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Culture, Science & Faith

When Drawing Muhammad, It Depends on Who Wields the Pen

Leftmedia defense of free speech is inconsistent.

Dan Gilmore · May 6, 2015
Winning cartoonist Bosch Fawstin

By the way leftists have yammered this week, one gets the impression they believe there might be a right to draw Muhammad, an image offensive to many Muslims, but it’s a freedom conditional on who wields the pen — and even then there are limits.

On Sunday, Bosch Fawstin won the top prize at the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI) Muhammad-drawing contest in Garland, Texas. It was an image of Muhammad materializing under the artist’s pencil. He holds a sword aloft and he’s saying, “You can’t draw me!”

The artist in the picture replies, “That’s why I draw you.”

Meanwhile, two jihadists, Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi, made the 1,000-mile road trip from Phoenix, Arizona. In the car, Simpson and Soofi had rifles, body armor and ammo with which they were going to silence Fawstin and as many other infidels as possible.

Thankfully, an armed police officer protecting the free speech rights of those gathered in that auditorium stopped the two cold before they could do more than wound a single security guard.

But instead of garnering the support of the Leftmedia — as it gave to Charlie Hebdo’s cartoonists and editors after the massacre at its offices, insincere as it was — the liberal talking heads turned on AFDI and said no one at the event had any right drawing Muhammad. Maybe it was because the Southern Poverty Law Center labeled AFDI an anti-Muslim hate group. Maybe it was because a good guy with a gun decided the final outcome of the day.

Fawstin has all the reason in the world to draw the figure. In his acceptance speech, Fawstin revealed he grew up Muslim: “The problem with even moderate Muslims — I was raised in the Bronx by Albanian Muslim parents — is that the poison of misogyny, and Jew hatred, it gets everyone.”

As he grew older, he grew hostile to the religion of his youth. He later adopted the objectivist philosophy of Ayn Rand.

He created a superhero — Pigman — who fights jihadists, and drew several comic books with the character. It was a response to DC and Marvel avoiding the issue of violent Islam — not allowing Captain America to fight jihadists, for example.

But he’s no Charlie Hebdo cartoonist. “They tell the truth about Islam and jihad every single day. I’m a cartoonist, I have a blog … every so often, I have a comic book series I do, but I don’t do it every day,” he said.

Renald “Luz” Luzier drew Muhammad twice for the cover of Charlie Hebdo. When jihadists attacked his paper, killing his coworkers, he drew the figure again as a response to the terrorists who tried to silence him. Recently, however, he said he would stop drawing the figure because “It no longer interests me.”

Both cartoonists had reasons to draw Muhammad. But now everyone is bickering over who has more of a right to draw the figure. When PBS’s Charlie Rose asked Charlie Hebdo’s film critic Jean-Baptiste Thoret to offer his opinion about the attacks in Garland, Thoret labeled AFDI’s images of Muhammad illegitimate because, unlike Charlie Hebdo, the group was making fun of only Muslims. Charlie Hebdo, on the other hand, lampoons everyone to advance a socialist political philosophy.

“To be honest, I can’t imagine the kind of comparison you can make between the Charlie Hebdo attack January 7 and this event,” Thoret said. “You have, as you said, a sort of anti-Muslim movement, a very harsh movement against Islamization of the U.S.”

Since Charlie Hebdo is also anti-Christian and anti-Jew, they’re in the clear.

Thoret’s not the only progressive to justify the attacks against AFDI.

Chris Matthews played “hardball” with the story, calling the event a “mousetrap” to enrage Muslims. “Well, I think [AFDI’s president Pamela Geller] caused this trouble, and whether this trouble came yesterday, or it came two weeks from now, it’s going to be in the air as long as you taunt.”

See folks? AFDI’s skirt was a little too short, its blouse a little too tight. Those Muslim jihadists couldn’t help themselves.

That said, just because free speech is free doesn’t mean it’s not obnoxious or that it won’t have consequences, though responsibility for the attack rests on the jihadists alone.

This is the failure of the Leftmedia’s moral backbone. The Founders included the First Amendment specifically to protect political speech — even speech that is gratuitously offensive or deliberately obnoxious. This is why that amendment is interpreted so liberally, and also why leftists’ fair-weather defense is so hypocritical.

The jihadist veto is a growing influence in the Left’s thinking about free speech. Now, the Left implies there are limits to speech. They assume Americans are free to speak until someone threatens them with a gun. Now, they only cower in fear, talking amongst themselves about who most deserved the violence.

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