This goes to the heart of why the Garland event has been widely misunderstood. With Obama and Clinton working with anti-American Islamists to attack free speech, it is no surprise that the administration’s slavish media are portraying Islam’s critics as wild-eyed bigots, and their “Draw Muhammad” contest as an exercise in gratuitous insult — the kind of expression that even free-speech advocates often shy from defending.
The narrative betrays ignorance of Islam’s blasphemy proscriptions. Insulting speech barely scratches the surface of all that is forbidden. Classical sharia prohibits all artistic expression that depicts animate life — deeming it an offensive imitation of Allah’s creative act. Far beyond insult, moreover, sharia forbids speech that subjects Islam to any objective examination that could result in negative criticism. Also forbidden are words that imply unbelief; that could be taken to rebuke Allah or Mohammed (even if gently or in jest); or that appear to deny a principle established by authoritative sharia scholarship. Islamic supremacists would apply prohibitions to non-Muslims as well as Muslims, because they believe that Allah has commanded them to impose sharia on the unwilling. And as for Muslims, speech that announces or implies apostasy is punishable by death.
This is what drives Fawstin’s work. “I draw Mohammed,” he says, “because the enemy tells me I can’t.” In Garland, that meant not just a rendering, but a rendering of the act of rendering. Describing his winning cartoon, he explains: “I draw myself drawing Mohammed, and Mohammed with his sword in hand, yells at me, ‘You Can’t Draw Me!’ to which I reply (in a word balloon), ‘That’s why I draw you.’”