Draw Mohammed Day is over now, and we’re getting the reactions now. Some people didn’t get it, including
There is a difference between making fun of religious or other ideas on a TV show that you can turn off, and doing it out in a public square where those likely to take offense simply can’t avoid it. These chalk drawings are not a seminar on free speech; they are the atheist equivalent of the campus sidewalk preachers who used to irk me back in college. This is not even “Piss Christ,” Andres Serrano’s controversial 1987 photograph of a crucifix in urine. It is more like filling Dixie cups with yellow water and mini crucifixes and putting them on the ground all over town. Could you do it legally? Of course. Should you?
Epstein completely misses the boat on this one. No, it isn’t like those crazy campus preachers who shout hellfire at passing students; it’s more like the students who are amused at the bombast and use it as an opportunity to point and laugh, which is an entertaining and productive response. Would Mr Epstein have been irked at the students who mocked and made fun, shushing them and telling them their reaction to being told they’re degenerates who are going to hell was totally inappropriate, and that they should simply listen quietly and respectfully?
What Epstein is also overlooking is that this is not simply a dismissal of the Muslim religion — it’s a humorous response to a gang of thugs who have threatened to kill people over a few sketches. You do not surrender to bullies. You also do not respond in kind, threatening to kill people who believe in the sanctity of stick figures. What you do is ridicule and weaken the blustering insistence on special privilege by showing repeatedly that they are powerless and look hypocritical and silly.
That was the primary point of this exercise, to show up radical Muslims as ineffectual buffoons. Note that the campaign was not “Draw Buddha Day” or “Draw Vishnu Day”…not because those beliefs aren’t equally absurd (they are), but because Buddhists and Hindus have not demanded special protection for the dignity of their faith, while threatening to murder anyone who violates their holy rules.
The idea to scatter dixie cups and crucifixes across campus would be a good one…if the Catholic Church suddenly announced that immersing the figure of Jesus in water was a crime punishable by burning at the stake. They haven’t, yet, which makes that a pointless endeavor. If they do, I’ll be first in line at the dollar store to pick up a few icons, disposable cups, and food dye.
Greg Epstein can stay home and complain that the people asserting their freedom from religious dogma are irking him.