Much ado about something
It's amazing to watch how quickly newspapers will rally to the defence of any perceived slight against a free press, especially when so many are so silent on other rights abuses. I remember reading many editorials throughout the ongoing security-certificate debate that asserted that there are natural limits on every freedom. A fair point, even if I don't agree that it applies in this case. Which is why I'm a little dumbfounded by the uproar over the cartoons first published in a Danish newspaper back in September. Not by the uproar in the Muslim world, but in the seeminly-universal opinion among editorialists in the Western world that the papers had every right to print the cartoons and damn the Muslims who got upset. Did they have the right to print them? Sure they did. Do the Muslims have the right to be pissed? Of course they do. I don't think they should be threatening the lives of European citizens but to pretend they don't have a legitimate grievance is disingenuous, to say the least. When the first paper decided to print those cartoons, they had a decision to make. Was it worth offending thousands (millions?) of people to make their editorial point? (Speaking of which, what was their editorial point? That seems to have been lost in the coverage of the whole thing). Sure they had the right to print the cartoons, but there needs to be a balance. The freedom of the press is something I hold very dear but I also recognize that with that freedom comes a sense of responsibility. What you have a right to do and what you have a responsiblity to do are two very different things. Anyway, reading back over this post I don't think I've made my points as lucidly as I'd hoped. But check out this web-exclusive comment from the Globe, written by an editorial cartoonist. He says what I'm trying to say in a much better way:
As a cartoonist, I understand and support the editor of the Jyllands-Posten and his action in promoting the fundamental importance of free speech. Democracy has always been a messy business and mistakes in judgment are a constant risk. If there was any error in judgment, perhaps it lies in the fact that the artists were asked to comment on the validity of a specific religion's taboos. Under the rules of a free press, it's fair game - but to what end?