the secularist liberal elite championed it as a totally appropriate expression by an artist, rather than an affront to Christians.

ANYONE deeming these "art works" to be tasteless, inappropriate attacks on Christianity had the right to protest -- freedom of expression answered with more freedom of expression.

NO ONE deeming these "art works" to be tasteless, inappropriate attacks on Christianity had the right to make death threats, engage in rioting, or cause property damage.

In sum, I can personally relate to the anger Muslims are experiencing. My faith is berated by others every day. I know what that's like.

What I do not share is their response.

Feb. 4: Angry demonstrators set fire to the Danish embassy in Damascus.

Feb. 4: A Syrian firefighter struggles to extinguish a blaze inside the Danish Embassy in Damascus.

Feb. 4: Palestinian Hamas supporters burn a Danish flag during a demonstration in the Gaza Strip.

Feb. 4: Palestinian men draw a Danish flag with a swastika, a Star of David and a cross on the ground during a protest in the West Bank.

Today, the violence over images that were originally published back in September rages around the world. That reaction is extremely inappropriate. In my opinion, it is far more troubling than any insensitive cartoon could ever be. It appears that the rioters are just looking for an excuse to behave badly.

The Muslims' violent reaction reveals a disturbing instability and extremism that should trouble anyone who values their freedoms

Another disturbing revelation is that some news outlets are not standing up for the precious right of freedom of expression. 
LONDON (Reuters) -- Britain's normally provocative newspapers have so far refused to publish the cartoons of Prophet Mohammad that have outraged the Islamic world, prompting some commentators to question whether they have become too politically correct.

The best-selling tabloid Sun said it had chosen not to print the cartoons out of respect for its Muslim readers while other papers said it was important not to inflame religious tensions in the country.

That staunch defender of free speech, the
New York Times, writes:

Major American newspapers, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times and The Chicago Tribune, did not publish the caricatures. Representatives said the story could be told effectively without publishing images that many would find offensive.

"Readers were well served by a short story without publishing the cartoon," said Robert Christie, a spokesman for Dow Jones & Company, which owns The Wall Street Journal. "We didn't want to publish anything that can be perceived as inflammatory to our readers' culture when it didn't add anything to the story."

In a midafternoon meeting on Friday, editors at The Chicago Tribune discussed the issue but decided against publishing the cartoons. "We can communicate to our readers what this is about without running it," said James O'Shea, the paper's managing editor.

Most television news executives made similar decisions. On Friday CNN ran a disguised version of a cartoon, and on an NBC News program on Thursday, the camera shot depicted only a fragment of the full cartoon. CBS banned the broadcast of the cartoons across the network, said Kelli Edwards, a spokeswoman for CBS News.

What a load!

These outlets couldn't get enough photos from Abu Ghraib. Couldn't they have effectively communicated that story without REPEATEDLY publishing the offensive photos?

Oh, that's right!

Those photos served to inflame the Arab World with hate for President Bush, his Administration, and the American military. Those photos just had to be seen OVER AND OVER AND OVER AGAIN, right?

The editors at the Times make me sick. In their world, breaking the NSA wiretapping story, something that has seriously undermined efforts to counter terrorism on American soil, was the right thing to do. They didn't care about how that would compromise national security; yet publishing cartoons offensive to Muslims is off limits.


How about a little consistency?

It is an abuse of our hard-won freedoms to exercise them recklessly.

I did not choose to post some of the "controversial" cartoons to offend Muslims or incite violence. I did not post the Piss Christ or The Holy Virgin Mary to upset Christians. I did so to illustrate that freedom of expression and tolerance are the foundations of a free society; and respect is an integral part of a civil society.



Here we are, nine years later. Nothing has changed. Christians are mocked with impunity and Muslims are coddled.

Of course, in that span we've witnessed atrocities, like the now common ISIS parades of mass executions and beheadings.

Obama and other leaders tolerate that, naturally, But don't even think about displaying any depiction of Muhammed.

As Obama says, Christians need to get off their high horse.

And the men shooting at the security guard in Garland?

We're to blame. We're always at fault.

Thankfully, no innocent people were killed, this time.

Bottom line: You don't kill someone over a cartoon you find offensive.

Maybe Obama should tell Muslims to act more like Christians.

Maybe Obama should get out of the Middle Ages, start living in the present, look around, and start protecting Americans and defending our rights.

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