LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Secular Student Alliance response to recent letter to the editor

Will Simpson

To Jonathon Wurth, 

The flyer was not intended to represent mainstream Muslims (as you mentioned). Most Muslims are ethical people who simply want to live peacefully and to practice their religion of choice. 

However, those in fundamentalist strands of Islam have recently been intruding on others’ right to free speech by threatening or using violence. It was these groups that the flyer parodied.

Groups that use or threaten violence (again, NOT most Muslims) deserve to be ridiculed. This cartoon should not be offensive to mainstream Muslims anymore than a flyer mocking the Ku Klux Klan should be offensive to mainstream Christians. Divisive extremism exists in many forms (both religious and non-religious) and never deserves respect.

Anyone identifying all Muslims as violent extremists is simply ignorant. In fact, attending the SSA meeting would have enlightened anyone holding such an incorrect view. We watched a video of a Muslim who denounced the recent violence and discussed pictures of assemblies of Muslims who held signs rejecting violent extremists. Hopefully moderate Muslims will increasingly take this approach, recognizing that the fault belongs to those who enact violence and not those who use “offensive” speech.

Ultimately, the flyer pointed out the absurdity of violence as a response to speech and ideas. It was obviously not meant to exacerbate tensions between Muslims and non-Muslims, but to highlight the existing and increasing tension between certain religious extremists and the freedom of expression, which is foundational to healthy societies. 

Will Simpson,

Monticello graduate student