by John Hawkins | February 6, 2006 10:00 pm
1. “Freedom of speech doesn’t mean you can insult people’s most cherished beliefs.” Actually, that’s precisely what “freedom of speech” means. If only the most inoffensive opinions are protected, what’s the point?
2. “We have decided not to publish the cartoons out of respect for Islam.” What do you call a newspaper that won’t show images that might offend religious extremists? Highlights for Children. As Paul Canniff said about comments by pro-censorship punk-rocker Warren Kinsella, this is just an attempt to buy cheap fatwa insurance.
3. “You Christians always go nuts when something like “Piss-Christ” turns up, but you expect Muslims to just quietly accept this gross insult to their faith.” Curiously, you never hear people who make this argument suggest that, say, Martin Scorcese was “asking for it” because he should have known people would find The Last Temptation of Christ offensive.
4. “You never see the Pope or Jews caricatured and insulted in this manner.” This argument is usually made by people who simultaneously make argument no. 3. Whatever their virtues, a finely tuned sense of irony is not one of them.
5. “The cartoons were crude and disgusting, and never should have been published in a newspaper.” Some of the cartoons, especially the much-talked-about one showing Muhammed’s turban as a bomb, were certainly provocative – but they were no worse than what regularly gets published in the Western media. (Certainly, compared with the work of psychopath Steve Bell in The Guardian, they were downright restrained.) What’s “crude” about showing a terrified artist, fearful of religious fanatics ready to break down his door and slash his throat, just for drawing a picture of a historical figure? Don’t we have a right – nay, a duty – to satirize the phenomenon of religious fanatics blowing themselves up in crowds of civilians so they can collect eternal nookie?
6. “These cartoons are just like the ones the Nazis used to publish about Jews.” No, actually, these are.
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