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February 03, 2006

Comments

1) Linking to Michele Malkin

2) The use of "these guys" Does that include Sistani? A rhetorical device that would perhaps violate posting rules if used here, and one I play with constantly.

3) I am going to absent myself a while, in order to come up with an "Aristocrats" type story involving baby Jesus, Mary, the three wise men, and the barnyard animals. I am sure you will have no objections.

Well, of course the press has the right to publish the cartoons. I can still say it was bad judgment. That doesn't mean the threats of violent jihad are OK, mind you.

I was always taught not to go around offending people. Of course, if someone is super-sensitive, sometimes you can't help it, and you shouldn't let their problems control how you live your life. But really, for a paper to refrain from printing blasphemous images of Muhammad, that's not a huge sacrifice for them to make. I agree that if you followed the slippery slope to say "you shouldn't publish anything that could offend anyone, ever" then yeah, that's going too far. But you shouldn't use that as an excuse to needlessly antagonize.

I condemn the violence, as I'm sure we all do, but it disturbs me how the right-wing blogosphere has used these irrational acts as an excuse to become pro-antagonism, publishing and republishing the cartoons every chance they get. I don't know about you, but if I see a crazy person on the subway, I don't sit down next to them and start poking them with a stick.

From the article: "Anti-Muslim images are as unacceptable as anti-Semitic images, as anti-Christian images or any other religious belief," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters.

I take it, von, that you'll next be denouncing the people who are denouncing the president of Iran for his various anti-Semitisms.

OT: http://nationaljournal.com/about/njweekly/stories/2006/0203nj4.htm>This is one of three new National Journal articles on our mini-gulag. I can't find a link to the Stuart Taylor piece that is in the same issue.

VVon, one of the cartoons depicted Muhammad with a missle coming out of his head, meaning that Islam is an evil religion and that all Muslims are violent. How would Christians feel if someone published a cartoon that showed Jesus shoving Jews into ovens or torturing people for the Inquisition? The only reason Christians wouldn't scream for blood is that they don't have too--they have power, they have respect, they have no basis for feeling persecuted. They'd do their best to get the editor fired and, in this country, they'd use it as a campaign issue against Democrats who had nothing to do with it for decades. No need for real rage, just the faux kind.
If I had been the publisher, I would not have published the cartoons, not out of fear, but because I dislike bigotry and the cartoons are bigoted.
The people screaming that they want to kill are no more or less evil than the people who screamed at the black teens who integrated the Little Rock high school or the Irish thugs who beat up a Pakistani immigrant in Dungarvan last week. There are lots of people who are as "evil" as the enraged protesters. Are all of them our enemy, or only the Muslim ones? What about the Red Staters who think it is ok to kill Iranian civilians with airstrikes? What about Ann Coutlter who thinks it is ok to joke about poisoning a Supreme Court Justice?
Are all people who threaten violence when they are mad evil, or only the ones that are Muslim?

One thing that's being missed here, aside from the fact that you shouldn't poke a crazy man with a stick: this argument that the cartoons are to be celebrated relies on an assumption that there are only two types of people in the world:

(1) Crazy fundamentalist Muslims, the sort who riot and issue fatwas over a cartoon; and

(2) Normal people, who see nothing offensive about these cartoons.

Nowhere in this equation will you find the possibility that there may be some ordinary, peaceful Muslims who aren't out there in the street rioting, but still take offense at these cartoons. I don't see how those people are any different than the ordinary, peaceful folks who thought that anti-Rumsfeld political cartoon was out of line the other day.

Of course, this isn't surprising from folks like MM who don't really believe there is such a thing as a peaceful Muslim, but I think Von is better than that.

I'm inclined, given that the cartoons in question weren't intended to give offense but rather to explore the question of aniconism and free speech, to side with von here. For similar reasons I think the govt should stay the bleep away from criticizing Tom Toles.

I agree.

Given the uproar about the Muslim cartoons, I wanted to invite you to see "Ugly" Jesus... he's not "Pretty" or "GQ"... www.uglyjesus.com Does Jesus care how he was depicted, or even that he was depicted in art?

Sincerely,
Ray Charles Istre
www.uglyjesus.com

Steve: Nowhere in this equation will you find the possibility that there may be some ordinary, peaceful Muslims who aren't out there in the street rioting, but still take offense at these cartoons.

Or, you know, ordinary, peaceful non-Muslims who aren't out in the street rioting, but who still feel there's something wrong with publishing a cartoon deliberately to be that offensive and then complaining that the people whom you intended to offend are, indeed, taking offense.

Let's be clear about this: this was not some random cartoonist being funny. This was intentional, deliberate, how-offensive-can-we-be cartooning. And while I support the right of Jyllands-Posten, or indeed anyone else, to be as offensive as they like in a non-violent manner, it is surely arrogant and stupid then to protest that you don't like how the people you deliberately tried to offend are taking offense.

Eh. I feel more or less the way I do when someone asks me whether the fact that I support free speech means that I don't have a problem with -- well, pick your own favorite example of appalling speech you'd be willing to defend. I don't much like either the would-be censors or the people who insist on becoming the censors' stereotypical opponents.

The moment someone actually engages in violence is the moment I start entertaining words like 'evil', let alone 'enemy'. Someone who is marching in anger, without engaging in violence, is not my enemy. (Not on those grounds, at least.)

Rilke: given that the cartoons in question weren't intended to give offense

You mean, not to real people? Only to Muslims?

Of course the cartoons were intended to give offense. They were commissioned in the sure knowledge that they would be offensive.

Shall we discuss how the US Senate as a body vehemently defended Piss Christ?

I'm all for not being gratuitously offensive, but still, people: threats of kidnapping, violence, and murder? Are these people we should be defending?

Message to protesting Muslims: Not everyone shares your religion. And when you go batsh*t over some stupid infidel's stupid drawings, you're not making any converts.

That said, concur with Steve about the wingnuts' glee at these events, not least in the increasingly repulsive David Bernstein's last little hate-screed.

The problem is that people like MM seem to think they are actually participating in a war from behind their computer screens ("America go to hell!" "No, YOU go to hell!"), where their ammunition consists of republishing these cartoons as many times as possible, just so they can drive the extremists into as much of a rage as possible, which of course will establish that MM and friends were right all along to act as they did. And after poking the crazy person with a stick 100 times, they'll say "well, we can't stop NOW just because he's really enraged, that would be appeasement!" And on with the poking.

I totally agree that anyone who would riot over a cartoon is not rational. Why can't we be content to just let them put on an ugly face, without putting on an ugly face of our own? This is how we lose the battle for hearts and minds - normal Muslims look at this kind of rioting, or violence like 9/11, and they are disgusted, but then they look at our reaction and decide, rightly or wrongly, that we're even worse. It's not smart.

Hilzoy: The moment someone actually engages in violence is the moment I start entertaining words like 'evil', let alone 'enemy'. Someone who is marching in anger, without engaging in violence, is not my enemy.

FWIW: According to Wiki, no one has (yet) engaged in violence, though reportedly several death threats have been made. (I am not on the side of anyone issuing death threats, not for anything: but as Steve observes, this is not a you're-with-us-or-you're-against-us situation.) All other response from Islamic nations and individual Muslims would appear to be legitimate protest: the cartoons were deliberately offensive, and Muslims and Islamic countries have taken offense.

Still working on it:

Baby Jesus is giggling over the transformation of various fluids into other fluids, Mary is upside down on an X-shaped crucifix with a donkey and two wise men. In a sly allusion to popular culture, Mary keeps saying:"But I'm a virgin!" Joseph is selling tickets.

I am calling it:"Rangier in the Manger" Any one offended is the enemy and evil.

Jes: "You mean, not to real people? Only to Muslims?"

No playing the race-card, please.

Steve, interesting that you bring up the Anti-Rumsfeld cartoon, as the same people who seem to be most voiceferously defending the rights of the Mohammed cartoonist tossed a nutty about that comic without even acknowledging the contradiction.

Anderson, I've almost stopped going to Volokh because of Bernstein, and especially the fact that all his posts are commentless drive-buys.

Well, actually, MM said it's a false equivalency because writing a letter to the WaPo is not the same as rioting in the streets. However, as to that, see my comment above.

I quit Volokh because of Zywicki (I think his Kennedy = McCarthy post was the last straw) but Bernstein is no prize either. Would you believe, I gave him some great free legal advice for an NASD arbitration, and barely got a thank-you.

I don't think most of the crowds protesting are evil so much as I think they're acting like complete suckers.

I resent being forced to be even partially on Michelle Malkin's side about anything.

Steve,

Oh man, I forgot about that Kennedy-McCarthy post. That was a joy. (And I also made the mistake of trying to defend Bill Maher. I'm not sure I actually got threatened, but I was told that that 'firebombing my house might be going too far', or something along those lines)

"I totally agree that anyone who would riot over a cartoon is not rational."

Chris on a popsicle stick, after five years of war do I have to explain the Islamic prohibition against depictions of Muhammed? It is not fashion, the anti-idolotry goes to the very core of their monotheism. It is a very well-reasoned, historically rich theological and philosophical position. I ain't exactly new, and it is not directly based on antagonism to the West or modernism.

Part 1:The Arrival

It was a dark and stormy night as the Holy Family arrived at Bethelehem. But it was a Holy Day, and They arrived so late there was no longer any room at the inn.

"Damn tourists", the donkey told Joseph. I hungry and horny and this cow on my back weighs a ton."

Joseph:"Shut up, ass. Herod has promised me a talent for the little bastard, and as soon as the trollope drops it she is all yours. I wouldn't touch her with Caesar's ****."

Mary:"But Joseph, I keep telling you, I was always faithful. It was the tricky pidgeon. I am a virgin!"

Most telling is this image, where Human Events Online (apparently) annotated one of the offending cartoons thus:

Lars Refn's drawing did not feature "the Prophet" but a Danish schoolboy, Mohammad, who wrote on the blackboard in Persian: "Jyllands-Posten's journalists are a bunch of reactionary provocateurs."

We think Lars Refn is a coward, who does not understand the seriousness of the Muslim threat to free speech.

See, this is what I am talking about. Are the only two choices (1) poke the crazy man with a stick, or (2) be a coward? If you know you can get someone to behave irrationally by commiting an innocuous act, are you really a coward if you say "no, I'd rather not start something"?

I sort of fear that MM's goal is to draw "those people" out so they may be extinguished in holy fire. I don't know why anyone would choose to pick this fight.

bob, should the aniconic Jews have rioted over the Sistine chapel? Should the aniconic Muslims riot over pictures of it? Should you be banned for writing out G*d's name?

Bob, good point, but if they riot about non-muslims doing something aren't they engaging in just the sort of cultural imperialism that they constantly accuse us of?

I quit Volokh because of Zywicki

In case you didn't know, you can add an argument to the url to screen out certain Volokh posters:

http://volokh.com/?exclude=davidb,todd

In case it's the principle of the thing that keeps you away, nevermind.

as the same people who seem to be most voiceferously defending the rights of the Mohammed cartoonist tossed a nutty about that comic without even acknowledging the contradiction.

Yes, but I've seen plenty of the reverse contradiction as well.

Rilke: No playing the race-card, please.

No quoting from HOCB on ObWing. The meta gets too much for me.

The Jewish commandment against writing the name of G*d is one among many.

The Islamic opposition to idolatry and representations is the origin (Muhammed's first acts in Mecca) and very meaning of the religion. "Piss Christ" or my manger-porn nowhere near approaches in offensiveness to these deliberately provocative cartoons.

Islamic monotheism goes so far, is so profound and total, as to be a committed anti-idealism. "Freedom" and "Patriotism" are possibly idols. The "Law" is dynamically interpreted because any fixed reading of the Koran is idolatry. The Koran may not be translated because that would be an image. These cartoons, make no mistake, is an attack and attempt at the destruction of Islam itself. It will not survive imagism anymore than Christianity could survive the loss of the Resurrection.

Von's disrespect and contempt for other pious people's beliefs is astonishing. What did he find so objectionable in the WH statement? The verbal overreaction of a few justifies the total genocide of a culture? Who are "These people"?

The tone was as horrible, more horrible, than my manger-porn. For I do not wish harm to all Christians, and everyone knows my blasphemy offends myself as much as it might offend believers, tho perhaps for different reasons. The lack of empathy displayed in the worst post I have ever seen on Obsidian wings...

So let's see if I've got the reasoning right, here:

1. Deliberately stick hand into nest that you know is full of hornets, many of which are likely to get quite upset.
2. Get stung by a bunch of the hornets, who reacted exactly as you predicted they would to having a hand thrust in their nest.
3. Smugly sit back, and in your best Homer Simpson voice, say, "Heh heh heh! Stupid hornets! I'm smarter than you! Sting away!"

Brilliant.

I don't think most of the crowds protesting are evil so much as I think they're acting like complete suckers.

Bingo. And this provides cover for the imams and the ayatollahs to stir them up even more. It's the Muslim equivalent of a Dr. James Dobson screen about Nip/Tuck or some crap.

Message to protesting Muslims: Not everyone shares your religion. And when you go batsh*t over some stupid infidel's stupid drawings, you're not making any converts.

Oh, but they will make some converts, see, because some of the, as Steve puts it, "ordinary, peaceful Muslims who aren't out there in the street rioting," will read something much like von's post here, or that loathesome piece of Bernstein garbage, and decide that if that's how they're going to be treated, they'll just become the other kind.

"These cartoons, make no mistake, is an attack and attempt at the destruction of Islam itself."

Whenever I see someone write "make no mistake" (usually in a right-wing screed, but maybe the phrase has metastasized), it's likely I'm reading someone wildly mistaken.

When you go spray-paint these images, I'll take you seriously.

Von, just a question.

Let's suppose that I walk into your local Catholic church, just as the priest is breaking the bread. While the parishioners are lining up to receive communion, I go up to the altar, grab the consecrated bread and wine, fling both to the floor, and pour a flask of urine over them.

Then I walk out and write up my actions in a thousand-word column which is syndicated across the US, asserting that what I did was simply the assertion of the right to freedom of expression. My column is repeated, reprinted, and linked to all kinds of anti-Catholic material: the general expression in the US is of praise for freedom of expression and condemnation of the Catholic church for standing against freedom of expression.

This is the question: Would you then define and refer to protesting Catholics as:

But, make no mistake: These guys are the enemy. They are, to use the old word, evil. You can't accommodate them.
If not, why not?

I do no harm to anyone by my act, no more than these Danish cartooners have harmed anyone. All I did was take some bread and some wine, spill it on the floor, and spill some urine over the mess - as an act of free expression. I even sent a check to the church to pay for cleaning up the mess. Clearly, any Catholic objection to this is just not acceptable. To hell with them. Let people do the same thing fifty times a day in Catholic churches round the world for the next thirty years. Let the Catholics scream. It's the sound of freedom, baby.

Right, Von?

Lots to possibly comment on here, but I'm feeling exhausted, and won't for now. A couple: Observation on Malkin's opinion about offensive cartoons here. Further comment from me in comments there.

Jes: "You mean, not to real people? Only to Muslims?"

No playing the race-card, please.

As is often the case, I'm baffled as to whether you are trying to do some kind of irony, or kidding, or what. You're not seriously suggesting that there's a Muslim "race," I assume, so what this means beats me. Perhaps that's just me, and it's clear to everyone else.

Well, I hope no one ever discovers my copy of "Cartoon History of the Universe Part III."

As far as the "sound of freedom", I would like to call the following excerpts from the National Journal articles Charley posted to everyone's attention. I know I really shouldn't be either doing a blatant threadjack or posting something this long. But, well, read:

On October 21, 2005, Farouq went before the Administrative Review Board, whose officers are charged with assessing whether an enemy combatant still presents a threat to America. As it happened, Farouq's attorneys were in Guantanamo that day, but his request that they be allowed to accompany him was denied.

The board told Farouq that a new piece of evidence had turned up against him, he later told his lawyers. Somebody had said, at some point in the past four years, that they had heard the name "Farouq" over a walkie-talkie during the battle of Tora Bora."
....

"Much of the evidence against the detainees is weak. One prisoner at Guantanamo, for example, has made accusations against more than 60 of his fellow inmates; that's more than 10 percent of Guantanamo's entire prison population. The veracity of this prisoner's accusations is in doubt after a Syrian prisoner, Mohammed al-Tumani, 19, who was arrested in Pakistan, flatly denied to his Combatant Status Review Tribunal that he'd attended the jihadist training camp that the tribunal record said he did.

Tumani's denial was bolstered by his American "personal representative," one of the U.S. military officers -- not lawyers -- who are tasked with helping prisoners navigate the tribunals. Tumani's enterprising representative looked at the classified evidence against the Syrian youth and found that just one man -- the aforementioned accuser -- had placed Tumani at the terrorist training camp. And he had placed Tumani there three months before the teenager had even entered Afghanistan. The curious U.S. officer pulled the classified file of the accuser, saw that he had accused 60 men, and, suddenly skeptical, pulled the files of every detainee the accuser had placed at the one training camp. None of the men had been in Afghanistan at the time the accuser said he saw them at the camp.

The tribunal declared Tumani an enemy combatant anyway. "

...

""There is no smoking gun," said John Chandler, a partner in the Atlanta office of Sutherland Asbill & Brennan. One of his Guantanamo clients, picked up in Pakistan, is designated an enemy combatant in part because he once traveled on a bus with wounded Taliban soldiers in Afghanistan. The prisoner denies it, saying it was only a public bus. But then there's the prisoner's Casio watch. According to the Defense Department files, his watch is similar to another Casio model that has a circuit board that Al Qaeda has used for making bombs. The United States is using the Qaeda-favored Casio wristwatch as evidence against at least nine other detainees. But the offending model is sold in sidewalk stands around the world and is worn by one National Journal reporter. The primary difference between Chandler's client's watch and the Casio in question is that the detainee's model hasn't been manufactured for years, according to the U.S. military officer who was his personal representative at the tribunal."

....

"One man slammed his hands on the table during an especially long interrogation and yelled, "Fine, you got me; I'm a terrorist." The interrogators knew it was a sarcastic statement. But the government, sometime later, used it as evidence against him: "Detainee admitted he is a terrorist" reads his tribunal evidence. The interrogators were so outraged that they sought out the detainee's personal representative to explain it to him that the statement was not a confession.

A Yemeni, whom somebody fingered as a bin Laden bodyguard, finally said in exasperation during one long interrogation, "OK, I saw bin Laden five times: Three times on Al Jazeera and twice on Yemeni news." And now his "admission" appears in his enemy combatant's file: "Detainee admitted to knowing Osama bin Laden."

"It will not survive imagism anymore than Christianity could survive the loss of the Resurrection."

That's what the Church said about the sacrements, and the Tr*n*t*, and married priests.

And I guess you're on the side of the Scientologists trying to keep the deep tenets of their faith private, and the 7th-Day Adventists' right to prevent their children from receiving blood transfusions, and ...

Also note that there have been reactions in the Islamic world to the effect of, "Chill."

Von's post is deeply problematic, and one of the least thought-out I've seen him make. I suspect Updates will be coming, but we'll see.

"Heck, if I can live with a couple of throw-backs to the 1930s marching on Skokie and I can live with a bunch of throw-backs to the fifth century marching in London. But, make no mistake: These guys are the enemy. They are, to use the old word, evil. You can't accommodate them."

What, all Muslims who are upset or protest? I doubt you mean that, but this is deeply careless writing. I expect you actually want to draw a line and only would really mean this of those who actually either commit violence or threaten it, but not drawing a careful line between those who "take to the streets" and those who "threaten violent jihad over a friggin' cartoon" is not a great approach, I suggest.

More later.

"I don't know about you, but if I see a crazy person on the subway, I don't sit down next to them and start poking them with a stick."

This, on the other hand, is a just terrible analogy. Freedom of speech and freedom of the press are critically important values, and the Muslim world, like the rest of the world, has to learn to deal with the need for these freedoms (how different countries should approach them is a complicated subject I have opinions about, but will leave elaboration upon for another time when I'm not so tired).

Yet, somehow, these values, which are the root of the controversy, manage to not show up in the above analogy, which is why it utterly and completely fails.

Gary, let's just say I was speaking metaphorically - I intended to convey that the remark I was responding to was an appeal to prejudice. I couldn't come up with a direct reply consistent with the posting rules. (Other indirect responses I considered would have been more obscure and likely to lead to a fight.)

"For similar reasons I think the govt should stay the bleep away from criticizing Tom Toles."

I think that free speech includes that of government officials, and that the Joint Chiefs are as entitled to have opinions and to express them as anyone else. An official statement from the DoD would be a different matter; perhaps you see no distinction there (probably so), but I do.

I also don't find writing letters to the editor over the line for anyone, or threatening in the least, but I'm sure that perception depends upon one's either level of paranoia or sensitivity, depending upon how you look at it. I don't think it's a start on a downhill slope to surrounding the Washington Post building with troops, but YMMV and likely does.

"What, all Muslims who are upset or protest?"

Gary, note the first sentence of the paragraph, traditionally the most important one. The one you snipped.

The statement was under an official letterhead, unless I'm mistaken.

Beyond that, I think I'm willing to accept some restrictions on statements by officials of the govt, esp concerning the press, esp when the latter is criticizing the former.

http://muttawa.blogspot.com/
Some of you might be interested in this web site. Start from the post of 27 January. These cartoon were first printed in Sept 2005. Why did it take so long for the Muslim powers that be (mptb) to follow this up. I am inclined to think that Alhamedi has it right that it is an excuse by said authorities to control the millions. I think that we are reacting in just the way the mptb expected, and that we are furthering their agenda for them. Especially when our govts get involved.
Freedom of speech is extremely important to our way of life(i hate that phrase, cant' think of better though), but offending others just for the sake of it does seem a tad childish.
I have been waiting for you guys to post on this issue. I admire the opinions, posts and comments, on this site and have been hoping to see you cover it. It is a topic that is certainly mixing it up among the blogospere.

Well, Gary, I'm sorry you don't like my analogy, but I see it as pure baiting. Baiting that people have a right to engage in, but still baiting.

Sometimes conflicts between values like free speech and beliefs like the Muslim proscription against idolatry are unavoidable. But that doesn't mean we should praise people who go around manufacturing such conflicts when they're completely avoidable.

"Let's suppose that I walk into your local Catholic church, just as the priest is breaking the bread. While the parishioners are lining up to receive communion, I go up to the altar, grab the consecrated bread and wine, fling both to the floor, and pour a flask of urine over them."

Jes won't respond to me, but I'll nonetheless point out the vital distinction between speech and violent action. One, it turns out, is not at all like the other.

Proper and reasonable and acceptable response to being offended by speech: more speech, protest, boycott, march. All appropriate. Threats of violence is not, actual violence is not.

These are, certainly, Western values. And if people want to live in countries that don't accept those values, I think they have the right to do so, and to make their own laws based upon other values, as long as every individual in that society, women and men alike, under any circumstance save being imprisoned for criminal acts (this can get tricky if they make speech offenses a criminal offense, of course), is free to leave that country.

That's the very short nutshell version of my opinion.

I think that free speech includes that of government officials, and that the Joint Chiefs are as entitled to have opinions and to express them as anyone else.

Now see, that's just wrong. You might as well argue that Judge Roy Moore has freedom of religion and therefore gets to hang the Ten Commandments in his courtroom if he wants to. The Joint Chiefs didn't make a statement as private citizens, they made it as official government actors. That said, I think the WaPo can take it.

"Gary, let's just say I was speaking metaphorically - I intended to convey that the remark I was responding to was an appeal to prejudice."

Okay. I suspect I still am vague on your precise meaning, but that at least gives me a general idea of your intent, which is a vast step forward from complete bafflement. Thanks.

Jes won't respond to me, but I'll nonetheless point out the vital distinction between speech and violent action. One, it turns out, is not at all like the other.

Yes, with the understanding that the speech that was engaged in in this particular case is considered by the parties on the receiving end, to a certain degree, to be "violent action" insofar as the very act of making it is blasphemous in a very key and core way. It's less like Jes's example and more like . . . I don't know, wearing a t-shirt that says GOD in big block letters to Shabbos.

Mark LeVine, quoted by the Toronto Star:

"I utterly support freedom of speech and I'm against any censorship, but then again, just because speech is free and permitted, doesn't necessarily mean you should go around uttering it.

"You can also go around screaming "n*gger" at black people. It's legal I suppose, why does that mean you should do it though?"

Actual violence against property (no one hurt so far) in Indonesia.

For an example of the cartoons printed in Arabic newspapers
http://hurryupharry.bloghouse.net/archives/cat_international.html#005061

I find myself, as usual, focussing on Von's title. 'No Retreat' suggests to me that someone picked a fight with someone else and because we don't like the other side, we can't back down. Not sure about the intelligence of that.

I am also left to wonder why we must (though I don't know if Von has not stated this sentiment, so this shouldn't be considered a dig at him) consider the religious sentiments of the people who oppose all abortion, but cannot respect the feelings of those who feel that portraying their god in a blasphemous manner is a sin.

As for my personal reaction to all this, it is that other people who I have no control over and whose views got themselves into a fight, and they should come up with a solution that works. Not that I have ever been an isolationist, but I don't think that the US can step into these debates anymore.

Von:

I'm with you on this one. And if you look at appropriate Kos threads, so are a lot of Kossacks. And the backstory is pretty interesting: these were published as some sort of contest/protest about Islamic threats to illustrators.


Gary F:
There is perhaps a difference between a newspaper picture and pissing in the communion? And perpahs there's a right way and a wrong way to protest it? The EU is not responsible for what some newspaper in Denmark publishes. They have no business regulating to that degree. The right people to complain to are the newspaper.

The reponse by the US State Department, however, ain't one of them:

"These cartoons are indeed offensive to the belief of Muslims," State Department spokesman Kurtis Cooper said in answer to a question.

"We all fully recognize and respect freedom of the press and expression but it must be coupled with press responsibility. Inciting religious or ethnic hatreds in this manner is not acceptable."

Sure why not, it's not like the State Department is trying to get favors from any Muslim government, like donating troops for Iraq. Let's go Chuck Norris on them all, because they're all the enemy. Bring it on.

"Gary F:
There is perhaps a difference between a newspaper picture and pissing in the communion? And perpahs there's a right way and a wrong way to protest it?"

You seem to be confusing me with Jesurgislac.

To clarify, perhaps, what von *might* be trying to say (please do correct me if I'm mistaken here):

The violent/nonviolent distinction, while important, is something of a side issue in the instant case. What is objectionable about even the peaceful anti-cartoon protesters and boycotters isn't the means of their protest, but the scope of their target. They're not simply blaming the newspaper in question for publishing a stupid and offensive caricature of their prophet. They're blaming *Denmark as a whole* for being a country where such caricatures are *legally publishable*. They're marching against institutions and boycotting companies that had nothing to do with the cartoons at all, because they hold those institutions and companies collectively responsible for the allowability of the caricatures in the West.

They are, in short, expressing hatred of us for our freedoms. And I say this as someone who generally believes that the whole "they hate us for our freedoms" thing is a self-serving, jingoistic bunch of BS. But in this very particular instance that's what we have.

Peaceful protesters may often be the subject of rightful opprobrium. When Fred Phelps and his crew go around with their "God Hates Fags" signs, they're engaging in nonviolent protest of something they find offensive, and they have every right to do so. But they're still a disgusting bunch of scumbags and should be condemned as such by all civilized people.

Just like these cartoons were so great?

I mean, if you don't support the [original context] publication of things like this, you're hypocritical.

"I mean, if you don't support...."

"Support" as in "defend the content of" or as in "defend the right not to be firebombed because of" or as in "defend the right to publish"?

BAGnewsNotes has the cartoons.

rilkefan: hope you don't become a target for your "these images" link in your 8:07 post (bravo for that link, by the way).

And we think we've got wingnuts!

The more I think about it, the more I disagree with two parts of von's post:

(1): "But, make no mistake: These guys are the enemy. They are, to use the old word, evil." As used in the post above, about people who are marching: that is, exercising the same right to free speech that we're supposedly defending.

I have, in my time, protested against published things that I found objectionable. I wasn't advocating that publishing those things be banned; just expressing my vehement disapproval using the same freedom that I would defend for them, and will defend both for the cartoonists and for those who are protesting. (I did try to make this clear at the time.)

(2): "To hell with them. Publish that cartoon fifty times a day for the next thirty years. Let 'em scream. It's the sound of freedom, baby."

Let's be clear: this is a completely predictable fight that has, so far, followed completely predictable lines. Cartoons get published. Muslims get offended, and are whipped up into a lather. Michelle Malkin et al get all offended by the offense, and start protesting by putting the cartoons up all over their websites.

And on and on it goes; and all the while all of us are living up to the others' worst stereotyped views, and very few people are saying: wait. It's wrong to needlessly and pointlessly offend other people. This is rude when you do it to, say, your hosts at a party, and it doesn't somehow become right when you do it to an entire religion. It's also one of those wrong things, like being a jerk or abusing a friendship, that should never be made illegal, since the "cure" would be vastly worse than the disease. We support freedom of speech, and we support tact and politeness, and we wish only the best to Muslims, and so much the worse for those on both sides who want to have cardboard cutout views of anyone.

"Publish that cartoon fifty times a day for the next thirty years. Let 'em scream" is just participating in this ugly game. I have been sticking up for freedom of speech for decades, and so far I have managed to do so without feeling the slightest temptation to reproduce and make available to others speech I dislike, like (say) Larry Flynt's famous Hustler cover with the woman being fed through the meat grinder, or the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, or neo-Nazi garbage.

Besides, they aren't even very good cartoons. The only one that comes close to being funny if the one about the virgin shortage, and even it wasn't all that close. (Though it would have been if 'virgins' had been crossed out, and 'grapes' written over it. Or possibly if there were some suicide bombers holding a plate of grapes and looking perplexed and disappointed.)

To hell with them. Publish that cartoon fifty times a day for the next thirty years. Let 'em scream. It's the sound of freedom, baby.

you know what... this is pretty close to how i feel every time some idiot fundie gets upset about the latest Will and Grace episode, or the latest Spongebob outrage, or the latest rap single, or the latest Michael Moore appearance, or the latest Gay Cowboys Eating Pudding movie.

and ya know what else? what i think about it doesn't matter, because people who enjoy exploiting it know that stuff like that can be used to inflame even to expand The Base, and that's a valuable political tool. and that's the problem with politics....

et no, les pédants, i'm not equating Muslim and Xtian fundies. so you can preemptively stuff that particular response.

hilzoy: surely you're not saying that, in your opinion, the satire of political cartoons "needlessly and pointlessly offend(s) other people..."

or are you?

Nah. Couldn't be. Must be my misunderstanding.

Anybody know for sure whether NBC's new series "The Book of Daniel" has really been cancelled? Just asking.

xanax: the cartoons wouldn't be needless if they made an actual point. But, like I said, they aren't even funny.

(1): "But, make no mistake: These guys are the enemy. They are, to use the old word, evil." As used in the post above, about people who are marching: that is, exercising the same right to free speech that we're supposedly defending.

It's not the demonstrations (which remind me of reaction to the fake flushing Korans down the toilet story). Or even the demand that the Govwrnment of Denmark stop the newspapers from printing what they please (which reveals a difference in attitude about free speech between the protesting nations and free countries like Denmark). But it is the threat or urging by Hizbollah to enact suicide bombing in Denmark and Norway, the taking of hostages by Hamas (I believe that they are freed now), that is the problem.

You see, even the most conservative American or European basically believes in certain liberal ideals that cranks and oddballs and offensive ideas should be tolerated, if only to test whether the common ideals make sense. Yes, publishing the cartoons was a stunt to see if Muslims could adapt to Danish society. Perhaps it was not so gentle a challenge. But I'm with Von here. If you believe in Western liberal values, it is plainly incompatible to allow extremist Islamic groups to dictate the laws and customs of your country. Look, some of the most extremist Muslim religious leaders in UK, Norway and elsewhere, cannot be deported because they have supported terrorist acts in the countries of their origin. How crazy is that?

hilzoy: surely you're not saying that, in your opinion, the satire of political cartoons "needlessly and pointlessly offend(s) other people..."

or are you?

Nah. Couldn't be. Must be my misunderstanding.

I speak for myself, and not at all for Hilzoy, but I'd say that certainly some cartoons might and many others wouldn't.

How could it possibly be otherwise? Is there some rule that it's impossible to draw&write a cartoon that "needlessly and pointlessly offend(s) other people..."?

Obviously not. People are able to create witty satire, and people are able to create pointlessly stupid and offensive satire. And views on which are which are subjective.

Someone who isn't offended by a satire of Islam, or offended by a drawing that simply depicts the Prophet Muhummad, might, perhaps, be offended by a cartoon from Ted Rall.

Not that that has ever happened.

Or they might be offended by a drawing of an American soldier with no limbs. You never know. Well, okay, mostly you do, actually.

DaveC: "But it is the threat or urging by Hizbollah to enact suicide bombing in Denmark and Norway, the taking of hostages by Hamas (I believe that they are freed now), that is the problem."

I could be wrong, but I don't actually think you'll get much argument here on that point.

I don't know, hil. I expect, as a base line standard, that political cartoons be at least thought-provoking. If they are, in my opinion they've succeeded and hence are are not "needless". If they happen also to be funny, that's a bonus. I find most of the cartoons in this "series" at least minimally thought-provoking. So I guess we just disagree on this one (had to happen eventually, I suppose).

xanax: "had to happen eventually"? were you, perhaps, under the impression that it had never happened before?

(ducks)

hilzoy: "they aren't even funny"

Was just arguing with John Cole on exactly the same point in the Toles context. I can't see how that's relevant. Their needfulness arose from the children's lit controversy and the question of how liberty and religion can coexist. I see the cartoons as art (if perhaps not very good art) in response to that. I would guess Edward's agreement above comes from the same reasoning. Here's his excellent post on the subject, incidentally.

Well, now that you mention it, I did think you were a bit soft on your pal with her pods and miscellany strewn about your yard. But other than that I'm pretty much just one - among the alarming and ever expanding legions - of hilzoy fanatics out here in blog-o-space... and I tend to break pretty much right down the hilzoy party line. Of course, (though I've given you precious little to disagree with me about - on this blog, at least), YMMV.

Um. Never looked at Edward's artblog comments before. I have a personal block about some of his formatting choices that make it extremely difficult to get past that to get to the content. Ugh. This is my problem, not his, of course.

(Utterly inappropriate use of ellipses makes it literally mentally painful for me; having them introduce each comment feels like repeatedly having claws raked across my face with each comment; the lack of identification by either e-mail or URL of anyone commenting also bugs me; as I said, my problem, not his; it's, however, a purely subjective reaction, and not one it would be useful for anyone to attempt to argue me out of.)

I'm a little sad he wouldn't cross-post a post like that here, though. It's not as if it's about some esoteric art point not of general interest.

Josh Marshall has an interesting take on this. He also points to a Talk of the Town column in the New Yorker that is worth reading.

Those cartoons don't seem so offensive to me, but then I thought the Satanic Verses wasn't particularly insulting (it's a fantasy, for goodness sake). There is one scene in it that is clearly a dig at Ayatollah Khomeini. I seem to recall that Khomeini issued the fatwa against Salman Rushdie without having read the book. I wonder whether all these protesters have seen the cartoons.

Cartoon #2 (two women in abayas, a man with a sword and his eyes blacked out as if by the eye strip cut from an abaya) is interesting, but like Michael Shaw I don't know quite what to make of it.

It's true that elementary manners mean not offending for the sake of offending.

But my reaction to this story is a lot like my reaction to the fatwah issued against Salman Rushdie: anger, disgust, and scorn - this time, for the fools burning flags and calling for mass murder.

I can certainly sympathize with the newspapers' impulse to publish a spate of cartoons. Yes, it's a raspberry to the Muslim world. But it's also a defiant gesture that they will not be intimidated.

Remembering Rushie again, I was outraged when American bookstores pulled The Satanic Verses from their shelves (I've boycotted B Dalton and Waldenbooks ever since; though admittedly that's not much of a sacrifice, since they're lousy bookstores anyway) and very proud of the bookstores that not only didn't pull the books but put them in special displays, right in the window.

It's the same impulse: 'Threaten me? Hah! Threaten this, baby!"

I feel the same way about bookstores that make a point of proudly displaying whichever books the American Taliban decides to attack, and about schools that make a special point of defending evolution in science classes against the fundies peddling their ID/Creationism crap.

I'm just plain sick of people using their religion as an excuse to go berzerk, and of people demanding that their theology take precedence over secular laws.

Actually, full disclosure, I'm just plain sick of organized religion.

Two bits of background to my comments on this.

First, I'm thinking less of the protesters in e.g. the UK than of those in the Middle East. And there, you have to factor in the fact that a lot of people have not travelled a lot, and thus have no sense of the west -- of how we actually live, and what our countries are like -- beyond what they get from the media, local and western, both in different ways distorted.

I recall trying to convince one of my exes, a Turkish Kurd who had never left Turkey (though he wasn't sure whether some of the markets he had herded sheep to were across the Iraqi border -- but that scarcely counts), that I did, in fact, know something about Marx, and had in fact taught Marx. He would not believe this, not because he distrusted me, but because the idea that Marx would be available in a non-Marxist country was unimaginable to him. "But it was the American Marx!", he kept saying. No, I kept replying: I had in fact read and taught the actual writings of the actual Marx, which were all widely available for purchase at lots of bookstores. I don't think he ever did believe this.

(I asked him and his friends what they thought Marx stood for, once, after it became obvious that none of them had ever read him, for the good reason that all his works were highly illegal in Turkey. "He is for rights", they said. Ah. Indeed. I tried, briefly, to explain that actually Marx had thought rights were a bourgeois concept that would be tossed aside come the revolution, but gave up fairly quickly.)

(He was dumbstruck when he discovered the song "Talking 'Bout a Revolution" on one of my Tracy Chapman tapes. He thought it must have somehow slipped by the (US) censors. He played it over and over in disbelief.)

In that world, the idea of blaming the Danish government is a lot less ludicrous than it might seem. I am not for a moment defending this; just noting how I understood it.

Second: Like CaseyL, I understand the impulse: Threaten me? Hah! Threaten this, baby!" I understand it perfectly. I just don't think it's particularly useful. It's the same impulse that had annoying college students publishing racist articles in conservative newspapers back in the 90s, in reaction to PC etc., and that led one of my old advisees, who (by his account) had had an annoyingly PC teacher in high school, to write for that teacher a defense of the killing of the Native Americans in the latter half of the 19th century. When he told me this story, he still thought it was cute. Oddly enough, I disagreed, but not because I didn't understand the impulse.

-- It's the utterly predictable course of this, and (what I see as) its complete unlikelihood of leading to any good result at all, on any side, that makes me ask: why do I have to play?

About the black rectangle over the Prophet's eyes in one of the cartoons: it's the piece of fabric cut from the abaya that the women wear, a little bit of visual symmetry.

It equates the obliteration of the sight of women with the reciprocal blindness of men, I think; who's to say what a drawing means?

A) Quite a bit of the furor is being whipped up by three fake pictures which were not even part of the Danish publication. See for example here.

B) Have you people who are comparing the cartoons to "Jesus shoving Jews into ovens" or grabbing the Sacrament from a priest and pouring urine on it seen the cartoons? Frankly they really aren't very shocking. They can be found in total here (scroll to the bottom of the page).

C) Is there any Muslim anywhere who really believes that these pictures are likely to cause people to worship the image of Mohammed? Somehow I doubt it.

So what's the deal?

It seems to me that this actually is an important issue for two reasons.

1) It shows that some large segment of the Muslim world isn't really interested in dealing with multicultural Western societies with tolerance. Arguably we already knew that (see the Rushdie affair) but a reminder can be helpful.

2) It reminds us that the Middle East works from a very tribal way of looking at the world. This is why it makes sense to boycott everything Danish if a small Danish paper publishes something offensive. If one Danish newspaper is disrespectful to Mohammed, clearly all Danish people should be punished. And any Danish people (even those who might have been annoyed by the cartoons) are subject to death threats, kidnapping and murder becuase of their mere national association with the cartoon makers.

I'm going to quote a post by Jason Kuznicki because it perfectly captures what I think:

1. Drawing cartoons of Mohammed: Okay.

2. Disliking cartoons of Mohammed: Also okay.

3. Peacefully protesting cartoons of Mohammed: Yet again okay.

4. Violently protesting cartoons of Mohammed: Most certainly not okay.

5. Threatening violence against Danes because a Dane drew cartoons of Mohammed: Betrays a tribalist mentality at odds with the modern world. Morally wrong. Not okay.

6. Asking the artists or editors to apologize for cartoons of Mohammed: Perfectly okay.

7. Asking the Danish government to apologize for cartoons of Mohammed: Ludicrous. Not the government’s affair.

8. Apologizing for cartoons of Mohammed (if you’re an editor): Spineless, may send the wrong message given the context of recent world events, but okay. After all, I can’t really stop you.

9. Apologizing for cartoons of Mohammed (if you’re a government official): Worse than spineless, certainly sends the wrong message. Not okay, and if I were Danish I would certainly try to stop you (see #3, above).

10. Firing the guy who printed cartoons of Mohammed: Spineless, deeply regrettable, certainly sends the wrong message, but okay. Remind me to change my subscription.

11. Boycotting Denmark over cartoons of Mohammed: Useless, deeply regrettable, probably sends no message whatsoever. But okay.

12. Buying extra Danish goods because of cartoons of Mohammed: Probably useless, but I do like Danzka vodka. Remind me to stock up the next time I go out.

13. Drawing cartoons of Danes who draw cartoons of Mohammed: Poetic justice. Pity we’re not likely to see it.

14. Passing laws that forbid racial or religious hatred: Well-meaning, but deeply misguided. Not okay. Let us answer error with truth, not with repression.

That reminds me of something. The one excuse for Middle Eastern misbehaviour on this subject I am willing to offer is this: Is it possible that people whose major exposure to newspapers involves government-run propaganda newspapers just don't get the idea of a freeish press? That would explain the ridiculous demands put on the Danish government.

"Is it possible that people whose major exposure to newspapers involves government-run propaganda newspapers just don't get the idea of a freeish press?"

I think it's quite clear that for many, the answer is "yes." As Hilzoy related. (You may be commenting without having yet read the comments, I realize.)

I more or less agree with your quoted material, Sebastian, which I've more or less at least implied, I think, in recent, shorter, comments here.

With you I think through 13, but:

"Passing laws that forbid racial or religious hatred"

Wow, I never heard of a law against any sort of hatred.

Hilzoy I think anecdotally confirms your freeish press conjecture above.

But of course you should consider anger being manufactured for political gain too.

"Passing laws that forbid racial or religious hatred"

Wow, I never heard of a law against any sort of hatred.

I took that to mean "that forbid expression of racial or religious hatred," and being in reference to recent/current debate over the proposed British law that's been going on the last six months or so.

"But of course you should consider anger being manufactured for political gain too."

Sure, the fake pictures really are nasty and offensive.

BTW, on the hatred issue: I'm not a fan of "hate crime" legislation.

DaveC: (which remind me of reaction to the fake flushing Korans down the toilet story).

Which turned out not to be a fake at all, of course, in the important sense: American guards at Guantanamo Bay and other prisons were, both intentionally and accidentally, desecrating the Koran. (Even the Pentagon acknowledged that this had happened.)

The distinction I feel between Salman Rushdie's Satanic Verses and these cartoons is that Rushdie did not decide to write the Satanic Verses just so he could be offensive to Muslims. These cartoons were commissioned and published in order to be offensive to Muslims.

When you decide to be deliberately offensive, it's kind of stupid to then complain that the people whom you intended to offend took offense.

As my mom used to say, when her kids got into a fight, "Who started it?"

mac: There is perhaps a difference between a newspaper picture and pissing in the communion?

Certainly there's a difference. One is an ugly, provocative blasphemy to Catholics. The other is an ugly, provocative blasphemy to Muslims.

And perpahs there's a right way and a wrong way to protest it?

But Von is arguing that people demonstrating peaceably and legally in the public street are "the enemy. They are, to use the old word, evil. You can't accommodate them." My question to him is whether he would regard Catholics protesting an ugly, provocative blasphemy (that received wide support and sympathy in the media, especially anti-Catholic media) with such anger and hatred.

Jesurgislac fails to deal with the reality of the situation once again. Jesurgislac can you provide some photos of Catholics promoting to chop off peoples heads, Holocaust deniers? Catholics expressing their desire to exterminate, murder, slay or exterminate those who disagree?

Those are people are the enemy who you would support.

Windle: Jesurgislac can you provide some photos of Catholics promoting to chop off peoples heads, Holocaust deniers? Catholics expressing their desire to exterminate, murder, slay or exterminate those who disagree?

Is this a joke, or are you genuinely unaware of the history of the Catholic church?

Hate crime laws are just sentence enhancements for people who, when they commit acts that are already crimes, do so for particularly nasty and destructive motives. This is a very old and well accepted concept in criminal law. We make committing murder for "pecuniary gain" an aggravating factor that makes one eligible for the death penalty in many states, for instance.

Hate speech laws are a completely different thing.

I think hil's right on press freedom, though there are now non-government controlled parts of the media in the Islamic world. (Al Jazeera).

The cartoons may have been motivated by the intimidation of Danish illustrators, but that political art is motivated by a legitimate grievances doesn't make it any good. People may have legitimate grievances about Ariel Sharon, and yet I don't think much of cartoons that show him eating babies.

The only cartoon that actually makes the point is Arne Sorensen's, which I liked fine. I also liked

oops. I also liked Lars Refn's just fine.

I think freedom of speech ("voicing opinion") is important. I also feel that the right to express you opinion comes with a responsibility. To be honest I think American defenders of the right to express yourself always all the time have a lot of work to do closer to home.

The cartoons were a reaction to an author who said that he could not find an illustrator for his book about the life of mohammed. The book is published now and he seems to have found an illustrator after all.

As such, I think that the cartoons are not very good or very provocative and I think that quite a lot of the protesters have not seen them, or seen the fake ones. Protests have mainly been in moslim countries, not with muslims in western countries.

I think they protest the perceived intend behind the pictures more than the pictures themselves. A country that wants to make flagburning punishable should have some understanding methinks.

I do believe that the Danish paper had a right to publish the cartoons since they obviously illustrate opinions. And IMHO they are not that provocative. I would have a problem with the ones picturing mohammed as a terrorist, since that is (like the statement that islam is inherently violent) inciting hate. We have stricter laws about that since our last war and feel justified in that.

Boycott I have no problem with. Conservatives that condemn it make me giggle, coming from the group that invented the freedom fries. Violence against people is no proper answer. Also not smart, seeing how much EU money is sent to many of the protesting regions.

Ironcally we are in the last stages of the process against the murderer of Theo van Gogh and he made a long speech in which he stated that mohammed clearly believed in violence and everybody who denied that was not a proper moslim.

More irony: I had allready read the piece rilkefan linked too and was suprised to learn from it that the only one convicted for drawing an anti-mohammed cartoon was an Israeli Jew in Israel. Maybe we should tell all the shops in the ME that boycott Danish products that they should stack them up with israeli ones...

mac: There is perhaps a difference between a newspaper picture and pissing in the communion?

Certainly there's a difference. One is an ugly, provocative blasphemy to Catholics. The other is an ugly, provocative blasphemy to Muslims.

Once again: one is speech. The other is not. Do you really not understand that difference?

Gary, if it were speech there would not be a problem with pictures of mohammed...

I'm a little sad he wouldn't cross-post a post like that here, though. It's not as if it's about some esoteric art point not of general interest.

I had thought about it Gary, but by the time I found time to get to it, Von had covered the topic already and I agree with his take, I think.

I've never seen an issue with as many subtle nooks and crannies as this one, though. It's reall staggeringly complicated.

For example, I'm disappointed in the US's official response, but the more I think about what supporting the cartoons might do to put our troops in Iraq in even greater danger, the more I have a hard time condemning the Administration for it. But then I start to wonder what the hell it is we're fighting for over there if not this very issue.

I have a visceral reaction so strong it makes me want to kick puppies when I think about the papers caving in to these outrageous demands, however. Abso-f*cking-lutely NEVER. This is the line for me. I will NOT have someone else's religious beliefs dictate what I can or cannot say or do in my own country. Full stop.

If I visit their country, then I'll respect their customs and values, but the gall of the suggestion that in my country I have to observe some modern interpretation of a "law" they've not even been consistent on themselves over the centuries is so epically offensive it makes me want to hurt someone. I don't know why exactly either, it just does.

"We make committing murder for 'pecuniary gain' an aggravating factor that makes one eligible for the death penalty in many states, for instance."

And, of course, what people are thinking -- what their motive or intent are or are not -- is crucial to determining the difference between all sorts of charges.

Your sister is hit and killed by a car. Was that plotted in cold blood in advance? First degree murder. Was it done in a fit of rage? Second degree murder. Was it done because the driver was simply enraged about something utterly unrelated to your sister, and the driver was simply irresponsibly reckless? Manslaughter. Was it completely accidental, because your sister had, in fact, laid down under the car and the driver had no reasonable way of knowing she was down there? Might get off as completely innocent.

What the perpetrator was thinking has always been crucial to determining a charge and sentence. Always.

CharlieCarp, Lily, et al.:

Please see the update.

Again, I agree with von's update. It's not just that I won't have others dictate my behavior based on arbitrary religious laws, but the notion that it's a threat of violence that might make the papers back down is wholly unacceptable. A victory on this point would embolden the radicals, regardless of whether you feel it would rightly calm the merely faithful. I say no way. Print the damn things every day in every paper for 20 years until they're grown weary of protesting and see for themselves how irrational they're being.

The alternative is to let them change our values to placate them. I'm sorry, I don't wish them any offense, and as I noted on the art blog, I think the original "test" was sophmoric, but it's morphed into a bigger issue and there's no way I can support a retreat on it at this point. It's simply not in me to do so. I'd lose faith in the only thing I still have faith in if I did.

Threatening violence against Danes because a Dane drew cartoons of Mohammed: Betrays a tribalist mentality at odds with the modern world. Morally wrong. Not okay.

Offending all Muslims worldwide by repeatedly publishing these cartoons, to send a message to the minority of violent Muslims that "it's freedom, baby": Also betrays a tribalist mentality. One all too often displayed by our own right wing, which doesn't seem to believe there is any such thing as a non-violent Muslim or that we should care what they think.

I remember the "Koran down the toilet" story, and for some reason, I remember people like MM being focused a lot more on the bad behavior of Newsweek than on how awful the Muslims were for rioting. Heck, but for the fact the right wing wanted to make a political point against Newsweek, they probably would have responded by organizing mass flushings of the Koran nationwide. Cause, you know, it's the sound of freedom.

Von,
this is not to specifically disagree with your update, but I believe that those placards that you pull from Malkin's site are from the first protest, with the second one more concentrated on 'freedom from villification'

The first London protest was perhaps here
and it is possible that other pictures were from the Gaza protest but the second one, organized by Hizb ut-Tahrir, was apparently more restrained. So I have to ask (and I don't know the answer so this isn't trying to put you on the spot), why do the second group of protestors have to answer for the first groups signs?

I'd also point out Sistani's response given here

The most senior Shia Muslim cleric, Ayatollah Ali Sistani, condemned publication of the cartoons but deplored the way in which militant Islamists had help distort the image of Islam.

Offending all Muslims worldwide by repeatedly publishing these cartoons, to send a message to the minority of violent Muslims that "it's freedom, baby": Also betrays a tribalist mentality.

This wasn't addressed to me, but I really disagree with this read.

It's more like "Offending all Muslims worldwide by repeatedly publishing these cartoons to send a message to the vast majority of Muslims who are not radical or violent that this is an issue we feel so strongly about we're willing to risk the violence some nutjobs might inflict in order to demonstrate why it's important to us."

I don't see it as a rightwing POV. I see it as the POV of anyone dedicated to freedom of speech/expression. I've reacted just as strongly against those who would ban the exhibition of "Piss Christ" or Offili's painting of the Madonna that included elephant dung. Being offended is part of being exposed to different cultures/ideas is part of rejecting isolationsim is part of being a thinking human being. One need not accept the ideas expressed, but one cannot force the other to change those opinions, especially not through force. There's no one in the world who believes it's wrong to draw Mohammed more than I believe in that.

So it's a clash of cultures. One in which it's probably better to let both sides "win" (i.e., first, have the protesters lower the heat of their rhetoric, and then have the papers acknowledge that such "tests" are not the best way to begin a dialog). This is obviously not the right time to insist on more from either side.

I agree with the list Seb posted, with a few caveats. About 7: I already noted that people in the Muslim ME might not get freedom of speech. (And I somehow suspect that most of the stories about it that get to them do not involve e.g. speech offensive to Roman catholics, but speech offensive to Muslims, for obvious local interest reasons.) I would add: in most such countries, government and business are in bed with one another to a degree that we would find unimaginable, even after the K street project, and thus the idea of blaming the government and/or businesses for what a newspaper publishes isn't so farfetched either. In a lot of these countries there just isn't a lot of distance between the press, business, and the government.

I completely agree that the papers should not fire anyone, or anything like that.

As I said, I would also accept Steve's additional entry ("Offending all Muslims worldwide by repeatedly publishing these cartoons, to send a message to the minority of violent Muslims that "it's freedom, baby": Also betrays a tribalist mentality.")

And Edward: I wouldn't publish the cartoons over and over, though I would also never back down from freedom of expression. (I mean, I support the right of Nazis to march through Skokie; having swallowed that elephant, I am hardly going to strain at these gnats.) But that, to me, is completely distinct from wanting to publish them myself. Just as supporting the right of the cartoonists to draw them is completely distinct from wanting to draw them myself.

There are lots of ways of sending a signal about how much we care about free speech other than this one.

(Possibly it matters that I am thinking about this in terms of stuff I've previously defended people's right to say and publish, if for some reason they want. In my case, it has involved mostly people with odious political opinions and porn that I, personally, find repellent. In either case, the idea of having to republish these things myself, or of thinking that that's part of what I signed on for when I decided to support free speech, is bizarre.)

If you are going to say "these guys are the enemy" and "these guys are evil" you ought to specify your antecedent--the first time you write it. Really.

But that, to me, is completely distinct from wanting to publish them myself. Just as supporting the right of the cartoonists to draw them is completely distinct from wanting to draw them myself.

I see that. In fact when I posted one on the art blog, I chose the one I thought was best at explaining why the issue was offensive to the Europeans and had no desire at all the post the more transgressive ones because, well, they don't reflect my personal opinion.

But I think by republishing them the other European papers were making a point that couldn't be made any other way: we believe you can NOT dictate what the press can publish. And it's a message I support.

I think Hilzoy has the right idea here.

By "these guys are the enemy" I assume Von is referring to the people who react to free speech with violence or threats of violence. That's fine. But I think what he's missing is that when you act like MM and the other right-wing bloggers who republish the cartoons over and over to taunt "the enemy," you can't just pretend that "We're only doing this to send a message to the rioters. Everyone else, close your eyes."

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