Love It or Hate It, This is America

This week it was reported that Seattle Weekly cartoonist Molly Norris has been forced to change her identity and relocate. Why? Because she drew a cartoon depicting Mohammed as various objects, which turned into a Facebook phenomenon called “Everybody Draw Mohammed” day.

Mohammed isn’t supposed to be drawn, so this outraged many in the Muslim world. One radical leader with ties to terrorism against the United States is calling for her death. Never mind that she’s apologized, the Facebook page was taken down by its creator, and so on.

As Jeffrey High of the Camano Community site has pointed out:

Are you kidding me? Is this what it has come to?

I’m still waiting for all those “moderate” Muslims to denounce this and come to Ms. Norris’ defense. In fact, I’m waiting for all the Christians, Jews, Democrats, Republicans, Wiccans, etc. to come to her defense as well.

Interesting point. There are a lot of bloggers who’ve expressed opinions on this story, from those who don’t think she should have apologized, to those who are apologizing for her, to those who are calling her a coward.

But the only strong opinion I’ve seen on more well-known sites is on Robert Spencer’s blog.

Here’s the beauty of the variety of opinions: we live in a country whose Constitution guarantees its citizens FREEDOM OF SPEECH. The First Amendment protects a right that our founders believed was God-given, not just an arbitrary invention of man.

Many Americans are so passionate about this principle that we believe what Voltaire said: “I may not agree with what you’re saying, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

What makes the Molly Norris case interesting is why many believers in freedom of speech won’t come to her defense.

First and foremost, people might be afraid that their names will be added to a terrorist hit list if they speak out.

Second, the Seattle Weekly is an edgy liberal newspaper that is unlikely to be defended by conservatives and/or Christians.

Third, many people don’t know who Molly Norris is, and never heard of her before this. They hesitate to defend the character, actions, or motivation of someone they don’t know.

Fourth, many people are unwilling to stand up to threats from radical Islam, afraid that they will be branded “anti-Muslim” or “haters.”

Speaking out against a particular faction that is threatening an American citizen with death over a cartoon is no more hateful than speaking out against men who abuse women, female teachers who rape young boys, or atrocities committed in the name of Christ.

Calling these evils out doesn’t mean you’re a man hater, against female teachers, or anti-Christian. You’re not making some sweeping generalization against a certain demographic by condemning these evils. You’re standing up against the abuse and damage of a fellow human being.

None of us have to agree on whether Molly Norris is good or bad, right or wrong, hero or infidel. What’s important is that one of our own has had her life threatened for exercising her freedom of speech.

One of our own? Yes. Despite all of our differences and disagreements, our partisan politics, our varying cultural ideals, and our wide range of lifestyles, at the end of the day we are all Americans. This means that what we have in common should supersede our dissimilarities at times like these.

What we have in common is the value we place on our freedom. Molly Norris’ freedom has been encroached upon by people who don’t value the same exercise of opinion, and it may be especially threatening to them that a woman dared speak her mind.

So I don’t really care what Molly Norris did or didn’t think, draw, intend, apologize for, or promote. The Seattle Weekly might have been just as likely to publish a cartoon poking fun at my faith or politics, and they’re allowed to do that even if it is in poor taste.

What we should all care about is that Molly Norris is an American, and Americans have the right to speak their minds. No one should ever be bullied into hiding and reticence—by their ex-partner, by those in authority who disagree with them, or by radicals who threaten death to force their views onto others.

On behalf of my fellow Americans no matter what their faith, ethics, beliefs, color, or political identity, I encourage everyone to keep exercising their freedoms and not to let the threat of violence stifle their defense or condemnation of any issue.

Capitulating to any policy other than freedom is slavery.


The liberties of our country, the freedom of our civil Constitution, are worth defending at all hazards; and it is our duty to defend them against all attacks. We have received them as a fair inheritance from our worthy ancestors: they purchased them for us with toil and danger and expense of treasure and blood, and transmitted them to us with care and diligence. It will bring an everlasting mark of infamy on the present generation, enlightened as it is, if we should suffer them to be wrested from us by violence without a struggle, or to be cheated out of them by the artifices of false and designing men. -Samuel Adams

©2010 H. Hiatt/ All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/

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