Simply put: The Muhammad that's depicted in vile cartoons, showing him with a bomb in his turban, or as a pig, etc., the Muhammad that was depicted during International Draw Muhammad Day, isn't my Muhammad.
My Prophet didn't kill for pleasure or gain; he went to war because he was attacked, his people oppressed. My Muhammad didn't call for the killing of innocent lives; he expressly forbade it. My Muhammad wasn't a paedophile, either.
My Muhammad was a man who, yes, preached Hellfire and brimstone, just as every other Prophet did, but he also preached love and tolerance, charity and forgiveness. Most of the women he married, he married either for political reasons (something very common up through the Victorian era), or because they were widows who had no other means of support. He preached kindness to orphans and widows, moderation in all things. Despite uniting almost all of Arabia before his death, when he died, he had something like a blanket, a bowl, and a spoon to his name.
My Muhammad is a man who would leave his head of state duties, his Prophet obligations, to follow a small girl across town just for her to show him her toys, a man who would then spend some time with the girl, playing with her toys, before returning to his duties. My Muhammad is a man who would comfort a street urchin who's only friend, a parrot, had died. My Muhammad is a man who forbade pictorial depictions of him precisely in order to prevent the horrendous behaviour from my fellow Muslims these days. My Muhammad is a man who always chose peace and mercy.
Therefore, these depictions aren't, and can never be, the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him.
In addition, the people depicting these images aren't Muslim, and therefore the ban doesn't apply to them. They're also living in countries who have free speech laws that allow them to draw almost anything they want, depict whomever they want.
Muslims who freak out, send death threats, carry out those threats, riot, or disrupt public events,
are stupid are doing it wrong. That is not the way of the Prophet, peace be upon him. The Prophet never flew into rages, never threw hissy fits just because someone did something he didn't like. He reacted with kindness, love, and mercy.
So, with much love for my Muslim brothers and sister, please, get the heck over it and shut up. Write all the protesting letters you want. Turn your television off. Stop purchasing newspapers or books that depict the Prophet, peace be upon him. But do not, under any circumstances, resort to violence. That doesn't help Islam's image. It doesn't help people to see that we're not all a bunch of crazy whackjobs.
If you don't want to be stereotyped, don't be stereotypical. It's as simple as that.
I know that love for God and Muhammad, peace be upon him, is an amazing thing. I'm still in the process of falling in love with them. I love the tinglies I get when I relate a heartwarming hadith, when I describe to people how freaking pampered I'll be as a Muslim wife (if I ever get married; only God knows). I'm protective of God and Muhammad, peace be upon him, but I'm also realistic. If I fly off the hook at someone, that reflects badly on the two beings, the God and the Prophet, whom I'm learning to adore, and that's something that I can't stand the thought of. I also know that freedom of speech, in America, is hugely important, and ought to be protected, even if we disagree with what's being said. We live in an ostensibly free country. If we start chipping away at other people's rights, we chip away at our own, until there's nothing left about America that makes it America.
So please, take a halal chill pill and get over it.