Sunday, February 12, 2006


The Backlash of Free Speech

Michelle Malkin says: "The Cartoon Wars heat up on cable television."

I don't know about that; the war itself seems to be raging as ever. But now the voices defending free speech are being heard, thank Heaven -- and more and more forcefully, too.

Glenn Reynolds, for example, made CNN, and did not waste the opportunity: "You guys blew it", he said, telling CNN -- on the air! -- that they betrayed the principles of free speech and a free press, which they claim to hold dear, by not showing the Danish cartoons to their viewers.

(For the record, this is by no means "merely" a theoretical issue. Remember, the Danish imams published their own additions to the twelve original Danish cartoons. Theirs were far more inflammatory than any of the Danish originals -- showing a Muslim being raped by a dog, for example -- and they were falsely and maliciously attributed to the Danish cartoonists! But CNN viewers didn't know that. How could they have known that, given that CNN never released the originals?)

A transcript of the CNN bit can be found here. Powerline cited Prof. Glenn's best moment as follows:
My beliefs are offended when gangs of ignorant thugs burn embassies, and where is the respect for my beliefs? Do I need to burn embassies to get respect for my beliefs? Because that's the message CNN sends. The message they send is, We will reward violence. And you're going to get more of what you reward, that's how it works.
Amen! At the risk of repeating myself, my hat's off to Glenn Reynolds for making the most of his short air-time to make the point he needed to make -- that CNN has blown it, big-time, by rewarding violence and deliberately keeping their own customers in the dark.

Free speech, of course, takes many forms. I've uploaded my own poor effort to, where it won't be lonely; there's a lot of material there, ranging from mild cartoons to the intentionally obscene.

Stay tuned. We have the fortune, or the misfortune, to live in interesting times.

UPDATE: Prof. Glenn hits it out of the park again:
As I've said, when you reward violence and efforts at violent intimidation, you'll get more of them.

I also think that if the press is this scared of Islamic extremists, claims that Bush is manufacturing an artificial climate of fear regarding Islamic extremism ring rather hollow.
...or, rather, if the press is outraged at Bush for (supposedly) trying to make people afraid of Islamist terrorism, perhaps they should use themselves as the prime example. "Here, look -- see how scared we are? We've become too afraid even to run cartoons!"

In the same Instapundit post, I find myself, for the first time in a long time, openly agreeing with Andrew Sullivan:
The fundamental job of journalists is to give you as much information as possible to make sense of the world around you. And in this story, where the entire controversy revolves around drawings, the press is suddenly coy. You can see Saddam Hussein in his underwear and members of the royal family in compromising positions. You can see Andres Serrano’s famously blasphemous photograph of a crucifix in urine, called Piss Christ. But a political cartoon that deals with Islam? Not our job, guv. Move right along. Nothing to see here.
Well spoken, Andrew. Thank you.


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