Oh, Lars. What are you missing?
Lars Vilks is something of a hero to some: he's the Swedish artist that painted Mohammed's head on a dog in a political cartoon a few years back, then got threatened with death and worse from a fairly high percentage of the universe's Muslim population.
His take: that bit of political satire is free speech.
And so, having been the recipient of charming and cheerful death threats which culminated in one Coleen LaRose, “Jihad Jane, she calls herself, allegedly taking real steps to bring an untimely demise to Mr. Vilks, he decided to speak at Stockholm's Uppsala University on that vary topic: freedom of speech.
He was attacked, of course, within minutes by a few attendees, clearly upset Muslims. Security squirreled him away before real damage could be done to him, but the act has a lot of folks in an uproar: free speech, you know, is sacrosanct here in the States, and attempts to silence people's views are heavily frowned upon unless you are Fox News, in which case you get a Tea Party Magic Carpet Ride to stop people from saying pretty much anything you don't want them to.
My take? Well, what the fuck, Lars? In an interview with AP later he stated "This was the first time I've experienced a physical assault. It was a bit of a shock."
Look – I am all for free speech despite the constant spew of racial hatred, political non-fact, and pretty much every goddamn word John Edwards or Glenn Beck have ever uttered, but here in reality land there is cause and effect: walk up to Mike Tyson and say “yo mamma's a fat hog!” and there is a good chance he's gonna clobber the shit you. Do NOT call Larry Craig or George Rekkers gay – they'll bring down the wrath of God, alongside their attorneys.
Don't say “retard” in front of Sarah Palin (unless you are being “satirical,” which means you must register Republican and abuse prescription drugs).
Actually, I take that back – by all means, DO all those things. And in that same spirit don't – DO NOT – portray Mohammed as a dog anywhere Muslims can see it. Or with a bomb for a turban. Or as a goddamn bear on a cartoon. There will be...repercussions.
This isn't about agreeing or disagreeing with Muslims, their faith, and their religious edicts about the portrayal of Mohammad as anything at all, much less a dog; nor is this actually about free speech. It's about poking someone in the eye with a stick – you want to start some shit, you'll get it started, sure enough. Question is - why do you need this particular shit, and are you ready for it, Lars?
Being me means hating religion's effects and what it does to otherwise good people. I have no quarrel with God, Mohammed, Jesus, Vishnu – I have complete disdain for the purveyors of these deities and the power they wield over their followers to do great harm despite their own human limitations.
I could give a flying fuck about Mohammed, or Jesus for that matter. But while I can snicker at the pictures and jokes which include them as targets, I wouldn't spread them around like so many mousetraps around the toes of the faithful, free speech or not, unless I wanted to start the shit. Lars may or may not have gotten what he deserved, but he got exactly what he should have expected, and they aren't done with him yet – the types of Muslims who are after his hide don't have a long history of forgiveness, and we've all seen they are sometimes adequate pilots.