The Cartoons

I thought that Tim Rutten wrote a fabulous piece here. I am going to grab bits and pieces that really highlight it.

Rutten opens by speaking about his request to run the cartoons in the Calendar section of the Times with a special note so that people who might be offended would be forewarned. His request was rejected. The bold below was added by me.

“This paper has ample company. The New York Times, the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal and USA Today all have declined to run the cartoons because many Muslims find them offensive. The people who run Associated Press, NBC, CBS, CNN and National Public Radio’s website agree. So far, the only U.S. news organizations to provide a look at what this homicidal fuss is about are the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Austin American-Statesman, the Fox cable network and ABC.

Among those who decline to show the caricatures, only one, the Boston Phoenix, has been forthright enough to admit that its editors made the decision “out of fear of retaliation from the international brotherhood of radical and bloodthirsty Islamists who seek to impose their will on those who do not believe as they do. This is, frankly, our primary reason for not publishing any of the images in question. Simply stated, we are being terrorized, and as deeply as we believe in the principles of free speech and a free press, we could not in good conscience place the men and women who work at the Phoenix and its related companies in physical jeopardy.”

There is something wonderfully clarifying about honesty.”

That is an incredible statement. Think about that. In the US we pride ourselves on Free Speech and look at what was said.

Take a careful look at the next couple of excerpts.

“Meanwhile, ironies that would be laughable were the situation not so dire have mounted by the day. For one thing, reporting in this paper, the New York Times and Wall Street Journal has made it clear that what’s at work here is not the Muslim street’s spontaneous revulsion against sacrilege but a calculated campaign of manipulation by European Islamists and self-interested Middle Eastern governments. If the images first published in Jyllands-Posten last September are so inherently offensive that they cannot be viewed in any context, why did Danish Muslims distribute them across an Islamic world that seldom looks at Copenhagen newspapers? As Bernard-Henri Levy wrote this week, we have here a case of “self-inflicted blasphemy.”

Then there’s the question of why there was no reaction whatsoever when Al Fagr, one of Egypt’s largest newspapers, published these cartoons on its front page Oct. 17 — that’s right, four months ago — during Ramadan. Apparently its editor, Adel Hamouda, isn’t as sensitive as his American colleagues.”

Interesting, isn’t it. If you look at the timeline you have to ask yourself what is going on behind the scenes. Who is orchestrating this. Who is pulling the strings. Now look at this.

“Nothing, however, quite tops the absurdity of two pieces on the situation done this week by the New York Times and CNN. In the former instance, a thoughtful essay by the paper’s art critic was illustrated with a 7-year-old reproduction of Chris Ofili’s notorious painting of the Virgin Mary smeared with elephant dung. (Apparently, her fans aren’t as touchy as Muhammad’s.) Thursday, CNN broadcast a story on how common anti-Semitic caricatures are in the Arab press and illustrated it with —you guessed it — one virulently anti-Semitic cartoon after another. As the segment concluded, Wolf Blitzer looked into the camera and piously explained that while CNN had decided as a matter of policy not to broadcast any image of Muhammad, telling the story of anti-Semitism in the Arab press required showing those caricatures.

He didn’t even blush.”

Something is rotten and it is not just in Denmark.

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  1. Jack's Shack February 13, 2006 at 6:57 am


    It says that we haven’t learned a thing.


    I am really disturbed by this. We are setting ourselves up for future problems.


    I am with you, shoulder to shoulder.


    It is a serious responsibility and not one that I discount, but we are hurting ourselves.

    Especially when we see that the media will show offensive cartoons for other groups and not Muslims.

    As you know, I don’t think that we should go out of our way to offend people, but there is a real problem.

    Someone is fanning the flames here and trying to create some real problems.

  2. Stephen (aka Q) February 12, 2006 at 3:36 pm

    From the Boston Phoenix quote:
    We could not in good conscience place the men and women who work at the Phoenix and its related companies in physical jeopardy.

    I think that argument has merit. The editors would be making a decision that would put casual employees and even non-employees at risk — people who mop the floors, couriers who deliver things to the building, passersby on the sidewalk.

    Those people would not participate in the editorial decision, but they might end up as casualties of a terrorist act.

    That’s a heavy responsibility the editors are weighing, not to be brushed off. Freedom of speech is a core value; so is the need to protect vulnerable and innocent people.

  3. Datingmaster, Jerusalem February 12, 2006 at 1:17 pm

    I liked your comment that “I work the women while you work the barbecue”-as long as you are here in blogging land, there is humor and hope

  4. Datingmaster, Jerusalem February 12, 2006 at 9:55 am

    question not related to your posting: is the blogging world getting more aggressive or is it just me?

  5. Datingmaster, Jerusalem February 12, 2006 at 9:54 am

    of course there is abusiness decision as well
    anyway thanks for your spicy comments on my barbecue fantasy post
    I invited the elite bloggers to my barbecue-you made the mark

  6. Ezzie February 12, 2006 at 9:05 am

    RE: Blitzer et al at CNN… SICKENING, HYPOCRITICAL, MORONS. (Sorry, I don’t normally write like this.)

  7. -Ann February 12, 2006 at 8:17 am

    The cartoon thing has been getting a lot of press over here. One of the allegations I heard is that Danish clerics basically went on a PR tour across the Middle East to whip up agitation and they brought the original cartoons printed in the Danish paper but also some other, much more offensive cartoons that had never been printed in any paper.

    I like the characterisation of the incident as “self-inflicted blasphemy.” The right questions are definitely not being asked right now – who are the people who stirred things up, why did they stir them up, and who is benefitting from it? The handwringing and debate over terrorism is an easy and sensational angle to the story, but it’s not the whole story or even the most essential part of the story.

  8. Stacey February 12, 2006 at 6:37 am

    How sad that so many papers will be bullied. What does that say?

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