Okay, having gone to college for journalism and having sold some articles to a local newspaper, I'm all for freedom of the press. However, when this controversy first came out in the general news about two weeks ago, I was squarely on the side of the Muslims, for one reason: respect for a religious tradition. I feel that "self-censorship" can be just as important as saying anything and everything you think, for the simple fact that sometimes what you say can hurt people needlessly.
Today I did some digging. I don't know why, but I did. I love editorial cartoons. I tend to find most of them hilarious, especially the liberal cartoons bashing our "beloved" President. I'm not even sorry for it, I simply can't stand the man and his smirk (nookyooler). *shudder* Even if I don't agree with the viewpoint they represent (ie. Pro-Bush), I love the sheer artistry and talent involved in getting what are often complex issues across in a single drawing.
Well, I went to Daryl Cagle's Professional Cartoonists Index. I love this website. His blog is presenting an interesting pov and led me to another website that is making me really think twice about my original stand. Here is the link to his blog, especially the January 7th blog, which brought a lot of it into perspective for me. He also posts the cartoons which started the whole thing here. As he says, they are "disappointingly dull". I guess the Danes have an even drier wit than I appreciate.
The link he provided is that of Tom Gross, Middle East media analyst, who has compiled a page of cartoons he says are typical of the Arab press. Um, well, I'd rate them as offensive at the least (the worthy goal of any political cartoonist, granted) and downright disgusting at the worst (above and beyond the call of political cartooning duty). Apparently, they go out of their way to offend Jews, which I can sort of understand, given the overwhelming dislike, shall we say, the Arab world has for Israel. They paint us with the same brush to an extent. I have to admit to getting a bit of a chuckle out of the one that made Bush look like a parrot, but to me it would have been a hell of a lot funnier if it had been Karl Rove and not a stereotypical, racial-slur image of a Jewish man holding and prompting him to repeat what was said to him. That part wasn't funny to me at all.
So, now I'm leaning right down the middle. I had thought all along that it was stupid of the Danish paper to print them, just as it is wrong of the Muslims "protesting" by violence, not to mention calling a fatwa on the twelve cartoonists. Well, I did just mention it, actually. Anyway, you have the Muslims calling for apologies and the cartoonists heads. They are boycotting Danish products, which is the civilized and most effective way of expressing one's displeasure with a nation in general, by hitting them in the wallet. However, they are also damaging property, kidnapping people and hurting others. Then you have the idiot European newspapers, who in a show of solidarity with their EU brothers, are further inflaming the situation by repeatedly and increasingly publishing the damned things.
Simply put, everyone's wrong and everyone's right! Yes, free speech is a valued thing, but just because you can say something, doesn't mean you have to. As for the Muslims going apeshit over the whole thing, have you ever heard the old line about glass houses and stones? I realize there is a proscription against depicting Muhammad. Cool. Fine. But you have to learn how to play well with others if you want to get anywhere. Self-censorship works both ways, people!