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Many people have thoughtfully brought forward background information in an attempt to make sense of the Muslim response to Danish cartoons but there is a very important piece which no one has mentioned, the routine intimidation of the press.

It is not an uncommon thing for journalists (regardless of nationality) in the Middle East to be physically threatened for reporting something which is absolutely true but leaders of the area  do not want known.   And if the unwanted truth is published, the threats become a reality.

Search for press intimidation in the Middle East  and see what you find.  I found in just one search seven different instances of deliberate threats against Journalists in just one year in just the Palestinian territories when I clicked just one link.

Do we remember why the Danish newspaper started this contest to begin with? It was because when someone was writing a children's book about Mohammed, no one would illustrate it out of fear.     Look at the cartoons themselves.   One shows a cartoonist fearfully drawing, with sweat coming down his brow.   And this fear has been justified as the cartoonists responsible have been threatened.   How long before another uppity journalist will dare question Islam again?

And that is where this uproar has gotten us, a place where we are allowing intimidation and threat to take our most prized freedom away from us.   One freedom so important it was placed first in the Bill of Rights.

And I for one don't think we should give in.

This isn't about people who have had hurt feelings (not that there aren't), this is about deliberate and intentional intimidation of the Western media and we should not tolerate it.

Originally posted to Pumpkinlove on Tue Feb 07, 2006 at 03:01 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  of course... (none)
    Um yeah, why do you think so many Arab leaders are unable to understand that what the Danish PM thinks and commands and what a newspaper in some city thinks and writes are two totally different entities?

    In all of the Muslim world there is no such thing as freedom of speech or freedom of press period, no matter how truthful and factual a report is. It all depends on whether the local emir approves or dissaproves of the story.

  •  Apparently about 30 seconds (none)
    How long before another uppity journalist will dare question Islam again?

    Or haven't you been reading the newspapers over the last week?

  •  Sing it, Sister (none)
    Thanks for your post. What a lot of well meaning people forget is that this is a completely disproportional response. And that it is aimed at stifling any form of descent.

    When we look in the Abyss, the Abyss looks into Us.

    by Something the Dog Said on Tue Feb 07, 2006 at 03:08:17 PM PST

    •  Good read a history book (4.00)
      This is not about cartoons.  This is about a long standing history of corporate and political terrorism towards non-white people.  

      As I stated before

      A kills 1000 people in 1 day.
      B kills 10 people a day for 5 years.

      Who has killed more people?
      Whose killing will the MSM report?

      Boycott Citibank/Citicards. They are corporate thieves and terrorists.

      by tri on Tue Feb 07, 2006 at 03:11:56 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  mixed priorities (none)
        Actually it looks like this:

        A gets lots of oil from B while supporting everything that B does until B starts to invade A's allies and threaten his friends. A beats up B and insted of striking back at A in the court of public opinion and winning big reparations, B starts to kill random people who have nothing to do with his grievance and excuses his actions by saying that they're really all just working for A and he's innocence incarnate, just defending himself.

        To further raise sympathy, B continues killing people and puts his innocent supporters to act as a big, human shield to defend him from A's anger after B beheads yet another person who A sent to help B with money that B has been demanding.

  •  Thakyou for posting this (4.00)
    Everytime I post this argument as a reply to people saying there's absolutely no free speech issue in this controversy I get absolutely no reply.

    It's as if some people just can't fit this into their worldview.

    •  Who said that? (none)
      But the larger issue is one of a history of racism that has let too terrorism against non-white people.  

      What if I were to post a drawing of a rich white banker getting bombed?   Would you still be defending my freedom of speech?   If you would they you truly value freedom of speech, if you would not than you are using freedom of speech as a lame execuse for a rethug agenda.

      Also I find it ironic that certain supposed free speech folks are going around down rating comments and posting recipes.  

      Boycott Citibank/Citicards. They are corporate thieves and terrorists.

      by tri on Tue Feb 07, 2006 at 03:16:11 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Nope (none)
        I don't disagree that there have been many terrors unleashed against non-white people, and against white people too (which doesn't seem to bother you), but this issue, the issue of freedom of speech does not take a back seat to any issue, because if it does, then we can't communicate, convince and act to resolve issues.

        Most of the down-rating that I have seen has been on posts that call people racist with no apparent justification, and that engage in personal and generally profane attacks.  Sure you can do that and I support your right to do that, but I don't think it gets us anywhere and alienates people who might be on your side.

        "I felt as if I alone of all my townsmen had paid my tax." Thoreau

        by NearlyNormal on Tue Feb 07, 2006 at 03:29:12 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  To clarify (none)
          The deaths of innocent people-employees low down in the chain, rescue workers, children touring the towers, people including, executives (if there were any) who were not working to screw the people of the world, and certain others.  

          As for the coporate terrorist executives who starve people around the world that died-that is karma bitting them in the butt.  They got exactly what they deserved. Myself I feel sorry for the children around the world that they murdered.  

          Boycott Citibank/Citicards. They are corporate thieves and terrorists.

          by tri on Tue Feb 07, 2006 at 04:09:33 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yeah, me too (none)
            And the deaths to come from the poisons, the malnutrition, the lack of education and the failure to provide any sort of accessible medical tx for the poor.  I feel sorry for all of them.

            I don't know that any of the people in the buildings deserved to be incinerated, crushed and suffocated.  Their Karma is intermingled with our responsibilities.

            "I felt as if I alone of all my townsmen had paid my tax." Thoreau

            by NearlyNormal on Tue Feb 07, 2006 at 04:18:51 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  Free speech (none)
        When I saw the image of Muhammed with a bomb in his turban, I thought it meant that Islam was becoming violant, not that someone wanted to blow up Muslims or Muhammed.

        As long is your cartoon did not suggest someone harm the subject (white banker or Muslim or whatever) it is acceptable speech even if dispicable.

      •  What?!?!?!?! (none)
        What if I were to post a drawing of a rich white banker getting bombed?   Would you still be defending my freedom of speech?   If you would they you truly value freedom of speech, if you would not than you are using freedom of speech as a lame execuse for a rethug agenda.

        Hell yeah, I'd be cheering you on. I would have thought that would be fucking obvious. Could you do one in the social realist style? I love the aesthetics of that kind of artwork.

        And that's even if no-one was calling for you to be censored. If you'd done it despite knowing that the reaction would put you in a situation where you'd be afraid for your life or at risk of being jailed the only thing stopping me from rioting in the streets would be my deep and certain knowledge that rioting is wrong...

      •  It makes me wonder (none)
        what you think "freedom of speech" actually is, that you have to ask this question:

        What if I were to post a drawing of a rich white banker getting bombed?   Would you still be defending my freedom of speech?

        Bloody hell, of COURSE, yo!  You can say anything you like, literally, anything you like!  You can draw insulting cartoons of people bombing rich white bankers, poor white pan handlers, rich black businessmen, Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Wiccans... even someone who looks EXACTLY LIKE ME and is clearly intended to indicate my demographic, and I may not much like it, but I'd defend most ardently your right to draw it and be grateful that we live in a society that affords you this freedom.

        Look, freedom of speech doesn't always produce words we want to hear, but it's not the content of what is being said that is of value.  The value lies in the simple fact that, whatever it is, it is allowed to be said.

  •  Get Your Facts Straight (4.00)
    1. You seem to be using Arab and Muslim interchangably.  Arab and Muslim aren't synonyms.  

    2. The reason governments in the Middle East intimidate journalists has little or nothing to do with religion, it's because most of them are deeply repressive secular governments that try to quash any dissent.  Most often, it's Islamic or Islamist writers and intellectuals who are being shut down and imprissoned.

    3. The reason journalists are threatened and kidnapped in the Palestinian areas probably has little to do with religion, but is in the context of the nationalist struggle.  

    4. Obviously there were plenty of people unafraid of drawing images of Muhammed; if there weren't, there wouldn't have been any drawings to cause the uproar.  No, the issue is that people acting in good faith weren't interested in illustrating a picture book about Muhammed, because the idea of drawing Muhammed is by definition a sin of idolotry to most Muslims.  It's hard to claim that a picture book showing Muhammed was in good faith toward Muslims when the very concept of a pictures of Muhammed is a sin.

    The revolution will not be televised, but we'll analyze it to death at The Next Hurrah.

    by Dana Houle on Tue Feb 07, 2006 at 03:12:45 PM PST

    •  Actually... (none)
      1.  I know the difference between Arab and Muslim.     I am sorry if it was not as clear as you like.   I used Arab to describe governments and countries as there are also Arab Christians.  I used Muslim to describe the response to the cartoons as that was a religious response.  I think that is a reasonable seperation.

      2.  Absolutely.  Where did I say otherwise?

      3.  The reason Palestinians are threatening journalists is because they don't want the dispicible things they do in the press.

      4.  The fact that it is a sin for you to draw Muhammed does not make it a sin for a non-Muslim.  They were afraid to draw Muhammed because of modern Muslims, not out of fear to sin.
      •  you are confused (none)
        Especially on #2.  While you say that "Arab governments" (such as Indonesia??) intimidate journalists for printing the "truth" that the "Arab governments" don't want told, in your next breath you say that the journalists are afraid of offending "Islam".  Well, which is it?

        Beyond that, you make no mention of non-"Arab governments" that intimidate journalists.  And you don't mention the extensive reports of U.S. military intimidating or taking aim at journalists in Iraq.

        Question: have you heard of Juan Cole?

        As far as I can tell, once you start pulling the string, this diary ends up being about nothing.

      •  Please (4.00)
        1. You used "Muslim" exactly once, in your first sentence.  What is done by the governments of the Arab states has little or nothing to do with Islam directly, but you put the two issues next to each other, as if they're connected, or as if it was only in Arab countries where there's been protests.  In fact, the protests started in Denmark itself, and there have been protests in numerous countries with mostly Muslim populations that are not Arab, like Indonesia, Pakistan, Iran and Niger.  In other words, you made not distinctions, which is the problem.

        2. Implied in the entire piece.  What do secular governments that suppress many Islamic-inspired activities have to do with the Muslim response?  They're secular governments, and are often quite hostile to religious activities.  In other words, your entire premise is confused.

        4.  The fact that it is a sin for you to draw Muhammed does not make it a sin for a non-Muslim.  They were afraid to draw Muhammed because of modern Muslims, not out of fear to sin.

        Point out where I argued or implied it was a sin for non-Muslims?  No, I didn't, what I argued was that there was little or no reason for someone "in good faith" to illustrate the book, because it was by definition sinful from the perspective of most Muslims.  Therefore, to illustrate a book about Muhammed would be a form of disrespect to most Muslims.  Perfectly legal and acceptable in a liberal society, but it would still be thumbing your nose at the faith of others.  Anyone wishing to be respectful to Muslims probably wouldn't do it, because it would be gratuitous.

        But I think you gave away your game in point number three:

          3.  The reason Palestinians are threatening journalists is because they don't want the dispicible things they do in the press.

        I'll leave it to others to draw their own inferences about what that comment reveals about you and your biases.

        The revolution will not be televised, but we'll analyze it to death at The Next Hurrah.

        by Dana Houle on Tue Feb 07, 2006 at 03:50:52 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Oh the horrors (none)
    Maybe if the MSM got the facts straight and stopped pulling stuff out of context that ultimately leads to the murders of thousands of innocent civilians they would not have to fear for their lives.  

    Of course in the United States no one needs to threaten the MSM.  They supress themselves for ?????.  Bu$h was so used to the fake media questions that when he was in China the journalists their actually had to lock him in a room to get him to answer questions.   Are you now going to start saying how sorry you feel for Bu$h too?  

    Boycott Citibank/Citicards. They are corporate thieves and terrorists.

    by tri on Tue Feb 07, 2006 at 03:20:58 PM PST

  •  Recommended (none)
    There is more to this than "racism" and I am tired of being called racist (Althoough I have to mention that there is a difference between "Arab" and "muslim")
  •  I have to confess that I'm perplexed by (none)
    the whole "free speech" crowd on this issue.  I agree that the Muslim response to these cartoons is disproportionate and deplorable, but as I understand it, Europe also has laws against anti-semitic literature and cartoons.  Why wouldn't similar principles apply in the case of these cartoons?  Should free speech extend to hate speech?  Suppose we say yes and even hate speech should be included under the umbrella of hate speech.  Is this a free speech issue?  As I understand it, free speech pertains to the manner in which a government can and cannot legislate one's speech.  By contrast, free speech does not protect individuals who exercise their free speech from being condemned and ridiculed by others for what they have said.  The entire purpose of free speech is to create an atmosphere where rational debate is possible without people speaking having to worry about reprisals such as being hung by the State.  The violence of the Muslim response in this situation is categorically wrong, but there is absolutely, positively, nothing wrong with Muslims and others who find hate speech offensive and who would like to see it disappear from the public realm condemning the newspapers that printed these articles and seeking to persuade them that cartoons of this nature shouldn't be published in the future.  I think there's a great deal of confusion as to just what free speech is surrounding this issue, and suspect that the argument is a red herring.
    •  There's an article (none)
      There's an article on this guys site (which is unfortunately currently down due to excessive bandwidth consumption) by a Muslim who doesn't see any red-lines in free speech. He decries any restrictions on free speech and posts an Cartoon Showing Hitler and Ann Frank in bed together.

      I think he's a bit of an arsehole in some of his opinions. But I agree with his point.

      And if he gets arrested, killed or has to go into hiding because he drew the cartoon. I would be defending him as passionately as people are defending the Danish cartoonists now.

      And I hope everyone else supporting free speech on here would be as well.

      •  I think you're missing the point. (none)
        If the newspaper isn't a government institution, the Muslims are well within their rights to try to rationally and economically persuade the newspaper to cease printing such materials.  The principle is similar to Christian groups protesting films such as Dogma on the grounds that it's offensive.  Such protests aren't an assault on free speech but are an exercise of free speech.
        •  Perhaps being a bit more clear, (none)
          If I own a company and I tell my salesman that they are not to talk about their religious beliefs with customers, I have not, in any way, trampled on the free speech of my employees.  I have a right, as owner, to have certain requirements of my employees.  Similarly, customers have the right to protest the speech of various media sources and to strive to end particular forms of speech.  Free speech violations only occur when it is the government or state inhibiting the speech of citizens, not private insitutions.  You're conflating private institutions (the newspapers) with government.  That said, the way in which Muslim groups have gone about expressing their ire is unacceptable.
    •  It's quite simple (none)
      It's for the same reasons Aryeh Neier of the ACLU defended the right for Nazis to perform a rally.[1]

      I hope I've explained why some people are rabidly defending the ideals of free speech and a free press.

      [1]And now someone who quite legitimately disagrees with the concept of free speech is going to make a reply accusing me of being a rightwing plant who supports Nazis and then call me a troll.

      •  Um, you do see this is a non-sequiter right? (none)
        The ACLU was defending the right of Neo-Nazi groups to protest against the government.  If a private business such as a newspaper chose to prohibit such protests on their property this would be perfectly legal.

        The whole point of free speech is to create a space in which democratic debate is possible.  The idea is that better policy and truth more readily emerges in such an environment.  However the whole point of debate is exclusion.  That is, the ideal of discussion is for one point of view to eventually be excluded or vanquished under the force of the better argument.  Your conception of free speech seems to be premised on the thesis that no position should ever be criticized as it constitutes an assault on free speech.  Not only are you conflating the private realm (the newspaper) with the public realm (government), but you're essentially saying that anyone who criticizes another point of view is violating the free speech of that other person.  As such, your position ends in a contradiction, as in order to obey such a rule the person who disagrees must stifle their free speech.  Go back and read the founding fathers and Enlightenment thinkers as to what free speech is supposed to be.

        •  No (none)
          It's that self-censorship due to fear of threats of death, violence, and death is a free speech issue.
          •  Now you're getting somewhere; however, (none)
            I would phrase it a bit differently.  The condition for rational discourse is the production of an environment in which people are able to present their arguments without fear of death or imprisonment.  A good example of this can be found in the case of Immanuel Kant in 18th century Prussia.  Kant had published a book entitled Religion Within the Bounds of Reason Alone which angered the then king of Prussia.  The king threatened Kant with imprisonment if he published any further material of this sort, and so Kant refrained from discussing these sorts of issues for the remainder of his life.  Here is a perfect example of government undermining the possibility of rational discourse through threats of imprisonment and murder.  Similarly, when non-governmental groups exercise forms of speech that threaten the views of other groups through violence, these forms of speech are not protected as free speech as they undermine the very possibility of free speech.  As such, the principle of free speech requires us to exclude those forms of action and speech that would undermine the possibility of free speech itself, by virtue of calling for violence.  

            What you're objecting to is not the Muslim call for the newspaper to publish no further cartoons of this sort, nor their call for an apology regarding the past cartoons.  Rather, you're objecting to the way in which the outraged Muslims have attempted to accomplish these aims through threats and acts of violence rather than rational discourse.  Since acts of violence such as this undermine the possibility of free speech, they cannot be condoned.  By contrast, these same groups would be perfectly within their rights if they sought to persuade the newspaper not to publish such cartoons through moral and rational arguments demonstrating the superiority of their position in terms of democratic ideals.  I suspect, if you argued your case in this way, you would be far less likely to be categorized as a troll, as you would simultaneously be able to acknowledge that it is legitimate for someone to believe cartoons such as this are morally wrong such that they shouldn't be published by legitimate news sources and abhor the anti-democratic violence perpetrated by these groups.

            •  Yes (none)
              And I've tried to do that. But being a frail fallible human, I've just gotten tired of having to explain my position over and over again, and still be called a racist troll.

              I'm going to play the race card now.

              I'm part of a racial minority that is far smaller, marginalized, and powerless than Islam.

              So according to the racism as a power differential issue I get a super dooper amazing free pass from any accusations of racism.[1]

              Of course I don't actually believe that crap and take the position that racism[2] is always wrong, no matter who's doing it, and no matter how powerless.

              And I am sick and tired of people who can't understand that both issues, the racism, and free speech, can be valid at the same time.

              I acknowledge that there are issues of racism at work but I'm never going to have time to address them properly while people are still denying that there's any free speech issue to this at all.

              [1]Kleine Mitleid

              [2]Prejudice based on race.

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