February 8th, 2006


Those Cartoons Again

So, here's my take on the Danish newspaper's cartoons and the responses to it.

*insert random frothing at the mouth about the importance of free speech to a free society here*


No, really. When I first heard about it, I considered the tastefulness of making a point by deliberately violating one of the tenets of Islam. But by now I've heard enough people dissing the cartoonists that I no longer feel any need to. Now I want to draw a picture of Mohammad myself. I don't know how I can draw a guy who's been dead for over a millenia and who was deliberately never depicted while alive, but hey, I'm willing to try! By all means, let me offend you!

*insert more frothing here*

Anyway, I read the White House press briefing on the subject, which wasn't nearly as bad as I'd been led to expect, so I'm going to reproduce the relevant portion here.

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I haven't seen what the regime in Iran has said. I think we've made our views very clear when it comes to the regime. But in terms of the issue relating to the cartoons, we have spoken out about this very issue. We condemn the acts of violence that have taken place. There simply is no justification to engage in violence. We call for constructive and peaceful dialogue based on respect for all religious faiths. Those who disagree with the views have the right to express their views, but they should do so in a peaceful manner. And we urge all governments to take steps to lower tensions and prevent violence, including against diplomatic premises, businesses and individuals.

And let me just make a couple other important comments. We have talked about the need for tolerance and respect for people of all communities and of all faiths. And that's important for everyone to heed. We have also said that we understand fully why Muslims find the cartoons offensive, and we have spoken out about that. In a free society, people have the right to express their views, even when they are offensive and wrong. We support and respect the freedom of press, but there are also important responsibilities that come with that freedom. And that's why we continue to urge tolerant respect for people of all faiths.

We also urge all those who are criticizing or critical of the cartoons to forcefully speak out against all forms of hateful speech, including cartoons and articles that frequently have appeared in the Arab world espousing anti-Semitic and anti-Christian views. So I think those are the points that we would emphasize when it comes to this very issue.

So, okay, Mr. McClellan does note that 'hate speech = bad' (although I note that he doesn't quite make the leap of saying the cartoons in question were hate speech, mmm, governmentese, read what you like in it) and that "we understand fully why Muslims find the cartoons offensive". But at least he also says the most important part:

In a free society, people have the right to express their views, even when they are offensive and wrong.

Yeah. And you know what? Those people boycotting Danish products and stomping on Danish flags and threatening Danish tourists and burning Danish embassies? Their message is, uniformly, not merely "I find these cartoons offensive" but rather "The Danish government should have stopped them from being published."

And no FREAKIN' way do I have any sympathy for that.

*concluding frothing here*