Recently I joined the Facebook group, “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day!“
No, I am not an intolerant SOB (at least I hope I am not) who thinks that Islam is the root cause of all evil. (I do consider religion in general to be the root cause of many evils, but in that sense, Islam is not in any way special.) No, I don’t think that Muslims “hate us and hate our freedoms”, to quote my least favorite US President. No, I don’t look suspiciously at people on the street just because they wear traditional Middle Eastern clothing.
On the contrary, I respect and cherish the freedom of religion: the right to believe (or not believe) in the deity or deities of your choice. This is a right that I would be willing to risk life and limb to defend. (Mind you, we’re all in real deep trouble if the world goes so badly haywire that a country like Canada suddenly needs the services of a 47-year old programmer in general infantry.)
But, as a devoted atheist, I also believe in another right: the right of freedom of speech, which includes my right to mock, insult, disrespect and belittle religion. Every religion, including Islam. I may not win any popularity contests by doing so, but I have the right to ridicule any adult who needs imaginary friends to feel happy and secure, or to live ethically.
Some people want to take this right away. Some people believe that their religious freedoms go beyond freedom of conscience, and grant them the authority to interfere with my rights, even using the threat of physical violence to intimidate us into submission.
Hell, no. I may not start drawing Mohammed cartoons right now, but if anyone thinks that they can deny me the right to do so, think again. (NB: The drawing above is not Mohammed. I have no idea what Mohammed looked like, and in any case, given my limited abilities as a graphic artist, I doubt I could produce a faithful rendering. No, it’s just some bearded guy with a turban carrying a flag with the crescent-Moon-and-star symbol.) My only hope is that the voices of those who assert their right to be free will not be drowned out by the voices of hatemongerers who use this Facebook group as yet another forum to express their fear and loathing of Islam and Muslims. The intent is not to promote hatred, but to end self-censorship.