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One More Cartoon Post

Wednesday, February 8, 2006
Keywords: Politics

This is starting to become an old topic, and I have pretty much said all that I have to say about it, but there were two noteworthy things that caught my attention today.

First, Alan Dershowitz appeared on Danish television with some surprisingly angry comments. As I had expected from this staunch civil libertarian, he sided with the right to publish these cartoons. What surprised me was how he approached the issue. While he is generally quite eloquent and measured in his writings, he was more or less seething in this interview. Instead of defending the cartoons on the principles of free expression, he went on the offensive to point out the relatively mild nature of these cartoons (the turban-bomb one is probably the most offensive of the twelve; most of the others are not nearly as bad) when compared to the kinds of Islamic publications that "are a staple out of Gaza every week." Not that I disagree with him, but I personally would have picked something a bit more substantial than a "but they did it too" to start things off. He then makes a point that most people have not actually seen these cartoons and that, if they had, they would realize just how relatively mild they are. Okay, good point, but still failing to really touch on the issue of free speech. Finally, he describes the entire situation as a form of terrorism where news outlets are afraid to publish because they fear violent retaliation (vs. angry letters and some peaceful protests, I suppose). I think that fits the definition of terrorism quite well, and I think that this is a great point that he brought up. Nevertheless, I was a bit disappointed, as this is probably as far as he got to defending the core principles of free speech. Oh well; he was speaking to a different audience.

Second, something that has been spreading through the "blogosphere" is the revelation that six of the twelve cartoons (including the notorious turban-bomb cartoon) were printed in Egypt last October without any sort of reaction. As much as I dislike conspiracy theories, this does lend quite a bit of weight to the argument that these cartoons are not really offensive on their own and that the protests have been more or less engineered by governments and/or fundamentalist leaders.

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