Despite much-quoted claims to the contrary, evidence abounds that the sword frequently defeats the pen. If you don't believe me, come to the bustling street in this city where, in plain daylight four years ago, a man named Mohammed Bouyeri cut the throat of Theo Van Gogh, almost severing his head.

The Dutch-born Bouyeri plunged a knife into Van Gogh's body, skewering into him a letter threatening to also kill Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a fierce critic of Islam who had collaborated with Van Gogh on a film about the Quran. The killer, it seems, did not like the film.

Another, similarly disposed art critic brought up Van Gogh's name a few days ago in the United States. Writing on the Web site RevolutionMuslim.com, he threatened a fate equal to what befell Van Gogh's for the creators of South Park, the animated Comedy Central series that makes it a point to offend just about everyone. According to Revolution Muslim, a recent South Park episode depicting the prophet Muhammad (in a bear suit, along with figures from other religions) is a crime punishable by death.

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