Before I get too far into this, there are two pictures I want to show you.
First up is the image that won the “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day” contest Thursday at Reason.com’s Hit & Run blog:
Here’s the same image with the dots connected. (Or at least the best I could manage to connect them; dots 31 and 32 are mysteriously missing.)
Like some of you, perhaps, I went to Reason.com’s Hit & Run blog on May 20, eager to see which reader-submitted pieces they had selected to showcase for Everybody Draw Mohammed Day. I didn’t send them anything, but Kim, a regular reader and commenter around these parts, submitted something, and it would’ve been cool to see her pic (a photograph of the frieze of Mohammed that adorns the United States Supreme Court) among the many others sure to be proudly displayed.
Most of Everybody Draw Mohammed Day came and went, with no mention on Hit & Run. I posted my drawings, lots and lots of others posted theirs on Facebook, but nothing on Reason.com.
Finally, at nearly 6 P.M., this:
What You’ve Been Waiting For at Long Last...
Nick Gillespie & Matt Welch | May 20, 2010
We’re pleased to announce the winner of our “Everybody Draw Mohammed” contest.
Click here to view the winning image. Do not click through if you are offended by graphical representations of the Prophet Mohammed.
No winning image on the front page, just a click-through that takes you to an entirely different server. And once you click over to that page, you have to wade through a long, redundant write-up on the events leading up to the day, and the justifications for it. Then, finally, you get to see three images. First, there’s the second runner-up:
Clever. A riff on Rene Magritte’s “This is not a pipe,” only this one says “This is not a pipe. This is Muhammad.” Yes, I see what you did there.
Then the first runner-up:
Again, very clever. Though notice how small the image is. You can make out Mohammed there toward the upper right, but just barely.
And then the winning image, as you’ve already seen.
This begs the question: Uh, what the fuck happened?
For a start, when did this become a contest? When Michael Moynihan (who aside from belatedly announcing a deadline hasn’t written a single word about Everybody Draw Mohammed Day since he first posted about it a month ago) announced that Hit & Run would be participating in Everybody Draw Mohammed Day, he said “The best ones will be published on Hit & Run, which, along with the concomitant death threat, is reward enough.” I suppose the powers-that-be at Reason would argue that the best ones were published, though without attribution, and that they never promised to use their widely read outlet to flood the internet with images of Mohammed. And that is true.
But there’s something wrong with this. Dig the bravado in Moynihan’s tone when he announces Everybody Draw Mohammed Day back on April 23:
I will be employing my tremendous skill as an illustrator, of course, and expect that my colleagues will do the same. If they refuse, they will be declared weak-kneed, namby-pamby, quisling infidels and will be shamed on this blog (Though such idle threats rarely work these days; perhaps I could threaten them with a painful death, which seems to do the trick).
He goes on to solicit submissions from readers, and promises to display the best ones on the blog, but clearly the point here isn’t to showcase only the “best” depictions of Mohammed. The entire point of the day — shit, the only way the day even had a point — was for everybody to draw Mohammed. Recognizing the editorial staff’s favorites is fine, but what about the other submissions? Would it have killed them to post the top ten, at least?
Have so many people ever run so quickly from a great idea? In the month between the announcement and the day itself, it seems the entire gang over there at Reason.com went from proud champions of free speech to weak-kneed, namby-pamby quisling infidels. And since they haven’t been shamed at Hit & Run as promised as of yet, I’ll take care of that bit of business right now: Michael Moynihan, Nick Gillespie, Matt Welch, and anyone else at Reason.com who had a hand in minimizing and burying your participation in Everybody Draw Mohammed Day, you should be ashamed of yourselves. You’re cowards and you’re hypocrites. The hell with the lot of you.