Thursday, February 16, 2006

the muhammad cartoons controversy

After the original publication of the Muhammad cartoons in a Danish newspaper, it has been made very clear that many people found them offensive. The amazing thing has been the insistence of other publications to republish these cartoons after they have already ignited so much chaos. According to Wikipedia they were republished in 40 countries. In defense of their actions the publishers unanimously insight freedom of speech.

It made me wonder, what exactly is freedom of speech to these people? Ability to insult others just because they can?

In our day-to-day life we seem to know what is wrong. Nobody would argue that a person making fun of someone’s illness, or insulting someone’s mother is right. You wouldn’t distribute an embarrassing caricature of your friend at their workplace. At least not if you expect to remain friends. As people interacting with other people, over the course of our history of living together, we’ve learned that some things need to not be said or done.

This is not a question of censorship. This is a question of moral values, which publishers should not be immune to. Has it been unnoticed by them, after the first publishing, that it offends so many people? Does publishing it again promote a noble goal, like spreading tolerance? Encouraging education? Helping the oppressed? Creating a peaceful world for our children?

If they are so fixed on free speech, surely they can look in their own backyard and find stories that need to be told. Find people who are shut out and need a voice to speak for them.

Doing something just because you can is not a sign of moral maturity. Making intelligent choices is. If everyone on a planet with six and a half billion people said and did what they felt like without regard for other human beings, we wouldn’t last here very long.


Anonymous Galina said...

Well, now ... you expect people to use their rights RESPONSIBLY? :-)

I don't agree with the cartoons. Some of them I definitely found offensive, poor taste, and bad judgment. Others, I had to scratch my head over and ask myself, "what the **** is that?"

I don't agree with violence to protest the cartoons either. I figure, if catholics don't get violent after South Park depicts them as pedofiles who worship the giant mother spider, everyone can take lessons in forgiveness from them.

(And a good spider it was...)

12:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"None of the cartoons transcends the limits of what we usually say and do in Denmark," Rose says. "We make fun of Jesus Christ, we make fun of the royal family, we make fun of politicians, and so on and so forth. And among those 12 cartoons, in fact, one of them is specifically making fun of me and my newspaper, saying we are a bunch of reactionary provocateurs. Another cartoon is making fun of a very famous Danish politician who is critical towards Muslim immigration."

2:17 AM  
Blogger vasilisa said...

My issue here is not as much with the original publishing (they actually have apologized), as with people continuing to reprint it when they know for a fact the negative emotions it stirs up. Hiding behind ‘freedom of speech’ in order to provoke somebody is cheap.

You can appeal to ‘freedom of speech’ once, maybe. But pushing the same buttons over and over unveils much sinister motivations.

2:29 AM  
Blogger Jon said...


That happens in this country all the time especially all of the cartoons of our Presidents. The difference in that case people in America don't resort to violence because of a silly cartoon. I don't think reprinting or reposting of the cartoons is a good idea, but I do think discussing the ridiculous response to the images is perfectly ok. I haven't seen all of them, but the one I have doesn't seem to far out of the reality since many of the suicide bombers claim to be doing it in the name of Islam. At the same time I don't see too many of the Muslim clerics condemning in the name of Islam.

5:01 AM  
Blogger vasilisa said...


I have personally seen muslims condemning the violence on TV and in print.

And here is an interesting link to check out:
just to point out that people of all religions come with different convictions.

5:10 PM  
Blogger Jon Swift said...

I agree there's entirely too much free speech going on. Though I'm not so sure why the Muslims were so upset about Muhammad Ali cartoons from the 1970s.

12:30 PM  

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