Sure, its a bit on the cheesy side, but its Mohammed and was painted by a Muslim woman living in Iran (Yes, that Iran) who sells her work online.
Unfortunately Acton Gorton, 25, the suspended editor-in-chief (who may have also violated accepted D.I. procedures in his zeal to print the cartoons), didnt present the best defense. "We did this to raise a healthy dialogue about an important issue that is in the news and so that people would learn more about Islam," he told the Times.
No, Mr. Gordon, you didnt educate people about Islam and you didnt intend to. Your purpose was (or should have been) to show that Americans are not about to suddenly toss away a two-century tradition of free speech. You ran the cartoons because you knew people didnt want you to; dont wimp out now.
The real wimp is University Chancellor Richard Herman, who sent a letter to the D.I that read in part, "I believe that the D.I. could have engaged its readers in legitimate debate about the issues surrounding the cartoons publication in Denmark without publishing them. It is possible, for instance, to editorialize about pornography without publishing pornographic pictures."
Really? Dollars to doughnuts Herman wouldnt have said the same about the images of abuse from Abu Ghraib. Imagine if the print media had simply described "a man wearing a hood standing on a box with wires taped to his fingers." Loses something in the translation, doesnt it?
More importantly, you dont make a point about exercising free speech by allowing yourself to be intimidated into not exercising free speech. And while public health officials warn us we dont get nearly enough exercise, the one thing Americans exercise more than anybody is free expression.
Some Muslims have rightly accused European countries of hypocrisy because they allowed the cartoons but have laws against denying the Holocaust in print. But over here being offensive is 100% legal and thank heaven for it, because the alternative is somebody deciding what is and isnt.
Sorry, but you cant have free speech unless you allow people to say what others believe to be hateful, stupid, or insensitive.
So were left with why Shaz Kaiseruddin, a third-year law student at the University of Illinois and president of the Muslim Student Association, objected to the printing of the cartoons. She said it was enough that the D.I. was "so ignorant and disrespectful."Sorry Miss, but when you move to or even visit a new land you agree that you (and if you stay) your progeny will abide by its laws and customs. Here you have to put up with a newspaper printing a cartoon of Mohammed with a bomb in his turban.
But depending on where you or your family came from, you could have been born in a nation that stones women for committing adultery, forces them to wear a Burqa, forbids them to vote, and wont let them drive. Is that your idea of showing respect?
Thats not to say: "America, love it or leave it." Theres yet a third route: change it.
Miss Kaiseruddin has the right to try to convince us her position on depictions of Mohammed is correct, indeed she expressed that position in the nations most prominent newspaper, regarding an occurrence in one of Americas least prominent newspapers. Shes exercising her free speech rights, even as she would deny them to others.
Oh, and then theres the view of Reem Rahman of the UI Council on American-Islamic Relations. She told the local paper that her fellow Muslim students "absolutely respect" the right of free speech, but not when it deliberately disparages an ethnic or religious group. Look up the meaning of "absolute" in two dictionaries, Miss Rahman, and call me in the morning.
Read Michael Fumentos other work on the media.