a few bad apples

January 8, 2015

 

poison_apple

 

In 1988, the Ayatollah Khomeini put a price on author Salmon Rushdie’s head. Rushdie wasn’t wanted “dead or alive.” Khomeini wanted Rushdie dead. I don’t know what the original price tag was for one dead author, but as of 2013, the price on Rushdie’s head was over 3 million pounds.

The Ayatollah is gone. The prices on artists’ heads are not.

 


 

In 2004, Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh was shot dead on a busy Amsterdam street. The first bullet took Theo off his bicycle. He tried to make it across the street. Theo’s murderer followed him on foot and shot him again. Then Theo’s murderer slashed Theo’s throat and stuck a letter to his chest with a knife. Theo was 47 years old. His crime was a short fiction film aired on Dutch public television depicting a Muslim woman’s difficulties in an arranged marriage.  

In 2005, Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard’s drawing of Muhammad with a bomb in his turban put him on Islam’s hit list. There have been multiple attempts to murder Kurt. He lives in a home rivaling a Brinks security office and under police protection to this day.  

Also in 2005, Danish publication Jyllands-Posten’s former editors Carsten Juste and Flemming Rose made the hit list – for publishing Westergaard’s drawing.  

In 2006, Swedish artist Lars Vilks made Islam’s hit list. He, like Rushdie and Wetergaard, is still alive. He sleeps with an axe by his bed.  

In 2010, South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker received death threats for their depiction of Muhammad in a bear suit in their animated cartoon. They were assured they too were on the road to Theo van Gogh’s fate. A photo of Theo with his throat slit and a knife in his chest was attached just to make things festive. The South Park guys are still breathing. Probably because stations caved and censored a lot of the episode.  

In 2010, in response to the South Park threats, Seattle artist Molly Norris, who worked for a Seattle paper, publicly suggested an “Everybody Draw Muhammad Day.” Molly received so may death threats she quit her job, fled Seattle, and changed her name. As far as I know, she’s still in FBI protective custody.  

In 2011, the Paris offices of satirical French magazine Charlie Hebdo were firebombed, forcing the publication to move after its offices were destroyed. Editor Stephane Charbonnier, you guessed it, was on Islam’s hit list. Had been for a while, fending off litigation and death threats. Charlie Hebdo’s crime? A few satirical and not particularly tasteful cartoons featuring Muhammad.  

Apparently Muhammad seriously does not have a sense of humor because In 2015, armed men stormed Charlie Hebdo’s new Paris offices with automatic weapons and shot Stephane Charbonnier and 11 other people dead.

 


 

There is now an Al Queada Most Wanted poster being passed around the internet showing Charbonnier’s face struck out in red.

 


Think about that. These murderers, these serial murderers, don’t just keep little photos of their victims to themselves they can cross your face off of. They put your photo on the fucking internet. With a big red X through it.

THAT is fucking blaspheme.

 


 

The above is the short list. There are more.

And that’s a long time span.

17 years. For 17 years, artists, filmmakers, satirists, journalists, comics, authors, editors, gallery owners have been threatened, attacked, murdered in the name of defending the honor of a man who heard voices in a cave and has been dead for 1500 years. In Switzerland. Sweden. The US. France. Denmark. All over the fucking globe, artists are targeted, intimidated, threatened, and murdered.

 


 

A few bad apples, I am told. Most of Islam is not like that, I am told. Most Muslims are just nice people trying to go about their daily lives, I am told.

 


 

You know what a few bad apples are? The Unibomber. He was a bad apple, with a couple buddy bad apples.

This is a fucking orchard.

 


 

It’s time to burn that orchard down.

 


The Silencing of Theo van Gogh
FBI Warns Seattle Cartoonist About Threats
Salman Rushdie bounty increased amid anti-Islam film controversy
Al-Qaida’s ‘dead artist club’
Charlie Hebdo editor Stephane Charbonnier crossed off chilling al-Qaeda hitlist
Swedish Police Hide Threatened Cartoonist
Seattle Cartoonist in Hiding After Death Threats
The Danish Cartoonist Who Survived An Axe Attack
Jihad Against Danish Newspaper
South Park censored after threat of fatwa over Muhammad episode
France manhunt: Police raid homes, arrest several suspects after Charlie Hebdo massacre
Paris Killers Got Wrong Door Before ‘Decapitating’ Magazine
Satirical Magazine Is Firebombed in Paris

 

 

A friend called Sunday —

To check on me. She knew I was physically okay. Facebook drama had settled by the time she logged on. I’d posted I was okay.

I laughed and said, I’m shaking off the PTSD.

She said, Yeah, that’s the part I worry about, the pacing stuff.

She has known me a long time.

I was pacing when she said that. Five feet up, five feet down, sharp turns. I tried to stop when she said that.

 


 

She and I are alike. We know that place. The pacing place.

 


 

Crap went down Friday night. Someone shot at me. Strange men pounding on my door. I posted some of it on Facebook because I wanted to leave a “last known location” trail if I went missing.

I talked to one person who called. Then I turned the phone off.

 


 

If people are hunting you, a phone ringing in your pocket is not helpful.

 


 

I spent a night in a police station once.

I had been arrested for grand theft auto.

I’d found an old truck with the keys in it, started that baby up, put it in reverse, and slammed it backwards through twenty-two ornamental hedgerows.

Then leaned on the horn with the doors locked when the truck bottomed out on hedgerow number twenty-three and waited till every light in the neighborhood came on and someone with a badge knocked on my window.

 


 

Back Story: I’d been attacked by three men, fought my way free, crawled a mile through shrubs and back roads to a neighborhood with enough houses to call for help.

The men trying to rape and kill me had hunted and caught me once on blacktop after I escaped and tried to run me down with a car.

 


 

People are mostly cowards. It’s easy to close the blinds.

I started up that truck and rammed it over all those hedges to make sure no one would close the blinds.

 


 

The police guys kept asking me for descriptions. I had to keep saying, Look, I was abducted before, I keep seeing that instead of this, I can’t give you a good description, my head keeps interchanging what happened then with what happened now.

 


 

I was seventeen.

Flashing back to an abduction at fourteen.

 


 

The one thing I could give those police guys was a description of the car that tried to run me down. One of the police guys remembered it being on the outskirts of all the Max hedge truck excitement sitting on the road with two guys standing next to it watching the mayhem that ensued from my grand theft auto stint.

They were right there. Watching. Close enough to grab me off a porch if I made the wrong porch choice.

Fuckers.

I’m so glad I stole that truck.

 


 

Nobody pressed charges. They were nice people. They got it.

 


 

People want to know what happened Friday night. They’re curious. They’re concerned. Here’s the thing. I’m a bad witness. I’ve been in so many fucked up bad you are about to die these fuckers are trying to kill you situations in my life? A martial arts instructor who only trained black belts once inducted me into his class because he thought they could learn something from me. And I didn’t even have a belt. How fucked up is that?

 


 

I can’t give you details. It makes me pace. Also they might be wrong. My head goes into PTSD Max Mode. Past and present fucked up violence moments overlap in my head.

I’m still twitching every time there’s a noise in the hall.

I’m still pacing.

But I love everyone who expressed concern.

And.

I’m still here.

 

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