Tag Archives: “Everybody Draw Muhammad Day”

The Garland, Texas Shooting, Free Speech and Ethics

Geller: Like it or not, the First Amendment was designed for her and people like her: infuriating people.

Geller: Like it or not, the First Amendment was designed for her and people like her: infuriating people.

Last Sunday, two men opened fire outside uber-Islam-hater Pamela Geller’s “Muhammad Art Exhibit and Cartoon Contest” in Garland, Texas. Both gunmen were killed by police, a security guard was wounded. Since cartoons of the Prophet have sparked killings around the globe, this was a risk, if not an inevitability, of holding such an event. That was undoubtedly one of the reasons for it, in fact: to show defiance of those that would cow us into self-censorship.

Since the episode, commentators and pundits have engaged in various levels of  confused ethical thought regarding the competition and the shooting, much of the confusion due to cognitive dissonance regarding Geller, who is beyond question an anti-Muslim bigot. So horrible is it to their delicate liberal sensibilities to have the principle of freedom of speech represented by Geller that rather than accept it, many would prefer to jettison freedom of speech itself. In this they seem to have forgotten that the reason for free speech is precisely to protect the most infuriating, inflammatory, controversial speakers, whether they be hateful fanatics like Geller, or Martin Luther King.

It really is remarkable that the First Amendment has survived so long, since those who discuss it in public the most frequently are journalists and politicians, neither of whom are consistently able to interpret it accurately.

Ethically, this isn’t hard, or shouldn’t be. In fact, not a single new issue is raised by the Texas shooting that was not thoroughly covered here five years ago:

1. No group, no matter how offended or righteous and no matter what its holy book says, is ethically entitled to threaten violence against those who say, or draw, things that they find offensive, including the offense of blasphemy.

2. Encouraging such groups to do this by self-censoring is cowardly and a threat to free speech. Thus South Park and Comedy Central breached their duties to the nation, the culture and free speech by censoring a satirical animated series after receiving radical Islamic threats. As I wrote here: Continue reading

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Ethics Alarms Mail Call: Mt. Holyoke Ditches “The Vagina Monologues” As “Non-Inclusive,” and the Misuse of Kindness

VaginaI’m an ethicist who often writes on college controversies, and I make no secret about my double life in professional theater, so it figures that my inbox would include more than one query about Mt. Holyoke College’s decision to end its annual student performance of Eve Enlser’s “The Vagina Monologues” on the grounds that it is now admitting women without vaginas—I know, it’s confusing–who would feel excluded from what was supposed to be an inclusive experience and statement for the all-women’s school.

From Campus Reform:

The annual production of the play is part of a country-wide tradition to perform Eve Ensler’s Vagina Monologues on Valentine’s Day to raise awareness about gender-based violence and usually coincides with the V-Day campaign. The proceeds are donated to sexual assault prevention organizations or women’s rights organizations. This year, however, Mount Holyoke’s Project Theatre Board is defying tradition by permanently retiring the play. In a school-wide email from the Theatre Board, a representative from the group, Erin Murphy, explained the problems with the play and the reasoning behind its discontinuation.

“At its core, the show offers an extremely narrow perspective on what it means to be a woman…Gender is a wide and varied experience, one that cannot simply be reduced to biological or anatomical distinctions, and many of us who have participated in the show have grown increasingly uncomfortable presenting material that is inherently reductionist and exclusive,” the email, obtained by Campus Reform, said.

Replacing the play will be Mount Holyoke’s own version that will be trans-inclusive and fix the “problems” supposedly perpetuated by Ensler. Murphy also claims that there are problems with race, class, and “other identities” within the play. The new production, comprised of students’ monologues, will be performed in a fashion reminiscent of the feminist classic. The program will be performed alongside the College’s Peer Health Educators, an on-campus student-led group that provides education and workshops for students, including a workshop on how to use sex toys properly.

Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Education, Etiquette and manners, Gender and Sex, Journalism & Media, Literature, Rights, The Internet, U.S. Society

The Egypt and Libya Embassy Attacks: So, Are We Going To Have An “Everybody Make An Insulting Film About Muhammad Day” Now?

Why not? It’s your right!

“We went into this knowing this was probably going to happen,” said Steve Klein, a consultant on Nakoula Basseley Nakoula’s anti-Islam, Muhammad-bashing film. The film is apparently the reason two U.S. embassies were attacked yesterday, resulting in the death of the U.S. Ambassador to Libya and others. That was the “this” Klein was referring to. Nakoula and his Isreali backers set out to make a film that denigrates both Islam and its prophet, knowing what the response in Muslim nations has been to such things, as well as the deaths caused by podunk bigot pastor Terry Jones, with his Quran-burning stunts.

Now people are dead, the Arab world is inflamed, and the perpetual tinderbox known as the Middle East is ready to ignite. The online film has had almost no audience yet, but don’t worry: international violence was probably part of the marketing plan. Maybe Nakoula will be really lucky, and have his First Amendment-protected agitprop start World War III, and he can take his place in history next to Gavrilo Princip, in the coveted “Insignificant Jerks Who Started World Wars” category.

Indeed, as an American citizen, Nakoula has a sacred right to make any movie he wants, write any book, draw any cartoon, burn any book. Americans have a sacred right to be irresponsible, and thanks to electronic communication, they can now be irresponsible on a grand scale, disrupting diplomacy, inciting international unrest, fanning racial, ethnic, international and religious discord. That means that sometimes an exercise of  the right of free speech can be legal, cherished, and terribly wrong. Among those times are when you know that shooting off your metaphorical mouth has a strong probability of getting people other than you killed.

I agree that there is something amiss when “The Book of Mormon” is winning accolades on Broadway, knowing well that if the satirical musical targeted Islam instead of Mormonism the Great White Way might be running red with blood. I agree that it reeks of a double standard when columnists like Charles M. Blow can tweet about Mitt Romney’s “magic underwear” but American Muslims are immune from similar indignities because, well, they might kill us. This elevates instability, intolerance and lack of respect for human life to an asset, and that is itself intolerable—but what is the solution? Charles Krauthammer, condemning our Egypt embassy’s conciliatory response to the mob attack on it  yesterday, said that our response should be “Go to hell.” In this he was endorsing the response of the Everybody Draw Muhammad Day crowd, which decided that an organized, mass insult to Islam was the intelligent response to one Islamic terrorist intimidating Comedy Central into censoring South Park. Their reasoning: “You can’t kill us all.”

They can kill our Ambassador, though, can’t they?

Since there is no justification for hateful, intentional denigration of anybody’s religion, there should be a bright line between caving to Islamic threats over satire and humor, which is disgraceful and un-American, and not setting out to agitate the Arab street with calculated insults, which is the domain of Jones and Nakoula. The latter is flagrantly irresponsible and reckless, and should not be condoned or excused, Constitutionally protected though it is. Nakoula, it was reported, was in hiding for his life.

If so, good.

“We went into this knowing this was probably going to happen,” said his colleague. Having to fear for one’s life seems like a fair punishment for someone who knew his hateful, rinky-dink movie might get other people killed and cause mass violence, and made it anyway.

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Sources:

Graphic:  No Short Corners

Ethics Alarms attempts to give proper attribution and credit to all sources of facts, analysis and other assistance that go into its blog posts. If you are aware of one I missed, or believe your own work was used in any way without proper attribution, please contact me, Jack Marshall, at  jamproethics@verizon.net.

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“Everybody Beat A Dead Horse Day” Ethics

Cartoonist Jeff Hibbert's conception of Muhammad

I was stunned to discover that “Everybody Draw Muhammad Day,” last year’s mass warped exercise in going out of the way to insult the religious beliefs of fine, upstanding, moral Muslims world-wide,  is supposed to be an annual event. I would have thought that the justifiable abuse heaped on serial Islam-provoker Rev. Terry Jones would have shown the organizers of EDMD the error of their ways (which I correctly pointed out to them here, and here). But no. The self-styled defenders of the undoubted right to use freedom of expression recklessly and badly still claimed to be standing up for the sullied rights of  the “South Park” creators, who last year had their show censored by cowardly and hypocritical “Comedy Central” suits after a threat by some Muslim nut-jobs. For their part, Trey Parker and Matt Stone have happily moved on to the more profitable work of making fun of Mormons on Broadway, because they won’t kill you. Continue reading

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“Keeping It” in Seattle: Flunking the Duty To Stand Up To Anti-Speech Bullies

Could it be time for an “Everybody Beat on Israel Day”?

Count me out. Still, there is finally an instructive example of bullies who don’t embrace radical Islam causing First Amendment timidity, and raising ethical issues too.

Seattle’s Department of Transportation sells advertising on city buses. When the “Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign” bought space to condemn Israel’s policies with ads headlined,‘Israeli War Crimes: Your Tax Dollars at Work’ featuring a picture of children next to a bomb-damaged building,” the Department was flooded with protests by Jews and Israel supporters. Most of them were stern, indignant or argumentative, but about 25 conveyed an intention to disrupt or vandalize buses,take violent measures, or suggested that bus riders would soon be at risk.” Some examples:

  • “If you want to see how tough Jews can be, then go ahead and run those despicable ads and we’ll see who has the last word on this. If you run these ads, we will work together with our Jewish friends and others to shut Metro down.”

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The Second Annual Ethics Alarms Awards: The Worst of Ethics 2010 (Part 1)

Happy New Year, and welcome to the Second Annual Ethics Alarms Awards, recognizing the Best and Worst of ethics in 2010!

This is the first installment of the Worst; the rest will appear in a subsequent post. (The Best is yet to come.) Continue reading

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Ethics Train Wreck Update: “Everybody Draw Muhammad Day” Claims Its Inevitable Victim

When the self-righteous cartoonists of the U.S.A. decided that gratuitously insulting the entire Nation of Islam, moderates and radicals alike, through a pointless April 20 “protest” that required posting thousands of drawings of the Prophet online, I pointed out, to no avail, that this was an irresponsible act with no accountability, and thus cowardly. The Islamic extremists that started this train wreck by threatening the lives of the “South Park”  creators over an episode that pretended to have an image of Muhammad couldn’t attack everyone, so it was completely predictable that they would focus their fury on Molly Norris, the Seattle cartoonist whose satirical drawing coined the phrase “Everybody Draw Muhammad Day.”  And they did. A fatwah has been issued against her, essentially placing her on a death list, and Norris is now in hiding, at the urging of the F.B.I. She has to create a new identity, and may live in fear for the rest of her life.

This is the only tangible result of “Everybody Draw Muhammad Day”—the devastation of the life of the young woman who drew a clever cartoon, and then urged everyone not to make her satiric invention a reality.  Oh, it probably lost America some support among more rational Muslims too, much as the threatened Gainesville Koran-burning would have. I suppose it demonstrated widespread support for columnist Richard Cohen’s fatuous “Americans have a duty to follow through on any offensive use of the First amendment if anyone objects to it, no matter how unnecessary, destructive or thoughtless it may be” argument. I submit to you that neither of these excuse what “Everybody Draw Muhammad Day” did to Molly Norris, and those who organized and participated in the April 20 protest share responsibility for her current plight, and, if she is assassinated, her death.

The current ethics verdict on other key train wreck participants: Continue reading

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