Just a couple days after the Atheists, Humanists, & Agnostics group at the University of Wisconsin – Madison drew stick figure images of Muhammad on their campus, the word “Muhammad” has been rubbed away on several of their images.
The AHA group doesn’t know who did this (and they’re not jumping to conclusions and blaming the Muslim Student Association).
Still, they wonder whether the MSA is serious about standing up for their right to free speech. Will the MSA applaud the erasing or will they support the atheist group and issue some statement against the vandal?
Chris Calvey, the group president, also has a response to those atheists who argue this is a bad idea in the first place and should never have happened:
A common sentiment I’ve heard the past few days went a little something like this: “I’m totally in favor of free speech and all, but what you’re doing is needlessly offensive. Just because you can draw Muhammad doesn’t mean that you should.”
And my response was simple — we shall see if I can.
As it turns out, no, you cannot draw depictions of Muhammad in Madison. At least, not without having them immediately changed to pictures of Muhammad Ali, and not without having them censored the next day. Let’s imagine an alternate universe. Let’s say the drawings were never tampered with, but instead were met with nothing more than shrugged shoulders and public admonishment for our childish behavior. In this scenario the egg would be on our faces. Instead, suffice it to say that our point has been proven. The right to criticize religion and perform blasphemous acts needs to be defended more than ever.
I still support what AHA did. And I agree that the response from the Muslim students and the anonymous vandal just underscores the importance of fighting for our right to free speech. People like them would rather we never criticize their prophet or even draw him. They don’t have the right to silence us.