Do to others whatever you would have them do to you. This is the law of the prophets. Matthew 7:12
This past week the creators of the adult cartoon
When a non-believer shows Muhammad as an image, extremists have been known to resort to revenge murder. When 12 cartoons depicting Muhammad appeared in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, world-wide protests ensued resulting in shooting deaths and the burning of Danish embassies. One of the artists, Kurt Westergaard, has had to fend off at least two murder attempts since making his drawing.
A radical Muslim group last week suggested that
While I condemn the violence and threats, as a Christian I’m obligated to follow the book of Matthew and at least consider the insult Muslims are feeling when Muhammad is drawn, and ponder how I would react if the sacred icons of my religion were similarly disrespected (it matters not that I don’t understand how a drawing is disrespectful, it matters to them). I can think of two times in my own lifetime where similar insults happened to Christian images.
In 1987 artist (loose use of the term) Andres Serrano photographed a crucifix in a bottle of his own urine, and titled it “Piss Christ.” It caused a public uproar first because of the insulting treatment of the symbol of Christianity and second when it was revealed Serrano received a $15,000.00 prize, partly from the tax-payer funded National Endowment of the Arts.
In 1999 NY Mayor Rudy Giuliani made news when he cut funding to the
As a Christian I was no less outraged by the disrespect of the symbols I revere than Muslims are when they see any depiction of Muhammad. I find an insult to religion as unnecessary in discourse as they do.
The difference of course is that unlike extremists, I’m bound by a religious covenant against violence, a legal covenant against violence and a personal morals covenant against violence. When my religious symbols are disrespected I suffer the great frustration of not being able to do anything about it. It hurts. Muslim extremists do something about it.
This leads to the question, why should the Muslims or I be put in the position of having to do anything about it? The beginning of our inquiry into this problem should not start with what the reactions of the insulted are to be. The first inquiry is – what does the folks hurling the insults get out of doing it?
What does it bring to the cartoonist drawing Muhammad or the painter disgracing Mary for them to do those things? I can’t think of a benefit to them or anyone else when those things are done. The hurt and pain to the religious are obvious.
Some will argue the non-sequitur “They have the freedom of speech to do it.” So what? With freedom comes responsibility. I’m free to say a whole wide mess of things that can insult and hurt people. I don’t. I live in a society with others – and while I’m not going to curb my behavior for subjective claims over arguable insults – when something is widely understood as being hurtful to many, I’m a better person to refrain from doing it. I don’t use racial epithets, and I wouldn’t draw Muhammad or put Christ in a glass of urine. Why not? It would hurt others, and I gain nothing,
One can criticize Islam without drawing a picture of Muhammad. One can criticize Christianity without creating horrid images of Jesus or Mary. The purpose of criticism is persuasion, and not one person has ever been persuaded by being insulted.
I’m certainly not suggesting anything be outlawed. It shouldn’t be. Here’s what I am suggesting:
Fight like hell for the right to draw a picture of Muhammad – then choose not to.