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Seattle cartoonist: May 20 is ‘Everybody Draw Mohammed Day’

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UPDATE: The Seattle cartoonist characterized as leading a movement against Comedy Central censorship says she didn’t mean for her cartoon to go viral or “be the focus of any group.”

In a statement, she said, “I make cartoons about current, cultural events. I made a cartoon of a ‘poster’ entitled “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day!” with a nonexistent group’s name — Citizens Against Citizens Against Humor — drawn on the cartoon also. I did not intend for my cartoon to go viral. I did not intend to be the focus of any ‘group’. I practice the first amendment by drawing what I wish. This particular cartoon of a ‘poster’ seems to have struck a gigantic nerve, something I was totally unprepared for. I am going back to the drawing table now!”

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As a snarky response to Muslim bloggers who “warned” Comedy Central about an episode of South Park showing the Prophet Mohammed wearing a bear suit, one Seattle cartoonist, who calls laughter her form of “prayer,” is asking artists all over the world to create depictions of Mohammed on May 20. A Facebook page has been set up to cache the images for all to see.

Speaking on a Seattle radio show on Friday, cartoonist Molly Norris said she announced her idea as a way of countering the fear exhibited by Comedy Central in censoring episode 201 of South Park.

At the South Park Studios website, a message was posted that notes, “After we delivered the show, and prior to broadcast, Comedy Central placed numerous additional audio bleeps throughout the episode. We do not have network approval to stream our original version of the show.”

The New York-based Revolution Muslim group’s Web site was largely unavailable Wednesday but a CNN report said the statement was posted alongside a graphic photo of slain Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh, who was murdered by a Muslim extremist in Amsterdam in 2004.

“In the 14 years we’ve been doing South Park we have never done a show that we couldn’t stand behind,” outh Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone wrote on their Web site. “We delivered our version of the show to Comedy Central and they made a determination to alter the episode. It wasn’t some meta-joke on our part. Comedy Central added the bleeps. In fact, Kyle’s customary final speech was about intimidation and fear. It didn’t mention Muhammad at all but it got bleeped too. We’ll be back next week with a whole new show about something completely different and we’ll see what happens to it.”

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“We have to warn [South Park creators] Matt and Trey that what they are doing is stupid and they will probably wind up like Theo van Gogh for airing this show,” the group said. “This is not a threat, but a warning of the reality that will likely happen to them.”

A spokesman for the group denied the statement was an incitement to violence.

The New York Police Department has since stepped up security at Comedy Central headquarters.

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“I wanna water down the targets,” Norris said. “I haven’t really organized it yet. I posted it on Facebook and I have gotten a couple drawings of Mohammed. I guess I gotta follow through and put them on a deck of cards or something.”

“As a cartoonist, I felt so much passion about what’s happened and I wanted to kind of counter Comedy Central’s message that they sent about being afraid,” Norris continued. “That’s a cartoonist’s job, is to be non-PC.”

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In a statement to RAW STORY, Norris said she did not personally start either of large and growing Facebook groups on either side of the debate, but she did post her art to her personal page.

“I made a fictional poster and the information on it is also fictional,” she said. “There is no Citizens Against Citizens Against Humor, etc. Although, I love the idea.”

On her blog, Midnight Corndog, she further explains her motivations:

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I really hope this sort of creative expression brings ALL people of our country together in dialogue. I am personally afraid of Muslims because the peaceful folks of that religion do not often come forward to differentiate themselves from any radical elements! I mean, if I do not hear from moderate Muslims then how am I supposed to KNOW that they, too, are not harboring ill intent toward non-Muslims?! Please if you are a non-radical Muslim tell people about yourselves. Write to newspapers. Have community round tables. When Americans don’t know what you really think or feel, we might stay mired in stereotypes. Offer us knowledge!

The post URL ends with, “please-send-drawings-of-any-religious-figure-by-may-20,” though her other mentions of the idea solely focus on the Prophet Mohammed.

In a July, 2009 special to The Seattle Times, writer Rachel Shimp described Norris’s work as carrying “[a] distinctly ‘Seattle’ identity-complex,” that “imagines what’s really going on behind the computer screens in coffee shops, or in the crowds at art galleries.”

“Norris seems fascinated, as any restaurant server or cabdriver might, by the subtexts beneath cordiality,” she wrote. “Consumerism is another favorite topic.”

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“I make people laugh and I think laughter is prayer,” she told the Seattle city council’s news service. Norris’s regular strip, “Everyone is a Critic,” is published by City Arts magazine.

Her cartoon announcing “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day” is below. More of Norris’s work can be viewed on her Web sites, here and here.

This story was updated from a prior version to clarify that Ms. Norris was not directly responsible for creating any Facebook groups related to the May 20 “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day”.

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