Because of having drawn this particular cartoon....
.....and death threats against the artist, Westergaard's home was equipped with a safe room, or "panic room", for those who've seen the Jodie Foster movie.
From the D.C. Examiner: Westergaard was at home with his visiting 5-year-old granddaughter when he heard the suspect trying to break in. "I locked myself in our safe room and alerted the police.”
Unable to smash the front door with his ax, the suspect was shot once in the knee and once in the hand by police. The wounds are not life-threatening.
What's to be done about this situation, where
Muslims those adhering to certain belief system want to destroy airliners, cartoonists, themselves, and others?
Ireland has responded by tightening up their Blasphemy laws. These regulations went into effect on January 1st. Here's The Guardian:
The new law, which was passed in July, means that blasphemy in Ireland is now a crime punishable with a fine of up to €25,000 (£22,000).
It defines blasphemy as "publishing or uttering matter that is grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters sacred by any religion, thereby intentionally causing outrage among a substantial number of adherents of that religion, with some defences permitted".
The justice minister, Dermot Ahern, said that the law was necessary because while immigration had brought a growing diversity of religious faiths, the 1936 constitution extended the protection of belief only to Christians.
In other words, the current version of the Irish Blasphemy statues are no less silly, but a lot more fair. If you want to watch the virus spread, and if you have a strong stomach, you can go here for a USA Today editorial about the U.N. and the Obama Administration supporting an International Law Against Blasphemy.
A group of Irish Freethinkers instantly responded by posting a list of quotations from Jesus, Mark Twain, Tom Lehrer (hello Shuey !), Randy Newman, Salman Rushdie, George Carlin, Richard Dawkins, Pope Benedict, and a few Irish politicians. Any of these quotations would be fair game for anyone wanting to earn some money or notoriety through a blasphemy complaint. Organized sensitivity is becoming more and more profitable.
Speaking of Blasphemy, let's change gears and continents for a moment. This is Andres Serrano's masterpiece, "Piss Christ". It's a photograph of a crucifix submerged in Serrano's urine. It was a big deal back in the late 1980's.
I can take it or leave it. If Andres Serrano wants photograph The Last Supper in purple pelican poop, it doesn't harm me in the least. It wouldn't harm you, either, unless you were forced to pay for it. (In the case of Piss Christ, you may have paid for it, but that's another story. Go here for more than you'll ever want to know about the incident.)
Speaking of Transgressive Art.... Here's a work that I might commission, if I ever get the proper Photoshop skills.
I want to do a multimedia installation showing Barack Obama dressed as a lawn jockey, parking cars at a Goldman Sachs Christmas party. It would be controversial, but it would illustrate the power relationship between Goldman Sachs and our government, and depict the level at which Obama truly is their little bitch.
I want to photograph a sterotypical Welfare Queen in her Cadillac, the stereotype so often derided during the Reagan era. I want to paste (juxtapose, in artspeak) the face of the Archer Daniels Midland CEO onto the body of the Welfare Queen, and call the piece "Welfare Brood Sow", and challenge preconceptions of government dependency.
The final work will be something called "U O Me", and I intend to hire a troupe of performance artists to infest the maternity ward of Arlington Memorial Hospital. The artists will give each infant a bill for $375,000.00, representing each child's share of the unfunded government liabilities voted into place by their grandparents. The artists will threaten to withold milk until all debts are paid.
If you're wanting to help fund any of these projects, don't bother. I'm going to apply for an NEA grant.
Let's review the topics covered so far:
1) Danish cartoons portraying Muhammed.
2) Quotes from Jesus, Twain, and Pope Benedict.
3) Andres Serrano's "Piss Christ".
4) Some proposed artwork of my own, designed to illustrate the corrupt nature of our government.
A few questions on each:
1) Have any of these caused you, or anyone else, physical harm?
2) Would you censor, or prosecute the producers of any of these forms of speech?
3) All of them, or just some of them? Why?
4) Do you think any of these are actually beneficial to society and represent a valid point of view?
5) And finally, do you think it's possible for a government to prohibit one category without endangering all the others?
Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me. (Especially if you're a god.)