Five Years Ago
Five years ago, a cartoonist with The Seattle Weekly, shocked by the way Comedy Central had censored "South Park" after the usual threats from violent Muslims, proclaimed May 20th as "Everybody Draw Mohammed" Day. What was novel about this particular promotion was that the cartoonist, Molly Norris, was not a "right-wing" "Islamophobe" but a liberal progressive, and therefore a rare if not all but unique example of a feminist leftie recognizing that the Islamic enforcers were a threat to her way of life. This was a very welcome development.
Unfortunately, Miss Norris was not so much recognizing reality as blissfully unaware of it. When the backlash against her idea began, she disassociated herself from it and signed off with - Lord help us - a peace symbol. We had some correspondence on the matter, and I write about her in The [Un]documented Mark Steyn (personally autographed copies of which are exclusively available and help to prop up my own free-speech campaign against the climate mullahs) in a chapter entitled "There Is No More Molly":
And as I added:
Today on this fifth anniversary there is still no more Molly - and now there is no more Luz:
Luz was the cartoonist who gave Mohammed his visual style. It was Luz that the Berliner Kurier artist was mimicking in their front-page response to the massacre at top right. Under the headline "NO! You cannot murder our freedom", there was, for once, a cartoon that lives up to it: the Prophet gleefully bathing in blood.
But, one by one, our freedom does get murdered. I don't begrudge Luz his wish to "regain control of my life". To be the lone survivor because you were running late is a blessing but also a curse and a burden. So there is no more Molly, and no more Luz, and no more Lars - not since the post-Charlie attack on Lars Vilks' free-speech event in Copenhagen forced into hiding a splendidly brave artist who had borne the weight of his courage alone for too many years.
Until the 21st-century Islamization of the west got underway, there was a modest but long established tradition in western art of depicting Mohammed. He is shown in Dante's Inferno - in hell, with his entrails hanging out. And any number of artists from Giovanni da Modena to Salvador Dali have offered their own renderings of the scene. He appears carrying a sword and the Koran with Moses, Confucius, Hammurabi and other law-givers in Adolph Weinman's frieze at the US Supreme Court, although since the Council on American-Islamic Relations complained about it the Court's official position is that, yes, that's Moses and Confucius and the rest of the gang up there but this is just some bloke who "bears no resemblance to Mohammed".
One day that excuse will no longer suffice, and the frieze will be hacked apart. Already representations of Mohammed in western art galleries are being carted off to the basement. In the near future, if your local library still carries an edition of Dante's Divine Comedy, it won't be with William Blake's or Gustav DorĂ©'s illustrations of Mohammed in the torments of hell.
In Dante's day (circa 1315) and Weinman's day (1935), Muslims who disliked depictions of Mohammed did not generally slaughter artists, writers and publishers. That changed with the Danish cartoons. Once they started killing people for drawing Mohammed it became necessary for everyone to draw Mohammed - to show that there are too many to kill, and thus to teach Islam that, whatever its own proscriptions, they do not and will never apply to non-believers. Once you make drawing Mohammed a capital crime, it is necessary to make drawing Mohammed so universal that it's no crime at all. If you claim the right to kill because you're offended, then it is necessary to offend you all the time - until you accept the messy norms of pluralistic societies.
To be sure, in the scheme of things, it's no big deal not to be able to depict Mohammed - except that small losses lead to other small losses and eventually to greater losses. So certain types of great art become problematic for museums - and then certain types of museum become problematic.
So I was heartened to see in my own country this event scheduled for today in Ottawa:
So don't worry, you still have freedom of speech - until five minutes before you're scheduled to exercise it.
Meanwhile, on June 14th, the New York Theatre Workship is presenting a benefit for the National Coalition Against Censorship, under the title Playwrights For A Cause, an evening of three one-act plays. It would have been four one-act plays, but Neil LaBute's work, Mohammed Gets A Boner, will not now be staged because of its "clear offense to Muslims".
No word yet on whether the evening's title will be changed to Playwrights For A Cause, Up To A Point, a benefit for the National Coalition For Self-Censorship.
I think a lot about my poor clueless leftie chum Molly Norris. Where is she? And what did she do to deserve having her life erased? And why do none of her liberal friends ever mention her? There can be no pictures of Mohammed, and so there can be no pictures of Molly, nor Lars, nor Luz, nor of freeborn Canadians at Parliament Hill. Mohammed has his India rubber out, and is erasing us all.
~Aside from the above-mentioned [Un]documented Mark Steyn, Mark wrote a whole book on this subject: Lights Out: Islam, Free Speech And The Twilight Of The West. It's more timely than ever and personally autographed copies are exclusively available from the SteynOnline bookstore.
from Five Years Ago, May 20, 2015
Climategate's fascinating glimpse into how the science got settled
Michael E Mann's once iconic "hockey stick" looks pretty flaccid once you add in tree rings post-1980...
The East Anglia emails and the corruption of science
It's half a decade since the East Anglia emails were revealed to the world...
Frosty the Snowqueen meets Huckabing Crosby
Denying the very possibility of a common culture
In this tenth anniversary week, we're running various 9/11 material old and new. We started with Smelling Blood, my column on the summer of 2001, and a special audio edition of our Song of the Week: God Bless America.Â Then we looked at the war in its narrow, terrorist sense - Crying Lone Wolf - and on the broader front - Winning And Losing - and Mark's Friday Feature considered September 11th in cinematic terms. This is what I had to say in The Chicago Sun-Times five years ago on the fifth ...
Steyn's Greatest Hits
© 2015 Mark Steyn Enterprises (US) Inc. All rights reserved.