February 17, 2006

Student newspapers and those cartoons of Muhammad.

While major newspapers in the United States have declined to reprint the inflammatory cartoons that depict the Prophet Muhammad, some student newspapers have reprinted them:
Editors at some student publications at the University of Wisconsin, Harvard University, Northern Illinois University and Illinois State University have published some of the cartoons.

The decisions have set off a painful clash, seemingly pitting two of the values so often embraced in university environments — freedom of speech and sensitivity to other cultures — directly against each other....

The issue has prompted letters to the editor, community meetings and public forums. Officials at the University of Wisconsin were organizing a forum in Madison for next week after The Badger Herald on Monday ran one of the cartoons, one that portrayed Muhammad with a turban in the shape of a bomb.

"Universally, we found the cartoon to be repugnant," said Mac VerStandig, the editor in chief of The Badger Herald. "But we believe that there was a certain endangerment of free speech here, especially given the general prudishness of the American press. We believe our readers are mature enough to look at these images."
I wonder what that "forum" is going to consist of. Here are some letters to the editor of The Badger Herald, many of which stress that the cartoon is "racist."

60 comments:

Bruce Hayden said...

I suggest David Bernstein's book "You Can't Say That!", and, in particular, his chapter on the ACLU, and how this problem has caused that organization to become scizoid.

What has to be remembered though is that sensistivity to other cultures, etc. is nowhere enshrined in the Constitution. The situation with Freedom of Speech is precisely the opposite, the 1st Amdt. to the Constitution, made applicable to the States through the 14th, which states, in relevant part: "Congress [or the states] shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press..." Whle this may not apply to Harvard, Wisconson and Illinois State appear to be bound by this.

Ann, obviously, as an expert here, would necessarily have better handle on the nuances of this, but for state schools, I don't see a real conflict, only an imagined one.

Besides, making sensitivity to certain cultures (and not others) a compelling state interest is highly unlikely in my view to be good for this country.

IMHO, the idea that news should and can be suppressed because it is allegedly racist is preposterous. This is news - Moslems are rioting all around the world over this, the Iranians have renamed Danishes, etc. And part of the news is at least a feel for the cartoons and how bad they really are or are not, if for no other reason than to judge for ourselves whether the rioters are overreacting or not.

Sloanasaurus said...

I'm sorry. I just don't get why the cartoon of Mohammad with the bomb is racist or demeaning. The message of the cartoon is obvious. The cartoon implies that the message of Mohammad is one of violence and not one of peace. Based on what we see and hear about Islam, many people believe that the cartoon portrays an accurate message of the religion. Why should we believe differently.....

Consider this comparison: If a cartoon were drawn showing Christ in a compromising position with a child, thus implying that Christianity supported pedophilia, that would be a false message. In this sense perhaps Mohammad with a bomb is also a false message. However, church goers would not respond to the cartoon of Christ by abusing more children, instead they would try to show that it wasn't true.

The volent response by Muslims over the cartoon in fact reinforces the original message of the cartoon.

Perhaps these groups of Muslims really just want war. They may get it.

Uncle Jimbo said...

Although neither newspaper published the cartoons, they are up on their websites at madison.com.

Plus they ran an Op-Ed from me about the demands of the radicals in the Cap Times yesterday. Not their usual cup of tea.

We must resist Islamist demands for submission


Cordially,

Uncle J
Military Matters

Jacques Cuze said...

Mac condemns the Golden Globes for politicizing the night when they gave best foreign film award to a movie he admits he has never seen, but he didn't like one statement in the acceptance speech.

Mac is really not all that into free speech now, is he?

Bill Millan said...

We believe our readers are mature enough to look at these images."

What is amazing is that the cartoons are innocuous. The story now is not the Muslim reaction but our media reaction. And that shows the PC and multiculturism of our elites who run the media.

Gaius Arbo said...

I wasn't aware that Islam was a race.

Keep throwing terms around untill all their meaning is earased, great idea.

They suspended the Editor at U of I, incidently. So much for free speech there.

P. Froward said...

quxxo -

This is very, very complicated, so please try hard to concentrate:

Disagreeing with somebody is not the same as trying to silence him.


In fact — and this point is miles over your head, so don't worry about it too much — disagreeing with people is what free speech is all about.

SippicanCottage said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jacques Cuze said...

He didn't see the movie, but he knows that the Golden Globes judges, in an industry he has no experience in, politicized the night by giving the award to a Palestinian movie.

But he didn't see the movie, so how does he know this?

Slippery Cheese, I am not saying he is not entitled to his speech, I am saying that since he didn't see the movie, his opinions and conclusions on how the night was politicized are just about worthless. But he is free to make them.

I am drawing conclusions about how he feels about free speech from his own behavior on how he condemns others for their free speech.

You guys are teh funnay, always asking me why I post here, and telling me how dumb I am, how nasty all us liberals are, and goading Ann to banninate me, and yet, I am the one opposed to free speech.

Jacques Cuze said...

I must be in the wrong blog. I thought this was the blog that thought Cindy Sheehan wasn't arrested and was rightfully thrown out for wearing a tee shirt in full compliance with the law at the SOTU just three weeks ago.

Jacques Cuze said...

Come on Slippery Cheese, be an "it getter!"

PatCA said...

"What happened to freedom of speech? If we start saying we can't look at things, what's next? Our books?"

Yes, that is indeed the plan, and the EU is on it!

Weeding Out Offensive Textbooks

I'm sorry if someone from the MSA is "offended" but that in no way trumps free speech. If you're too devout to tolerate satire, move to Iran--no blasphemy allowed there.

Cyberotter said...

We have actually done a 3 segment piece on thsi topic if you would like to chack it out.

http://donkephant.blogspot.com

DeadCenter said...

The Daily Tar Heel at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill also posted some cartoons that drew protest and lots of rebuke from the administration. This paper was in controversy last year as well when one of its student reporters was fired after writing a report that was purportedly racist towards Arabs (got a mention of support from Ann Coulter no less for the fired reporter).

Anyway, those crying themselves shrill over the freedom of speech thingie should check how some speeches are being supressed in Europe. All free speeches are equal, only some are less equal than others !
(Just for the records, I am all for freedom of speech etc. and in no way am I condoning the violent protest against the cartoons, which are foolish and counter productive. However, I am just pointing out some hypocrisy among us).

SippicanCottage said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Truly said...

quxxo: "Banninate"?

Do you really understand what free speech and censorship are? If Prof. A did ban you, do you think that would violate your speech rights? Conversely, if you started your own blog and banned all of us, do you think you would be violating our free speech?

For what it's worth, I don't think you should be banned. Non sequiturs amuse me.

Sloanasaurus said...

Apparently, a cleric in Pakistan has now offered $1 million for anyone who kills the cartoonists.

We can't let these pricks get away with this. We need to respond in a personal manner to these islamic clerics... make it all about them and not about countries or Islam. Therefore, the U.S. government should put a bounty on this guys head in return.

Joel Fleming said...

Say it with me now. Islam is not a race. Islam is not a race. Muslims can be black, white, Arab or Asian. These cartoons are, if you must call them something bigoted, anti-Muslim. Not racist.

DeadCenter said...

Apparently, a cleric in Pakistan has now offered $1 million for anyone who kills the cartoonists.

We can't let these pricks get away with this.


If we tried to get at every cleric worth his koran that declares a fatwa after every azaan, we'd have very little time to engage in any kind of serious international relations and diplomacy (mind you, in my dictionary, diplomacy does include war).

Btw, while we are at it, I am sure someone like you has had similar thoughts about Pat Robertson in Venezuala or Israel. Better beef up his security.

PS - if the 'head of a country' on the other hand makes some declaration like this, I would take it very seriously. Unfortunately, when the fatwa was made against Salman Rushdie, the British govt only went as far as providing as safe housing for him. They should have protested much than they did at that time.

Jacques Cuze said...

Do you really understand what free speech and censorship are? If Prof. A did ban you, do you think that would violate your speech rights?

Did I say that it would? Open up your partisan mind, and reread what I wrote, and read more closely. You will have to sharpen your arguments, what you are doing is making a non-argument! Frankly, I find that weird!

Check out this ad that the Young Republicans National Convention refused to run due to its tone (entirely patriotic tone at that!)

Mac, Hi Mac! Here's a link, just for you.

Jacques Cuze said...

Quxxo- I simply observed that YOU said YOU'RE not entitled to an opinion on these matters. I did not ask anybody to do anything, and did not characterize your remarks as anything in particular.

Oh please Slippery Cheese, I have come to expect better arguments than this from you. There is a difference between Mac condemning the Golden Globes for a movie that Mac and Cheese never saw based solely according to Mac on a statement he heard in the acceptance speech, and you and me commenting on current events that are widely reported on and discussed on the intarweb.

In the first case, Mac wasn't condemning the Globes based on the content of the movie, but based on one ambiguous statement that the recipient made when he accepted the award. Mac then proceeded to draw the most extreme interpretation of that statement, and then suggested that this was the basis for the Globes award.

When you and I disagree on whether Cheney should have outed Plame, we are both discussing the facts and discussions as widely reported by anyone on the intarweb.

If Mac had referred to other information he had referred to to become informed about the movie you may have a point. But he discussed nothing else about the move apart from a) he didn't see it, and b) he didn't like one sentence of the acceptance speech.

Referring to Munich, while I know that you remember (with me) the live coverage from the scene, I also know that you have read about the current movie from several different long reviews of the movie.

Jacques Cuze said...

Anyway, I am about to hit the road for a snow trip, enjoy your reading.

SippicanCottage said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Coco said...

I don't see what "PC" (talk about throwing around terms so much that they have lost any meaning) or the 1st Amendment has to do with anything here. The question is not CAN someone publish these cartoons, its whether they SHOULD publish them. Its someone's judgment in a position of authority that is being examined. With relatively lax limititations, the Constitution allows me to be provocative in my speech whenever I want to be, but that doesn't mean I should be. As a mature adult I understand when not to be provocative and I am sensitive to how my speech may affect others.

A similar (although long forgotten) issue arose with the issue of whether the American press should show pictures of funderals or coffins of our soldiers killed in Iraq. The Bush administration criticized this practice and many media outlets did not do so. One of the points raised by the administration in this plea was that the story could be made without publishing the pictures. Context is key here and all of these scenarios should be examined on a case by case basis becuase context is always different.

I am hard pressed to understand how any thoughtful person can fail to see that this is a complex issue with important and challenging pros and cons as to publish or not publish. Brushing aside a decision not to publish as just PC-thought run amuck is simplistic and counterproductive if the goal is to persuade that publishing is the right choice.

Coco said...

"Perhaps these groups of Muslims really just want war. They may get it. "

"We can't let these pricks get away with this. We need to respond in a personal manner to these islamic clerics... make it all about them and not about countries or Islam. Therefore, the U.S. government should put a bounty on this guys head in return."

I understand the anger that can arise in watching these ridiculous and counterproductive riots and demonstrations in reaction to the cartoons, but this type of response is cut from the exact same cloth as what it is reacting to.

Abraham said...

I'm certain the politically correct argument was raised because the objections to the cartoons are patently unreasonable, and nobody who is not in a politically correct class would be shown such deference.

Smilin' Jack said...

When I saw those cartoons, I was really disappointed...those guys weren't even trying. I can think of stuff that would be lots more offensive than that...if the Islamofascists riot over those pathetic sketches, they'd die of apoplexy if they saw the kind of stuff I've got in mind. But unfortunately, I can't draw worth a damn.

So come on, you artsy types, you're always claiming art matters--now's your chance to prove it. Who can come up with the most offensive and blasphemous depiction of Mo and/or Al? Winner determined by body count in the resulting riot...and DOD should underwrite the prize--cartoons could be more effective than smart bombs in taking out these guys.

Javi Vasquez said...

Well put Jack...I also thought the quality of insult was below average. I suggest that those cultures are zombie-like and lack critical thought. Do you think that maybe they don't need so much free time...do these people have jobs or is the mosque giving them cash to yell and parade in the streets with foreign flags and matches...unruly. What if we reacted the way they do everytime we got "insulted"...we would have nuked half the planet by now!

Gerry said...

quoxxoccocaxxxososmismoccquoquoxx wrote:

"Mac condemns the Golden Globes for politicizing the night when they gave best foreign film award to a movie he admits he has never seen, but he didn't like one statement in the acceptance speech.

"Mac is really not all that into free speech now, is he?"

In other words, quwhatever condemns Mac's words. quowhatever is really not all that into free speech now, is he?

As for me, I do not think that criticizing something, or even suggesting that it should not be said, is an assault on anyone's right to free speech. If I were to threaten them with jail, that would be a threat to their rights of free speech.

miklos rosza said...

I'm with the Danes and repeat what one Danish newspaperman said: "Free speech is free speech is free speech."

Screw you quxxo for trying to derail and/or hijack another thread.

SippicanCottage said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bob Mitze said...

I rarely comment here, but I enjoy reading the blog and comments. It seems to me that quxxo has indeed hijacted this place. Frankly his comments and the responses are boring and rarely on topic. A pox on both your houses.

I suggest those of you who feel you must respond take it somewhere else so as not to encourage this waste of time. It's easy enough to skip past his comments if you don't like them. If you stop feeding the troll, he'll get as bored as the rest of us.

PatCA said...

"...this type of response is cut from the exact same cloth as what it is reacting to."

Coco,
Why do you believe this? Should we just ignore the realities of the situation? Anger is quite appropriate in this case and will hopefully motivate the world to stand up for Enlightenment values and for the vast majority of Muslims who hate radicalism.

Are you saying that it's spontaneous feeling on the part of devout people? This whole chain of events was engineered by a Muslim Brotherhood Danish imam. Of course, they want war, if intimidation fails. So far, intimidation is working just fine.

SippicanCottage said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Harkonnendog said...

Not only is Islam NOT a race, the majority of Muslims are NOT Arab... It the cartoons supposed to be anti-Micronesian?

Anybody who says criticism of Islam is racist has just shown they should be ignored...

Coco said...

PatCa - anger, as I explictly stated in my post, is indeed entirely reasonable. Anger followed by bounties, death threats or war is not and it demeans ourselves to precisely what we are criticizing. That type of response (i.e., those actions advocated by sloanasaurus) does not "stand up for Enlightenment values and for the vast majority of Muslims who hate radicalism." It is radicalism itself.

And make no mistake, this is not an either/or scenario.

JAL said...

It seems that hardly a week goes by that we don’t see or read in the media the latest example of US or western abuse of Muslim or Arabic prisoners or of their culture. The disaster at abu Ghraib, the killing of an Iraqi Air Force general by an Army warrant officer, the beatings of Iraqi civilians by UK soldiers caught on video for the whole (and particularly, the Muslim) world to see, come to mind. And then, when some rather sophomoric cartoons are published in a Danish newspaper, we are somehow surprised by the violent outrage the Muslim world expresses.

It was all perfectly predictable.

And just as predictably, student newspapers promptly jumped upon the bandwagon of poor taste.

It seems to me that the reaction of the student newspapers in question was not so much a defense of freedom of the press, but rather a thumbing of the editorial nose as if to say "We dont have to be sensitive to the beliefs of our fellow humans. We're the press. We can do as we please."

Well, ok, you have your freedom of the press. But do you see what happens when you abuse that freedom?

Joel Gratz said...

Can someone explain to me what the Badger Herald's purpose was in publishing the cartoon? It seems to me it was just because they could. Republishing the cartoon doesn't particular add to the discourse in anyway. Just because you have the right of free speech doesn't mean you always excercise it. Editing yourself can sometimes be a more effective form of communication, but as the BH shows, students journalists have often yet to learn that.

DEC said...

Joel Fleming: "Muslims can be black, white, Arab or Asian."

Arabs are Caucasian, Joel. Don't confuse suntans with skin color.

Syrians, Jordanians, Palestinians, Iraqis, and Saudi Arabians are, for the most part, white guys.

In addition, Iranians (they are Persian, not Arab) are Caucasian. So are Afghans.

At this point, the conflict between Islam and the West in the Middle East is largely (but not completely) a battle of white guys against white guys.

vbspurs said...

pitting two of the values so often embraced in university environments — freedom of speech and sensitivity to other cultures — directly against each other....

This is precisely why MSM in the United States have been caught with their drawers down, about this matter.

Because both these topics are dear to the left-liberal establishment, but usually, they know what is permissible or not in our society.

Kanye West -- black Jesus wearing crown of thorns (GOOD)

Cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed -- (BAD)

Cartoons of President Bush dressed as a Nazi (by Ted Rall and Co.) -- ACCEPTABLE

Since this entire episode relates to another country and their culture, they are on less sure footing than a controversy generated in America.

What should they do?

The answer so far has been, ignore the specifics.

Cheers,
Victoria

JAL said...

dec

I think you missed, or ignored, Joel's point.

How about responding with something to that point?

vbspurs said...

Here are some letters to the editor of The Badger Herald, many of which stress that the cartoon is "racist."

Many commenters have touched on the topic of racism.

Sloaney for example, doesn't see it as racist, and indeed, it was pointed out that Islam isn't a race (duh).

But what is happening here, is that in America, our national cultural discourse centres on race -- like in Britain, ours is about class, or in Ireland, about religion.

So each country uses the arguments they are most comfortable in expressing, in whatever relates to "foreigners".

To these people:

Denmark: bunch of white dudes

Islamic peoples: Overwhelming not white dudes

And thus are born the outraged letters claiming racism, to the Badger Herald.

Cheers,
Victoria

hoosthere said...

I am glad Bob Mitzke said what he did. As I was scrolling down the comments, I was thinking exactly what he said. So I have a MODEST PROPOSAL (quick, while quoxxo is gone skiing)...

How about we all ignore ANYTHING he writes (no matter how infantile) and then proceed to kindly encourage any others who DO try to engage him that it's a waste of time and html. Huh? Any takers?

DEC said...

JAL: "I think you missed, or ignored, Joel's point. How about responding with something to that point?"

Joel's point in the comment I responded to was that "Islam is not a race." Of course, it's not a race. It's a religion.

hoosthere said...

So I was referring to quoxxo...by the way.

Freeman Hunt said...

Bob hit me on the nose with a newspaper.

LOL

You're right, JAL, all those Muslims are probably just flipping out because of some bad Western incidents. They probably feel a lot of moral indignation since they are, of course, committed to humane treatment of prisoners and civilians. Oh wait. . .

JAL said...

My apologies, DEC, wrong Joel.

It's tought to get senile and blind at the same time.

DEC said...

No problem, JAL.

Coco said...

"pitting two of the values so often embraced in university environments — freedom of speech and sensitivity to other cultures — directly against each other...."

This is precisely why MSM in the United States have been caught with their drawers down, about this matter.

Because both these topics are dear to the left-liberal establishment....


Freedom of speech and sensitivity to other cultures are ONLY dear to the left-libeal establisment??? Then sign me up I guess.

By the way, is the Wall Street Journal part of this left-liberal MSM establishment? Who is?

That's where I take issue with Sippiancottage or abraham (and others') attempt to pigeon-hole a decision to publish or not to publish in the case as "multi-culti", PC or whatever politically-framed buzz-word label you want to toss around. Its not meaningful analysis - just name-calling...but bat least by Victoria's earlier definition, its a name I and everyone should be proud to be called.

The Drill SGT said...

With regard to newspapers publishing the cartoons, let's look at the two different sets of circumstances and excuses. We have the following freedoms in play:

a. Freedom of the Press
b. Freedom of speech (e.g artistic freedom of expression)
c. Freedom of Religion
d. The Publics right to Know (the thing the MSM always trumpets unless it's not in their interest)


1. College papers publish the cartoons arguing a., b. and d. trump c. In reality, most of that is likely the more classic "thumb your nose at authority" freedom exercised by your average 20 y/o.

2. The NYT refuses to publish the article arguing that c trumps a., b. and d. Amazingly on Feb 8, the NYT's article about the cartoons refused to show them, and used the infamous Dung Madonna ( the image of the Mother of Christ covered with sh_t). So in a single article, the NYT explains why in deference to one religion (Islam) it refuses to show some very tame cartoons, and illustrates the point by displaying and extremely vulgar piece of art the defames another religion. One can only presume that the real reason is that either/and the NYT is anti-Christian or intimidated by Islamist threats.


Oh the hypocrisy

bearbee said...

To see racism in everything is racist....

Sissy Willis said...

As T.E. Lawrence wrote,

Arabic names won't go into English, exactly

DEC said...

Vbspurs: "But what is happening here, is that in America, our national cultural discourse centres on race -- like in Britain, ours is about class, or in Ireland, about religion.So each country uses the arguments they are most comfortable in expressing, in whatever relates to "foreigners."

You make an excellent point here, Victoria.

However, Americans help the other side when talk about the conflict in "racial" terms. Caucasian radical Islamists are quite happy for Americans to label them erroneously as "people of color." It helps the extremists pull people of color in sub-Saharan Africa, Malaysia, Indonesia, etc. to their side.

It is helpful to remember that people of the Middle East are brilliant propagandists on the global stage. After all, their ancestors spread Islam and Christianity around the world.

PatCA said...

Coco,
I agree with you mostly, but I do think the press should make it about the political, contrived nature of these protests. Up to now they characterize them, as always, as devout people springing into protest over some Western sin. No historical context.

Namecalling? Unfortunate. War? They've been at war against us for years. If Iran gets the nuke, or Musharaff is overthrown, I'm sure there will be a shooting war, and I lay the blame for that at the Islamists' feet.

bearbee said...

More racism:

News Alert

RogerA said...

Wow--talk about pole vaulting over mouse turds--

Abraham said...

I disagree with the premise that the only legitimate justification for publishing the cartoons is "newsworthiness." I think punishment is also a valid reason. Those that burn and kill should be made to understand that the more violent they get, the less likely they are to get what they want. Instead, they lesson they have learned is that a violence gets results.

This is the same reason that we don't negotiate with terrorists. Even if it would be in our own best interests to do so in any single given instance, in the long run, it sets up perverse incentives.

Ross said...

"Universally, we found the cartoon to be repugnant."

Now, is this guy lying because he feels the need to placate a PC university culture, or were the editors of the Daily Badger so successfully indoctrinated by their freshman sensitivity training that they honestly, "universally," found it "repugnant.

Man, the kids have no spirit anymore.

EddieP said...

A pundit posted that free speech that can't offend someone is not free speech at all. You don't need protections of free speech if all you produce are sweet homilies.

OTOH, if offense is what defines free speech, Kos would have had his BDS plug pulled years ago. There is no one more offensive to me than Kos. But that's exactly the point isn't it?

vbspurs said...

Freedom of speech and sensitivity to other cultures are ONLY dear to the left-libeal establisment??? Then sign me up I guess.

I'm not sure if you're being purposely obtuse to make a point but let me restate so there are no further misunderstandings:

1) Political progressives stress the importance of freedom of speech -- including that of objectional and controversial speech.

2) As well as cultural relativism, which includes accepting something in one culture, which would be completely unacceptable, even illegal in theirs.

Where are the beacons of freedom of speech (including the ACLU who were retained by a few people who put out lewd or blasphemous Christmas displays this year), who claim public right-to-know at the drop of a hat, during this entire incident?

I have no doubt, whatsoever mind you, that if these cartoons were Christian-centric, the NYT would've republished them in a trice.

We Christians are used to ceding way to criticism, which often becomes abuse of religious imagery, like Chris Ofili's dung-covered Madonna.

And of course, we won't chop people's heads off, because of that.

This isn't a point of pride for me. It's just a statement of fact.

By the way, is the Wall Street Journal part of this left-liberal MSM establishment? Who is?

It is only the WSJ editorial board that are Conservative (actually, make that anti-Statist, free-marketeers. Because of the paper's nature, they rarely comment on discernibly socially conservative issues).

However, even I was gobsmacked to find out that a study on news bias, found WSJ to be the most progressive news entity around.

Perhaps you've seen or heard of that most recent study, else I could Google it for you.

Cheers,
Victoria