Friday, February 03, 2006

Cartoons and Censorship

If you have not heard about the Cartoons originally published in a Danish paper and the outrage from Muslims around the world, you probable don't have electricity in your cave and therefore cannot get online to read this. (Tension Rises Over Cartoons of Muhammad)

I have two things to say about the Cartoons.

First, about the publishment of them. It was stupid, it was offensive, and it was wrong! The paper that published them is a right wing news paper that was not trying to initiate debate or to put forth opinion or commentary. Instead the printing of them was intended to incense and offend Muslims for no other reason other than to incense and offend Muslims.

The paper has every right to publish them. Freedom of speech is elemental. But, that being said, with freedom also comes responsibility. Freedom of speech is for the betterment of the community and if your intention is not for the betterment, but for the degradation of it, then you must act responsible. The cartoons should have never been published in the first place. Not because of government censorship, but because of self censorship.

Second, Muslims around the world need to get a grip. They have every right to be outraged, to be pissed, and to be hurt. Not only did the paper print the likeness of their prophet, which is sacrilegious, but they did it in a derogatory manner. Christians get pissed off all the time when Christianity is presented in a derogatory way. Christians picketed the Brooklyn museum when it displayed a painting of Christ smeared with blood. The Mayor even tried to pull public funding from the museum. Just today, a school teacher in Colorado had to write a letter of apology to parents of 1st and 2nd graders because she showed them a clip of the famous opera Faust, because the parents thought that it glorified Satan. ('Faust' Opera Video Stirs Angry Parents) I think the parents are unbelievably nuts, but they have every right to feel that way.

But Muslims have taken this a step farther. They have kidnapped foreigners and threatened to kill more unless the governments of the respective government apologize and take steps to make sure it never happens again. This is stupid and wrong. They cannot dictate restrictions of speech to the rest of the world, especially through violence. Islamic news papers publish derogatory cartoons of Jews all of the time, but you don't see Israel bombing the news papers.

Every nation in which the cartoons were published should publicly state that the cartoons were offensive and wrong, but firmly state that freedom of speech will not be dictated to them by a gang of thugs. It should be stated that while the governments are embarrassed by the offensive actions of a few of their citizens, there will be no move to stop these or any other publication now, or anytime in the future. (U.S. Calls Muhammad Drawings 'Offensive')


sondjata said...

absolutely wrong on this point.

The publication happened, regardless of the position on the political spectrum, because an author was trying to get pictures for a book on Mohhamed. All the people he went to were afraid to do such a thing because they feared for thier lives in the wake of the execution of Van-Gogh.

Due to this problem, the paper decided to sponsor artwork of Mohammed to see if freedom of expression, meaning the freedom to write that which does not cause human physical harm, has been abridged in Denmark due to fear of reprisal.

Secondly, Mohammed has been drawn or graphically represented by non-Muslims in the past therefore this is nothing new at all.

Thirdly, Anyone, ANYONE who has read the history of Arabia knows that Islam was spread not only by prosylization but also by the sword. This is alllllllll over Arabian history, but most people are ignorant of this history and try to enforce a cleansed history of Islam and Arabia and get mad at people who are willing to stand up and say "enough."

Fourth: This is not only about a Cartoon, England, for one has had to remove cultural icons from various places because Muslims, told them they were offended by them. What were they. Piggy Banks, pictures of piglette from Winnie the Pooh. No sir, this is not about a picture of Mohammed. This is about Cultural and Religious Chauvenism and imperialism. It's wrong when America and Europe does it and it's wrong when Arabia or Muslims do it.

Dingo said...

I know full well that Islam was spread mainly by the sword. As was much of early Christianity through the 17th century. And there is no reason that anyone should have to remove anything, such as a piggy bank because it offends someone. I am not defending that.

That being said, the posting was still done to incense and offend. The cartoons were not even dignified representations of him. As for fear of reprisal. Do you think anyone in America would be jumping at the chance to draw a derogatory cartoon of MLK? Maybe on top of his mistress? Of course not. It would be tasteless, wrong and utterly offensive. There would not be the fear of death, but there would definitely be there fear of civil reprisal. The paper did not need to publish them to make the point that you claim.

Callimachus said...

Dingo, have you actually seen the offending drawings? In case not, they are here:

I can't see anything particularly offensive about most of them, though I'm not a Muslim. Some are provocative, some are benign, most of the provocative ones seem to address conditions in the modern world vis a vis Islam and the West.

Exactly where in these do you see "stupid," "offensive," and "wrong"? Where is the equivalent of MLK astride his mistress?

If not, then your argument boils down to "right-wingers can't say this" (but left-wingers can?). That's not a free speech argument at all.

"Freedom of speech is for the betterment of the community" and part of that is the need to confront that which makes people too uncomfortable to speak its name -- right? Isn't that a message we liberals have been pushing for years?

You speak of Muslims "getting a grip," as though this were a personality disorder. It's not them individually, its their religion, which has such rages and violence built into its core texts.

So does Judaism, but the theological nature of Judaism has allowed human hands to shape and soften the messages over the years to take them out of the Dark Ages and into the modern world. In Islam, the text itself is glittering and diamond-hard word of Allah, in a book that has sat beneath his throne, perfect and intact, since the dawn of creation. The book never changes.

An uncomfortable fact, but that doesn't mean it can;t be allowed to be said.

Gun-Toting Liberal said...

Interesting points, Dingo. I'm beginning to wonder if this is becoming a serious powder keg, i.e., the beginning of a Holy war between the Muslim community and Western freedom of speech and expression. I hope not, but it wouldn't surprise me.

Blog ON...

Dingo said...


I have seen the cartoons. I don't think they warrant anything more than a sharp, "that is really offensive." One of the issues is that it if forbidden in Islam to draw any picutres of Mohammad. It would be like bringing a golden calf into a temple or church and worshiping it.

And, i think that you are missing my point on freedom of speech. Just because we have a right to say or print something, doesn't mean we are right to do it. I would have the same criticism of images of Crist. I would be offended. I would think that the publisher would have been wrong to do it. But I would also still defend the right of that publication to do it.

We do not have the right not to be offended. But we do have the right to speak out when we are. We also have the obligation not to offend just to offend.