Shouldn’t all comedians be free to insult everyone equally? That is the question being proposed around the swirling controversy regarding Saturday Night Live’s Tarantino-esque skit “DJesus Uncrossed,” in which a freshly risen Jesus returns for revenge.
Penny Nance of Concerned Women for America said in a statement that the thirty-eight-year-old comedy show would never “have the nerve to mock Islam as it did Christianity.” She added, “They would never be brave enough to run a skit mocking Mohammad at any time — let alone during Ramadan.”
She’s right. But Nance wasn’t concerned about comedic tit-for-tat; as president of the aforementioned conservative Christian organization, she was offended by the “Anti-Christian” short, and, unsurprisingly, she came out swinging.
So why can’t you make fun of the Prophet Muhammad? Because they’ll fucking kill you, that’s why. Or more specifically, Islamist extremists will. And while that’s certainly not true of the vast majority of Muslims, the squeaky wheels may not only get the grease, but they’re also a screeching warning sign for you to get the hell out of the way.
Remember the little cartoon from a Danish newspaper that showed a bomb wrapped in the Prophet Muhammad’s turban? Eight years latter, and after surviving an ax-wielding would-be assassin, the septuagenarian cartoonist still lives with twenty-four-hour armed security.
And remember Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, the fifty-six-year-old “filmmaker” who decided to test the tenuous limits of Islamic tolerance? While the aforesaid Danish cartoon was a commentary on extremism and freedom of speech, and Innocence of Muslims was created specifically to erupt the Muslim world in violence, it’s safe to say that you’d be a bit off your prayer rug to tempt fate.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations got in on the act, too. Nihad Awad, the organization’s executive director said he too was offended by SNL’s depiction of a Rambo-esque Jesus:
“Such misrepresentation of what Jesus, peace be upon him, stands for is extremely offensive to Muslims and to all those who believe in his message. While we understand the use of shocking imagery and bizarre juxtapositions to provoke a humorous response, we believe such a distasteful portrayal of a religious figure revered by billions of Muslims and Christians worldwide crosses the comedic line.
“We strongly support free speech rights for all, but one would hope that common decency and respect for the beliefs of others would help avoid such unfortunate depictions.”
Muslims extremists, conversely, do little more than blame Christians and Jews for not rising up and killing those who poke fun of Islam’s lesser prophets like Moses or Jesus. Many within the Muslim community, however, refuse to jump on any bandwagons.
And many are like Muslim comedian Mona Shaikh — able to take a joke and to distinguish between comedy involving religious characters and intentionally incendiary defamation. Glittersnipe recently reached out to Shaikh for comment.
“Being a Muslim comic and launching my comedy page has been an eye-opening experience, and some of the hate mail that I’m getting makes me think the Muslim world has yet to become tolerant of others’ viewpoints, however the majority of the responses have been extremely loving and positive. Some are so focused on being so reactive about possibly hearing or seeing anything even remotely funny related to Muslims or Islam even if they don’t understand it.
“The lack of education and a poor command of the English language make them so reactive that if they see anything remotely contrary to Muslims or even questioning Islam for that matter, they blow into a rage. How many Muslims in the Middle East and South Asia, who were destroying their own towns and cities after that Innocence of Muslim video came out, had even seen the thing? Scant few! It was blocked on YouTube but that didn’t stop them from listening to other people telling them to storm embassies and consulates.
“Now is the time to step outside that mentality and see things for what they are — and not be so reactive. Sometimes what’s said is actually funny, and sometimes it’s meant to piss us off — you determine the difference — don’t just react to people’s reactions.
‘There was a time when we reigned supreme in the arts and sciences and mathematics —we even invented the zero. The more we look for reasons to be angry, the more we will find those reasons, and the more we struggle to succeed and prosper, the more we will prosper — we’ve done it in the past; we can do it again. But fighting to defend our faith only diminishes it; it does not protect it.”