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Friday, February 10, 2006

P-I Flip Flop?

Posted by on February 10 at 14:50 PM

Thanks to this post on Sound Politics for pointing out the following:

A November, 2003 column in the P-I defended the publication of this Ted Rall cartoon, saying: “Cartoons should provoke discourse, and wild exaggerations do just that. Especially when they make us uncomfortable.”

But then, as Stefan Sharkansky points out, the P-I ran an editorial like this about their decision to not print those zany cartoons that have people pulling their beards out: “It’s hard to understand why any cartoon, no matter how offensive, could be cause or justification for deadly mayhem. But publishing culturally insensitive and offending material as an in-your-face retort to the fanaticism is just as senseless.”

So provocative cartoons that get us talking and make us uncomfortable are great, except… not?

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The press can and should publish what they want. That's easy.

But I think you answer your own question within the context of your note.

I believe there can be valid cases made by even free-speech press advocates to differentiate between:

"provocative cartoons that get us talking and make us uncomfortable"


"publishing culturally insensitive and offending material as an in-your-face retort"

Yes, I think the press should be free to do either of these, actually. But the freedom to do so is not a *requirement* to do so. As much as I detest those radicals on whatever side that see the cartoon brohaha as a way to demonize others, I'm not overly impressed at so many "free speech" advocates who blithly refuse to see any sensitivity about offending people as anything but "giving in."

I very much enjoy provocation that promotes communication. But it's awfully easy to provoke other people in such a way that all you do is piss them off and shut-down communication. I used to have a "friend" who liked to say, "If I piss people off, at least I get them thinking." The truth was, no, he didn't get them thinking, he was just an insensitive jerk and people *stopped* thinking when he started off on one of his harangues because he was such a self-righteous toad.

Again I love our free press and would throw myself in front of a tank to protect it, but I'm not hearing any genuine discourse as a result of these cartoons -- except that most people who are advocates of a "free press" think most Muslims are suicidal, homicidal, fruitball fanatics. Gee, that's getting everybody talking ...

"I very much enjoy provocation that promotes communication."

Who doesn't, but when dealing with religious fundamentalists there is no "communication". Their actions and oppinions are driven by blind faith, not reason, so good luck "communicating" with them.

Of course this isn't a Muslim problem, it is a human problem. Christian fundamentlists have more money, more power and hold the office of the President of the United States. No wonder they aren't as angry when they are targets of ridicule.

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