No More Mr. Nice Guy
Okay, I got all sensitive. But now, after reading Charles Krauthammer’s op-ed in the Washington Post, I’m going to blow whatever good will my last post might have earned me. I agree with most of what Krauthammer has to say—and that’s not my usual reaction to his op-eds.
There is a “sensitivity” argument for not having published the cartoons in the first place, back in September when they first appeared in that Danish newspaper. But it is not September. It is February. The cartoons have been published, and the newspaper, the publishers and Denmark itself have come under savage attack. After multiple arsons, devastating boycotts, and threats to cut off hands and heads, the issue is no longer news value, i.e., whether a newspaper needs to publish them to inform the audience about what is going on. The issue now is solidarity.
The mob is trying to dictate to Western newspapers, indeed Western governments, what is a legitimate subject for discussion and caricature. The cartoons do not begin to approach the artistic level of Salman Rushdie’s prose, but that’s not the point. The point is who decides what can be said and what can be drawn within the precincts of what we quaintly think of as the free world.
The mob has turned this into a test case for freedom of speech in the West. The German, French and Italian newspapers that republished these cartoons did so not to inform but to defy — to declare that they will not be intimidated by the mob.
What is at issue is fear. The unspoken reason many newspapers do not want to republish is not sensitivity but simple fear.
i agree. Like I told the Seattle Times, the question people should be asking is not “Why are these images in The Stranger,” but, “Why aren’t these images in the Seattles Times and the PI and the Thrifty Nickel.”
You can read the rest of Krauthammer’s op-ed here.