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Author Topic: Jihad over Danish Cartoons v.2
vulture
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quote:

"These cartoons are offensive to the belief of Muslims," a State Department spokesman, Kurtis Cooper, said. "We all fully recognise and respect freedom of the press and expression but it must be coupled with responsibility."

Evidently the US State Department is also against publishing these cartoons. Three cheers for freedom. Trying to ingratiate themselves with Muslims, maybe?
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Dagonee
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How is the idea that freedoms should be exercised responsibly and with respect for others against freedom (I'm assuming from the context you were being sarcastic with "Three cheers for freedom.")?
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Eric
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quote:
These cartoons are offensive to the belief of Muslims
Gee...d'ya think?

quote:
We all fully recognise and respect freedom of the press and expression but it must be coupled with responsibility
True, and probably designed, as vulture suggests, to ingratiate the US with Muslims. But note, no direct condemnation of publications choosing to print the cartoons.

Sure, it'd be nice to say "Screw you! A free press publishes what a free press chooses!", but political realities don't permit that.

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Lifewish
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quote:
How is the idea that freedoms should be exercised responsibly and with respect for others against freedom
Because the idea that at all costs you must show respect to others, whether or not you actually feel any respect for them, is a bad habit to get into. Over time, it can become a requirement, and then you're really stuffed.

The idea that you have a "right" to not be offended is completely antithetical to the concept of free and open discourse on which the democratic nations are founded.

quote:
Sure, it'd be nice to say "Screw you! A free press publishes what a free press chooses!", but political realities don't permit that.
I'd say that political realities absolutely require that. The alternative is a slippery slope into complete inability to discuss the failings of any individual or group for fear of offending them.

[ February 04, 2006, 09:41 AM: Message edited by: Lifewish ]

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Eric
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Lifewish --

You have a good point, but direct, no-nonsense language has never been the State Dept.'s strong suit.

And try to picture the reaction of Muslims within the Iraqi Army and Gov't if State had said otherwise. That's what I meant by political reality.

As for this statement:
quote:
The idea that you have a "right" to not be offended is completely antithetical to the concept of free and open discourse on which the democratic nations are founded.
Bravo!
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Dagonee
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quote:
Because the idea that at all costs you must show respect to others, whether or not you actually feel any respect for them, is a bad habit to get into. Over time, it can become a requirement, and then you're really stuffed.
And if I had said "at all costs" your reply might be on point. But I didn't.

The cartoon purposely affronted a large group of others in order to make a point about some of them. There's no cost for them to

quote:
The idea that you have a "right" to not be offended is completely antithetical to the concept of free and open discourse on which the democratic nations are founded.
The idea that you have a "right" to not be subject to condemnation for offensive things you say is completely antithetical to the concept of free and open discourse.

I haven't said anyone has a right not to be offended. I have said they have a right to bitch about being offended. And third parties have a right to accuse the offenders of irresponsibility and disrespect. That's free speech.

Everyone seems to be confusing freedom of speech from government intereference with freedom from condemnation about what one chooses to express.

If someone says something offensive, it is an exercise of freedom of speech to tell them they are being offensive. It's also an exercise of freedom of speech to say, "I don't think you should have said that."

Then you can exercise your freedom of speech to say, "Yes, I should have said that. Here's why."

It's one thing to condemn death threats as being antithetical to free speech. It's another to condemn condemnations of particular speech as antithetical to free speech.

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Eric
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quote:
The cartoon purposely affronted a large group of others in order to make a point about some of them.
And you know, for a fact, that this was done to purposely offend? How do you know this?
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Dagonee
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They knew it was considered blasphemy when they did it.
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Eric
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OK, fair enough. I'll buy that. But then again, so what? I don't recall evangelical Christians shooting guns in the air, making death threats or threatening terrorist attacks over Piss Christ.

And I sure as hell don't remember anyone on the left criticizing the "artist" for intentionally offending Christians. Surely he, too, knew his work would be considered blasphemous, and therefore intentionally offended Christians?

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flydye45
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It's the standard double standard. As Christian Westerners, we are expected to be mature, have a sense of humor, and put up with other people's "artistic freedom". Non Westerners and (ahem) anti-War protestors, have thinners skins for some reason. Different expectations. And that is just wrong.
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Dagonee
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quote:
I don't recall evangelical Christians shooting guns in the air, making death threats or threatening terrorist attacks over Piss Christ.
And I haven't defended anyone doing so, have I?

quote:
And I sure as hell don't remember anyone on the left criticizing the "artist" for intentionally offending Christians. Surely he, too, knew his work would be considered blasphemous, and therefore intentionally offended Christians?
So? This means that someone on the right can't say that publishing the cartoons was wrong, even as he says they should have the right to do it?

It seems to me that people are unnecessarily making this a dichotomous choice or assuming that others speaking on the subject are making a dichotomous choice: either it was wrong to publish the cartoons or it was wrong to make death threats in response.

I think both were wrong, and I don't think the fact that some people reacted violently to the cartoons somehow makes it wrong to condemn the cartoons.

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Dagonee
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quote:
It's the standard double standard. As Christian Westerners, we are expected to be mature, have a sense of humor, and put up with other people's "artistic freedom". Non Westerners and (ahem) anti-War protestors, have thinners skins for some reason. Different expectations. And that is just wrong.
Again the dichotomy. The fact is that Christians boycotted and protested the Last Temptation of Christ, protested Piss Christ, and have complained about a lot of anti-Christian expression. They will almost certainly continue to do. I joined in some of it, and I did not allow someone saying I was being antithetical to free speech by condeming such expression to go unanswered.

Someone overreacting to X does not retroactively make X correct, even if the overreaction is worse than X. I prefer to condemn both the Danish newspaper and the people making death threats.

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javelin
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quote:
Originally posted by vulture:
quote:

"These cartoons are offensive to the belief of Muslims," a State Department spokesman, Kurtis Cooper, said. "We all fully recognise and respect freedom of the press and expression but it must be coupled with responsibility."

Evidently the US State Department is also against publishing these cartoons. Three cheers for freedom. Trying to ingratiate themselves with Muslims, maybe?
I also would not have published the cartoons. Not in an effort to "stifle free speech", but because I know they'd offend people, and it wouldn't be WORTH IT. I do, however, support the right of other people to publish the cartoons - and THAT is supporting free speech. The state department is basically saying "You shouldn't have done that." not "We wouldn't have let you do that."

Why is it that people seem so confused to me about what free speech means? How is being responsible and concerned for other people's feelings stifling free speech?

EDITED TO ADD: I see that Dagonee, as usual, has covered the issue more thoroughly than I, already.

[ February 04, 2006, 12:17 PM: Message edited by: javelin ]

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javelin
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quote:
Someone overreacting to X does not retroactively make X correct, even if the overreaction is worse than X. I prefer to condemn both the Danish newspaper and the people making death threats.
ABSOLUTELY!
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Hannibal
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look whats allready happening becuase the western world doesnt formalize a firm front about the incident.

the Danes have issued an apology as you recall.
result - allready in syria an "uncontrolled angry mob" (yeah right) burned the Danish and Norwegian embassies.

instead of offering apolgies, the western world should demand the apologies of muslim countries for not doing somthing.

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flydye45
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Cartoonists offend people. All the time. Every single one has offended someone (Lord knows I've been offended enough).

Using the "you shouldn't purposefully offend someone" is no better then any other form of supppression.

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Lifewish
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quote:
They knew it was considered blasphemy when they did it.
Technically, the UK (where I live) is a Christian country. Technically, stating that Jesus is not the son of God is blasphemy against Christianity. Therefore, if following the logic of these nutjobs, all Moslems should be rounded up and, if not burnt at the stake, then at least kicked out of Britain. I don't think they quite realise what they're arguing for.

No, scratch that, they know perfectly well what they're arguing for: special treatment for Moslems with a chip on their shoulder.

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Dagonee
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quote:
Cartoonists offend people. All the time. Every single one has offended someone (Lord knows I've been offended enough).

Using the "you shouldn't purposefully offend someone" is no better then any other form of supppression.

Using the "you shouldn't purposefully offend someone" is free speech. I thought you were in favor of free speech.

quote:
Technically, the UK (where I live) is a Christian country. Technically, stating that Jesus is not the son of God is blasphemy against Christianity. Therefore, if following the logic of these nutjobs, all Moslems should be rounded up and, if not burnt at the stake, then at least kicked out of Britain. I don't think they quite realise what they're arguing for.
Please identify the person you are responding to. I'm assuming it's not me, even though you quoted me, because you seem to be responding to an assertion that threatening violence in response to the cartoons is OK.

quote:
No, scratch that, they know perfectly well what they're arguing for: special treatment for Moslems with a chip on their shoulder.
Some people are. Others are urging (there's that pesky free speech thing again) newspapers to show a little restraint when it comes to publishing blasphemy.
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flydye45
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I AM in favor of free speech. Others are advocating self censorship out of politeness. And when it comes to mass media, you cannot get away without offending someone. So I don't find that a compelling argument.

For example, do cartoonists who show the Nativity scene and caption it "Wish I wasn't on an HMO" really concerned about the offensive quality? No.

I guess what I am arguing is that if I can be offended against and it is demanded that I deal with it like an adult (not an unreasonable expectation), I find it stupid that the Muslims are held to a different standard.

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Dagonee
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quote:
I guess what I am arguing is that if I can be offended against and it is demanded that I deal with it like an adult (not an unreasonable expectation), I find it stupid that the Muslims are held to a different standard.
I don't think they are held to a different standard. Demands for apologies, protests, and boycotts are part of the exchange of ideas - valid criticism and subject to criticism themselves.

Remember, these were published in Europe, where many countries do have either civil or criminal restrictions on "offensive speech." Although I think such laws are wrong-headed, demands that those be applied to publications that offend Muslims don't amount to demanding a different standard. It's one of the problems I have with such laws - someone can almost always make a colorable argument for applying them. But that means, as long as such laws exist, people seeking to avail themsleves of such laws to punish speech are not demanding special treatment.

As for the death threats, I have yet to hear anyone defend them. The closest I've seen is "well, what did you expect?" Which, considering the amount of violence threatened or committed by Islamic extremist, is a reasonable question. It doesn't excuse the violence, but I haven't seen it offered as an excuse.

Which is why I've spent more time on the publication than the death threats. No one here is arguing that the death threats (and now the burning of embassies) are justified or good. Sadly, it's also not new.

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Eric
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quote:
Demands for apologies, protests, and boycotts are part of the exchange of ideas - valid criticism and subject to criticism themselves.
Is this exchange of ideas valid criticism?
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Eric
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Or is this?
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Dagonee
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Ah, one of the most common perils of free speech - the listener failing to hear what has been clearly said many times:

quote:
It seems to me that people are unnecessarily making this a dichotomous choice or assuming that others speaking on the subject are making a dichotomous choice: either it was wrong to publish the cartoons or it was wrong to make death threats in response.

I think both were wrong

quote:
Someone overreacting to X does not retroactively make X correct, even if the overreaction is worse than X.
quote:
As for the death threats, I have yet to hear anyone defend them. The closest I've seen is "well, what did you expect?" Which, considering the amount of violence threatened or committed by Islamic extremist, is a reasonable question. It doesn't excuse the violence, but I haven't seen it offered as an excuse.
Which is why I've spent more time on the publication than the death threats. No one here is arguing that the death threats (and now the burning of embassies) are justified or good. Sadly, it's also not new.

So, to answer your questions, no, it's not valid criticism. Good thing I didn't say it was. Good thing I actually said death threats or actual violence aren't OK.

I suppose it's a lot easier to argue with your own made up opposition than what's actually been said, huh?

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pickled shuttlecock
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Um, Eric, did Dagonee ever say that was valid?

In fact, just before you posted, Dagonee wrote this:

quote:
Originally posted by Dagonee:
No one here is arguing that the death threats (and now the burning of embassies) are justified or good.

I'm confronted with the idea that you're either being deliberately obtuse or having a problem understanding Dagonee's argument. In either case, I'll sum up his moral stance:

- Publishing offensive cartoons: free speech
- Protests, boycotts, calls for apology: free speech
- Publicly condemning or ridiculing protests, boycotts, and calls for apology: free speech
- Publicly calling for the heads of the heads of state: incitement to violence
- Burning embassies: arson
- Government officials urging newspapers to exercise restraint: free speech
- Government officials forcing newspapers to exercise restraint: censorship

It's pretty clear-cut, actually. There are a couple that change when you consider the legal realities in Europe:

- Publishing offensive cartoons: possibly free speech, possibly censored as offensive
- Government officials urging newspapers to exercise restraint: possibly free speech, possibly threat of censorship

At any rate, nowhere did I see Dagonee state that he's keen on Muslims calling for actual Jihad over some cartoons.

Hope this clears things up.

EDIT: Crossposted! D'oh!

[ February 04, 2006, 03:09 PM: Message edited by: pickled shuttlecock ]

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Eric
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My apologies to Dagonee. I focused on that one statement about "valid criticism" and posted before I digested the rest.

(Must go sit in the corner now until I remember not to post while I'm emotionally fired up on a topic.)

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javelin
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Pickled, that was beautiful.
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Dagonee
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Thanks Eric, and thanks pickled shuttlecock. Excellent summary.
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saccarina
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First of all: I’m not a total newbie, but I lost my former identity due to computer problems. Lately, I’ve only been a lurker. Today seems as good a day as any to reregister.

It’s very interesting to read your take on the current situation in Europe, but there seems to be some confusion about the background for these cartoons and their first publishing, and especially about the motives for publishing them in the first place. What I’m writing may be redundant, but I looked and couldn’t find another thread where this might have been said:

A Danish publisher was trying to find an artist to illustrate a children's book about the life of Muhammad. Because images of Muhammad are forbidden in some Islamic directions, no artists were willing to take the commission. The Danish newspaper Jyllandsposten picked up the story, and asked 12 cartoonists to render their interpretation of "being afraid of making images of Muhammad". According to the editor of Jyllandsposten, the cartoons were published to make a statement about freedom of speech, and to set into perspective the restraint artists might have to exercise in the face of religious taboos. The debate has been ongoing since September after harsh reactions from (mainly Danish) Muslims. The editor then apologized a few days ago for the offence he had caused, but not for publishing the cartoons. So did the Danish Government (for the offence), while maintaining that it would not censor the press.

Then a very small Norwegian conservative Christian newspaper decided to get in on the fun, and published the pictures again. They were also claiming to be fighting for freedom of speech, but their motives seem more sinister to most people. Not long ago, the newspaper was shouting for censorship of a play portraying (the Christian) God as a smoker, invoking the largely slumbering blasphemy paragraph it now claims to be fighting. The double standard was picked up by most spectators, and the seemingly false motives for publishing the cartoons made the trespass far more insulting than if it had been a mere question of freedom of speech. It caused quite a stir in Muslim quarters.

After this incident and the results of Muslim boycotts of Danish companies, several other European newspapers decided to publish the cartoons as well. Even a newspaper in Jordan published them, but the editor of this newspaper was also fired afterwards. You all know the rest of the story about this, I suppose.

As I live in Norway I can only write about the last few days from a Norwegian perspective. This story has overshadowed everything else, including the State of the Union address, which is usually covered with a lot of interest. Many right wing Norwegian bloggers have jumped in with their own publishing of cartoons or other images of Muhammed, claiming to be fronting freedom of speech, some going to extremes. A Norwegian campaign to buy Danish products has been launched. Norwegian Muslims are divided. Some preach constraint, dialogue and reconciliation, others, like Mullah Krekar (quoted earlier), are more militant in their approach. The mentioned Mullah has afterwards denied saying anything about war beyond calling the publishing of the cartoons a declaration of war (from the Norwegian newspaper). I saw a TV interview with this editor on the news tonight. He’s currently living at an undisclosed location, and when asked if he regretted publishing the pictures, he said: “Yes, of course. It’s a hardship when your life is being threatened by Islam”. The leader of the largest Islamic organization in Norway was truly offended when asked what he thought about burning Norwegian flags. His response was: “It’s my flag too. Please don’t insult me like this!” The Norwegian government has expressed concern and apologized for the insult the publishing may have caused, but has made it clear that there will be no censorship. Right now, there’s an ongoing text message campaign in Norway, telling people to boycott all Muslim companies, shops and individuals. Luckily, most Norwegians find this campaign offensive and racist. Today, the Danish and Norwegian embassies in Damascus were burned to the ground by rioters. It’s a mess.

From my point of view, the real problem with the cartoons started with their second publishing here in Norway. It seems pretty clear to me that they were published with malicious intent, namely to provoke reactions from the Muslims, and thus to polarize the situation between Muslim immigrants and the ethnic Norwegian population. I believe the editor was hoping to score Christian points in an otherwise rather secular society. It has really backfired. Then other newspapers decided to follow suit, but their reasoning seem to be along the lines of “Let’s defend freedom of speech, because it seems to be threatened”. I don’t think it was. I think the Danish government handled it just right, and that further problems might have been avoided if the situation had been let alone. I also think the initial publishing in Denmark must be seen differently from the later exposures of the cartoons. The first time it was a response to a genuine problem; not finding illustrators willing to defy the sometime Muslim ban on pictures of Muhammad. After that it seems to have become a question of offending the religion of Islam, which in my book is a whole different story.

I don’t believe in censorship, but as was said earlier by several, freedom of speech comes with a certain responsibility. It should not be abused, and I think it has been.

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TomDavidson
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quote:
The first time it was a response to a genuine problem; not finding illustrators willing to defy the sometime Muslim ban on pictures of Muhammad.
I can't even imagine who would have been the market for this book. No decent Muslim would contemplate owning it.
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TCB
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quote:

I'm confronted with the idea that you're either being deliberately obtuse or having a problem understanding Dagonee's argument. In either case, I'll sum up his moral stance:

- Publishing offensive cartoons: free speech
- Protests, boycotts, calls for apology: free speech
- Publicly condemning or ridiculing protests, boycotts, and calls for apology: free speech
- Publicly calling for the heads of the heads of state: incitement to violence
- Burning embassies: arson
- Government officials urging newspapers to exercise restraint: free speech
- Government officials forcing newspapers to exercise restraint: censorship

All that's true, but free speech is in danger in Europe, from a sizable, ever more numerous Muslim minority. If current demographic trends continue, some European countries will be majority Muslim in a couple generations.

If the same Muslims calling for the execution of cartoonists were in a position to legislate, they would certainly make it illegal to draw Muhammad. That's the free speech threat that the newspapers are standing up to. Whether they've taken the best approach, I don't know.

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saccarina
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As I have understood it, the book was intended for teaching in schools. Religion is (somewhat ironically) taught at school in the Scandinavian countries.
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FiredrakeRAGE
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saccarina -

Freedom of speech does come with certain responsibility. It comes with the requirement that you live with the effects of your actions. If you're (for example) a music group that says negative things about a Presidential administration, you could expect that those whom you have offended may stop listening to music. Likewise, if you are a paper, and you publish something that offends, you must live with the ill will your words have engendered.

There are of course exceptions. Incitement to a criminal act is one. Libel is another. None of the papers that have published these cartoons have come close to crossing any of the legalistic lines that I am aware of.

The situation in Damascus is a mess. The mess is not the fault of the papers. While the actions of those who have burned the embassies may have been ignited by the publishing of these cartoons, the actions are the responsibility of those who performed them, and no one else. There is no reason what so ever that a newspaper cannot publish a cartoon – no matter who it offends. Yes, it may have been a poor decision. The result of their poor decision is that many saw works offensive to Islam. Everything after that is the fault of the individuals committing these various crimes.

--Firedrake

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saccarina
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TBC: Europe consists of a number of countries. The legislation and definition of free speech may differ from country to country. It's not very useful to use the US definition for this purpose.

And what makes you say that free speech in Europe is in danger? The press in Europe is at present far less vulnerable to economic and political pressure than the US press. There are many ways to curtail free speech, and I would consider the Islam threat minor to the massive pressure from major US publishing corporations with political agendas.

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saccarina
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Firedrake: I agree with you on this. The responsibility lies with the performing party, no matter what offences may have proceeded or evoked it. I may not have made it clear that I find it totally undefendable to make death threats or burn embassies. When I called it a mess it was a general description. The purpose of my post was to try to make a distinction between the first and the later publishing of the cartoons. The first publishing I see as just, the later not, but that doesn’t mean I find the actions of the rioters legitimate.
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Hannibal
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The Danish and Norwegian embassies were not burned by "rioters" you honestly think that it was a spontanious act? it is doubtfull that the people in Syria even knew about the incidents.

the "riots" were state sponsored. just like the palestinian riots were sponsored by Hamas.

i am not Danish, or Norwegian, but i think its sad that countries "surrender" to such pressures and offer apologies.
by the way, i didnt see your countries in a hurry to apologise after there were calls to ban Israeli products.

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Dagonee
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quote:
it is doubtfull that the people in Syria even knew about the incidents.
What's your basis for saying this?
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LoverOfJoy
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If you're going to teach islam to children with picture books, can't you be creative enough to do it without portraying Muhammad? Heck, if it's supposed to teach children about the religion why not mention what the religion believes about pictures of Muhammad. Instead, have pictures portraying some of the things that he taught--not himself.

I really don't know Islam well enough to know if that would be acceptable but it sure sounds like it would at least be less offensive.

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witless chum
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It would be nice if people could not be offended, but it's every person in this world's inalienable right to offend whomever they choose. That's got to trump things. People who can't hack that can't come to the grownups table, it's just that simple.

If I was the newspaper editor I'd have done the same thing, for the same reasons.

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KnightEnder
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Nobody should become violent over writing or speaking (noises), but some people do, and when you throw religion into the mix...

My obligatory pointing out of how religion is making the world a worse place.

KE

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Hannibal
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@Dagonee

because the people in syria know what the government tells them, and how the government tell it.

and most importantly, the people in syria do what the government tells them to do or else....

"My obligatory pointing out of how religion is making the world a worse place."

I have repeatedly stated that religion should be outlawed as fast as possible

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