Cartoon Craziness- Where Do We Draw The Line When It Comes To Freedom Of Speech
Jyllands-Posten, the Danish newspaper that published cartoons of Muslim
Prophet Muhammad, has appeared in the media quite a bit in the past few
weeks. The whole caricature fiasco has dominated the headlines. Whether
it was more embassy attacks, people dying in riots or calls to boycott
Danish products, it has been hard to open the newspaper and not see
something related to the "Danish Disaster". But what has lead to
such anger in the Arab/Islamic world? Is it justified? Should we be just
What lead to this outrage and violence? Is it the fact that Muhammad is
portrayed in an image? Is it that he is portrayed in a negative image?
These specific images were published back in September, but images of
Muhammad have been around for centuries. From Asian and Islamic
manuscripts and paintings to Dante's Inferno, this is hardly the first
depiction of Muhammad. [Link]
Is this anger justified? As a Jew I am offended when cartoons are
published portraying Jews as Nazis, bloodthirsty killers or comparing us
to Hitler. Generalizations based on stereotypes generally offend
someone. The difference is in what the offended party does about it.
Attacking embassies is not what you do. Rioting is not what you do.
When a cartoon portrays Muhammad with a bomb in his turban, implying
Muslims' tendency to violence, diplomatic means of protesting would
probably be a better idea.
I am a strong believer in freedom of speech. I think what the Danish
newspaper did was completely legit and they don't owe anyone an
apology. If the table were turned and the cartoons were anti-Jewish I
would write a letter to the editor, but I wouldn't say become violent.
Everyone is entitled to his or her opinion, just because I don't agree
with it doesn't mean it shouldn't be published. With that said I
believe people should show discretion when it comes to subject matter
such as this. Were some of these cartoons in bad taste? Maybe. Would I
be more outraged if the reaction to these cartoons was a peaceful one
and not the incitement of more violence? For sure.
If the people in power in the Islamic/Arab world spoke out more against
the violence these cartoonists were drawing their material from, maybe I
would feel more sympathy. If they spoke out more against the depictions
of Jews as child killers, maybe I would be just a little more outraged.
But until that happens, long live freedom of speech.