Yesterday, I saw the story of the cartoon festival in Garland Texas basically calling on people to draw their best cartoon of the Prophet Mohammad.  On first glance, my gut just thought, “What is this all about? I mean, who does that?”

I’m all for free speech, but why would someone want to even entertain the idea of a festival that basically poked another religion in the eye?  And then I thoughts of that art exhibit a few years ago of the Jesus Crucifix dunked in urine alongside of the picture of Mary smeared with elephant dung came to mind, and I remembered – “Yea…we do this stuff.”

You ever get that reflux feeling in your stomach where you just feel gross.  Like a bad stomach ache because you know the outcome of a certain story?  No sooner had the news announcer described the event, my mind wandered to the outcome.  Of course…someone got shot.  Of course…there’s going to be violence.  I thought, “Seriously, who actually schedules an event like this in the face of what we’re going through globally?  It’s just not one of those things you want to just sponsor.”

Then I did a little research.

I found out the organization, American Freedom Defense Initiative, led by Pamela Geller is in the business of poking people in the eye.  (Geller has been banned from Great Britain for Hate Speech.  That should give you an indication of who was behind the whole charade)

“This is war.  And War is here.” Geller told Fox News yesterday in an effort to show her patriotism to America and the rival war between Texas? and Radical Islam?  I’m not really sure.

I don’t know.  Something about this just reeks of arrogant war-mongering, not necessarily couched in free speech, but more in hatred and fear.  So I wanted to take a second today and just ask a few cultural questions.  I know these will no doubt cause a rise in whatever side you stand on here.  But I think it’s important we have the conversation in a civil way.  There’s no need to bring people to the street so they can be shot.  After all it’s 2015.  We have the ability to talk like humans and reason like we know something.  So, here we go.

Should we sponsor events where we know there will be a reaction?

I guess the first problem I see on the surface is this type of behavior isn’t used to promote virtue.  It’s actually like a grade school playground fight.  Remember running around on the monkey bars and then  the bully of the school said something like, “My dad could beat up your dad…” and then a scuffle for honor ensued usually ending with students sitting on the couch in the principles office?

Ms. Geller basically called out her rival on the playground, and the rival responded.   Some may see this as some sort of civil disobedience on her part, but for what?  Have we reduced our interaction with people down to the lowest common denominator?  Maybe we need to take a few lessons from the elementary playground.  Although we may have the constitutional right to say whatever we want in the public sphere, is it really necessary?  And for what end goal?  Now we have a security guard living with the trauma of taking another man’s life, and we have a man dead in Garland Texas.  Really?  Was this the goal of the contest?

Of course it’s wrong to engage anyone with violence around free speech.  It’s NEVER o.k. to meet the bully with a gun on the playground, but let’s start with the event itself.  What responsibility does the bully have to stop … well, bullying?

Is it right to ‘stand up for freedom’ when you feel someone is infringing on your rights?

I don’t mind owning guns.  I don’t mind good people owning guns.  I don’t mind good people owning guns for recreation, hunting, or personal protection.

But when do guns become such common place in our daily culture, that we can just go around waiving them in the face of our adversaries.  Think about this.  What if the roles were reversed?  Would a Christian have the right to carry a gun into a Muslim festival making fun of the Christian faith?  Wouldn’t that be categorized as protecting a community from “the other?”

I have this crazy feeling that good people who are motivated by the fear of “the other” and become their own police force turn this whole free speech thing upside down.  I know this is a touchy political issue, and I’m not advocating we eliminate guns from the culture, so don’t worry.  I’m just asking a question.  Did anyone need to die yesterday?

Maybe the answer is easy.  Maybe this was an ISIS cell that needed to be rooted out, and Texas is the preferred state for ISIS to begin recruiting in America.  Or, maybe it’s as easy as the bully poked and poked, and the bullied was forced to respond.  We wouldn’t put up with that kind of behavior on the playground at school, so why in the world are we ok with it in a suburban neighborhood cartoon festival?

How would Jesus respond?

If we’re truly a group of people who want to follow Jesus – How would he have approached this situation?  Would he have condoned such a festival?  What would he have done when the man started approaching the festival with ill-intentions?  How would Jesus approach Ms. Geller and the Freedom Alliance?

Maybe a case could be made that this whole situation falls outside of the boundary of faith, and it’s merely government protecting the innocent?

But maybe, there’s something else going on here.

What do you think?

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