Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Don't Even THINK About Mohammed

Possibly for the first time ever, a cartoonist was able to piss enough people off to cause massive rioting. I think all of us are most shocked by the fact that it came from Denmark.

The thing that strikes me about these cartoons (see them here) are how some of them are really pathetic-looking. Some seem tastefully drawn, some maybe not so, but none seem to be very funny. As a cartoonist myself, I look at these and say "why bother?" And yet, the Islamic world is going nuts over this. The issue, at least what started all this nonsense, is that extremist Muslims forbid the depiction of Mohammed in artwork of any kind, or even the depiction of any living thing. According to a few articles I've read, the Qur'an says nothing about this, except for a few words on idolatry, but people have interpreted these passages for centuries to mean anyone who draws Mohammed must be beheaded. The issue has snowballed into more powerful questions of Islamo-Western relations and immigration in Europe, but months ago this was just about visual representation.

Representation has been a huge topic in art for many years now. What constitutes a representation? Is a representation as "real" as the real thing? Is the concept of the representation as "real?" Perhaps this is all just semantic nonsense, but to me there is an important question. These angry Muslims feel it is somehow blasphemous to represent Mohammed in pictures. But at what level? Obviously, drawing a Middle-Eastern-looking guy with a beard and labelling him "Mohammed" is pretty clear on what it wants to be. But is a representation of Mohammed a representation just because you say it is? Or does he have to look Middle-Eastern-y?

For example, are all these drawings to be considered a representation of Mohammed just because I say they are?

Do extremist Muslims want to murder me over such awful, awful drawings? The second to last one is just a tiny line. The only reason you would think these terrible drawings are Mohammed is because I labelled them as such. But if that's the case, then I can absolve myself the same way:

What if I had labelled the drawings "moohamed," or "nohammed?" Same drawings, different spelling. What if I labelled them "polecat" but then told you that secretely, they are drawings of Mohammed? If a Muslim can look at these ridiculous "representations," each more ridiculous than the last, and tell me that each one blasphemes Islam, then where does one draw the line? It seems as though the label, not the picture, is blasphemous. So is it then blasphemous to write his name? What if I just read his name? What if I THINK about a picture of Mohammed, or the word "Mohammed?" What if I think of the CONCEPT of Mohammed?

The only place one can draw the line is to not even acknowledge the existence of Mohammed. Anything less is still representation in some way or another. If your real objection is against people insulting your religion, that's up to you. I have no intention in this post to insult Islam anymore than I would insult any other way-out and wrong religion like Christianity, Judaism, or Hinduism. It's all mumbo-jumbo to an atheist.

And just to prove that I'm not disproportionately biased against Islam, I'd like to offer my entry to Iranian newspaper Hamshahri for their "Holocaust-denying cartoon" contest. Entry to follow. Please send my prize gold coin to my agent in Tehran.


At 12:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bravo !!!

At 12:20 PM, Blogger Anna said...

Thank you for providing a link to the cartoons which have created so much chaos. It was interesting to see what had caused the riots.

" According to this story, the Qu'ran says nothing about this, except for a few words on idolatry, but people have interpreted these passages for centuries to mean anyone who draws Muhammed must be beheaded."

It is sad to think that almost all religions current day have been interpreted to some ugly extreme. Is the past (the people who created the Qu'ran/other religious texts) or the present (the people who interpret the Qu'ran/other religious texts) to blame?

By the way, nice page.

At 4:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are an athiest?
What do you think is going to happen to you after you die... try imagining for one second NOT existing... its scary

At 4:54 PM, Blogger Christopher said...

It's definitely weird, but not scary. It certainly won't hurt to not exist.

Anyway, I think that's a pretty silly reason to justify the existince of god and an afterlife, just because you're scared of dying. But then, I guess that's why EVERYBODY justifies it.

At 7:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

For me, the things with these extremist muslims (or any extremists) they need to get laid in THIS lifetime and not wait for the afterlife.

At 8:26 PM, Blogger Anna said...

I guess for me I could be called kinda agnostic because i am not ready yet to confront the belief that the end of the human cycle is death. I also don't neccesarily believe that there is a god however at times it is nice to think that there is something up there. I am generally classified as an athiest because I go to a catholic school and was basically the only person to question anything being fed to us. I go to this catholic school because it is one of the more academic schools in our area and apparently, I'm smart. I am happy that I have been raised without religion because it makes me (sometimes unfairly) more critical of what is told to us.

In regard to 15 year old loves, I would suggest that you listen to the song Emily Kane by Art Brut. It is not exactly what I am going through right now but still a nice take on things.....

Only the Uncommon American would have a Canadian as a girlfriend. Cheers.

At 9:38 AM, Blogger Mystillate said...

"Way-out and wrong religion"? It's comments like this that cement my perception of atheists as being just as dogmatic and intolerant as the religions they don't buy into. You don't know that Hindus are wrong, however much you may suspect or believe them to be wrong. Since there is nothing disproving the existence of a supreme being, it seems to me that you're taking it on faith that there isn't.


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