Sunday, May 10, 2015

I Never Submitted a Muhammed Cartoon Because I Couldn't Draw a Dune Buggy Very Well

Bosch Fawstins Winning Cartoon
I will admit I was a bit conflicted when I heard about the incident in Garland, Texas where the two gunmen were killed before they attempted to massacre cartoonists as part of a "Draw Muhammad Cartoon" Contest. I weighed a couple different arguments that were coming out of that by various pundits. One was that it is "Free Speech" and the purpose of the event was to to make a stand for "Free Speech" and the American First Amendment. The other side was the argument that doing it was simply provoking the Muslims, so maybe it was just a silly and not thought out very well gimmick.

A column by the Washington Post syndicated columnists Kathleen Parker changed my mind. Parker called it "abuse of freedom of speech" perpetrated by Pamela Geller to draw attention to herself (paraphrase, mine).

A couple sentences changed my mind when she wrote:
  • A good cartoon isn't just a drawing but also offers layers of meaning that illuminate in subtly humorous ways. The best ones are often wordless and artfully combine more than one thought or event.  
So, Parker changed my mind, but not to her way of thinking, but rather in support of the draw Muhammad contest. I should give credit to the winner of the contest in Texas, Bosch Fawstin, also as I had seen his cartoon before I read Parker's column. I think Fawstins drawing was exactly what Parker's descriptive of what a good cartoon should be. So I agree with Parker on the above two sentences, but I have to wonder if she even took a time to look at any of the work before she drew her conclusion.

I think the idea of a "Draw Muhammad" conjures up pictures of people sitting in a room drawing silly pictures, similar to what you might see in a first grade class drawing nonsense pictures of whatever you could decipher out of them. But that really isn't so.

Parker understood that the First Amendment does protect Geller's and any future "Draw Muhammad" contests of the future.  Many other pundits from the right and left had imagined that there was some "hate speech" exception to the Constitution. Clearly there is not.

The Constitution does not protect us from being offended. In fact I think it probably promises that we will because the extent of the freedom it encompasses.

Defending speech that we like as protected "Free Speech" is easy.  The mature person who understands what the First Amendment is all about and what it means will protect speech that they totally disagree with or even find offensive. That is the test.