February 08, 2006

Cartoonish Logic

This is a longer, more thought out, version of the post I made late last night. Note that it's a combination of thoughts from when I was tired at around 1 a.m. and about five minutes of additional thought during my lunch break here at work, so I apologize if it reads like a competing narrative from Jekyl and Hyde at the same time.

Okay, so, media outlets nationwide are opting not to reprint the Muhammad cartoons that have caused, and are still causing, such a furor worldwide. Keep in mind, we're talking about CARTOONS here. Cartoons like:


And, more humorously:


More can be found online.com/sarticle.php?id=12146">here, if you're interested. They're all pretty tame, really.

Now, far be it for me to suggest bloggers might offer something that media such as newspapers don't or won't, but I just exercised more free speech and freedom of the press than SOME PEOPLE are willing to go.

At this point in the controversy, which began weeks ago, we think there's nothing to be gained by publishing the cartoons. Our wire service stories have described at least a few of the drawings, which are basically political caricatures of Muhammad and pointed commentary about Islamic terrorism.

You see, rather than provide you with a Snickers bar, they'd rather try and explain what a Snickers bar is like. Because they think they're more qualified to provide the Snickers experience. And, really, the expiration date on the Snickers is kind of questionable, so. . .

The cartoons themselves, which are easily accessible on the Web, aren't the story now — it's the violent reaction they've incited.

Oh, sure, the cartoons would PROBABLY give some context, and expose just how batcrap stupid the violent reaction is but, again, they don't think they're all that necessary for providing a complete story. A violent reaction to CARTOONS? Is such a thing possible? Man, could I see the cartoons? No? Why the hell not? IT'S AN IMPORTANT VISUAL PART OF THE STORY! GAH!

Some European newspapers republished the cartoons just to show that the rights of free expression and a free press, regardless of religious or political pressure, is alive and well.

Cool. So, some European newspapers understand freedom of the press better than most American newspapers. We're #2! We're #2!

As a journalist, I can admire that. I also think a strong front-page editorial (without the cartoons) would have made the same point.

Because, as stated, they're more qualified to explain the Snickers experience, apparently.

In any case, we don't see a need to publish the cartoons. If millions of people have been offended by them, or by news reports of them, it seems gratuitous to offend some more.

However, in the case of flag-draped coffins or Abu-Ghraib images, they'll publish those until the year 2067. Which, by the way, although the images of coffins and abuse make me uncomfortable, I believe in the right to publish them. I just object completely to the ridiculous double-standard on display here.

Later on, in response to my pointed commentary, I'm advised to:

see the Wall Street Journal editorial page column regarding the widely reported Muslim "prohibition" on Muhammad imagery.

Okay, so, I don't have acces to the WSJ, but I do understand the "prohibition" on Muhammad imagery, and I also understand it's a bit more complex than some would have you believe right now.

Further, I'm pretty sure the "prohibition" applies to, you know, people of the Islamic faith and not to the worldwide and nationwide news media in general. I certainly didn't see that caveat in the First Amendment. Perhaps we should tweak it to read:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech (unless it could potentially offend Muslims), or of the press (see Muslim canard in the previous free speech mention); or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

All news organizations opting to not run with even one of those cartoons are pretty darned pathetic, in my opinion. If you're squeamish about running a cartoon because you think it could, maybe, possibly, but not very likely, give Achmed down the street the vapors to the point he starts mixing a bath tub molotov cocktail, you probably really need to grow a pair.

Posted by Ryan at February 8, 2006 12:01 AM | TrackBack

oy, this is all really getting out of hand. i mean, i don't think the cartoons are funny (as Joshua pointed out, i apparently *don't* have a sense of humor), so that's why i wouldn't run them. but to write articles about them without running them is like writing articles about pieces of art without showing a graphic of the piece of art itself. i myself hadn't heard of this hullabaloo until i read this post and would have had no idea what they were talkinga bout it i'd read about it in the news without the graphic. and the lame excuse about offending the Muhammed imagry rule..... wow. as you note, they don't seem to feel bad about publishing all sorts of other offensive imagry of all kinds.

Posted by: amy.leblanc at February 8, 2006 07:10 PM

I have nothing intelligent to add. I just wanted to say, "HI, RYAN!" Glad to see you're still alive and blogging.

- your old officemate

Posted by: Jen at February 10, 2006 12:42 AM

More important, Jen, are YOU still blogging? And, you're at Mayo now, correct?

Posted by: Ryan at February 10, 2006 09:11 AM

I mentioned this over at the Mint a few days back in reaction to the reaction. It seems to me that the muslim efforts would be better served protesting against the groups that are the source of the perceptions behind the cartoons. Last time I checked, the Netherlands had little fault in creating the image of militant-islam.

"Course, it's would not be too safe marching outside of Hamas or Hezebollah…even if such a place existed.

Posted by: seed at February 17, 2006 04:32 PM
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