You've probably heard of the craven attempt on the life of Danish editorial cartoonist Kurt Westergaard. He and his grandchild were attacked in his home by a Somali assailant who was shot by police and now faces criminal proceedings. Westergaard drew the best-known of the 2005 "Muhammad" cartoons that appeared in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten and inflamed radical Muslim anger worldwide. You've seen it: it's the cartoon showing an angry-looking bearded Muslim man whose turban is a bomb with a lighted fuse. Is it Muhammad or just a representation of a generic jihadist? No one knows, and outraged Islamists don't care. They just condemn it as "blasphemy" and have launched several attempts to assassinate Mr. Westergaard over the years. (No, this was not the first.)
This event simply underscores the necessity for secular humanist activists and organizations to stand foursquare in defense of free expression...in defense of the right to criticize religion through argument and art...and even in defense of the right to blaspheme.
That's why the Council for Secular Humanism is sponsoring a Free Expression Cartoon Contest. We're doing it in cooperation with the Center for Inquiry's Campaign for Free Expression. For another week and a half, the Council invites professional and amateur artists to submit their sharpest, cleverest, and most ingenious creations touching on that most sensitive subject: religion. (Though secular humanism is not a religion, cartoons about secular humanists and other activists who live without religion are welcome, too.)
Let's be clear what we're not looking for.
We're not looking for cartoons that crudely mock a particular faith or engage in sacrilege for the fun of it. A well-conceived cartoon can do so much more than that. We're looking for sophisticated, hard-hitting ideas and images that pose serious questions about belief and disbelief -- cartoons that prod readers to think as they laugh (or maybe, cry).
How to Enter...and Win!
The Free Expression Cartoon Contest is two contests in one. Amateur cartoonists (anyone who doesn't get a regular paycheck to draw cartoons) can compete for prizes of $300 (grand prize), $125 (second prize), and $75 (third prize). In addition, the three winning entries will be published in Free Inquiry and on the Council for Secular Humanism and Center for Inquiry Web sites. Professional cartoonists will compete for grander prizes of $2500 (grand prize), $1250 (second prize), and $750 (third prize). Winning pro entries will also be published in Free Inquiry and online.
Entries will be judged by a panel of volunteer judges led by Steve Benson, award-winning atheist cartoonist for the Arizona Republic. Entries must be received no later than Friday, January 15, 2010. Winners will be announced on Monday, March 29, 2010 -- just in time for Easter!
This contest is supported by a generous grant from the Andrew Norman Foundation.
Hardcopy entries should be sent to:
P.O. Box 664
Amherst, NY 14226-0664
Online entries should be sent to: