Social Question

Blackberry's avatar

Should people depict and portray Muhammad?

Asked by Blackberry (32554points) September 20th, 2012
25 responses
“Great Question” (6points)

Should newspapers or people in the public be able to depict Muhammad without threats and backlash?

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CWOTUS's avatar

Yes and yes.

People should continue to depict and portray and criticize Muhammad. And that should be done without threats of violence to those who do… and those who come from the country where that happens.

That button needs to be flattened. The only way it’s going to happen is to keep hitting it. Hard.

All religions need to be criticized, blasphemed (if that’s what it takes) and mocked from time to time. Same with politicians.

God can take it.

Sod God.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

No! Great Question. But this is a little different. You really can’t get a grasp for it until you dig into the religion.

DominicX's avatar

Without threats and backlash? I don’t think that’s ever a guarantee, for many things you do. Should you be allowed to do it at all? In this country, under our freedom of speech, yes. A lot of Muslim countries don’t have the same concept of freedom of speech and don’t believe that criticizing Mohammed is something you should be free to do. But that’s why I don’t live in a country like that.

But should you choose to do it right now? I don’t think that would be the best decision; you do have to consider the consequences, no matter how free you are to do something.

Kayak8's avatar

I heard an interesting and related report on the radio yesterday that really made me think. The narrative of the report is here

bkcunningham's avatar

I think I’d have to understand the context of the depiction or portrayal before answering just a broad yes or no.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

Everyone but Muslims are free to do so, in my book. For them to say others cannot is nothing short of chauvinism.

josie's avatar

It clearly depends on who you ask. But I say portray away. If somebody doesn’t like it they don’t have to look at it.

Isn’t this sort of like that outrageous old debate about whether or not the provocatively dressed woman isasking to get raped? Of course she isn’t and nobody would tolerate an attempt to use that as a defense for a rapist.
Same thing here. How is it that the the people who threaten, destroy property and kill get anything like a sympathetic hearing that their victims deserved it?

Aethelflaed's avatar

Should they is really a different question from should they be able to. Should they be able to? Yes. Should they? I haven’t seen a whole lot of instances where it was actually done as a powerful critique, and not as Islamophobia, doing something off limits simply for the sake of doing something off limits, or flat-out trolling Muslims and daring Islamic extremists to bomb them. Not a hard no, but it seems like there aren’t a whole lot of circumstances where you couldn’t make your point just as powerfully (if not more so) while being more respectful.

Michael_Huntington's avatar

(What would Christopher Hitchens do?)

Aethelflaed's avatar

@Michael_Huntington SSB. (Say Something Bigoted)

rooeytoo's avatar

Just heard on the news that Americans are being advised not to show their faces in the CBD’s of Sydney and Melbourne this weekend because there are going to be “protests.” Now I have heard people say that airline security checks and similar indicate that “they” the terrorists have won. I don’t agree with that, but I think when it is necessary to tell me that my liberty to go where and when I please in a free country because some nut cases are going to protest and it might become violent, that is them winning. So they want to curtail free speech but they retain the right to burn flags, insult the country, attack Americans, attack police, abuse the police horses and dogs. The list of their indiscretions goes on and on.

I think anyone should be able to portray any religion as silly, most of them are imho. Muhammed was a shepherd who went into a cave and received a message from god telling him he was the prophet and you better do it my way.

Say what you want but then run like mad because we are the prisoners of these religious maniacs.

DWW25921's avatar

How many wiccans get offended by criticism to the point of violence? How many Christians get irate over bible burnings and blow themselves up near a bus of school children? How many Buddhists blow up office buildings because they don’t like the way someone else lives? How many Jews have you heard of that can’t take a slight so they plot to murder an ambassador?

Muslims need to lighten up! Bottom line!

rojo's avatar

Yes. and I agree with @DWW25921 Lighten up already.
If you are so, what is the word. Ill at ease? uncomfortable? uncertain? of your faith that you cannot tolerate a little dissent, maybe your faith is not as great as you think it is.
That goes for the rest of you non-muslims too.

Aethelflaed's avatar

To equate “those who bomb Westerners who depict Muhammad” with “Muslims” is not more accurate than to equate “those who bomb abortion clinics” with “Americans” or “Christians”.

ETpro's avatar

As an agnostic atheist, I often debate with theist, but I try to do so in a manner that maintains decorum and does not denigrate their beliefs, but rather seeks to show where there might be room for different viewpoints.

That said, there is an Industry of Outrage in the Muslim world. For whatever reasons certain extremists constantly scan the Internet for the next great outrage they can use to fund-raise and whip up hatred. Personally, I find it offensive when Muslim extremists say that the very act of a non-Muslim walking on their soil defiles their land. So in that environment, it may be productive to push their buttons till the extremists become despised in their own lands for all the carnage the wreak, not only on Westerners but all too often on their fellow Muslims.

I am very sensitive to @Aethelflaed‘s correct note that the extremists are a tiny portion of the 1.1 billion people following the Muslim faith. So our goading of them should be carefully aimed at the extremists, not the faith in general.

rojo's avatar

@Aethelflaed you are correct of course, there are many muslims out there who have also expressed outrage at the killing of others from religious zealots who belong to their faith. We, I, need to be a little more careful in how I pidgeonhole others.

ucme's avatar

Satire knows no boundaries, Muhammad, great boxer, bit shaky now though….makes fantastic cocktails.

bookish1's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe : Can you please explain what you meant by “This is a little different” ? Different from what? Are you Muslim or have you studied Islam?

wonderingwhy's avatar

Generally people should choose not to out of respect for Muslims. However, outside of Muslim countries (inside as well, but they’re differentiated), regardless of their choice, they should be free to act without an expectation of violence.

However ideas should be challenged, not blindly respected simply because to do otherwise would offend or even make violent those who hold them.

Kayak8's avatar

@bookish1 I can’t speak for @Adirondackwannabe but I interpreted the comment similarly. This situation (extremist perception of denigration of what they are extreme about) is a bit different in that we take our cultural mores and blythly use that lens to look at others and it doesn’t work in this situation. We often do this to our detriment and theirs as well.

In this situation, non-violent Muslims are equally confused because there is a lack of awareness that the US government (because of the first amendment) cannot stop a derisive movie. Most of Europe has free speech laws which stop at actions that could be seen to incite imminent lawless action.

One could parse things all day to try and assess the predicted ability of something to incite lawless action, but the word imminent is the harder nut to crack. Although it is not part of the word, imminent in this case also implies proximity. In the global word with internet connections abounding, proximity is irrelevant and even the word imminent can be delayed by a few weeks before a message reaches a remote target audience.

We have no such laws in the US, and many of the people of the world are not aware of this. There is every expectation that our government will stop the movie or else appear complicit. It may well be time, in the fractious global situation and with strong feelings standing behind hair-triggers that we may wish to re-explore the benefit of having such a law in the US.

One can ask if any “reasonable walking around person” might think (against the current landscape) a known group of extremists is going to react badly to something, should something be made public? I fully appreciate the slippery slope and certainly don’t want anyone’s first amendment rights curtailed. I also don’t want my mother to be killed in a suicide bombing at her local supermarket because some idiot movie-maker thought sharing their junior high school project was a good idea.

I am reminded of the words my grandmother spoke to me when I was very young: If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. It has relevance, but only in a world where I have a clue what another will perceive of as being nice. It would be great to have a week where the hate-speech and deliberate hate-inspiring speech (from all quarters) would go away. I guess I really am sick and tired of the current political season!

Response moderated (Flame-Bait)
Seek's avatar

The question seems rather pointless, to me, as we have no idea what Muhammad looked like, any more than we know what Jesus looked like.

However, religion does not have a special right to not be questioned or offended. I would almost say doubly so if the religion is reaching out to suppress or silence nonbelievers.

2TFX's avatar

Christians portray Jesus and other religious icons, remember that they were humans just like us.

DWW25921's avatar

Yes, but that’s just not going to happen.

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