Toon Musings: Hate Contest
You thaid it, buthter!
A week ago last Sunday was another great day for cartooning. A group of self-professed free-speech advocates decided to get together to free-speechify, and some attention-craving aspiring terrorists decided to try and do some terror on them and got killed for their trouble.
The free speechifiers were a group of cartoonists who had gathered together at the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland, Texas to attend something called the “Muhammad Art Exhibit and Cartoon Contest.” A fabulous prize was promised for the best cartoon of the Prophet Mohammad. A couple of mooks decided that the gathering was, in tactical jargon, a “soft target.” Armed with body armor and what the NRA is pleased to call “modern sporting rifles”(military-style assault weapons to most English speakers), they attempted to enter the venue, wounding an unarmed security guard in the process. They then encountered a local traffic cop, also working security for the event with his pistol. Shots were exchanged, and the cop emerged victorious; that is to say, alive and unscathed. The would-be jihadis never got to meet the forty or so off-duty cops and former soldiers also working security, also armed with “modern sporting rifles.” Not so soft a target after all, eh, Hadji? Boo-yah, U S America!
I’ll not shed any tears over these two dead idiots, but what the hell was really going on here? The entrants were not in attendance; they submitted their artworks remotely. Why have a physical event at all? And why Garland, Texas? Could it be because Garland has a prominent Muslim community which just last January hosted an event at the very same venue called “Stand With the Prophet Against Violence and Hate”, a fundraiser to promote tolerant, moderate Islam? Where a large crowd of protesters (some with “modern sporting rifles”) showed up to denounce them and to object to the use of the public facility by, as the protesters put it, “a faction of people who are trying to destroy us”?
So we have a proportionately large and active Muslim community which could reasonably be expected to be upset by depictions of their Prophet, no matter how tarted up in pretty language about “free expression”; and a passel of bigots using cartoonists as cat’s-paws to stick a thumb in the eye of the entire aforementioned Muslim community (and not just radical Islam, as they continually claim). A contest for the best cartoon of the prophet Mohammed? What could possibly go wrong?
This cartoon contest was sponsored by an organization called the “American Freedom Defense Initiative”, executive directed by one Pamela Geller. The organization is listed as an active hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which makes it its business to keep track of such things. Ms Geller is a virulent anti-Muslim and internet troll of long standing (full disclosure: I am what many on the right would call a “moonbat,” i.e. a liberal. Her name is well-known among us). Here, get acquainted. The organizers hired a crapload of extra security for the event, as I may have alluded to before. The cartoonists who sent in submissions, not so much. I understand the winner is the self-declared proud owner of a bunch of shiny new death threats. Maybe he can use his $12,500 prize to buy himself a new life. Or at least to procure himself a “modern sporting rifle.”
To look at the preceding, one could be forgiven for thinking that this whole “cartoon contest” was just a monstrous game of “Let’s You and Him Fight,” using cartoonists as bait; and that Ms Geller’s trolling goals have graduated from upsetting liberals to inciting riots to getting people killed. Charlie Hebdo, by contrast, made it a point to ridicule a wide variety of targets, and usually reserved their ire against Islam to the more radical and violent elements. And, they did their own dirty work. The Charlie Hebdo cartoonists were operating within their rights as members of a free society. The organizers of the anti-Muslim event were also operating within their rights, also as members of a free society. And as a member of a free society, I reserve the right to call this contest unwise, unfocused and unnecessarily provocative and hateful. See how that works? We use our words (and pictures).
By all accounts, the attempted shooters were not locals. The Muslim community in Garland, to their vast credit, ignored this stupid stunt. If it had been left at that, I can’t help but think the event would have been a great and richly deserved disappointment to its organizers. But then these two death-cultists showed up and tried to get all shooty. Thanks, guys. Now I have to share the tiniest scintilla, the most microscopic iota of common cause with (*ugh*) Pamela Freaking Geller. Nobody said defending free speech, however depraved, was easy. Now I need a bath.
It all turned out so perfectly for the Muslim-haters. Why, trust in the police these days is so degraded that some people wonder if it was… too perfect.
Phil Maish is a freelance cartoonist of no repute. His modest efforts may be viewed at www.myth-fits.com. He has worked for the Government, the Press, the Opera, and a Soulless Corporation. Self-taught and beholden only to his formidable wife and amazing son, he spends his free time gadding about in his vintage autogyro and, with his faithful manservant Nicopol, exploring untrammeled wildernesses, discovering hitherto unknown animal species, smashing spy rings, and regaling fellow members of the League of Intrepid Adventurers with tales of his intrepid adventures.
Some background on the incident.
A comparison of the incident with the Charlie Hebdo shootings