The recent firestorm over South Park not drawing Muhammad caused some cartoonists to create a campaign called “Everybody Draw Muhammad day.” The creators of the campaign were shocked when they were deluged with offensive and hateful portrayals of Muhammad (what did they expect?) and dropped their gag. What do you think of all this?
“Everybody Draw Muhammad Day?”
As South Park’s Sheila Broflovski would say: “What, What, WHAT?”
The outcry from Comedy Central’s decision to censor an episode of South Park with depictions of Muhammad last week led a cartoonist and a Facebook user to fight back. That is until they realized it might be controversial, apparently.
In declaring May 20th to be “Everybody Draw Muhammad Day,” Seattle artist Molly Norriscreated a poster-like cartoon showing many objects — from a cup of coffee to a box of pasta to a tomato — all claiming to be the likeness of Muhammad.
Such depictions are radioactive as many Muslims believe that Islamic teachings forbid showing images of Muhammad.
“I am Mohammed and I taste good,” says the pasta box in the cartoon. On top of the cartoon images (but no longer on her website) was an announcement explaining the rationale behind the event.
“In light of the recent veiled (ha!) threats aimed at the creators of the….
…television show South Park (for depicting Mohammed in a bear suit) by bloggers on Revolution Muslim’s website, we hereby deemed May 20, 2010 as the first annual “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day,” the original artwork reads.
On Friday, Norris told a radio talk show host in Seattle that she came up with the idea because “as a cartoonist, I just felt so much passion about what had happened…” noting that “it’s a cartoonist’s job to be non-PC.”
That passion, it appears, has lessened. And fast.
Her stark website today reads: “”I am NOT involved in “Everybody Draw Mohammd [sic] Day!”
“I made a cartoon that went viral and I am not going with it. Many other folks have used my cartoon to start sites, etc. Please go to them as I am a private person who draws stuff,” she writes.
It went viral, however, because she was the one who passed it around. Sending it to people like Dan Savage, a popular Seattle-based blogger and nationally syndicated sex advice columnist.
Once it became a national story she reeled back, asking Savage — in an email he provided to The Ticket — if he would “be kind enough to switch out my poster” with another one — a much tamer version which has no images attributed to Muhammad.
“I am sort of freaked out about my name/image being all over the place,” her e-mail reads.
He didn’t change it, nor did he post the tamer version. Besides, after Savage posted it, many other sites picked it up including The Atlantic and Reason.
When asked about her change of heart, Norris told The Ticket that she didn’t intend for the cartoon “to go viral.”
Then why did she send the cartoon to the media in the first place? “Because I’m an idiot,” Norris replied.
“This particular cartoon of a ‘poster’ seems to have struck a gigantic nerve, something I was totally unprepared for,” she said.
She doesn’t appear to be alone. The creator of a Facebook page dedicated to the day has bowed out as well. Jon Wellington told the Washington Post (before abandoning ship) that he created the page because he “loved [Norris's] creative approach to the whole thing — whimsical and nonjudgmental.”
While he was still associated with his own event he said: “To me, this is all about freedom of expression and tolerance of other viewpoints, so I hope you’ll help make this a sandbox that anyone can play in, if they want. I don’t think it’d be right under the circumstances for me (or anyone) to censor inflammatory posts *ahem*, but let’s be welcoming and inclusive, mmkay?”
Apparently the posts weren’t “welcoming” enough, as on Sunday morning he announced his departure from the cause. “I am aghast that so many people are posting deeply offensive pictures of the Prophet,” he writes. “Y’all go ahead if that’s your bag, but count me out.”
Did he think people were going to post flattering images?
That’s what Facebook user Douglas Armstrong wondered too. “You created an event inviting people to submit pictures of Mohammed,” Armstrong wrote. “And apparently you’re so new to the Internet that you didn’t foresee what would happen?”
Although Wellington had abandoned his cause, he apparently was sticking around to answer questions. To Armstrong’s question, Wellington responded: “I guess I had more faith in human nature than was warranted.”
Another user, Paul St. George, had little patience for Wellington. “If you’re not going to attend your own event then take it down dumbass and quit boring us.”
– Jimmy Orr
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Photo: South Park’s Sheila Broflovski. Credit: South Park screengrab