Not long ago, someone whom I once considered a dear friend took up a habit that I found disturbing enough for me to put an end to a decades old friendship.
Of course, people change with time. My spiritual quest led me back to the Roman Catholic Church, while my former friend had become an atheist. This difference in religious belief need not have caused an end to our friendship. If two people respect one another as fellow human beings, I believe they can remain friends in spite of their differences of opinion.
A problem arose when my former friend began posting "humorous" cartoons on the Internet which I consider offensive. He would regularly post a cartoon on his Facebook page which mocked some aspect of Christ and Christianity. While he may have thought these anti-Christian cartoons were funny, it seemed apparent to me that his motive was simply to insult Christians.
I called him out on his posting these cartoons. More than once.
I've since removed him as a Facebook "friend" - I have no way of knowing if he's given up his posting these types of cartoons, though I strongly suspect he hasn't.
I'm mentioning all this because of a recent op-ed piece by Kathleen Parker. [Freedom of sketch] In her column, Parker writes of cartoonist Molly Norris, who has inadvertently set off a firestorm of sorts by jokingly calling for a "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day" on May 20. In a recent cartoon, Norris asks "will the real likeness of the prophet Mohammed please stand up?" - drawing Mohammed in the likeness of a coffee cup, a domino, a box of pasta - to name just three.
Norris now wants to distance herself from what her cartoon has wrought.
What may have started out as an offhand remark by Norris has taken on a life of it's own. Someone, not connected to Norris in any way, has even created a Facebook page devoted to said "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day". At the time of this writing, the page has nearly 10,000 guests. The Facebook page "Ban Everybody Draw Mohammed Day", which boasts Norris as a member, has only a bit more than 2000 members.
Parker's reaction to all this is predictable. Freedom of speech, blah blah blah, blah blah.
"The truth is that Americans love their free speech and have had enough of those who think they can dictate the limits of that fundamental right."
I, for one, don't wish to dictate to anyone. I wouldn't think of advocating any law which limits freedom of speech. I do advocate common courtesy. Why insult anyone just to insult?
I am not fearful that drawing a cartoon of Mohammed would bring death threats upon me. The Internet allows enough anonymity that one could draw whatever one likes without fear of being identified. No, just as I am not in favor of cartoons that insult Christians, I am not in favor of cartoons that insult Muslims, Jews, Hindus or any other religion.
Anyone doubting that the "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day" Facebook page is motivated by bigotry need only go to that page and read the comments posted. Don't, however, expect to find a link to the page in this article.