Garland police officers responded as they should have when two gunmen opened fire at a “contest” to draw the Islamic prophet Muhammad.
They shot the men dead.
Now the debate has ensued. Were the provocateurs — the folks who sponsored a contest they knew would provoke that kind of response from Muslims — merely exercising their rights of “free speech”?
My answer? No.
They knew that illustrating the prophet is offensive to Muslims. Indeed, the group that sponsored the “contest,” an outfit called the American Freedom Defense Initiative, has been identified as an extremist anti-Muslim group.
So, do you think these folks knew what to expect when they staged this event? My guess is that they knew.
The shooters were described as Islamists. One of them, Elton Simpson, allegedly wrote a good-bye note to his friends and family before he started shooting. He knew he’d meet his end in Garland.
As Jim Mitchell of the Dallas Morning News writes in his blog: “Islamic extremism is a global curse. Cartoon contests in Garland aren’t going make a bit of difference in combating it. But insensitive contests like the one yesterday will provoke lone wolves and insult an entire religion. And I ask, to what purpose? This wasn’t discourse; it was a opportunity to draw offensive cartoons for the sake of drawing offensive cartoons. My idea of defensible free expression has a higher and more noble purpose.”
It’s widely established and known around the world that Muslims don’t react well when Muhammad is depicted in cartoons or illustrated simply for the sake of producing a worldly image. Do non-Muslims agree with this religious tenet? No. But it’s not non-Muslims’ place to judge how those who worship a certain religion are supposed to believe.
We should be grateful that the FBI had tipped off the Garland Police Department.
Its officers responded correctly.