Memo to the Danes: Repeal This Law

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Jytte Klausen notes a double standard at the paper that published those infamous Mohammed cartoons:

[T]hree years ago, Jyllands-Posten refused to publish cartoons portraying Jesus, on the grounds that they would offend readers. According to a report in the Guardian, which was provided with a letter from the cartoonist, Christoffer Zieler, the editor explained back then, "I don't think Jyllands-Posten's readers will enjoy the drawings. As a matter of fact, I think that they will provoke an outcry. Therefore, I will not use them."

That's interesting but not scandalous; Jyllands-Posten is entitled to choose who it intends to offend. What really bugs me is this:

Denmark is no paragon of free speech. Article 140 of the Criminal Code allows for a fine and up to four months of imprisonment for demeaning a "recognized religious community."

Mogens Glistrup, a tax protester turned xenophobe, was imprisoned for 20 days last year for a racist speech.

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  1. [T]hree years ago, Jyllands-Posten refused to publish cartoons portraying Jesus, on the grounds that they would offend readers. According to a report in the Guardian, which was provided with a letter from the cartoonist, Christoffer Zieler, the editor explained back then, “I don’t think Jyllands-Posten’s readers will enjoy the drawings. As a matter of fact, I think that they will provoke an outcry. Therefore, I will not use them.”

    I read this story elsewhere; this excerpt does not mention the fact that the Jesus cartoons were unsolicited, and sent in by a freelancer hoping to get published, whereas the Mohammed cartoons were specifically ordered by the publisher (to make a point that even Danes in Denmark were afraid of offending the religious notions of a people several countries away).

    If I send Reason an unsolicited article bitching about public schools and they choose not to publish it, while at the same time publishing an article they’d already commissioned and paid for, is this proof of a double standard?

  2. Jennifer,

    If I send Reason an unsolicited article bitching about public schools and they choose not to publish it, while at the same time publishing an article they’d already commissioned and paid for, is this proof of a double standard?

    As you put the question, of course not. But if someone gave as the reason for your rejection not that they don’t publish unsolicited material but that they don’t publish redheads, and then they later published some other redhead, you might suspect that the given reason was disengenuous. Besides, your objection does not address why the paper solicited such cartoons.

    I don’t blame Muslims for seeing some degree of unequal treatment on this account. I do blame those who are resorting to violence over it for doing that.

  3. But consider this, Fyodor: the cartoons were originally published in a Danish newspaper for a Danish audience. The Muslim world probably never would have heard of them if a bunch of imams hadn’t decided that their flocks weren’t currently angry enough at the world. Given the circumstances, why is it surprising to think that anti-Jesus cartoons wouldn’t play as well as anti-Mohammed cartoons?

    A cartoon lampooning NASCAR fans would play better in the American Northeast than in parts of the South, while the opposite would hold true for a cartoon lampooning Boston accents. I have no problem with local editors taking this into consideration when they choose which cartoons to publish.

  4. Don’t y’all go making fun of NASCAR. Dale Earnhardt died for our sins.

  5. James Morrow wrote a darkly humorous book called “Only Begotten Daughter,” about the half-sister of Jesus, born in Atlantic City to a virgin male. (No, that’s not a typo.)

    In one part of the book, Julie the Daughter of God visits hell, and discovers that, with the exception of Jesus and Elijah (whom God swept up to Heaven in a whirlwind), every single human being who ever existed winds up in hell. Why? Because according to Morrow, in order to end up in Hell all that is necessary is for someone, somewhere, to think you belong there.

    A ludicrous and depressing idea indeed. Shall we apply the same standard to freedom of speech and the press? In order for something to be beyond the pale, all that is necessary is for someone, somehwere, to find it offensive. Even if that someone wasn’t a part of the original target audience.

  6. The New York Times which refuses to publish the cartoons because they might be offensive to Muslims decided instead to highlight the controversy by printing a seven-year old photo of the Virgin Mary in elephant dung. I guess that would make it about even!

    I’m sure Christians will be offended. I’m not so sure they’ll be calling for beheadings or burning down buildings.

  7. I have no problem with local editors taking this into consideration when they choose which cartoons to publish.

    Neither do I, if by “problem” you mean something I would stick the law into. But if the paper really thought this was some private joke between Danes, then they were being pretty idiotic, and the international fallout over it would seem to reflect that. Also, while I share the annoyance many here probably have over meely-mouthed apologies in general, if the papers really didn’t think the cartoons would be read by Muslims, they would have been justified in offering a genuine apology over their publication based on that.

    I should make clear that I’m addressing the internal logic of what the papers did and what Jennifer has said and nothing else. Of course I think the rioting was wrong, and I also thinking laughing over a perceived offense is preferable to freaking out over it even in private.

  8. I want to know why newspapers have to be more afraid of stepping on anyone’s toes than any other PAID medium, such as cable tv or satellite radio.

  9. Neither do I, if by “problem” you mean something I would stick the law into. But if the paper really thought this was some private joke between Danes, then they were being pretty idiotic, and the international fallout over it would seem to reflect that.

    It remained pretty much Danish-only for four months, until some imams decided to make use of the cartoons (and add a few of their own).

    Besides, with the Internet, anything printed has the potential to become world-famous the next day. Surely you wouldn’t suggest that people take all international standards of decency into account before printing anything?

    ‘Feh’ to the rioters. Fuck ’em if they can’t take a joke. (Literally. A good fuck might get rid of some of that frustration they currently take out in the form of rioting.)

  10. Rhywun,

    The U.S. media by and large has never been terribly afraid of offending anybody. AI don’t think they’re afraid of giving offense in this case either. I think they are just afraid.

  11. Rhywun: Newspapers may be a paid medium — usually — but they almost always depend overwhelmingly on advertising to survive. They’re also written for a mass audience, whereas HBO and XM are aimed at niches.

    I’m speaking of American papers here. I don’t know if the same characteristics apply to Jyllands-Posten.

  12. Jennifer:

    You ignored the important issue (Denmark being selective/discrimative in applying its criminal code) and you latched onto the other (less important) part of the post.

    The Muslim world probably never would have heard of them if a bunch of imams hadn’t decided that their flocks weren’t currently angry enough at the world.

    That is just silly. They spread the word because they felt discriminated against and they tried to deal with the situation internally, but got no where. So, they enlisted the help of other muslims. It is not their fault that some governments decided to use the issue to settle some scores.

    Doesn’t the Vatican intervene on behalf of catholics worlwide? Doesn’t the US government intervenes on behalf of ‘freedom lovers’ worlwide (uninvited most of the time, I might add)?

  13. ‘Feh’ to the rioters. Fuck ’em if they can’t take a joke.

    Well I agree with that!!

    anything printed has the potential to become world-famous the next day. Surely you wouldn’t suggest that people take all international standards of decency into account before printing anything?

    What they “should” do is up to them. Again, please don’t read any more into what I’m saying than what I’m actually saying. I can see the point that there’s a double standard. Naturally I think this is best addressed with more speech, not violence. And I think such “speech” should include the fact that all peoples and groups are generally more sensitive to the concerns of their own versus those of others. I think that’s human nature, and not something specifically nefarious about the Danish newspapers.

  14. I want to know why newspapers have to be more afraid of stepping on anyone’s toes than any other PAID medium, such as cable tv or satellite radio.

    I think it has to do with the less targeted nature of the audience. Mainstream newspapers see every semi-literate adult with a modicum of disposable income as a potential reader. Whereas individual cable TV and satellite radio channels aren’t necessarily gunning for the eyes and/or ears of every subscriber.

  15. Or in other words: what Jesse said.

  16. The U.S. media by and large has never been terribly afraid of offending anybody.

    I suppose… but newspapers seem more afraid than any other medium. Maybe that’s one reason no one read them any more 🙂

  17. That is just silly. They spread the word because they felt discriminated against and they tried to deal with the situation internally, but got no where. So, they enlisted the help of other muslims. It is not their fault that some governments decided to use the issue to settle some scores. Doesn’t the Vatican intervene on behalf of catholics worlwide?

    I don’t give a damn how Muslims “feel” about this. Nowhere is it written that they have the right to go through life without ever being offended, or seeing images they don’t like. And in your world, “incitement to riot” is the same as “enlisting help”?

    And I can’t recall any recent incidents where the Vatican encouraged Catholics to start rioting because their feelings were hurt.

  18. er, “reads”

  19. Two thoughts.

    1. I’m still confused by what the offended Muslims are expecting. Westerners break Muslim law in offensive ways every day. Why not make this same argument about Danish porn? If it’s such a deeply-help tenet that women should remain covered, then most of Western society flouts the rules daily.
    2. The whole point of the taboo on drawing the prophet is to prevent idol worship. Since no one would argue that these cartoons would lead to “idol worship”, the intense anger over them might actually be a symptom of ACTUAL idol worship.

  20. And I can’t recall any recent incidents where the Vatican encouraged Catholics to start rioting because their feelings were hurt.

    Here’s an interesting article touching on how the Catholic community dealt with acts of artistic expression that were far more offensive than the stupid cartoons. No rioting or fatwas to be found here.

    Oh, and Dogma rules.

  21. They are afraid of offending anyone who might threaten to do more than write a letter to the editor or cancel a subscription.

    The original publication of the cartoons was in response to a children’s book author who was writing a book about Mohammed and couldn’t get anyone to illustrate it because they were too afraid. The original story was about not giving in to the intimidation. A lesson that seems to be lost on much of the U.S.

  22. Nowhere is it written that they have the right to go through life without ever being offended, or seeing images they don’t like.

    ms jennifer, stop imposing your western cultural values on the rest of the world.

  23. RE: the Village Voice article

    That Donohue is a monster – he makes my blood boil every time he opens his mouth. But yes, I have to agree, it’s good he’s not burning down movie houses or something.

  24. the cartoons were originally published in a Danish newspaper for a Danish audience.

    Notice the false dichotomy: Danish vs. Muslim. The first people to complain were Danish Muslims. I’m not saying the resulting firestorm is a good thing, but the Danish != Muslim issue is very important here.

    And I can’t recall any recent incidents where the Vatican encouraged Catholics to start rioting because their feelings were hurt.

    Christians just had a few hundred years head start and now mostly have it out of their system. Mostly.

  25. Well let’s hope the “Holocaust cartoon contest” is covered in the western media and reprinted in full?

    That ain’t gonna happen.

  26. Dr X,

    So you’ve finally decided to tell us what your Amazing power is! Predicting the future! 🙂

  27. Isn’t it about time for mel gibson to make a movie about the life of mohammed including slaughter and child wives and concubines?

    Now that has to get the bomb Iran fever up to a feverish pitch!!

    Riots, terrorism, war… whoopee, it’s the neo-trifecta!!

  28. Yep, but that’s only part of it linguiny.

  29. When I was a little girl I, like most children, had a very self-centered view of the world and was prone to having temper tantrums whenever things didn’t go exactly the way I wanted them to.

    But eventually, I grew up and grew out of it. I even realized that I was not the only person in the world who mattered. It is high time these fundamentalist idiots do the same.

  30. Interestingly, the Danish Imams who started the whole brouhaha, went to court first to try to have the newspaper charged, presumably under that religious defamation law. The case was thrown out. It was then that they went on their grievance tour of the Mid-east.

  31. “It is high time..”

    To bomb Iran, say the bushies! Bring on the riots in europe to skew the politics to the right.

    What is needed? A coalition of the willing.. willing to bomb Iran. These riots assist that end. For neocons the end justifies the means.

    The saudi right pampleted and published the cartoons and outrage about them to, as condi just said, “… inflame sentiments and to use this for their own purposes”.

    She blames the syrians and iranians. but the saudis, administration allies, started the controversey, right after the hajj tramplings.

  32. Jennifer,

    I was a fundamentalist, but your profound words have caused me to “grow up.” Thank you.

  33. Fundamentalist, if you’re in the habit of rioting whenever you see something offensive, you need more help than anyone can give you. If, by contrast, you were trying to make a joke, it fell rather flat. Are you saying that there’s nothing wrong with people who riot in response to having their feelings hurt?

  34. I don’t give a damn how Muslims “feel” about this. Nowhere is it written that they have the right to go through life without ever being offended, or seeing images they don’t like. And in your world, “incitement to riot” is the same as “enlisting help”?

    Again you accuse the Danish imams of inciting riots. Do you have any evidence of that? The first forms of protests were calls to boycott Danish products. The rioting came later as governments and opportunistic groups got involved.

    Jennifer, why do you still ignore the issue of the Danish government discrimination in applying its own laws. To me feeling offended isn’t the issue. The issue is the double standard of applying the law. Here is an article that addresses this issue:

    “This is what Muslims want – to be treated the same as other faiths,” says Olivier Roy, an eminent scholar of Islamic affairs at the National Center of Scientific Research in Paris.

    and this:

    he[oger Koeppel, editor in chief at German newspaper Die Welt] says, it may appear there is a double standard. “Evenhandedness cannot be a goal,” he says. “It has to be clear that the majority culture rules and the minority culture has to accept the rules. If the rules are not acceptable, no one is forced to live there.”

    Let’s see: If gays do not like the majority culture in the US, then no one is forced to live there.

  35. Well let’s hope the “Holocaust cartoon contest” is covered in the western media and reprinted in full?

    That ain’t gonna happen.

    So? Why should they cover it? It’s hardly very newsworthy. Just as the original cartoons weren’t either.

    OTOH, I bet you won’t see rioting over it either.

    Hmm, maybe I sholdn’t be so sure of that….

  36. I don’t give a damn how Muslims “feel” about this. Nowhere is it written that they have the right to go through life without ever being offended, or seeing images they don’t like

    Actually, in most Western countries, they have just that “right” specificly garanteed to them by law. America is the exception in that it doesn’t have “hate speech” laws, or official government censorship of non-broadcast media. (yes, yes, I know that our first amendment rights are disappearing… but the U.S. hasn’t sunk to Euro levels yet).

    The original publication of the cartoons was in response to a children’s book author who was writing a book about Mohammed and couldn’t get anyone to illustrate it because they were too afraid. The original story was about not giving in to the intimidation. A lesson that seems to be lost on much of the U.S. .
    If I remember correctly, the children’s book author origionally was charged with a hate crime, but after a legal battle managed to get the charges dropped. AFTER he was charged, then he couldn’t get any audience.

  37. Jennifer, why do you still ignore the issue of the Danish government discrimination in applying its own laws.

    Which is why I agree the Danes should get rid of ALL don’t-hurt-people’s-feelings laws. Remember a few years ago when the President’s niece got busted for drugs, but suffered no legal consequences? For me, the problem wasn’t the fact that Nicole Bush didn’t go to jail; the problem was that people with other last names DID. And so it is with the Danes: it’s fine that the government is not cracking down on anti-Muslim cartoons; now they need to apply the same indifference to other cartoons as well.

    Again you accuse the Danish imams of inciting riots. Do you have any evidence of that?

    One of the Hit-and-Run stories in the past couple of days mentioned that the imams added cartoons that were more offensive than the originals.

    If gays do not like the majority culture in the US, then no one is forced to live there.

    Now what are you talking about? I think gays should have equal protection under the law in regards to things like marriage, but they don’t have the right to be protected from people who will make mean limp-wrist jokes. As a woman, I think I should get equal protection under the law, but I don’t have the right to ensure that Andrew Dice Clay never insults me. And when he does, that doesn’t give me the right to start a riot in Brooklyn, or wherever the hell he comes from.

  38. The rioting came later as governments and opportunistic groups got involved.

    I won’t deny the veracity of this statement as I don’t know enough about the timeline of events, but one thing I find interesting is that there is rioting in nations where I would be very surprised if the government had played a role in inciting it, such as Afghanistan. Now, that would not contradict the notion that one or more governments may have gotten the ol’ riot ball rolling, but unless I read the Afghani’s likely current position visa vi the West wrong, government incitement is hardly all that explains all the rioting.

  39. Well let’s hope the “Holocaust cartoon contest” is covered in the western media and reprinted in full?

    Ain’t gonna happen, eh?

    NPR reported on the one o’clock news today that the editor of Jyllands-Posten Had contacted the editor of the Iranian paper about publishing the cartons when they become available.

    Seems like your clairvoyance is on a par with the rest of your mental powers.

  40. Well fyod, see Marx on this issue.

    Follow the money. Oily money.

    Muslims riot, europeans are filled with fear. Europe votes to bomb Iran.

    Saudis and multinational oil monopolists win!! Neocons win!!

    Iran has threated the iraqi, kuwaiti, saudi and orger oil resources since the overthrow of the shah’s US puppet regime.

    Marx said economics precedes all other societal constructs. Religion, art,cartoons.. whatever are designed to justify economic reality.

    Could whipping up a little judaeo/christian right wing rioting and bigotry hurt the cause of war on iran? No way, it mifgt even help get counter rioting going on the other side!! Yaaay!!!

    “And I’m proud to be an american, where at least I know i’m free..”

  41. I’d be shocked if the pictures weren’t published, just to show people how fair newspapers are in their coverage of a story.

    How about the picture of “Mohhamed” as a pig was actually takens form an Aug 11th AP photo of a French pig squealing contest?

  42. The editor has also responded by making the point that the rejected Jesus cartoons were offensively stupid. I wouldn’t print a “Jesus-cam” of the ascent into heaven either. It sounds like the editor was trying to be somewhat diplomatic and now it’s come around to bite him in the ass.

  43. “That ain’t gonna happen.”

    what? i’d think you of all people would be all over this:

    see, by reprinting the cartoons, it shows what a bunch of depraved nazi loonies the iranians are, making the invasion all the more likely and pumped-up.

    i thought you’d be a bit more amazing than this!

  44. I’m sure Christians will be offended. I’m not so sure they’ll be calling for beheadings or burning down buildings.

    Why do you suppose that is, he? It’s because most so-called “Christians” have learned to get along in a secular world and respect concepts like the seperation of church and state. In other words, secularization – just the opposite of what evangelicals and Pat Buchanan would maintain. Of course you’re always pretty safe in doing the opposite of what Buchanan maintains; if that schlub endorsed water, I’d stop bathing.

  45. The U.S. media by and large has never been terribly afraid of offending anybody.

    Hah! US media is by and large afraid of offending (a) sources (b) advertisers (c) noisy greivance groups. For starters.

  46. Newspapers may be a paid medium — usually — but they almost always depend overwhelmingly on advertising to survive. They’re also written for a mass audience, whereas HBO and XM are aimed at niches.

    I fail to see the logic in this.

    As far as advertising goes, I would guess that advertisers in a Christian-dominated country would be more likely to pull their ads because the mass-market newspaper had an article or two offending Christians than a much smaller religious group.

    And don’t XM and Sirius program to sell to as many people as possible? Certainly each channel is niche programming, but a Sirius listener may listen to Howard Stern or Christian talk radio. Don’t people skip over stories in the newspaper or am I part of the minority that doesn’t read every word in the paper? I wonder how many people who purchase Sirius service for the Christian programming call or write in to complain about the Stern show?

  47. anon: If gays do not like the majority culture in the US, then no one is forced to live there.

    Jennifer: Now what are you talking about?

    I was mocking what the German newspaper editor said and I quoted just above my sentence. Here it is again:

    he[oger Koeppel, editor in chief at German newspaper Die Welt] says, it may appear there is a double standard. “Evenhandedness cannot be a goal,” he says. “It has to be clear that the majority culture rules and the minority culture has to accept the rules. If the rules are not acceptable, no one is forced to live there.

  48. The editor has also responded by making the point that the rejected Jesus cartoons were offensively stupid.

    Thanks for that link. Yes, I can imagine how a series of cartoons showing Jesus jumping out of holes in the floor and being given Olympic-style ratings by a bunch of gnomes might be more offensive to people’s intelligences than to their religious feelings. Insultingly stupid is right!

  49. I would guess that advertisers in a Christian-dominated country would be more likely to pull their ads because the mass-market newspaper had an article or two offending Christians than a much smaller religious group.

    And your point is…?

    And don’t XM and Sirius program to sell to as many people as possible? Certainly each channel is niche programming, but a Sirius listener may listen to Howard Stern or Christian talk radio. Don’t people skip over stories in the newspaper or am I part of the minority that doesn’t read every word in the paper? I wonder how many people who purchase Sirius service for the Christian programming call or write in to complain about the Stern show?

    There’s a difference between skipping a newspaper article, or even a newspaper section, and skipping a radio channel. But you raise a good question. We’re seeing the TV equivalent in the Christian right’s current drive for a la carte cable menus.

  50. You ignored the important issue (Denmark being selective/discrimative in applying its criminal code)

    Who the f#@$ cares?

    According to Wikipedia, 95% of Denmark is (largely non-church-attending) Evangelical Lutheran, and another 3% is Roman Catholic. Muslims make up only 1% of the population.

    Jyllands-Posten’s regular and paying readers, therefore, are overwhelmingly likely to be Christian in orientation, even if they’re not regular churchgoers. IMO, it makes perfect business sense, even if it’s technically not completely free speech, that the paper would avoid offending their bread and butter while not feeling too hesitant about running a doodle of Mohammed.

    More gems from Wikipedia: Reporters Without Borders on Denmark: “Worldwide Press Freedom Index 2004: Ranked 1 out of 166 countries (in an 8-way tie).”

    I’m in Jennifer’s camp on this. The world’s Muslims have shown themselves to be culturally immature and tantrum prone, long past the point at which other faithful peoples of the world have, with the possible exception of extremist pockets here and there (i.e. women’s clinic bombers in the U.S. for one), grown up, sucked it up, and learned to control their violent, intolerant, and destructive impulses.

    Muzzling the press and acquiescing to Islamofascists is disastrous, freedom-killing, and a regression of human advancement. Also, how often does global censorship pacify extremism? When you give a mouse a cookie, what happens? Even assuming they ever realize their wet dream of a grand “caliphate” just like the good ol’ days of the 10th century, ya think they’ll be satisfied with that?

  51. It has to be clear that the majority culture rules and the minority culture has to accept the rules. If the rules are not acceptable, no one is forced to live there.

    And one such rule is, you are not allowed to kill people, or burn their house down, because they offend you. And I agree–if people hate living in a country where insulting Mohammed is legal, they can move somewhere more to their liking. I hear Arabia is hiring.

    What point ARE you trying to make here, Anon? Are you saying that the rioters are right to riot? That the Danish government is wrong to not punish the cartoonists? I really don’t know what you’re arguing for.

  52. if people hate living in a country where insulting Mohammed is legal, they can move somewhere more to their liking. I hear Arabia is hiring.

    First, is it legal in Denmark? I don’t think so.
    Second, it is legal to discriminate against homosexuals here in the US (gay-marriage), would you have the same attitude if homosexuals complained? Would you say to them move to Sweden if you don’t like it here?

    What point ARE you trying to make here, Anon?

    The point I’m making is that the Danish government discriminated against muslims in applying its own laws and it seems that most people here (including you) are giving it a free pass. If the discrimination was against a different group of people (say gays), not many here will be as forgiving.

    Disclaimer: I have nothing against homosexuals and I think they should have the same rights as everyone else. I’m just using them as an analogy.

    As for the riots. I think riotters went way overboard. Violence and burning embassies are unacceptable. Boycotts and peacefull demonstrations are acceptable and certainly far more effective.

  53. Second, it is legal to discriminate against homosexuals here in the US (gay-marriage), would you have the same attitude if homosexuals complained?

    There is a difference between discrimination in regards to human rights (which I oppose), and the presumed freedom to avoid having your feelings hurt. I think gays should be allowed to marry, hold jobs, and all that other stuff, but neither they nor anyone else have the right to avoid being insulted.

    The point I’m making is that the Danish government discriminated against muslims in applying its own laws

    Which Danish law makes it illegal to insult Mohammed? Whatever it is, it needs to be changed, along with any other stupid “hate speech” laws.

  54. Jennifer:: There is a difference between discrimination in regards to human rights and the presumed freedom to avoid having your feelings hurt.

    Isn’t being treated equally under the law some kind of human rights? If not, then it should be.

    Jennifer: Which Danish law makes it illegal to insult Mohammed?

    Jesse posted this at the beginning of this thread:

    Denmark is no paragon of free speech. Article 140 of the Criminal Code allows for a fine and up to four months of imprisonment for demeaning a “recognized religious community.”

    Jennifer: Whatever it is, it needs to be changed, along with any other stupid “hate speech” laws.

    May be. But until then, I’m going to call bullshit on the Danish government use of the ‘freedom of expression’ execuse.

  55. Follow the money. Oily money.
    Muslims riot, europeans are filled with fear. Europe votes to bomb Iran.

    Are you just saying this as an insight? If so, I would say you have something there.

    Or, are you saying this because you think cencorship of the cartoon is correct. This is what I am assuming you are saying, because it falls into the Marxist ideology. (i.e. There should be freedom of speech, so long as speech is class consious and not counter-revolutionary… and since this speech certainly wouldn’t be, it should be banned).

  56. The point I’m making is that the Danish government discriminated against muslims in applying its own laws and it seems that most people here (including you) are giving it a free pass. If the discrimination was against a different group of people (say gays), not many here will be as forgiving.

    I’m giving it a “free pass,” as you say, because in the example from Salon provided by Jesse Walker, the loudmouth xenophobe was defaming race, not religious expression. Religious preference is a personal choice; race and sexual orientation (as far as the wingnut-free medical and psychological community is concerned) are not.

    People defame and discriminate by personal choice, or what is perceived to be personal choice, in our culture constantly without suffering the slightest censure whatsoever. Case in point: Simon of “American Idol” fame and his perfectly airtime-acceptable arsenal of fat jokes made at the expense of contestants. Potential adoptive families are discriminated against all the time, without consequence, for a variety of reasons: income, weight or physical attractiveness, sexual orientation, marital status, etc. Though federal law would prohibit employment discrimination based on marital status, our own tax code is free to discriminate based on marital status, and discriminates heavily against families who do not have children living at home, regardless of whether it’s by personal choice or physical limitation.

    I attended a small, conservative, Free Methodist college at which I drew a cartoon strip for the school’s weekly newspaper. One week, I drew a cartoon of Jesus having a small tizzy at humankind for taking his name in vain, because every time they did, he had to stop watching his favorite TV shows and go see what they wanted. The paper ran it without question. It scored exactly one LTTE from an ultraconservative biblical history prof criticizing my insensitive use of our Lord “watching television no less!” as my subject matter. My conservative preacher’s kid roommate from Bumf*ck, Montana, with whom I’m still excellent friends, said it was “cute.” I suffered no threats to my life, no rage-filled rallies outside my dorm, no burnings in effigy of which I’m aware.

    And you know what? I think if a bunch of 17- to 22-year-old Campus Life and AWANA-attending conservative Christian evangelical kids can control themselves when they see something they don’t like in the paper, so can Mohammed’s peeps.

  57. Jesse,

    And your point is…?

    I took that as snarky. Perhaps I’m highly sensitive 🙂

    My point: Advertisers want mass-market newspapers to be picked up so their ads are seen by more possible people. What’s more important to the advertisers: selling more papers by printing the newsworthy-though-possibly-offensive cartoons OR selling a few less papers for fear of offending a handful of highly sensitive customers? The math seems to indicate that you’ll sell fewer papers in the US if you offend Christians than if you offend Muslims. Yet the NYT takes the opposite editorial approach. Is your reasoning flawed or am I missing something? It’s possible that a lot of easily-offended Christians have already stopped buying the NYT years ago, though that would put the “mass-market” definition into question.

  58. What reasoning are you talking about, Russ? Rhywun asked a question about why newspapers don’t act like other paid media. I pointed out that, while you have to pay for many newspapers, they’re basically supported by ads, not consumer payments, so the “paid media” label doesn’t describe them as accurately as it describes, say, HBO. I didn’t reason out any conclusions from that; it’s just a factual observation.

    As for why The New York Times ran a photo of some art that offended Christians but won’t run cartoons that offended Muslims, I can think of several reasons. One is the difference between a picture of some art and the art itself: You aren’t reprinting the painting by publishing a photo of it, and I doubt a Christian group would target your advertisers because you allowed the offensive image to appear in what amount to quotation marks. Another is that, even if you do offend some Christians, they’re not as likely to respond violently as the Islamic fundamentalists are. And another is that newspaper editors can be dunderheads.

  59. “are you saying this because you think cencorship of the cartoon is correct.”

    No!! I think censorship is almost always a bad idea, except maybe the crying of fire in a crowded theater.

    I am saying that these cartoons were largely ignored by most until the saudis whipped up a furor right after the hajj trampling. To deflect attention from their incompetence with jihadi fever as usual.

    They have done it constantly, supporting suicide bombers, hate mongering madrassahs, hate filled fatwahs..why?

    Because that oil belongs to the people of the middle east, the saudi “royals” stole it with the help of colonial powers in the form of multinational oil corporations.

    When the US puppet regime of the shah was overthrown in Iran that threatened the oil fields.

    Now the neocons need permission from europe to bomb iran’s nuclear plants. Why? To protect their saudi, kuwaiti, iraqi oil.

    The toon riots ramp up the right in europe giving them the power to get their governments to join the bomb iran coalition of the willing.

    Any counter propaganda can get rioting going on both sides. That obscures the failed iraq war, spying impeachment scandal, high gas prices delay, kenny lay… scandal after scandal.. too numerous too mention, going into the ’06 election.

    Will bush bomb iran if he is facing impeachment or investigation? there goes the treasured dreams of empite of the neocons outloned in the ’98 PNAC documents.

    No space wars, no internet wars, no nuclear bunker busters, no conquest of the world for gaaawd’s own freedom guaranteed by him to every human being.. no end that they used to justify all these lying, corrupt, torturing, murdering, spying means.

    These cartoon riots precipitated by the saudis, bush’s best buddies come at a great time for the neocons. A neo-trifecta!! Remember the prezz afer 9/11..”I’ve hit the trifecta!”

  60. And I still say, no way the “holocaust cartoon contest” will be printed in major western media. A danish paper might do it out of a misguided effort to show the muslim press how freedom works? Maybe, we shall see.

    Remember one thing though, Israeli intelligence agencies do not riot, they act.

    As sure as any real threat from Iran’s nukes are being tracked right now by serious intelligence agents from Israel, and WILL be neutralized if a real threat arises.

    Surely anyone publishing insults over the holocaust better take this into account. “Never again” is more than a slogan.

    Ask Gerald Bull.

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