By Thea Lim
I heard about Molly Norris for the first time last week, on Fatemeh’s blog. Fatemeh wrote that she had signed a petition in support of Molly Norris, and gave this reason:
I was unhappy to read that “Draw Muhammad Day” creator Molly Norris had voluntarily gone into hiding. While I thought the concept of “Draw Muhammad Day” was ridiculous and viewed it in the same light as the South Park episode that supposedly depicted the prophet, I recognize that Norris’ intent wasn’t to be offensive or malicious. In Islam, intentions count for something just like actions, and no one should be punished for simple naïveté. It’s atrocious that Norris has received threats and feels unsafe enough to go incognito.
I have to say that after doing a little bit of reading about Norris, “Draw Muhammad Day” and the outpouring of support for Norris, I am finding it difficult to be as generous as Fatemeh.
When Fatemeh writes that she supports Norris, what I understand is that Fatemeh supports Norris’ right to live a life free of violence and threats. That, I find entirely reasonable – I too support Norris’ right to safety, as I support anyone’s right to safety. But what I am struggling to understand is exactly what all the other people who say they support Norris, are actually in support of.
Freedom of expression in America took another step closer to a slow death last week when the Seattle Weekly announced it would no longer be publishing the work of cartoonist Molly Norris because she had gone into hiding…I cannot help but wonder that if Norris had been more assertive in her own defense then others would have been more eager to stand beside her…So given the current political climate regarding Islam in America who among us could be the next Molly Norris?
James Taranto at the Wall Street Journal writes:
Where is President Obama? Last month, speaking to a mostly Muslim audience at the White House, the president strongly defended the right of another imam held up as a moderate to build a mosque adjacent to Ground Zero. The next day, and again at a press conference last week, Obama said he was merely standing up for the First Amendment. As far as we recall, it’s the only time Barack Obama has ever stood up for anybody’s First Amendment rights.
Now Molly Norris, an American citizen, is forced into hiding because she exercised her right to free speech. Will President Obama say a word on her behalf? Does he believe in the First Amendment for anyone other than Muslims?
Abigail R. Esman at Forbes writes:
Let me repeat: The U.S. government is suggesting that Ms. Norris change her name, strip away her past, possibly even change her appearance, because she has been targeted by Muslim extremists who are not amused by her work or her ideas. Rather than protect her, rather than defend her, rather than stand up for her Constitutional and democratic rights, declaring their intention to route al-Awlaki out and bring him (and others who are threatening her life) to justice, the American government, as it were, is itself in essence allying with him by taking away her freedom and her life.
Now listen. I will say this again: I emphatically support Molly Norris’ right to safety. I think it is terrible that she has to go into hiding, and I can only imagine the fear and distress that she is feeling right now.
But. I 100% do not support Norris’ right to mean-spirited mockery. I do not support anyone’s right to belittle, poke fun at, show insensitivity or thoughtlessness towards anyone else’s system of belief – but especially at Islam, seeing how it seems to have become some sort of Liberal American pastime to see who can make the most Islamophobic joke. And this is while the rights of Muslims to pursue their system of belief is under attack, all across the Western world.