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Thursday, February 9, 2006

Freedom to Offend

Posted by on February 9 at 14:46 PM

Letters are pouring in regarding the paper running four of the controversial Danish cartoons, and you’ll be able to read them all online in a day or two. In the meantime, and in case you haven’t weighed in yet, check out these lively forum threads on the topic:
Denmark & Etcetera, Cartoons, and Boycott the Stranger.

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Not so fond of the forums myself, but they were worth a scan.

My meaningless 2 cents:

I am not even slightly offended that you published the cartoons, which I do find offensive.

I would not have chosen to republish the cartoons, were it my decision, not out of deference to religious sensitivities, but because I myself found some of the cartoons to be nothing more substantial than racist caricature. Also I don't think republication will have any of the intended consequences. The decision was not mine.

I will not boycott the Stranger or any of its advertisers. Individual publishers should be free to publish or not publish as their own sensibilities dictate.

I am mildly saddened that some fellow left-leaning commenters seem to have joined the "they hate freedom" bandwagon that fuels our pointless "war on terra." Rove will be pleased that some liberals have found something to fear.

I do not respect Bruce Bawer's position on this, nor that of the Stranger's editor. But I've enjoyed other things they've written. Regarding the cartoons, I find myself most closely aligned with what Eli has written on the blog, and I hope some of that sees print.

David - It is alarming that "cartoons [that are]nothing more substantial than racist caricature" can create the level of destruction and terror that they have. People need to see what is at the core. Left alone, the cartoons would have gone to the wind. Instead, they've become a torch for the world to see. The question that begs to be asked: Was the racist free speech worth it? Free speech is critical, but it also warrants responsibility. Publishing the cartoons is responsible because of the questionable irresponsibility of others.

Have you looked at the cartoons, David? Or are you afraid your eyes will burn? Check out this graph from the BBC:

"In the other, a schoolboy points to a blackboard on which it is written in Farsi: 'The editorial team of Jyllands-Posten are a bunch of reactionary provocateurs.' The boy is labelled 'Mohammed, Valby school, 7A,' suggesting he is a second-generation Iranian immigrant to Denmark. 'The future' is written on his shirt."

Wow, sounds really racist—no, wait. It sounds like the paper printed, in its original batch, a cartoon that was critical of the paper, its motives, etc. So it's simply not accurate to describe them all as a bunch of racist scribblings.

You know what, Dan? Fuck you.

You go ahead and misrepresent and simplify and reduce all you want, until everyone who disagrees with you is a freedom hating fascist. That's what people do, so I'm used to it. Your fanatacism is familiar.

Here's my original quote: "I myself found some of the cartoons to be nothing more substantial than racist caricature."

Here's your quote: "So it's simply not accurate to describe them all as a bunch of racist scribblings."

You're a fucking dork.

Ah, well. You got me—I misread your post. Comment withdrawn.

I still think you've got your head up your ass—maybe that's a good defensive posture, though. When they come to cut it off, they'll have to hack you in half.

Gracious, promoted to the front of the slog.

I've just barely started reading today's "real" Stranger content, so I'll be getting back to that. In the meantime, I think my point bears restating for the forumphobic: the conservative media is spinning this for all it's worth, and it's incumbent on liberal rags like The Stranger to stay awake and to help keep those progressives that are frothing about this from getting hoodwinked.

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