Edit from the future:
This post was made, somehow, in a more innocent time. A time in which I thought encouraging constructive discussion and public awareness about religious extremism could be helpful to take power away from scare-mongering tyrants like Trump and the growing threat of the alt-right. Sadly, this never came to pass and tribalistic fear won out in the end. Now that we are saddled with Hitler 2.0 and his large following of spineless cretins who are terrified of anyone from a different gender or race, we no longer have the luxury we had before to peacefully criticize endangered minorities.
While my views on religion (all religions) has not changed, I do not want these insidious supremacists to mistake my past words for an endorsement of their repulsive, adult middle-schooler views and mentality. Protecting Muslims and immigrants is our first priority. When and if we return to a society that is not eagerly poised for another holocaust, I will be first in line to take the piss out of Mohammed and his rival prophets from other religions. But right now we have to be a united front against the violent animal bigotry that is sweeping the globe.
If you quote or link to any of this post, anything I have said, and try to claim I'm on the side of bigots like you - I'm not. I abhor you and everything you stand for. I have come to detest some of my earlier (especially commissioned) work for its bleeding heart "don't let the man keep you down!" messages and am further mortified to see that the establishment of privileged whites seems to have adopted my message as encouragement for them to break down the shaky scaffolding we've painstakingly constructed to cage in our species' tribalistic, xenophobic urges. To you the Trump supporter, you the Brexit supporter, you the nationalist cancer - you are not the oppressed. You are and have always been the establishment of humanity's worst aspects that better people have given their lives to fight against. I have never spoken for you and will not ever do so.
With that said, on with the post...
In the wake of Sunday's tragedy it is imperative, especially as artists, that we look closely at this issue. This was something I had previously assumed was obvious, as years ago the internet gleefully took to causes like Draw Mohammed Day in defense of free speech. But the death threats, torture, and executions in response to people practicing their basic human rights have continued to intensify. The Charlie Hebdo shooting, the Paris massacre, and Sunday's mass killing as well as countless atrocities committed against human rights in the middle east are things that we cannot just willfully ignore the motives behind. But here we are.
I understand that many people, the majority in fact, that follow an Abrahamic faith do not actively practice the contents of their respective holy book. Few Christians these days have even read the Bible in its entirety. Which is good, because that shit is unjustifiably evil in a lot of places. Even the oft-quoted New Testament contains some crazy shit which culminates in the balls-to-the-wall global murder orgy that is Revelations. A balls-to-the-wall global murder orgy that just so happens to be one of the primary inspirations for Empire of Sock.
The credits sequence was meant to draw a lot of parallels to the Bible, showing Sock sacrificing a version of itself to itself in order to appease itself and then slumbering underground awaiting its second coming (which would herald the apocalypse). The cult is shown divided, and members wearing attire and symbols suggestive of the three major Abrahamic faiths are depicted murdering each other over their religious differences.
The idea was that the Cult of Sock inspired these modern day faiths, which are all watered down but still occasionally batshit nuts versions of the Cult's religion. The underlying theme of the Sock series is that religion is inherently dangerous, devalues actual life by promising an eternal afterlife, and reduces people to the playthings of Gods- causing more problems than it solves. Hence the other Gods showing up to combat Sock's destruction, only to use the victims of Sock's wrath as literal ammunition in their crusade. It's how religions have functioned for millennia.
People (Judeo-Christian and Muslim alike) are happy to ignore the shadow their religion casts over the world and pretend that their holy books filled with glorified judgement, rape, and murder are somehow metaphors about unconditional love and forgiveness. In some ways this is a good thing - despite the inherent hypocrisy entailed in such an action - as by redefining what these religions stand for, we are able to move forward as a more peaceful and more forgiving species. However, when these hate crimes and atrocities are still being committed, you cannot just turn your head and write these 'outlier incidents' off. This kind of deplorable behavior IS what religion in its base form encourages. We rightfully do not give Nazis or the KKK a free pass just because most of their members haven't killed anybody recently and they've been a largely nonviolent organization for some time. If you stand with a hate group, you are supporting that hate group.
If you are Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Scientologist, Mormon, whatever - if you can't account for the immoral things your religion preaches and encourages others to do, if you don't support the crimes committed by your peers, you need to find another way. People have been making splinter factions of religions over petty disagreements for ages. You can too. Redefine and reclaim your faith by creating a new one or drop it altogether. But by doing nothing and pretending the problem doesn't exist, you are condoning these massacres and the hateful beliefs that give birth to them. The exact same thing goes for people of different beliefs that do nothing and make excuses on other religions' behalf.
LGBTQ, artists, liberals, anyone remotely forward thinking, this is our problem too. In an age where someone like Trump is honestly running for president, denial is terrifying. If we are too afraid to discuss these issues, if we are too afraid of looking politically incorrect, we feed fear-mongering tyrants like him. People are scared and desperate and if it means committing revenge killings against Muslims or electing a stubby fingered Hitler-wannabe like Trump, they will because no one else is willing to talk about this issue and it drives them to heinous extremes.
Discuss, make art, raise awareness. It's pretty much our only responsibility as artists, aside from drawing dicks on things. Or you can just accuse me of having bad taste in headwear and maybe of being a hateful racist for good measure because this is the internet after all and when in Rome.
Illustrating hotel bibles for the greater good