Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Treachery of Images: "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day"?

Against 'Veiled' Threats
Molly Norris
(Image from

Life is about to get even more interesting for bloggers like me. Two days ago, I blogged on the controversy over South Park's image of 'Muhammad', and I turn to the internet today, only to find still more images of 'Muhammad'! Or perhaps more accurately, images of 'not-Muhammad'. Whatever they are, you see them above, so shield your eyes if you find them offensive. Better yet, wear blinders everywhere, for you never know what might be a subtle image of 'Muhammad' . . . or image of 'not-Muhammad'. They could be everywhere without your even knowing it yet!

Jamie Griswold, writing for, reports on artist Molly Norris in "Seattle cartoonist launches 'Everybody Draw Mohammed Day'." In Griswold's words:
After Comedy Central cut a portion of a South Park episode following a death threat from a radical Muslim group, Seattle cartoonist Molly Norris wanted to counter the fear. She has declared May 20th "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day."
This 'Day' will go viral, I predict, and rapidly expand beyond Ms. Norris's vision, which draws on the brilliance of South Park producers Trey Parker and Matt Stone in not depicting Mohammad. No one can possibly mistake the images above for a human being, let alone the Muslim prophet Muhammad. The concept is a mirror image of René Magritte's famous Treachery of Images:

Ceci n'est pas une pipe, mais Muhammad!

This image is clearly not Muhammad, the French caption to the contrary notwithstanding. Nor is the pipe even the property of Muhammad . . . though there could well be a certain French citizen named "Muhammad" who possesses such a pipe.

But to return to my point. Magritte's 'pipe' is not a pipe, precisely as it claims, though it looks like a pipe. By the same difference, Norris's 'Muhammads' are not Muhammad, precisely as they appear not to be, though they claim to be. Rather, each one is an image of a 'not-Muhammad'.

But since this will go viral, then Norris's clever use of South Park's brilliant ruse in not depicting Muhammad will soon get lost among the thousands of cruder online cartoons depicting Muhammad in more literal ways.

For those 'cartoonists' among us who are interested in contributing, or for non-cartoonists like me who are merely observers, more details are available at Norris's CACAH (Citizens Against Citizens Against Humor) site.

For the homepage of Molly Norris, go here.

UPDATE: Second Thoughts . . .

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At 7:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The comment thread for the Northwest story included a thoughtful observation that Molly has muddled the message by asking participants to depict any religious figure. It is only members of one religion who use threats and violence against those portray their prophet and religion unfavorably. Perhaps she doesn't want to be seen as targeting Islam, but it is Islamists who are using intimidation, threats, and violence to silence perceived and real criticism.

At 7:56 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Yes, I noticed that as well. Her message is a bit muddled as a consequence -- though it's true to South Park's original intention.

But what is already going viral is the "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day" idea.

Even Magritte's non-pipe might qualify . . .

Jeffery Hodges

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At 6:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Islam is a religion of hate and intolerance. And, they have no sense of humor...real or imaginary.

At 11:59 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

I suppose they won't laugh over that pipe, then . . .

Jeffery Hodges

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