MOLLY NORRIS

Some time ago this blog mentioned the case of Molly Norris. Forgotten about her? Don’t be embarrassed, nearly everyone else has. No doubt she would be glad if everyone actually did forget about her. Unfortunately those who want to murder her have long memories. She is the cartoonist who drew a cartoon proposing that there should be an ‘Everyone Draw Mohammed Day’.

Way back in 2010, the cartoon series South Park created an episode depicting Mohammed. As we all know from the Danish cartoons incident that’s a big no-no for the religion of peace. The reaction from the Mohammedans was all too predictable.

Even before the episode could be aired the creators of South Park received death threats. As a result Comedy Central, the show’s network, as always a centre of cutting edge comedy willing to bravely challenge the establishment, blurred the depictions of Mohammed and bleeped out any references to the prophet. To this day, the episode has not been broadcast in several countries.

Enter Molly Norris, who is/was a cartoonist then living in Seattle. She rightly thought Comedy Central’s supine capitulation to fundamentalist threats was shameful. As a cartoonist her recourse was the fairly obvious one, she drew a cartoon advertising ‘Everybody Draw Mohammed Day’, to be held on 20th May 2010.

Norris probably expected a Spartacus moment when her progressive friends would step up with their Mohammed cartoons and say, ‘I am Molly Norris’. Her cartoon simply asked ‘Do your part to both water down the pool of targets and, oh yeah, defend a little something our country is famous for … the first amendment.’ The cartoon was not actually Norris creating an event. It was a cartoon from a fictional group called Citizens Against Humour advertising a fictional event.

Naturally those who value freedom of speech responded, the post went viral on Facebook and the idea took hold. Soon people were trying to organise actual ‘Everybody Draw Mohammed Day’ events. Alarmed by the overwhelming response Norris tried to disassociate herself from the event. Little good that did her.

It may be difficult for those of us living in countries retaining a tradition of free speech to credit but the Lahore High Court in Pakistan actually solemnly ruled that the event would cause damage to the religious beliefs of millions Pakistani Facebook users. Apparently Islam is particularly susceptible to damage by humour. So the Pakistani government in all its majesty and power temporarily blocked Facebook and other internet sites for all of Pakistan.

At this point the radical American-Yemeni imam Anwar al-Awlaki called for the death of Norris and any others involved in the event. The religion of peace clearly knows how to deal with infidels who own pens.

That was 2010, what about more recently? The March 2013 edition of Inspire magazine — an al-Qaida production —released a ‘Wanted: Dead or Alive for Crimes Against Islam’ list captioned ‘Yes We Can: A Bullet A Day Keeps the Infidel Away’. The roll of honour included Sir Salman Rushdie (Still there despite all the years), Pastor Terry Jones (Always inclusive Mohammedans recognise the place of delusional nonentities), and Molly Norris.

Inspire isn’t only available in the wastelands of Waziristan with a print run of thirteen. It is circulated in the West, and with serious consequences. In April 2013, it was revealed that the two Boston bombers, Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, learned how to make pressure cooker bombs from reading Inspire. This magazine lives up to its name and  succesfully inspires people living in the West to take up armed jihad and slaughter those who do not bow the knee to Mohammed.

Yet no one was outraged on behalf of Molly Norris. There was no outcry, no pop concerts to raise awareness, no comedy extravaganzas with cutting edge celebrities poking fun at fundamentalist Islam, total silence from Hollywood stars usually ever ready to campaign for the rights of the downtrodden. The ACLU, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty, the organisations created to boldly stand up for the right of freedom of expression have been strangely mute on the subject of Norris.

Our journalists who boast of boldly speaking truth to power should have been crying out, “How dare you call for the death of a young woman journalist for simply drawing a cartoon and then use our tradition of freedom of speech to distribute your hate filled magazines telling our youth to murder her!” Instead they ignored their fellow journalist.

Norris is apparently a progressive-leaning individual, where are her trendy friends standing up for her rights? She has learned we are not all Spartacus. The political, cultural and media elites, along with the self-appointed defenders of our rights have washed their hands of her.

Did you notice I wrote Norris ‘is/was … living in Seattle’? That was because there’s no information available on her current activities. According to her former employer Seattle Weekly Norris has changed her name and gone into hiding after the FBI confirmed that the threats on her life were all too credible.

Why don’t more people, especially amongst the supposedly freedom loving progressive media industry, care about her defence and well-being? Why aren’t more people angry about the fact that a talented woman who simply drew a cartoon has been forced to go underground in fear of her life?

Which is the bigger scandal: That a bunch of humourless Islamists still want to murder someone for drawing a little cartoon three years ago? Or that there are so many journalists, supposedly seekers after the truth, who won’t even acknowledge one of their own when they hold up a cartoon pointing out the intolerance of Islam?

2014 begins with Molly Norris still in hiding, still fearing for her life. How many more years until she is free to be herself?

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About Campbell

Now retired but once upon a time a parish minister in Glasgow, before that the South West and initially the Black Isle. Been a prison chaplain and lecturer. Still am constantly bemused by the weird world around me.
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