Draw Mohammad, Risk Your Life?

Molly Norris was a cartoonist for the Seattle Weekly, and although she’s still alive, she’s gone “ghost”: leaving her job, moving, changing her name, and essentially erasing any traces of her identity. For fear of her life.

Exercising her right to free speech — and encouraging others to do the same — she promoted “Everybody Draw Mohammad Day.” In July, the Islamist cleric Anwar al-Awlaki (who’s linked to the Times Square bomber) announced that Norris “should be taken as a prime target of assassination.”(!) Now, at the insistence of the FBI, Norris has gone into the equivalent of a witness protection program — on her own dime.

This scandal has been unfolding for a while. . . so where are the outraged, fire-breathing editorials in our leading newspapers? Where are the impassioned speeches from politicians upholding the inalienable right of Americans to freedom of speech — and specifically, our right to criticize and ridicule ideologies of every stripe? The muted response to Norris’s fate, the lack of outrage — particularly from the news media — is horrifying. That our political leaders have pointedly shied away from taking a stand on this is all the more ominous. Government’s crucial job is to protect our rights.

Have we sunk so low that drawing Mohammad means risking your life? Is America willing to surrender the fundamental right to freedom of speech in obedience to the dictates of some Islamist cleric?