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Post #725 • February 7, 2006, 10:21 AM • 172 Comments

It's censorship week here at! Today: this nonsense with the cartoons. Tomorrow: Illegal Art at the Art & Culture Center of Hollywood. wants to express its support for Jyllands-Posten, Die Welt, La Stampa, El Periodico, and Volkskrant for fearlessly reprinting cartoons that state the obvious: that the history of terrorism and the history of Islam have become inexorably linked. It condemns France Soir for firing its managing editor in an act of needless contrition that capitulates to dhimmitude. It applauds Reporters Without Borders, which has followed all subsequent lapses of press freedom with amazing comprehensiveness and directed the following to France Soir:

This is a disturbing and dangerous precedent for editorial freedom. This will not help to defuse tension but, on the contrary, will tend to radicalize positions on all sides even more. tends to get its ass handed to it when it attempts to discuss politics. But I also have a lot of interest in comic art, and I am feeling radicalized by this event. Let's bask in a bit of Constitution, shall we?

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Ahh. You gotta love it. And if you don't, you can say so. Sweet freedom.

You know you want to see the cartoons. Many sites on the Internet have the scan of the entire page that ran in the Jyllands-Posten, and some of them have scans of the individual drawings for greater clarity. Note especially the one depicting Mohammed with a turban morphed into a bomb, and the one with Mohammed explaining to still-smoldering suicide bombers that they're running out of virgins in heaven. (I had to confirm this for myself - indeed, the Koran, 38:51-2: "The righteous shall return to a blessed retreat: the gardens of Eden, whose gates shall open wide to receive them. Reclining there with bashful virgins for companions, they will call for abundant fruit and drink." That bit about there being 72 of them is from one of the Hadiths, sort of the equivalent of the Talmud to the Koran. Personally, I like a more experienced woman, but that's just me. It still sounds better than the heaven of Talmud, in which you get to study Torah with the patriarchs. Whoo-ee, Sunday school for eternity! Thanks, I'll have the shy, thirsty virgins, please!)

Here's a brain-teaser for you: if pictures of Mohammed are outlawed, how do we get the image of him turbanned? We get them from a long history of depictions of the prophet going back at least to the 14th Century in Central Asia. (The turban/bomb drawing is an homage to this tradition, if not a specific work.) There's diversity of opinion about iconoclasm in Islam. I can't find the verse number, but the Koran says, "Whoever believeth in God, and in the Last Day, let him not leave in his house any image whatever that he doth not break in pieces." But this is clearly within the context of proscribing idol worship, and obviously many Muslims haven't felt the need to apply it to pleasant, inspiring pictures meant for non-worship purposes.

That suicide bomber cartoon is pretty good, funnier than the first. We still have the potentially offensive image of Mohammed, but it's at the expense of suicide bombers, and I feel okay with jokes at their expense. I have a friend who will happily show you the scar on her scalp from when a suicide bomber blew up a bus she was riding in Tel Aviv. This cartoon is a good example of how humor plays off the horrific. Note the gentleness of the drawing style, which is crucial to its success. (Neither of them are as funny as Taliban Singles Online, or a post-9/11 report from the Onion entitled Hijackers Surprised To Find Selves In Hell. Blasphemy? Bring it on.)

The discussions I've seen on this sometimes conflate two different kinds of offensive material, positing the outrage that, say, Jews would feel if newspapers were printing material offensive to their religion and people. As it happens, this is not a hypothetical scenario. In cartoon form, modern Arab-language media have been rehashing every anti-Semitic stereotype in circulation since the Crusades. You need go back only a few years to find numerous depictions of Jews as money-greedy, hook-nosed, hairy, baby-blood-drinking infidels, published with glee in newspapers from Algeria to Iran. That's offensive, but the offended Muslims in this case oppose the very existence of images of Mohammed, regardless of content. On this, I see no room for negotiation. Muslims need to re-embrace their former history of tolerance, pluralism, and idea that religion is for the regulation of one's own behavior. If God is so great (Allah akbar!), he can take a little ribbing. More importantly, I believe in a policy that exports freedom of expression on a possibly unwilling world, not in the adoption of self-censorship in the name of not offending a belief system which, if brought to its logical conclusion, would gladly deprive me of liberty and even life.




February 7, 2006, 11:35 AM

This is something of a mass of mixed up information, Franklin, but I think it has become clear that we better develop some new energy sources ASAP. Even George W is saying it.



February 7, 2006, 11:37 AM

Oh no, not the cartoons.
You're late to the party, this has been discussed for the last three days on Edward Winkleman's blog where I have expressed an opposing opinion.



February 7, 2006, 11:52 AM

More later from me; just a couple of quick thoughts:

1. The Islamic world has bones to pick with the non-Islamic world, many of which are justified from any perspective you can choose. (Vice-versa too, to be sure.)

2. A certain segment of the Islamic world has a tendency towards reprihensible violence. Yet by attacking the religion itself, the europeans are insulting those who favor non-violence just as much as the terrorists: not good.

3. The cartoons in question come from a continent, and a thought-process, that is of late becoming more and more closely affiliated with Neo-Nazism.

4. Generally, this whole thing is oddly close to something Jerome du Bois would embrace.

5. These cartoons were printed, quite obviously, with the intent of insulting people. Whatever moral and legal justification there may be, support of their publishing is the support of insulting people. For their religion. You're justified? Great. But it's hurting the cause of peace.



February 7, 2006, 12:24 PM

Maybe the cartoons were an intellectual act of war -- sometimes you need to lance a boil -- but you fight a cartoon with a cartoon, or you prove the cartoonist's point. Ultimately the cartoons were just an excuse. An iraqi blogger of Shi'ite heritage writes:

You know that those cartoons were published for the 1st time months ago and we here in the Middle East have tonnes of jokes about Allah, the prophets and the angels that are way more offensive, funny and obscene than those poorly-made cartoons, yet no one ever got shot for telling one of those jokes or at least we had never seen rallies and protests against those infidel joke-tellers.

What I want to say is that I think the reactions were planned to be exaggerated this time by some Middle Eastern regimes and are not mere public reaction. And I think Syria and Iran have the motives to trigger such reactions in order to get away from the pressures applied by the international community on those regimes.
[and Palestine - H]

A "press freedom" report last year (was it from Reporters Without Borders?) declared Denmark the number one most free press in the world, while of course some other countries of interest to this discussion were very much near the bottom of the almost 200 listed.

I only hope the current attacks are just growing pains on the way to freer and more open societies and economies, even if it takes a generation or two. Maybe Saatchi will open a gallery in the region and they'll show Mapplethorpe photos.

Oil is moot. Plenty of countries have mineral wealth. But they don't have populations who subscribe to murderous ideologies, supported openly by Westerners who call their grievances legitimate and call Europe "Neo-Nazi" while failing to recognize the Real Thing (which I mean quite literally, in the sense of Nationalist-Socialists who attack Jews).

If I'm not mistaken George's view on the other blog was something like, "don't wear that dress, you might get raped," an opinion I thought went out of fashion 15 or 20 years ago. Stunning to me how some Westerners are so willing to apply the opposite views to other countries that they would here. The term "double standard" comes to mind.



February 7, 2006, 12:37 PM

Well said, F.



February 7, 2006, 12:44 PM

Hovig, not exactly read all I wrote, I developed my thoughts over time.
This issue has become political and is no longer about freedom of the press.

The press has exercised their freedoms. What I was suggesting is that having a free press carries with it a responsibility to use it wisely. The press has proved their point and has been exploited in the process.

No good is coming of this.



February 7, 2006, 12:49 PM

I don't understand what you mean by "double standard," Hovig. Don't kid yourself - the "Real Thing" that leads to attacks on Jews in France is the EXACT same thing that led the French to be the first to reprint the cartoons when their offensivness became clear.



February 7, 2006, 12:52 PM

to be clear, I am not defending or condoning the violence that has come of this whole situation. Nor am I saying that the Dutch government should do anything other then what it is doing (ie appologising for the offense, NOT for the cartoon itself).

I'm saying that the editor who decided to run the cartoon was wrong to do so.


Jerome du Bois

February 7, 2006, 1:01 PM

I have the caption; I'm just waiting for the cartoon.

"I saw Mohammend in a Danish."

Jerome du Bois


Jerome du Bois

February 7, 2006, 1:03 PM

Dammit. I hate to misspell.



James W. Bailey

February 7, 2006, 1:46 PM

Dear Franklin,

After the battle on Edward's site, I'm ready for my 72 virgins! (But I'm not as young as I used to be, so I'll have to take them in rounds of 3! Free drinks for the virgin ladies in waiting at Club Aljazeera!)




February 7, 2006, 1:53 PM

Oil is hardly "moot". Hovig. If the president of the US features oil-dependence as one of our major problems in his state ofthe union address that is a pretty definite indication. Oil is what runs this conflict.


Marc Country

February 7, 2006, 2:57 PM

From last Saturday's Globe and Mail, an article by Ken Wiwa:
When the President talked about reducing U.S. imports of Mideast oil by 75 per cent by 2025, I was baffled until I checked in with the folks at Oil Change International ( “Persian Gulf oil is currently only 11.2 per cent of total U.S. consumption, meaning he's [Bush] talking about replacing only 8.4 per cent of U.S. oil supply with other sources.

If I was an editor who wanted to make a point about free speech, I think that particular message would be more clear if I would print a cartoon of the prophet with a bomb-turban (take that, terrorists!), next to one of Christ getting a blow-job from an altarboy (take that, pederast priests!), next to one of the buddha dripping with bling (take that, um, Richard Gere?)... just to be perfectly clear that it is not about insulting one particular faith, but the freedom to insult all religions (which is one of my personal favorite freedoms).



February 7, 2006, 3:21 PM

Marc, those figures are misleading and disingenuously stated. The world runs on oil, top to bottom. Any disruption of the smooth flow of the siystem will precipitate a major economic unheaval.

If the Middle East goes down the tubes an 8.4 per cent cut back, or even 3 or 4 percent, would be catastrophic. The "other sources" would be able to blackmail us, and political changes in S America and elsewhere are not making things any more favorable.

These changes must be introduced now to get the machinery rolling to even make it politically possible. It will not happen overnight.

Fuirthermore, there is considerable evidence that we may simply run out of oil down the road. These predictions may be exaggerated but they are certainly being talked about.

If I were Bush, these things would be near the top of my worry list.



February 7, 2006, 3:23 PM

Well, at least I didn't get my ass handed to me. Jack hasn't come around yet, though.



February 7, 2006, 3:24 PM

One more thing: it is mildly paranoid but not unreasonable to propose that radically reducing th dependency in Middle Eastern oil is a wise move to make before creating new military interventions in the area. Dig?



February 7, 2006, 3:27 PM

Sorry, Franklin. YouR ass got overlooked amid all this talk about the BIG ISSUES


art soldier

February 7, 2006, 3:57 PM

Thought I had enough of this on Edward's blog, but ah well, here goes.

Franklin, wrote: wants to express its support . . . that the history of terrorism and the history of Islam have become inexorably linked.

This is completely irresponsible and anti-Islamic thinking. It is the ugly equivalent of anti-Semitism only directed at Muslims. It propells the false stereotype that Islam is inherently violent. Similarly prejudiced thoughts are used to justify anti-Islamic attacks on Muslims both in our country and around the world. This way of thinking is oppressive and can lead to the oppression of innocent Muslims. Many of my neighbors in Brooklyn are Islamic and all are peaceful. In fact, the world that we all live in together is full of about 1 to 1.5 billion Muslims, 99.999% of whom are as equally disturbed by terrorism as you and I.

Any violence carried out in the name of Islam is the work of violent extremists who form a minuscule percentage of Muslims. In fact, even the population of Muslims in the Middle East is far outweighed in population by Muslims in the rest of the world. In addition, there is a long history of violent extremists in other religions, namely Christianity (consider Ireland) and Judaism (consider Israel). Yet it is unfair and repugnant to generalize an entire religion on the actions of a few. The real problem with the cartoon of Muhammad with the bomb head is that it furthers stereotype and prejudice, not that it breaks some stupid taboo (which is broken all the time elsewhere without protest).

And yet I'm completely opposed to religion and have little respect for it in general, so go figure.


James W. Bailey

February 7, 2006, 4:08 PM

For those who are interested I've detailed some acts that are truly anti-Islamic on Edward's blog.




February 7, 2006, 4:11 PM

Art Soldier, the history of terrorism and the history of Islam have become inexorably linked. Just so, the history of major mathematical achievements and Islam are inexorably linked. So is some exquisite art and design. I state the above as fact, although I condemn that fact. I don't condone extremist violence in any form. Indeed, extremism itself is the enemy. Civilized people are moderates. But it's up to the moderates to criticize the extremists, and that's what I'm doing here.



February 7, 2006, 4:13 PM

What you say may be true, art soldier, and is certainly politically correct and reasonable, but you have to look at what is happening. it is being done in the name of Islam and Islam will suffer for it.

And given the apparent fact that these countries are politically afraid to take action against the terrorists I think your tiny fraction of a percent does not reflect the huge number who passively support them. If this were not true the terrorists would simply dry up and blow away.


art soldier

February 7, 2006, 4:45 PM

I wrote:

It propells the false stereotype that Islam is inherently violent.

Which part is not agreeable -- Do you feel that the cartoon does not endorse this stereotype, or do you feel that the stereotype is true (that Islam is inherently violent)?


James W. Bailey

February 7, 2006, 4:47 PM

Dear Franklin,

I'm in New Orleans - we're preparing to celebrate the world's most politically incorrect and blasphemous of occasions...the greatest free party on earth, Mardi Gras. We're doing this in the face of our city having been destroyed, combined with the double insult of our President and Congress laughing at us while drown - and, yet, somehow we still keep laughing.

With all due respect to Billy Joel:

If you search for religiousness
It isn't hard to find
You can have the anger you need to live

But if you look for truthfulness
You might just as well be blind
It always seems to be so hard to give

Blasphemy is such a lonely word
Everyone is so untrue
Blasphemy is hardly ever heard
And mostly what I need from you

I can always find someone
To say they sympathize
If I wear my bomb out on my sleeve

But I don't want some liberal pretty face
To tell me pretty liberal lies
All I want is someone to believe

Blasphemy is such a lonely word
Everyone is so untrue
Blasphemy is hardly ever heard
And mostly what I need from you

I can find a terrorist lover
I can find a terrorist friend
I can have homeland security
Until the bitter end

Anyone can comfort me
With promises of virgins in heaven again
I know, I know, I know

When I'm deep inside of my sleeper cell
Don't be too concerned
I won't ask for nothin' while I'm gone

But when I want homeland security
Tell me where else can I turn
Because you're the one that I depend upon

Blasphemy is such a lonely word
Everyone is so untrue
Blasphemy is hardly ever heard
And mostly what I need from you


Offense is where you find it.

Humor is where you make it.

Le Bon Temps Roule! Happy Mardi Gras, Miami!

The Right Revered James W. Bailey



February 7, 2006, 5:34 PM

Neither one, art soldier. Or perhaps I should say I don't know enough to characterize it as a stereotype, although it may very well be.

I was merely comment ing on the realities of the situation we have, which strikes me as more vital and interesting than this matter of stereotyping or not stereotyping, which is, after all, just another thread in the loom of the truth spinner.


Marc Country

February 7, 2006, 5:42 PM

I'm not clear on what you find misleading about the figures I quoted, oldpro... certainly, they are meant to clarify the much more misleading line from Bushe's SOTU address... obviously, the US (and everyone else) should be working on reducing any and all oil dependancy, period. But, we're talking here about a target date of 2025 (you're right, that sure ain't overnight) to lower imports of ME oil from 11.2% to 2.8%... and, let's keep in mind that even this small measure is only a pie-in-the-sky line from a speech from a cynical, lying, criminal president.

Saudi Arabia has the worlds largest oil and gas reserves... know who's number 2?

Alberta, home of Canada's new Conservative PM (some political changes are surely more welcome than others, eh?). Is this the "other source" you're so concerned will be "blackmailing" US? I'd guess not.

Let's drop the oil talk though, as we're all clearly more qualified to weigh in on the art side of this debate.

In reference to the "anti-semitic"* cartoons Franklin linked to, it occurs to me that it is very difficult to distinguish commentary on Israeli policy, and commentary on jews themselves, as political cartoons regularly personify states, ideologies, etc. into human forms, with the star of David being an ambiguous signifier of both Israel and Judaism. Cartoons aside, any criticism of Israel is often characterized as anti-semitic, even though it may in fact deal with political grievances, as distinct from religious ones.

* I've never liked the term "anti-semitic", for the same reason I often disagree with art terms... misleading and inexact... a 'Semite' can be of Jewish, or Arabic, or Phoenician, or Akkadian descent, as the term refers to a number of southwest Asian peoples... I suppose my disagreement won't change the common usage of this term, anymore than it will change the nonsensical term "postmodernism". But I can still be right.



February 7, 2006, 6:05 PM

art soldier and Marc and George are the only people on here making any sense. thanks for your comments.



February 7, 2006, 6:39 PM

You are right, Marc, I am certainly no oil expert. Apparently from what you say Bush could simply turn to Canada and say "i don't want to deal with those Arabs any more, let us buy it all from you. But this does not happen, nor is it proposed. Clearly there is something both of us don't know.

My objection to your figures was the "only". My point was that 8.4%, in the scheme of the world oil market, was not an "only". It sounds like a small amount but the consequences of that kind of change are huge. That's all.

Whatever you think of Bush he is the president and he is making policy. When he uses the State of the Union Speech to say something like this it is means a decision has been made at the highest levels that it is an important matter. Dismissing what he says by calling him a "lying criminal", whether or not it is true, only hides your head in the sand. Politics does not work that way.


Marc Country

February 7, 2006, 7:07 PM

I would agree that there's much about the true motives and workings of Bush & Co. that is unknown to you, I, and the majority of the world, and all we can do is note their actions, and draw our own conclusions. I can definitely say that proposals such as "if you don't want to deal with those Arabs any more, why not buy it all from us?" are presented unceasingly by Alberta's politicians to the US market.... but, as we all know, Bush has his own oil interests which pre-date his presidency, so as you say, there's something else going on here... but it hardly furthers the current debate to speculate.

"Only" is subjective, true, and sure, we can all decide whether or not it really is a big number or a small one... Clearly, it was originally worded in Bush's speech to make it appear like a big bold announcement (like all that fantastic manned mission to Mars shit from the last go around, or Iraq's shopping for uranium... GOSH!). The next line from the Wiwa piece, picking up Bush's addiction metaphor, goes:

"The President should know that kicking an addiction doesn't mean giving up fewer than one in 10 drinks"

Calling Bush a lying criminal is not an attempt to "stick my head in the sand". On the contrary, it is a plain statement of fact (only in the US could this be a topic of "debate"). I don't mean to say that what he says doesn't matter (again, on the contrary...). It simply means that I wisely greet any statment made by him with incredulity. To do the opposite would be to truly stick your head in the sand.



February 7, 2006, 7:20 PM

Oldpro said: When he uses the State of the Union Speech to say something like this it is means a decision has been made at the highest levels that it is an important matter.

Well, yes it's an important matter but GWB doesn't have much to brag on and it was one of the few things he could say that would go uncontested. The fact is that a EU style tax on gasoline would cut consumption more quickly than any of the so called alternative fuel measures potentially in the works. Of course it would cause more economic pain. The fact is, like so many proposals, it is just political rhetoric.

Regarding the riots spurred by the cartoons. If one takes a deeper look into the timeline of this issue (see ArtSoldiers comment on the Winkleman link) you will see that the cartoons were first published in September by a right wing Danish newspaper. The recent response to the cartoons is occurring several months later and seems more directed than spontaneous.

It's occurring right after the elections in Palestine, to what end? I don't know but this is no longer an issue about freedom of the press or the Muslim religion, it is about politics, probably politics directly related to the war. The western political leaders were "surprised by the election results in Palestine" (Rice) and again the western political leaders have been caught with their pants down when trying to gauge what the response would be to the current situation.

No matter, the press continues to pat itself on the back for taking a stand for freedom to print what they see fit. Well, fine, now let them unravel events in the middle east in a way which might be helpful to the architects of foreign policy because it seems rather obvious they do not have a clue how to proceed in an effective manner.


Art Soldier

February 7, 2006, 7:52 PM

No matter, the press continues to pat itself on the back for taking a stand for freedom to print what they see fit. Well, fine, now let them unravel events in the middle east in a way which might be helpful to the architects of foreign policy because it seems rather obvious they do not have a clue how to proceed in an effective manner.

Well said, my feelings exactly.

My whole reason for questioning the right-wing Danish newspaper's intent in publishing the cartoons is that people are being distracted by this so-called "test" of freedom of the press and aren't paying enough attention to what's really at the heart of this escalating conflict -- a growing anti-Islamic sentiment in Europe vs. a growing anti-Western sentiment in the Middle East. This is how wars begin.

To make matters worse, Iran keeps leading the charge in upping the ante. Having handly dispensed with nuclear inspections, their holocaust-denying nuclear-bomb-loving lunatic leader is calling for a nationwide holocaust-themed cartoon contest to ramp up the anti-Western hysteria. If I didn't know any better, I'd say someone's trying to enlarge the War on Iraq into a much larger military conflict.


Marc Country

February 7, 2006, 8:14 PM

... a nationwide holocaust-themed cartoon contest...

Well, if it's a freedom of speech thing, maybe they'll let Art Spiegelman enter...



February 7, 2006, 9:05 PM

Oldpro in #14 makes perfect sense - if we as a nation somehow were to insist on buying "certified middle-east-free" oil, it would mean we'd pay slightly more per barrel, the rest of the world slightly less. Nothing more.

In #27 oldpro makes less sense: "When he uses the State of the Union Speech to say something like this it is means a decision has been made at the highest levels that it is an important matter." Bullcrap: the SotU was full of talk wherein Bush turned around and did the exact opposite: something about "we must make sure to help everyone be able to afford medical care, especially the poor and elderly;" the budget that came out a few days later cut the funding for those programs, and increased the portion of medical care those very people have to carry. Don't take Bush so seriously. Switch-grass my ass.

Otherwise, I agree essentially with art soldier (though the pseudonym troubles me); and would add:

Gays, blacks, and jews are three examples of groups about which we (as a national culture) would never tolerate insluting, deragatory cartoons in a major national newspaper. The fact that some parts of our society accept them about Islam is a misstep equivalent to the imprisoning of Japanese-Americans during WWII.



February 7, 2006, 9:14 PM

Art Soldier said: If I didn't know any better, I'd say someone's trying to enlarge the War on Iraq into a much larger military conflict.

A speculation on events: It occurred to me that the cartoon riots are directly connected to the Hamas victory in the recent Palestinian election. I believe this event was misread by the western nations from the start. First they misjudged the anger of the Palestinian voting public and didn't anticipate the Hamas victory. Next I believe some members of the EU press may have made editorial decisions partly based upon vague assumptions of the future course of events between Israel and Palestine. Further, I have a hunch that Syria, Iran and the more radical political minorities in the area are capable of anticipating what the path of events might be and that they have played an active part in inciting the rioting.

I believe that the Hamas government may be the only political party in Palestine which could negotiate a peace with Israel A negotiation which would be seen as legitimate rather the result of a manipulation by the western pro-Israel governments. A comparable event would be Nixon negotiating with China, can you imagine how this would have been received by American conservatives if it had been negotiated by a liberal democrat? It wouldn't have happened. I see the situation somewhat similar in the middle east, Palestine needs economic help and some sense of stability, eventually they will have to accept Israel as their neighbor. I'm speculating that the more radical political groups in the area know this as well and intervened to head it off. The western press was duped into helping.



February 7, 2006, 9:19 PM

Alesh, #32. Art Soldier has an excellent blog, it's URL is linked in comment #18


Steve Klotz

February 7, 2006, 9:47 PM

We must respect the other fellow’s religion, but only in the sense that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart. -- H.L. Mencken



February 7, 2006, 9:50 PM

Better discussion here over this contentious hot topic than I expected when I saw what the post was about and how many comments had been made on it.

Not that I don't hold you all in the highest esteem otherwise.



February 7, 2006, 10:09 PM

Alesh #32: Gays, blacks, and jews are three examples of groups about which we (as a national culture) would never tolerate insluting, deragatory cartoons in a major national newspaper. The fact that some parts of our society accept them about Islam is a misstep equivalent to the imprisoning of Japanese-Americans during WWII.

It's exactly this kind of inability to distinguish between degrees of wrong that enables people to respond to an offensive cartoon by burning down the embassy of the country in which the newspaper operates. I don't like Bush much at all, but I'll take him any day over Mahmoud Ahmedinejad. I mean, please. Even if every conspiracy theory about Bush were true, he'd still be preferable to Ahmedinejad. You know what's going to happen when Hamshahri publishes the winner of the Holocaust cartoon contest? Right-thinking people of all faiths around the world are going to shake their heads and say, Jesus, what a bunch of assholes. No one is going to riot. Rioting in response to a cartoon takes a special kind of deep-seeded gullibility fed by chronic lack of access to good information. The west has a lot to answer for, sure, but the kind of hatemongerers operating in Jihadism worldwide make Bush look like Dennis Kucinich. We continue to be more in the right than they are.

That Mencken quote is awesome.



February 7, 2006, 10:13 PM

I forgot to add that by holding this contest, Iran is conflating the two kinds of offensive material, exactly as I described above.


James W. Bailey

February 7, 2006, 10:22 PM

Dear Franklin,

There are some conspiracy theories being kicked around on this post that I guarentee you will be swiped by Oliver Stone...or better yet, Mel Gibson. Make sure you lock-down the copyright on this thread real tight - Hollywood is gonna come knocking on your door for a cut and paste script. My recommendation is that when they do, you should demand some points (an investment per centage of the film's net) on the deal. :)




February 7, 2006, 11:46 PM

The skewed logic going on here rivals the "art quality" arguments we had here over a year ago with the reboubtable Dr B manning the dark side.

Alesh, I think what I said in #14 was quite the opposite of what you said I said. As for #27, Bush's alleged duplicity about medical care does not mean that either medical care or oil is not taken seriously by him as an issue, which is all that I said. In fact it rather demonstrates it. Is that clear to you or should I explain it further?

George, most analysts attribute the Hamas victory more to the corruption and ineffectiveness of Fatah rather than the "anger of the people".

Maybe we better stick to art, Franklin. Here's your ass.



February 7, 2006, 11:59 PM

oldpro said:... most analysts attribute the Hamas victory more to the corruption and ineffectiveness of Fatah rather than the "anger of the people".

Well, I didn't imply who the voting public was angry at. The fact is that the election results were unexpected by most western political leaders. Without a doubt the debate over the cartoons is the most contentious topic being discussed anywhere in the world today, so why not here? Can pictures start a war?



February 8, 2006, 12:43 AM

Those who still dreaming of being at the edge of art, want to push the limits and in the process become next big thing in art (Damien Hirst Juniors), please, try this interesting idea presented by U.S. based blogger.
“At least this has upped the stakes in what is considered edgy commentary and shocking art - I cannot imagine alleged bad-boy artist Damien Hirst having the balls to make an artwork of, say, Allah getting banged in the back by Mohammed. No, Hirst will chide the Last Supper, mocking the icons of an institution with no teeth, but despite his image as a rabble rouser, he ain't got the nuts - he is too entrenched and successful and his transgressions are always totally safe and sanitized.
Does art world bad boy Marizio Cattelan have the guts, the edginess, the commitment to pushing the envelope to make a sculpture of Mohammed licking a dog's balls? Catellan made a sculpture of an asteroid squishing the Pope, a life-size sculpture of NYFD Firemen turned upside down shortly after 9/11, but something tells me he is too chickenshit to stand up to the Big Bad Boneheads of Koran-Land who would take away his right to make ANY art were they ruling the land.”
My hope is that someone will pick up a challenge and save a courage - a staple (jihadist?) word for contemporary artist. In the battle of ideas between freedom of self expression and rigid Islamic dogma Western thought of tolerance is steadily losing ground to violence preaching Mullahs.
Mr. Damien Hirst, please, help us. Do something… You can afford a castle (you’ve bought one) and four wives now… Please, work a bit harder from now on and the next show at Gagosian will be in Islamic Last Supper but with a twist of Mohamed banging his virgins and eating pork between.
If nobody pick up a challenge at least in the area of art, the Islamic tide (consider Muslim birth rate vs aging and diminishing population of Europeans) will slowly creep to our lives. Today cartoons, in couple years partial introduction of Sharia to our laws (to just keep Islamists quiet) and in couple more years stoning to death our ex-wives (hm.. sounds good). Shit, where is my Pilsner beer? On the other hand, maybe I should start to learn how to avoid beer… You never know, it might me put closer to Allah.
This time art audience who fell for D. Hirst alikes has to watch what their “edge artists” are really worth, now.


demet koc

February 8, 2006, 3:14 AM

i just read the yesterdays comments but i have to say something!!!
Ok! I need to calm down a bit first because I am mad!!!!
How can you know so much about so many things and still be so IGNORANT?????!
Those who answer to the cartoons with violence are angry! Because most of them did not have chances to go to great schools or even go to a luxuries Barnes and Nobles to buy books with fancy covers. They do not have the freedom of speech or sometimes even listening. The people of the Middle East, for the most part do not have the things westerners have. Even the ones who are lucky, smart and has liberal families so that they can go to good universities are not lucky enough to get somewhere in life because they do not live in the land of opportunities! They don’t have parents that tell them they can be anything they want in this world because they can not! They can not have glamorous lives. If you look around yourselves, everything around here is glamorous so, how can you possibly advise them how to be?!!! Western world has everything and every opportunity for someone to become as intelligent as yourselves though still in this land of opportunities you still find murderers, serial killers, rapists, child molesters and all kinds of crazy people!

The muslims around the world are angry just like I am, right now, even as a moderate Muslim. Allahu Ekber, yes I am angry!!!! And considering that I am coming from a non-religious father and mother and how lucky I am in this life, my anger can only be a fraction of theirs.

HONOR!! That is what westerners are taking away from those who don’t even have a fancy book to read to become more intellectual! (Which, by the way, is a Lego game that you keep building up information from books, then you come up with your “own ideas” opinionated by the things that you read!!!!) But are you ever able to come to an understanding intuitively because sometimes that is all it takes to understand a culture, prevent more violence or really for anything! In the end, it all comes down to being nice and respectful to each other.

Those violent men in Middle East have NOTHING!!! Most importantly they do not have a spoiled amount of freedom in their hands. On top of that, the "great western world" is looking down at them! They do not have anything other than their religion, morals, customs and their way of living. Their dignity is gone! Do not take more away from them; it will only cause more war! it is just commen sense! I bet on everything that I have that if anybody is challenged under those circumstances they will become violent in every opportunity! Just remember how people were becoming violent after Katherine because they were challenged! these people are challenged and missled all their life! People of Middle East are born to their poor destinies which are pretty much the same for most of them!! Well, yes this is no excuse for anyone to be violent or even worse, to become a terrorist!!! However, it is not an excuse, it is the reality that these man and women have nothing to loose! At least, this time do not ignore the fact that their dignity is gone and the whole world is making fun of them and the things that they believe in with bunch of nasty and ugly cartoons?

Allah knows, I do not really care about practicing the religion but you can not just get out there make ignorant comments about MY REGILION!!! Because my grandmother prayed five times a day, even in her dead bed and all this is really disrespectful to her. Within 30 miles, you are creating a war between cultures!!!! Do you understand that this is not freedom of speech? You can not have the freedom of speech in this case. This is more like somebody is talking terrible things about someone you love and care! Nothing justifies it! Can I talk in that kind of fashion about Christianity, Buddhism or perhaps your beloved grandmother who you remember with sweet memories?!

Go ahead say the last word!
notthing else i read over this subject can break my heart more!
Perhaps, humiliate me if you can!
What am I? Just a Muslim anyways, right?!
happy broken muslim hearts...



February 8, 2006, 4:37 AM

I am fortunate to be here and know all of you - for agreement and argument the same.


Miami Harold

February 8, 2006, 9:44 AM

From #43. demet koc: "You can not have the freedom of speech in this case. "

And there it is.
Precisely stated in the minimum number of words
what is 100% wrong,
and, all histrionics aside,
the basis for this whole disagreement.
Thank you, demet koc, for encapsulating this entire worldwide discussion.



February 8, 2006, 10:02 AM

#45: In a black and white world, gray is an enema.


James W. Bailey

February 8, 2006, 10:45 AM

For artists who languish in prisons in countries like China, North Korea and Iran for doing nothing more than expressing themselves through their art, and who are arrested, convicted, tortured and executed for "offending" some political or religious icon, and whose situations are virtually ignored by the art world because for the art world to dare to raise its voice and take their side would be falsely seen as standing shoulder to shoulder with an American politician the art world has banded together to hate, everyday is grey.

There's nothing more black and white than the universal right of Freedom of Artistic Expression. Any attempt to inject gray into that definition is an attempt to restrict, control and limit artistic expression.

James W. Bailey


demet koc

February 8, 2006, 11:04 AM

No problem!!!!!!!!!
I wrote about my feelings. If you did not understand what I feel it is really your problem!
Oh by the way, have you ever left this country!?

Anybody who is supporting the cartoons is entering a very delicate place and will hurt Muslims all around the world even the non-violent ones. But why would you want to do that unless you have an alternate motif????!!! And you are %100 wrong if want to create conflict between cultures!!

Yes, there are no grey areas. Because it is either you say something that you are not supposed to or not! It is that simple!

Just because some westerners decided that the Muslims should change, they are not going to!

Personally, I wish they did?

But they will not. It will only make the matters worse!

I know you get your high from arguing but this one subject hurts the peace!!

And I forgot to thank to the people who wrote some sensitive stuff previously.

Oh also, do you have anything better to say other then that I am %100 wrong!
Why don't you start with a history lesson and hold me and other innocent Muslims responsible for whatever happened in the past of the Muslim world?!
Really, why don't you since there is endless freedom of speech!
And then we can go back and fort insulting each other!
It is a very simple point I am making!
Why would you not understand?

Is it because you are too sophisticated to understand a simple fact like “insulting people is not a nice thing”?

Come on!


Steve Klotz

February 8, 2006, 11:54 AM

Note: In slightly different form, this note was originally posted Tuesday 2/7 on Critical Miami, but Alesh didn’t want it, suggesting instead that it would nicely offset his remarks here at ArtBlog. Interesting irony here given the topic, and especially delicious if you’re acquainted with the story of Alesh’s whole fiasco with MPAC. Anyway, Franklin, it's your blog and if you want to delete this comment, that's your prerogative.

Hmm. Might have lost their focus over here at ArtBlog. What’s Freedom of Expression vs. Respect for Religion got to do with the price of oil? Anyway?

It comes down to a basic tension that exists in a (relatively) free society. That is, at what point should you shut your pie hole out of respect for another’s sensibilities? Where’s the line between informing at the cost of inflaming?

Well, for guidance and wisdom, let’s look at the editorial in Tuesday’s Miami Hurled ( and, as usual, do the opposite.

Most U.S. newspapers also refused to publish the cartoons and some people questioned why U.S. papers didn't reprint the cartoons. As it happens, most newspapers also didn't print the photos of Janet Jackson's ''wardrobe malfunction'' at the Super Bowl. It wasn't necessary to see an explicit photo for readers to understand what that scandal was all about.

Here’s the Hurled comparing journalistic responsibility to address a matter of grave international concern that strikes people at their basic core beliefs with titillating photos of a cheap sensationalist stunt. Thanks fellas. Brilliant. No wonder you think Pulitzer is a lite beer. .

The Hurled’s sister paper, the Philadelphia Inquirer, is one of the few in the country that ran the cartoons. Read the editor’s rationale (, and follow the link to the actual (mostly unfunny) cartoons. Can’t resist one quote: This is what newspapers are in the business to do. We educate people, we inform them, we spark discussion. It is not only our profession, it is our obligation.

Makes more sense, yes? There is no greater, more precious, valuable right than that of free, unlimited expression to the maximum degree, and if each of us individually draws the line in different places, that’s the real issue to examine. But there better be a damn good reason to limit that freedom, and the risk of offending somebody ain’t good enough. Ever.

Let a thousand flowers bloom. Express yourselves with dignity and intelligence, even when you’re just flat-out fucking wrong. There’s nothing in the world you can say without offending some nimrod somewhere on the planet, and in fact, causing offense itself is a source of wisdom and dialog we could use in greater quantity. Offended people often reveal themselves for the frauds they are and the shit they serve and would force us to swallow.

“Fart proudly,” urged Ben Franklin, who was, among many other professions, a writer, printer, and publisher. Not as good as that pithy Mencken quote, but poignant and relevant. And right.



February 8, 2006, 11:57 AM


I am offended that you would say I am "too sophisticated to understand" such a simple thing. You have hurt me. I am sorry I cannot be as understanding as you.

I am going to seek out the nearest building that promotes less sophisticated understanding and burn it down.

On a serious note, I just want to say I can appreciate the anger of the Muslims. I can appreciate the feeling of insult. But my God, why in the world are people dying. Why are things being burned down?

If I killed someone every time I was offended or insulted there would be a lot of dead people in my wake. But you know what, insults are just insults. You insult me and I say "F off" and I move on.

But apparently that's the sophisticated response.

What more excuses can we come up with for such destruction?


Miami Harold

February 8, 2006, 12:02 PM

"The dogs bark, but trhe caravan moves on."
--Ancient Arab proverb



February 8, 2006, 12:23 PM

Didn't you have a post coming up that concerned art, Franklin?

I don't mind talking about politics but I usually quickly realize that I really don't know what I am talking about and shut up. Apparently this attitude is not universally shared.


Art Soldier

February 8, 2006, 12:37 PM

One of the things that fascinates me the most about this topic is how it turns the thoughts of normally reasonable people who consider themselves 'open-minded' and 'progressive thinkers' into something closer resembling the ranting and raving of right-wing nutters.

Has anyone read any right-wing nutter blogs lately, or right-wing neocon op-ed columns about this topic? Their crazed arguments in vehement defense of the cartoons closely mimics some of the arguments being made on this board by supposed free-thinking artists. The fact that many from the art community are still unable to see the grey area in this conflict continues to baffle me.

Do not assume that this is a real "test of free speech" just because the right-wing Danish newspaper has declared it so.

The worst part is that people keep arguing that free speech and expressing distaste for a specific use of free speech are somehow diametrically opposed. THEY ARE NOT!!

The most important thing about free speech is that it be unregulated by government, anything less is unacceptable. But the great thing about free speech is that we, as individual citizens, have the right to disagree with what has been said.

When governments try to control the speech that a newspaper or art museum endorses, then free speech is threatened. When citizens express non-violent moral condemnation of speech that a newspaper or art museum endorses, then citizens are honorably doing their jobs as members of society.

The real enemies of free society are violent extremists who have little respect for human life. They should be fought against at all costs!! But they should never, never, never be confused with the vast majority of peace loving Muslims.

The Danish newspaper displayed little interest in specifically targeting terrorist extremists, but displayed a broad resentful disrespect for all Muslims.

While they are certainly not to blame for the actions of the extremists, these cartoons have done very little to promote understanding between East and West, or open anything resembling an intelligent dialogue about the subject, but have only served to further hostility, misunderstanding, and prejudice.



February 8, 2006, 1:12 PM

I wanted to get this on first thing, but Earthlink is having citywide outages so I'm at the library. Nertz.

Demet, I understand that a great number of people are angry about this. One of the judgments of a person's character is what they do when they become angry. We just said goodbye to Coretta Scott King, who had as much right to be angry about her situation as anyone, particularly after her husband was assassinated, but she persisted in the work of non-violence and the spread of goodwill and equality. And as little information as the rioters have, they have the Koran, and the Koran teaches (among other things), Chapter 3:172: "Of those who answered the call of Allah and the messenger, even after being wounded, those who do right and refrain from wrong have a great reward." Which goes to show you that implementation is always more important than theory. Direct at least some of your outrage to the hoards of people twisting your religion into a violent cariacature of itself.

This whole point about honor is moot. Honor or dignity is not something that another can take away from you with words and images. Unless you surrender it. Again, it does not follow that insults inevitably lead to violence. The Kings certainly didn't think so. Think about that in regards to "Within 30 miles, you are creating a war between cultures!" It takes two to tango, as they say.

In answer to your question, "Can I talk in that kind of fashion about Christianity, Buddhism or perhaps your beloved grandmother who you remember with sweet memories?!" The answer is yes. The Constitution guarantees your freedom to do so. Voltaire, a French contemporary of the founders of the US, put it beautifully: "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." You call it "a spoiled amount of freedom," I call it an unspoiled amount of freedom. And the world could use more of it.


Marc Country

February 8, 2006, 1:21 PM

Come on, oldpro... technically, I'd rather call it illustration than 'art' too, but you've gotta let Franklin indulge in his cartoon fetish once in a while, and there's no denying the 'hotness' of this topic.

There are so many different angles to look at that question, it's impossible for one person to touch on them all... I think most of the comments here have actually been quite thoughtful and intelligent (except the one conflating this isue with Japanese internment... give me a break!), even when they disagree with one another. Thanks everone.

At bottom though, I wonder if we can all accept the fact that he image of Islam being a religion of violence was not created by a danish cartoonist... the cartoonist merely made an illustration, metaphorically depicting that image. Since we must reject the iconoclasm argument, we are left muslims protesting the existing image of Islam as a violent religion... protesting it with what they surely feel to be pious acts of violence... a tragic punchline if ever there was one.


Art Soldier

February 8, 2006, 1:35 PM

#54 - Voltaire, a French contemporary of the founders of the US, put it beautifully: "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."

Of course, but then the question is this: What are the cartoons really saying, and do we approve or disapprove?

The fact is, the publishing of these cartoons was motivated by a right-wing, anti-Islamic agenda, and I fully disapprove of what they say, while I would certainly defend to the death their right to say it.


demet koc

February 8, 2006, 2:02 PM

Dear Concerned,
I apologize that I insulted you. I mean it. I only wish you did not use the F word. But it is all good because I really wanted to use the F word too so I know how you feel. The thing is, I really think that you are sophisticated people and I did not mean it as an insult but perhaps I was being little aggressive due to my anger!
The part that makes me really sad and mad is that this simple matter of to respect or not to respect becomes a problem while it is being discussed by intelligent people. Those jokes are not funny and you as educated and cultured people should not discuss but except that they are disrespectful.
Not every art is good art. You know that so much better then me!
Do you think it is a good thing that Hitler had freedom of speech? Don’t you think any Muslim poet that writes about Cihad should go to prison for that or do you think it is freedom of speech?Let me know because i have things to learn from you for sure.
But what is obvious is that once you say "freedom of speech"it surelly works both ways doesn't it! It works for the good and the evil!
i can give you an example; in England(well, i believe that is in Europe!!!!!!!!!!) you can easilly purchase a video of any terorist group that is calling for Cihad! it is not forbidden because of the freedom of speech.Those people who sell the videos can not be held responsible if somebody, out of the blue, decides to attack on a mall with innocent people in it!! The same reason why they can not blame a rapist's guilt on a porn video!

This is my point, it is a delicate subject and we should be kind about others’ religions or believes.
I do not have big words and important things to say and I am happy that way. I am sorry if I interrupt the paste of your conversations and say things out of my gut!
I repeat, I just want to state a simple fact. If you do something to hurt somebody else you apologize! You don’t go further and disturb that person more! unless, you are looking for trouble!

I am very sorry that most of the Muslim population does not have enough sophistication to discuss worldly subjects on a blog in a profound language but they go burn down buildings! I am very, very sorry! I admit, they are just not any better but teasing them will not get the western world anywhere. It is like teasing a dog. You will be left with the aggressiveness of the dog and certainly it is difficult to rewind once you place the hate in the dog!
I due respect everyone on this world and once again I apologize for getting mad! Obviously, I can not make anybody understand! After all, nobody can save the world!



February 8, 2006, 2:43 PM


You're a lot smarter than you'll let on!

You better believe I think it's a good thing that Hitler had freedom of speech!! Where he went wrong, I think, was killing, oh, thousands of people. His speech, while vile and stupid, is his speech. I can agree with him or not. I can listen or not. But it's the actions he took that was wrong.

You're walking down an awfully slippery slope my friend. If we really want to decide what is good speech and what is bad, please tell me how to do that. Who decides? How do we enforce it?

We can't.


James W. Bailey

February 8, 2006, 2:44 PM

Dear Franklin,

"Didn't you have a post coming up that concerned art, Franklin?"

I think Mr. Old Pro has a point.

This will be my last post on this subject. Honestly, I tune into the network to watch my favorite critics engage in non-violent ass-kicking battles over art. Not that this subject isn't about art.


...when it gets to the point where people are construed as racists because they support the publication of the cartoons and object to the ensuing violence, then I'd rather follow that blather on

For the anti-anti-Islamoconspiratorialists,

The true heroes are the 12 cartoonists who are now in hiding for their very lives because of the serious death threats that have been issued against them. If that’s a radical position that somehow intersects with the opinion of a right wing nut job, so be it. Ranting against supposedly right conspiratorial motivations of Danish newspapers while violence and death threats continue to mount over cartoon images doesn't advance the concept of Freedom of Artistic Expression, which is what this IS all about for artists, or at least for me as an artist.

Some apparently believe the cartoons are offensive. Others disagree, including me. Publish the images and let the public decide. They are without a doubt of "news value" now. We don't need an U.N. committee of cartoon police to decide for us what we can see or not see. That is the issue.

Those who attempt to slander an opposing point of view by waxing it with slurs of being inspired by racist right wingers are engaged in an argument that is just as vapid, shallow and empty as that of the rights wingers who attempt to slander the left for being in the back pocket of Al Qeada for their position on this controversy.

Let me be as clear as I can:

12 of the most racist cartoonists as you can find have the Freedom of Artist Expression right to draw the most vile, disgusting and racist of cartoons.

If a racist newspaper wants to publish those cartoons, even if publication is intended to piss somebody off, they have the right to do so.

If some want to jump up and down screaming about what a bunch of racists they are, then they have the right to do so.

But the right to protest ends where the rights of their (cartoonists and publishers) noses begin.

It's very clear to me who the heroes are in this situation: it's the cartoonists.

I'll let the conspiratorialists and others figure out who the villains are, as well as their "true" right wing political motivations.



bench warmer

February 8, 2006, 3:05 PM

In answer to your question, "Can I talk in that kind of fashion about Christianity, Buddhism or perhaps your beloved grandmother who you remember with sweet memories?!" The answer is yes.

But it might be filtered out...

"In response to Iran's best-selling newspaper announcing a competition to find the best cartoons about the Holocaust, the Israel News Agency launched an SEO - Internet search engine optimization marketing contest to prevent Iran news Websites from reaching top positions in Google."

Source: (be advised there are some graphic photos)



February 8, 2006, 3:21 PM

Dear Franklin,
First of all, I respect you deeply as a teacher. But with all due respect, how do you know you can not take some bodies’ dignity away? Have you ever lived under those circumstances? Or have you ever been mistreated as an American? Well, maybe you did and you just an iron man!?Please, let me know,i might need some advice about that!
I am sorry about being really upset when I posted my first comment. I meant to make an example of how people get mad at each other when I said that you are creating war within 30 miles. I see now that it sounds little harsh but I was teased. Well, I have no intention to come burn your house down, Franklin. Well, I don’t think you have intentions like that either!
But just like you said it is a dance! Though don’t forget you arranged the party!
No thanks, I have no desire to discuss any religion or any believe. I just love to respect cultures (and I always hope that they respect mine)!!! What can I do? That is my thing.
I do believe in peace and I think Coretta Scott King is one amazing woman. But I don’t think the anger of Middle East has anything to do with her love of peace!

My countrie's motto is “piece in the world, peace at home”. I had to repeat that in class everyday and it is written everywhere! It is not me who causes problems for all of us. You are missing the fact that how crowded the Muslim population is on this world!
I am mad at those people who represent my country’s, even more so my grandmother’s religion in this way! What can I do, Franklin? What can you do? The only way is to confront those violent people for peace or perhaps you and I can take trip to Middle East and fight them over there?! But I do not think you are violent and neither I am!
Even ten years old can tell you that you can not just say what you think how it should be like and expect things to change. The only way is compassion for their miseries and apologies for taking every opportunity form those young men and women so that west can have more! They don’t need to be humiliated any more! Please, please, please acknowledge that, because if I can not confront you as a civilized and intellectual person there is no way anybody can change those mad people!

Come, come, whoever you are.
Wonderer, worshipper, lover of leaving.
It doesn't matter.
Ours is not a caravan of despair.
Come, even if you have broken your vow
a thousand times
Come, yet again, come, come.
Ps; My grandmother lived in Konya where Rumi lived his life and is buried!


demet koc

February 8, 2006, 3:34 PM

Hey, you know what maybe this is pointless!
You are right! Yes everybody should have the freedom of speech to the point that it looses it is point and hurts other people!
Sorry, for taking your time and certainly wasting mine. And I agree you should start talking about art now!
You guys are better at that for sure.
Nothing I say or even you say will change anything so we all have to deal with it!!!

Good luck people


demet koc

February 8, 2006, 3:48 PM

Wait! i forgot to say that you have double standards! Why is the world so concerned about Iran's president saying anything he wants! it is freedom of speach, isn't it? you know it is just funny how your standards for people are so off!!!



February 8, 2006, 3:56 PM

It's not a waste of time if someone's mind changes, Demet. Thank you for the exchange.

Bench, filtration is a different issue, albeit a serious one. I filter comments according to some guidelines I've layed out. At the private level, filtration is appropriate. At the state level, any decision about filtration has to be weighed against concerns about censorship, which ought to trump every time.



February 8, 2006, 4:03 PM

I very much value Ahmedinejad's freedom of expression. Every time he mouths off about Holocaust revisionism or the destruction of Israel, the world realizes exactly what kind of a nutjob it's dealing with.


demet koc

February 8, 2006, 4:15 PM

Well, I changed my mind about trying to communicate with people who already have way too many opinions about everything!
Unfortunately, I failed to make a point but you would too if you were talking to 10 Muslims. Would you be brave enough to do that? :)
It is all fair; at least I got say some things that were bothering me! But, I guess, I might as well have talked to myself!



February 8, 2006, 4:49 PM

As a teacher with a conscience, I don't have the luxury of giving up on communicating with people. As a writer, I have no desire to. I believe that the strongest ideas, the ones most in line with the truth, win out over time. I'll gladly put mine up against your hypothetical ten Muslims. If you feel like you've failed to make your point, the appropriate action is not to claim that I have too many opinions - it is to examine your point and see if it is as strong as you originally thought.


Miami Harold

February 8, 2006, 4:55 PM

Franklin, I admire your patience.
This is not the first time on the blog you have exhibited the qualities
of an excellent teacher and an experienced communicator.
Please continue.



February 8, 2006, 6:33 PM

Demet - Do you come from the same country as Orhan Pamuk and Hrant Dink? I'm wondering how much first-hand experience you have with the issues of free speech.

Oldpro - Bush was pandering. If we stop getting liquid oil, we'll just use sand oil, shale oil, natural gas, cleaner coal, or something else. It'll cost more in the short run but we'll adjust and improve quickly. We always have, we always will, we always do. P.S. If you were Bush, you'd invade an oil-producing country and rebuild them as your westernized oil-producing ally. Oh, wait...


fly on the wall

February 8, 2006, 6:34 PM

Demet, your sharing your opinions and feelings on this matter is most appreciated. You've aptly apologized for hurting someone's feelings, but please stop apologizing for your opinions or for wasting anyone's time. Just because you haven't won over the crowd, does not mean that your participation in this discussion is futile. Thank you for sharing your experiences.


demet koc

February 8, 2006, 6:34 PM

Hmm, I really do not want to say any more but I have to repeat that all I am saying is some people need to apologize instead of creating more fire.
What do you want? More war?
I sense that you are mad at me! But don't be because I see this as an insider and I am trying to somehow make you understand that is not about art or freedom of speech. Just because we have the freedom, it is not right to spoil it. It is our responsibility use it in the right way and that would be the conmen sense!
I repeat again it is simple and most of the world shares this opinion with me. Because it is the sensitive way of thinking other then just sticking with one stubborn idea! I have not said that anything should be banned but perhaps people should think over before they print! Maybe just like you do, things should be kindly filtered!
I am not going to write any more because you are really hurting me! You are a nice person normally, why are you so stubborn about a subject like this?
I am not telling you, Franklin, but can people stop clapping because it is like you are ganging up on one person's simple point by just saying that it is wrong! Why is it wrong to ask for respect? I have not gotten a real answer yet. But I keep hearing that I am wrong! Why? Because I say the things that you don’t want to hear?
I know you won’t answer this time either! I am not even sure if any of you read what I wrote.
I used to be a student at your school, Franklin and I always thought of you highly just like my other teachers! I did not write on the blog with a fake name so you know who I am! And I do stand up for my way of thinking! But I resign from trying to confront you and others that we can find some mutual ground! Obviously we can not. And if you and I can not do it, I feel very sorry for the world peace! Oh, how lame it sounds, right? Who cares about the world peace?
Enough said. If you do not understand that I would like to have peace and for you to be in peace to with Muslims, perhaps you can read it again, please?! Know that you do sound like you are against Muslims! But yes, it is America and you have the right to be against anyone you want.
well, it is your blog , Franklin!



February 8, 2006, 6:56 PM

You are not reading carefully, Demet, and you are wrong in several assertions above, most of all in the one that supposes that I am angry at you. Good luck to you.


art soldier

February 8, 2006, 7:20 PM


We should all remember that most of us here agree on more things than we disagree:

1. Free speech is sacred to us and not to be controlled by government.

2. The Danish paper was well within its legal rights to print any cartoons they wished.

3. Violence is wrong and shameful as a reaction to being offended.

4. Extremist Muslims are hurting their cause by resorting to violence.

Where we differ is that I find the decision to publish the cartoons in the first place to have been irresponsible due to their anti-Islamic overtones, while you celebrate the fact that they were published.

Some that I'm better able to understand your position (or even J.W.B's if he wants to respond directly to this question), is this because you think that either (1) the original publishing of the cartoons is morally responsible because they are not anti-Islamic or (2) that publishing anti-Islamic (or other racially inflammatory, or otherwise singularly prejudiced) cartoons is a responsible action for newspapers?

If neither, please explain, I'd like to understand your position.



February 8, 2006, 7:20 PM

Thank you for telling me i am wrong, Franklin and not explaining why. I guess you don't think that it is worth explaining! it is ok. i still love you and respect you. But i still think you are mad at me!
Goodluck to you too.

Yes, i am coming from the same place as Orhan Pamuk and i have not read his stuff since i am a teenager. There are many, many other writers in Turkey.
And no, i do not want to get into any conversations about the Human Rights or freedom of speach in my country. That is way too long.
God bless all cultures and religions



February 8, 2006, 7:29 PM

I never said he wasn't pandering, Hovig. I only said that by putting the oil message in the state of the union message he was announcing that the exectutive branch of the government thinks it is an important matter.

I also stated, based on reading I have done and simple knowledge of econimic facts, that if the Mideast goes south and cuts off our oil it will have serious economic consequences.

These are reasonable, simple and probably true statement. I think most people in this discussion do not have any idea what they are talking about, and I would prefer to get back to art, to which the blog is dedicated and which I - and some others here - know something about.



February 8, 2006, 7:52 PM

demet koc said: ….I am trying to somehow make you understand that is not about art or freedom of speech. Just because we have the freedom, it is not right to spoil it. It is our responsibility use it in the right way….


Here in the western world there is no actual danger of losing our freedom of speech or the freedom of the press over this issue. At least not to any degree greater than the silent curbs already in place. The press editorializes continuously, they lean one way or the other as they see fit in order to make their point. They package and market the news in a way to subtly designed to attract the 'target audience' so they can sell advertising and generate revenue. In my opinion, at no time was their any real danger of censorship over this mess, editing yes but this occurs every day to one degree or another.

Maybe the apprehension that we will see 'editing out of fear' is what is bothering people. Again doesn't this occur on a daily basis for different reasons central to our own culture? Not the obvious ones like racial or religious prejudices, how about the fear of losing access to power, news sources within the government or corporate structures? Not across the board, thank God (take your pick here) but I think these sort of 'clip' decisions are made on a daily basis under the aegis of 'responsibility'.

Frankly, I think this whole issue boils down to racism and the exercise of power. As the target, the Muslim world cannot effectively exorcise the racism and has tried to exercise power. As I mentioned before I have a hunch this is being orchestrated by minority radical Islamic factions in order to promote their own agenda. I also suspect that while the more moderate Muslims are outwardly expressing dismay over the course of events, that they might well be also taking some silent satisfaction as well. I've been blogging this topic for three days (with Bailey hot on my heels)and it is evident that people on both sides have made up their minds in a very black and white way. It's our way or the highway, with no room in the middle, no gray area to allow the possibility of a resolution. It's a brushfire which will continue until it's over. The death toll will continue to rise until the participants have had enough.



February 8, 2006, 8:03 PM

Soldier, I'll take door number three.

Some of the published cartoons criticized all of Islam. Most of them did not, but did picture Mohammed, which is proscribed under fundamentalist interpretations of the Koran. Publishing the former was insensitive, near or below the level of insensitivity shown to other faiths regularly in the Arabic media, linked above. But the Arabic media is not the baseline for the behavior of the Western media, and printing the former cartoons was not commendable.

The latter cartoons are acceptable under Western standards of depiction. We do not share the prohibitions against image-making of non-moderate Muslims, and I believe we should not, because the Arabic media is not the baseline for the behavior of the Western media. I do not believe that we should calibrate our behavior to the sensitivities of people who think that threatening the destruction of life and property, and carrying out said threats, are acceptable responses to drawings of God. I think such people should be offended regularly and often. I delight in similar behavior regarding religious fundamentalists in our own country.


art soldier

February 8, 2006, 8:52 PM

Franklin, thanks for responding.

Some of the published cartoons criticized all of Islam.


Publishing the former was insensitive ...and printing the former cartoons was not commendable.

Agreed. Then why "support" and "applaud" them if they are "not commendable"?

The latter cartoons are acceptable under Western standards of depiction.

Not sure which ones you're talking about specifically, but I agree that it's ok to print benign images of Muhammad, even though they break a so-called taboo. Benign images of Muhammad are everywhere and have been generally accepted. From research I've found that only a small fraction of the strictest Muslims actually adhere to the taboo anyway.

I do not believe that we should calibrate our behavior to the sensitivities of people who think that threatening the destruction of life and property, and carrying out said threats, are acceptable responses to drawings of God. I think such people should be offended regularly and often. I delight in similar behavior regarding religious fundamentalists in our own country.

Agreed again. But why lump "people who think that threatening the destruction of life and property, and carrying out said threats, are acceptable responses to drawings of God" in with the vast majority of Muslims who have done nothing of the sort?

My biggest problem with reprinting the cartoons (the ones we both agree are not commendable) is that they were not intended to target only the extremists. In fact, one of them goes so far as to endorse the stereotype that all Muslims are essentially terrorists. This encourages ignorance, fear, and discrimination of peaceful Muslims simply for belonging to a particular faith.

I don't see the need to celebrate those who print things that are "not commendable". They are only adding to the rampant Islamaphobia in Europe, which can only serve to worsen East-West relations.

I would have no problem with cartoons intended to be derogatory towards extremists. I have no sympathy for them and don't think they deserve to be treated with the same respect as peaceful Muslims.

I think part of the reason artists are so willing to jump on the Danish paper's self-proclaimed "freedom of speech" bandwagon is because as artists we are especially sensitive to the issue. It's at the heart of what we do as artists, and without it we wouldn't be able to make art (or, actually maybe it would make art better -- consider the brilliance of Spanish film under Franco!). But I think it's important for artists to remember that while we have legal license to do whatever we want, we still function as members of society. This doesn't mean bowing to extremists (be they Muslim, Christian or whomever) -- but blatant racism should never be celebrated, even in art.

Nevertheless, there are signs that both sides are beginning to back down. Hopefully the conflict will be over soon and we can move on to the next international crisis. But I can't help feeling that this whole event has uncovered just how much anti-Eastern sentiment has advanced in the West while anti-Western sentiment continues to rise in the East. This obviously doesn't bode well for the future.



February 8, 2006, 9:28 PM

Then why "support" and "applaud" them if they are "not commendable"?

Let me flip the question around: was it okay when Shihan and Al-Mehwar, two weeklies in Jordan, printed the cartoons? I don't want to presume too much about the intentions of the papers in either Europe or in the Mediterranean. I see no reason to not share the images for the purpose of debate. (Editors at both Jordanian papers went to jail.)

why lump "people who think that threatening the destruction of life and property, and carrying out said threats, are acceptable responses to drawings of God" in with the vast majority of Muslims who have done nothing of the sort?

Show me where I have done this and I will retract or amend it.

Many things don't bode well for the future. But the demands for increase of tolerance have to be accompanied by enough moral certainty about secular humanistic values to frame the discussion correctly. I can live with erring on the side of too much freedom of speech.


art soldier

February 9, 2006, 12:36 AM


This is sort of turning into a philosphical discussion about ethics, but I think it's pertinent to art so I don't mind if you don't.

Sounds like you're on the fence about the "not commendable" designation. Otherwise, why continue to support them?

Again, do you find those particular cartoons that are "not commendable" to be racist?

If so, how can racist cartoons be offered up for the purpose of debate? What is there to debate about a racist cartoon other than to condemn it because of its discrimination on the basis of religion? How can a racist cartoon be the basis for a debate about free speech? Shouldn't all racism be denounced? Is racism not unethical?

You don't want to speculate on the motives of the newspapers, but I will.

The Danish paper commissioned cartoons of Muhammad to test freedom of speech. -- Okay

The Danish paper received both racist and rather benign images of Muhammad. -- Okay

The Danish paper made an editorial decision to include the racist images in their newspaper. -- Not Okay.

If the paper sincerely wanted to offer up cartoons in order to instigate a debate about Muslim censorship, why not simply break the taboo of printing Muhammad's image, why the need for images that generalize and discriminate an entire religion? Or, even better, why not target the extremists more specifically, instead of publishing a sweeping indictment of 1.5 billion people?

The racist images in the Danish paper were published from the position of power, from the majority, and are discriminatory towards the minority. In this way they are oppressive to the minority. The motives for publishing the cartoons in the Jordanian paper are altogether different. They were not being used to oppress, but who knows why they published them -- possibly to lessen the anger (hey look, they're not so bad) or to add more fuel to the fire (which was probably the actual result). They suffer under oppressive and inhumane law that is far, far removed from anything resembling freedom of speech.

The demands for increase of tolerance have to be accompanied by enough moral certainty about secular humanistic values to frame the discussion correctly. I can live with erring on the side of too much freedom of speech.

"Freedom of speech" is a legal distinction, it involves the idea of law restricting speech -- the inteference of governance in the speech of citizens. No such restriction exists in Denmark. Thus, the Danish issue is not about free speech, but self-censorship. They were concerned that too many newspapers were self-censoring their content in fear of extremist retaliation. The question is, why were they so worried that their desire to publish racist cartoons was being curbed by fears of extremist retaliation? Was there some public demand for anti-Islamic cartoons that wasn't being met due to the collective newspapers' fears over terrorist violence?

I can live with erring on the side of too much tolerance for the beliefs and lifestyles of peaceful people. Tolerance is not something to be demanded. It's the only way we can live together peacefully. In contrast, racism, bigotry, violence, and hate should never be tolerated.

Of course, if you don't find the designated "not commendable" cartoons to be racist, then the point is moot (that is, if you were to agree that publishing racist cartoons is unethical). Instead, we should be discussing whether an image of Muhammad with a bomb for a turban is discriminatory towards Muslims.



February 9, 2006, 7:31 AM


You seem to be missing some key points. Just because something isn't "commendable" doesn't mean it can't be said. We don't have to like the cartoons, but they are allowed to be published. You seem to want to float around in the proverbial gray area. I ask you then to draft out the rules for freedom of speech. What is and isn't commendable? Who is on the review panel for cartoons? Who gets the final say what can be published?

You're missing the point. I don't think what the Danish papers did was good, but they are allowed to do what they want. Period.

This is why the KKK here in the US is still allowed to have parades and marches. We don't agree with their view or think it's commendable but we support their right to their beliefs.

How often do you see an Islamic building burned to the ground in the US when an American flag is burned? I haven't seen it yet and I certainly find it offensive and insulting.

So again, where's the Official Sometimes Freedom of Speech Rule Book. I'd like to give it a good read.



February 9, 2006, 8:06 AM

the supporters of these cartoons seem to think that those who do NOT support them are advocating government censorship. Nothing could be further from the truth. See the list of 4 things we all agree on (?) in Art Soldier's #73.

If cartoons that insulted and made fun of African Americans were published by the Philadelphia Inquirer, or any newspaper, we'd say that we support their RIGHT to print the cartoons, but we strongly oppose their DECISION to publish them. Nobody would see any contradiction in that.

I still haven't been able to understand how anyone sees a difference between THAT situation, and what actually happened.

Discussions of the history of Islam, and the reaction to the cartoons, are certainly interesting and relevant, but I don't see how they factor into this particular issue.



February 9, 2006, 8:29 AM

Are they racist? I find them to be a more specifically targeted than the EveryKikes in the anti-Semitic cartoons. I could see someone being offended by them because their god is being mocked, but I hesitate to call them flat-out racist.

As for the Danish paper, the WSJ, in an article sent to me by a reader, describes it as "center-right." The editor who published cartoons apparently didn't know about the taboo on depiction, and has consulted with Islamic experts in the aftermath of the controversy while his wife brushes up on the Koran. The delegation that went to parties in the Arab world included images that weren't published with the original ones, one of which was the depiction of Mohammed as a pig, in what looks like a deliberate act of disinformation to discredit the Danes.

Section 77 of the Danish Constitution says: "Any person shall be entitled to publish his thoughts in printing, in writing, and in speech, provided that he may be held answerable in a court of justice. Censorship and other preventive measures shall never again be introduced."


Steve Klotz

February 9, 2006, 9:30 AM

I'm confused as to why "racism" even enters into this. Even if the cartoons are "anti-Islamic," that doesn't make them "racist," and more than an anti-Catholic cartoon is "racist," or an anti-cripple cartoon is "racist," or anti-old fart cartoon is "racist." (An anti-Black cartoon -- now that's "racist!" ) This isn't about "race" at all. Religion isn't race. Reading this conflation over and over again is like listening to President Monkey Boy conflating anti-terrorism with his war in Iraq. It just confuses the issue, and backhandedly insults the opposite position.

Except for Mr Muslim Motor-Mouth up there, most respondents here grasp that the real question isn't about the right to express, but the wisdom and appropriateness of doing so. Some of us say it's unwise because it feeds a growing anti-Islamic sentiment sweeping through Europe and elsewhere. Others say that's insufficient, and in fact, it's never a sufficient reason to repress free expression. Muslims (and others) may muzzle their own, but others strenuously object to imposing that value on others.

We're charting progress when the outrageous, provocative, audacious, and offensive is aired out and flaunted like Madonna's armpits. Even if the reasons for publishing the cartoons include (a) to incite mobs, (b) mock a religious practice, or (c) sell newspapers, it's worth it. People reveal themselves -- sometimes poorly -- and light is cast. Didn't Mohammed say "Let there be light?" Or was that Charlton Heston?


art soldier

February 9, 2006, 10:50 AM

#81 Concerned: Amusingly ironic self-projection. See comment #73.

#84 Steve: Even if the reasons for publishing the cartoons include (a) to incite mobs, (b) mock a religious practice, or (c) sell newspapers, it's worth it.

A very Libertarian position, no? i.e. "Everyone should just say whatever they want, whenever they want and the world will be a better place for it." I agree that racist speech should be legal, but libertarians believe that racist speech is not harmful to society. Are you sure this is really your position (regardless of whether you consider these specific cartoons to be racist)?

To Steve and Franklin:

Definition ( of Racist: "adj ... discriminatory especially on the basis of race or religion [syn: antiblack, anti-Semitic, anti-Semite(a)]"

Race is not simply a designation by skin color.

Almost no one disagrees that anti-semitism is racism, look in any encyclopedia, any dictionary, or most anything written about racism anywhere. How is anti-Islamicism any different?

I offer up, in particular, the Muhammad w/ Bomb Turban cartoon as racist because it myopicly endorses the stereotype that Islam is inherently violent. It implies a judgement that followers of Muhammad are inherently dangerous or even terrorists.

This is a discriminatory and ignorant generalization based on religion that only serves to spread misunderstanding and fear. It does not promote anything closely resembling thoughtful discussion or 'exposing of issues'.

Therefore, while I would defend to the death its right to say it, I disapprove of what it says.

#83 Franklin: Section 77 of the Danish Constitution says...

Why refer again to law? See comment #73 points 1 and 2. Again, the Danish newspaper was not challenging free speech, because no such law (or threat of law) against free speech existed. Rather, they were challenging (and admitted as much) self-censorship. The only thing they proved is that the were not to be deterred by fear of retaliation in their quest to discriminate against Muslims. Why is this worth celebrating?

#82 alesh wrote:

If cartoons that insulted and made fun of African Americans were published by the Philadelphia Inquirer, or any newspaper, we'd say that we support their RIGHT to print the cartoons, but we strongly oppose their DECISION to publish them. Nobody would see any contradiction in that.

I still haven't been able to understand how anyone sees a difference between THAT situation, and what actually happened.

Well said alesh, it is essentially the only point I wish to make here.

The fact that so many (and a handful of newspapers) are unable to make the connection means we have a long way to go if we are to coexist peacefully with our Muslim neighbors.


I'm moving on, but I hope that your enthusiastic endorsement of these cartoons has, at the very least, been somewhat tempered.




Marc Country

February 9, 2006, 11:22 AM

Remind me to never trust a definition looked up on ''...


Marc Country

February 9, 2006, 11:28 AM


"Jyllands-Posten, the Danish newspaper at the heart of the Mohammed cartoon controversy, has staunchly defended its decision to run the images. On Monday, the Guardian of London revealed the newspaper refused to run drawings lampooning Jesus Christ."




February 9, 2006, 11:53 AM

Yeah, I think Steve has a point re the use of the word "racism." While I don't think I used the term myself, I think it clarifies the issue, but is not strictly correct. Then again. draws definitions from a number of online sources; it's never been my favorite. Then again, defines RACE as:

2 a : a family, tribe, people, or nation belonging to the same stock b : a class or kind of people unified by community of interests, habits, or characteristics

So, whatever. We're at the point in the conversation where it's pretty difficult to tease out the differences between "Concerned" in #81 and me in #82. I wonder how Franklin will respond to A.S.'s "I hope that your enthusiastic endorsement of these cartoons has, at the very least, been somewhat tempered."


Steve Klotz

February 9, 2006, 12:22 PM

I went to and found this definition of “race”:

2 (a) a family, tribe, people, or nation belonging to the same stock; (b) a class or kind of people unified by community of interests, habits, or characteristics .

This suggests that all those wiseass remarks on late-night teevee, talk shows, and the corner gin mill about the French have been racist. Well, that’s just wrong. But we’re really quibbling semantics here, and if you really wanna say the anti-Islamic position (whatever it is) is racist, I suppose that by definition you can. But you seriously dilute the evil of racism. By this standard, pretty soon mother-in-law jokes become “racist.” Gay jokes become “racist.” Leprosy jokes are "racist." WTF?

A.S.: Yes, that’s a hard libertarian position I take -- defended it even prior to joining the ACLU 25 years ago. The advantage of racist speech, as painful and ignorant as it is, is that it clearly identifies a racist, and we’re better off as individuals as well as a society knowing who the racists are, where they live, and what they do. Some of them wear white hoods so you can’t always tell. Others wear black robes. Besides, if you’re not a racist yourself, and you’re comfortable on earth among its inhabitants, you might even find such talk absurd and hilarious.

Far more damaging (and annoying) than overt racist blather are the obsequious and patronizing restraints that (e.g.) newspapers place on their own employees with “politically correctness” policies. Which themselves stink of racism. It’s okay to pick on some but not others, they suggest, and that chaps libertarians’ buns. We’re all fair game, and “One horselaugh is worth a thousand syllogisms” (H.L. Mencken). I don’t agree that the Bomb Head cartoon mocks all Islamists, or all Islam. As WW II cartoonist Bill Mauldin wrote (I paraphrase), “ Cartoonists build a shoe. If somebody wants to stand up and holler that it fits, that’s on them.” Helen Keller jokes aren't about every deaf-blind or disabled person, just her. And as has been pointed out, not all Islamists want to hurl bombs, just as not all Islamists object to depictions of Mohammed.

Anybody got any Danish jokes?


American Joe

February 9, 2006, 1:21 PM

The advantage of racist speech ...

Thank's for clearing that up Steve. Racist speech is in need of a good defender.



February 9, 2006, 1:29 PM

The principle of free speech also allows that some may take offense at what has been said. Ideally, the free-speaker must both acknowledge this and take responsibility for the offense engendered--i.e., by saying X about Y, I understand and accept that Y will be upset with me for saying X. It is poor citizenship and bad form to say that Y is upset because Y is uncivilized, violent or intolerant. It is also intellectually dishonest. Additionally, to conflate Y's response to the offense with the offense itself is misleading (Y's response to statement X demonstrates that statement X was an accurate characterization only in the presence of statement X)

Within a relatively homogenous culture, this can be tricky to navigate; it becomes even more so when the speech bridges very different cultures. In the latter context, free speech made without a firm understanding of cultural difference has a high degree of irresponsiblity attached--allowing that statement X offends Y without comprehending the extent to which X offends Y is irresponsible. It may be constitutionaly guaranteed, but it remains irresponsible. To test the extent to which X offends Y by stating X is even more so (imagine calling someone a racial slur just to see how offended they get). Sure, you can do it, but free speech does not protect you from being branded either a fool or an insensitive asshole.

In my experience (my association has been primarily with North African Arabs), Islamic cultural traditions of respect and deference are vastly different than in that which is generally recognized to be U.S. or European culture. There are also many more ritualistic interactions, and a greater reliance on conversational subtext. If I were interested in broaching the topic of free speech as it relates to representations of Islam, I would not have chosen to do something that is the intellectual and cultural equivalent of a slap across the face (equivalent given my understanding of their culture). The reaction to the cartoons--even that the reaction is as delayed as it is--is no surprise to me. To the Arabs I have known, such a move would have been taken primarily as a sign of disrespct, with the issue of free-speech being dealt with only after an amenable resolution of the matter of disrespect. An assumption that Arabs should respond as we (U.S. or European culture) would is not only wrong, but antithetical to the princple of free speech itself. Free speech is not free when the speaker and the one spoken about are required to hold the same principals and beliefs.



February 9, 2006, 4:20 PM

This is nonsense, Kathleen. The implied requirement has no bearing whatsoever on whether or not the speech is allowed within the political system of the speaker.



February 9, 2006, 5:37 PM

An assumption that Arabs should respond as we (U.S. or European culture) would is not only wrong, but antithetical to the princple of free speech itself. Free speech is not free when the speaker and the one spoken about are required to hold the same principals and beliefs.

Wrong? Attacking an embassy over a cartoon is wrong.

You're missing the point, Kathleen - guarantees of free speech create a situation in which people with different principles and beliefs can communicate. Start challenging the belief in free speech itself, and you pull the rug out from under that situation, priveleging some expressions over others. Frankly, that's one of the reasons that the situation in the Middle East is so screwed up. The Founders tried to boil down ethical government into essential principles that would function independent of peoples' backgrounds. They took excellent ideas from Greece and France and refined them. They saw what happened in under religious government in Italy and scorned it. And they did such a good job of it that they confidently began listing their ideas by saying, We hold these truths to be self-evident. And they are. And the countries that don't subscribe to them are worse off for it, almost without exception, by nearly every measure: economics, women's rights, education, you name it. That's not an accident. The rest of the world ought to adopt those truths, not because they're American (they're not), but because they're right, and they make for a good country.

Kathleen, relativism needs to be your frosting, not your whole cupcake.



February 9, 2006, 6:40 PM

Oh, this just gets better and better.



February 9, 2006, 6:46 PM

Attacking an embassy is wrong. Expecting people to not take offense when you exercise your right to free speech is also wrong. Neither position is relative.

Free speech is not always responsible speech.

Assuming one's position to be the absolute does little to foster progress or communication, that's all.



February 9, 2006, 7:00 PM

Expecting people to not take offense when you exercise your right to free speech is also wrong.

There are groups out there whom I want to offend with my free speech.

The more we find out about this controversy the more it looks like the rioting was cooked up by a bunch of Islamofascists, and the less those X's and Y's above look applicable.



February 9, 2006, 9:52 PM

OK, we've got that all out of the way. Now let us say that the Syrian and Iranian governments are manipulating their citizens, and other Muslims, into the sort of demonstrations (the kind likely to turn violent) we've seen. Now who do we condemn?

Consider how easy it is for the Bush administration to manipulate Americans?



February 9, 2006, 10:44 PM

I think the answer to that lies in this article, also linked from Sully, entitled "All right, I insulted Americans - but they are not planning to behead me."


Mohammed (Yep-- it's me!)

February 9, 2006, 11:14 PM

Gentlemen: We're talking about large, power-hungry, evil governments; foaming, fanatical religious fundamentalists; gullible, bawling, loud-mouthed poltroons; exploitive racist demagogues, etc., and we're casting about looking for someone to condemn? Obviously it's the Jews!



February 9, 2006, 11:19 PM




February 10, 2006, 7:17 AM

for what it's worth, and after the fact, my two cents:

obviously this cartoon backlash is politically motivated. how anyone can underestimate that is beyond me. there have been a series of red flags that the non-free press keeps airbrushing out of the picture.

IF there is such a thing as free press, there is also a responsibilty that comes along with it.

when you step out of the US and visit the nether regions of the globe, one can find a desperation that is heartbreaking, and compassion and humility that is equally heartbreaking. when the palestinians were throwing rocks it's because it was all that was available. and no one took it at all seriously. If they were given the proper infrastructure years ago, much of this could have been prevented.

i the parallels between what is happening with this cartoon and the issue of extremist culture should be taken very seriously. it is no longer a phenomena, but a culture. there is a lot of u.s based rock throwing here as well, complete with home-made explosive devices. Here, a cartoon or a Piss Christ won't ignite it, but the reactionary ideology itself will become justifiable as the younger u.s. generations witness the power it carries. all you have to do is apply this extremist ideology to hot button issues here and do a comparative study. with no gun control, the sky's the limit.

praise to allah for george's comment #46

franklin: your comparison between coretta scott king and Islam were comparing the philosphy of non-violence (concerning race and specifically in the US) to a global muslim religion that is inherently non-violent except for extremists. why do you skirt around this? by the way, have you not heard of malcom X? Your observation for the sake of argument was sincerely lacking in knowledge.

oldpro, whatever gwb says in the sotu is because he is finally learning to read properly from the speech that has been written for him. all those phonics lessons are finally paying off. he is a mere puppet! an embarassment! how beyond pathetic is the state of this country and the proudly ignorant that reside therein?

it is very interesting how many of you keeping gessoing over the larger issues so thoroughly stated repeatedly by art soldier, marc c, and george.

and this bit about oil, hello, crude oil is one thing, but refineries and the politics therein are the meat of the matter. REFINERIES. do your research.


do not apologize demet, altho i for one questioned whether you are an imposter. upon reading more of your posts i see that you are genuine. i appreciate what you had to say very much.

how can no one bring up salman rushdie in all of this?



February 10, 2006, 7:54 AM

Franklin's is the one consistently rational voice through all this ranting. We are an irrational species, for sure, and when it shows up this close to home it is very depressing. At least for me it is.



February 10, 2006, 9:31 AM

yes and the personal blog forum may be the only arena left for free speech.



February 10, 2006, 9:42 AM

Blogs are certainly not "the only arena left for free speech", MEK, but they are a special haven for it, and valuable, among much else, for exposing the mentality of the people who can freely and anonymously express themselves in writing on them.


art soldier

February 10, 2006, 9:58 AM

In #79 Franklin asked that I show him (so that he can retract or amend it) where he has generalized by equating peaceful Muslims with violent extremists. Generalization is the reason why I object to the endorsement of some of the cartoons.

Where Franklin generalized in the original post:

1. We still have the potentially offensive image of Mohammed, but it's at the expense of suicide bombers, and I feel okay with jokes at their expense.

I think it's obvious by now that this cartoon was directed at the entire religion of Islam. It was meant to offend all Muslims, not just suicide bombers. By stating that he was okay with the joke because it was at the expense of suicide bombers, Franklin failed to mention that the joke was intended to be at the expense of all Muslims, including the peaceful majority.

2. That's offensive, but the offended Muslims in this case oppose the very existence of images of Mohammed, regardless of content.

This is not true. Only a very small minority of the "offended Muslims" are strict about enforcing the ban on Muhammad's image. If you do a little research you'll find that images of Muhammad (that show him in a positive or respectful light) are prevalant in markets of the Islamic world. Only a minority of hard-asses get irate about any depiction of him. Consider the fact that Persian Muslims, for many centuries, have illustrated the life of the prophet through miniature paintings. Also, the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington has a frieze of Mohammed that has never elicited protests.

3. Muslims need to re-embrace their former history of tolerance, pluralism ...

This is Franklin's most offensive statement and is probably the reason I keep coming back to this thread. The generalization here is obvious and its sentiment is implied throughout Franklin's comments (as well as those of others).

It implies that Muslims are an intolerant people -- that they were formerly tolerant, but now have embraced intolerance. Nothing could be further from the truth. This is prejudice based on religion.

The non-generalized, non-prejudiced facts: The vast majority of Muslims still embrace their history of tolerance and pluralism. Only a small few have resorted to intolerance.

Protest in response to offense is not the same as intolerance (nor has the entire Muslim religion protested). The right to protest peacefully is as sacredly held in our country as the right to free speech -- consider the civil rights protests of the sixties and all that they accomplished. Only a small minority has acted violently, and their violence has been condemned by the vast majority of tolerant, pluralistic, peaceful Muslims.

Franklin owes an apology to the Muslims readers of this blog for stating that that they are an intolerant people. He owes it to them to make a distinction between their peaceful, tolerant views and those of the extremists that we all abhor in unison. We should all be rallying around our mutual condemnation of violent extremism. Generalizations and prejudice make this impossible because they equate tolerant Muslims with the intolerant. I suggest an entire post devoted to the topic -- a mere comment here would be inadequate.



February 10, 2006, 10:24 AM

Back in the year 800, the Persian empire held a conference of scholars that included numerologists from Israel, astronomers from India, and so on and more. They met in Baghdad and invented the number zero. They prided themselves on their tolerance of other religions. They were the brain trust of the world. Beautiful Greek-inspired structures still stand in Iran. That's their history, and not only should they re-embrace it, we all should.

Also, the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington has a frieze of Mohammed that has never elicited protests.

An American Muslim group already asked for the frieze to be removed and to change descriptions of Mohammed from the "prophet" to the "founder" of Islam. The courthouse complied with the second request. They wisely ignored the first.

Although I believe that indeed the vast majority of Muslims are peaceful and tolerant, angry and violent demonstrations stretched from Tehran to Jakarta. Did the western world respond similarly when it saw videotapes of it's civilian hostages getting beheaded? No. Which do you find more offensive?


art soldier

February 10, 2006, 10:54 AM


It is apparent that you have refused to disavow your previous generalizations about Islam. You have continued to argue that you believe Muslims to be an intolerant people. It is further evidence of rampant Islamophobia and regrettable.

I hope any Muslim readers of your blog will stop reading in peaceful protest, I know I will.

I also hope that you will change your mind, so that we can find common ground with the vast majority of tolerant Muslims who share our disgust for violent oppression.




February 10, 2006, 11:01 AM

Re #106 Franklin said: Although I believe that indeed the vast majority of Muslims are peaceful and tolerant, angry and violent demonstrations stretched from Tehran to Jakarta. Did the western world respond similarly when it saw videotapes of it's civilian hostages getting beheaded? No. Which do you find more offensive?

This is an illogical comparison. What am I supposed to be offended by? Videos of a beheading, ok, I'm offended, troubled and saddened. The bombhead cartoon? Again I am offended, troubled and saddened. Violence in the Muslim world over the cartoon? Yes I am offended, troubled and saddened.

In essence the cartoons are expressing the hatred engendered in the western world by the acts of a few Islamic radicals and doing it in a way directed at the entire Muslim world. It is racism at it's most insidious, pretending to be something else, trumpeting a defense of our freedoms and pretending is all in good fun. I am offended, troubled and saddened.



February 10, 2006, 11:34 AM

AS, if "I believe that indeed the vast majority of Muslims are peaceful and tolerant" in #106 wasn't enough for you, then you're making bigger generalizations than I am.

Be offended, George, but could we stop calling them "a few Islamic radicals"? Did three guys burn down the Danish embassy in Syria? We're talking thousands upon thousands. A minority, to be sure, but widespread enough to indicate systemic problems, to put bigots into power, and make for sizable populations of willing listeners to pernicious ideas.



February 10, 2006, 11:46 AM

Franklin, way back when I was engaged in mighty battles with Dr B Jack used to email me telling me I was pissing in the wind. I emailed him back saying I was having fun.

You are not going to get these people to think straight, so I hope you are having fun.



February 10, 2006, 11:50 AM

make for sizable populations of willing listeners to pernicious ideas.

and these ideas aren't equally pernicious?


Marc Country

February 10, 2006, 11:55 AM

Quick reality check:

Making fun of or insulting people (no matter it be really really mean) is not morally equivalent to commiting acts of violence. Period.



February 10, 2006, 12:28 PM

Equally pernicious to what, George?

Yeah, OP, I am having fun.


art soldier

February 10, 2006, 2:41 PM

For anyone interested, I'm planning on devoting next week's posts at Art Soldier to the topic of Islamophobia.

If this cartoon conflict has taught us anything it's that relations between "East" and "West" are continuing to decline -- I think we can all agree on that. Islamophobia will continue to play a dangerous and subversive role in determining these relations. Hopefully there's room for thoughtful discussion about the issue.


art soldier

February 10, 2006, 3:35 PM

Rational perspective from the Nation: The Right To Be Offended


art soldier

February 10, 2006, 4:03 PM

Only one more thing and then I'm done, I promise ...

I was surfing the net and read something that reminded me of the arguments made here. Just wanted to let you know that you're not alone.

Ann Coulter's take: Calvin and Hobbes -- and Muhammad



February 10, 2006, 4:41 PM

Ann Coulter is a blathering fuckwit, and if you conflate my opinion with hers, you're in big, big trouble. My opinion of that article and its author can be summed up here (warning: really not safe for work).

For sane political analysis, go read Sully.


art soldier

February 10, 2006, 5:21 PM

For sane political analysis, go read Sully

Dammit!! If I had known that you admire Andrew Sullivan I would have stopped arguing a long, long time ago (maybe I missed it). All this time I thought I was arguing with people who thought of themselves as Progressives. I should have made the Republican and Libertarian connections earlier. I guess I did some generalizing of my own by falsely assuming that most art bloggers are left of center. I know you're not anything like Ann Coulter, it was a low blow, but did you read her piece? She was rediculously excited about those cartoons.

I'm sincerely interested though, do you normally find yourself opposed to ideas associated with Social Progressivism, or was your reaction to this conflict somewhat out of the ordinary for your political views? Just asking because I've found a trend of artists who normally consider themselves socially Liberal who have had their repressed inner Libertarian brought out by this issue.





February 10, 2006, 6:05 PM

She was excited about those cartoons because she has the intellectual depth of a spork.

AS, you're not the first person to ask me about my political affiliations and you won't be the last to get an incoherent answer. Apologies in advance.

My understanding is that liberals want to control money but not behavior, conservatives want to control behavior but not money, libertarians want to control neither, and authoritarians want to control both. There's a site out there somewhere that gives you list of questions to answer and then sticks you on a chart with liberal-conservative on one axis and libertarian-authoritarian on a cross-axis. When I did it, I ended up in the liberal-libertarian quadrant, much closer to libertarian than liberal. My inner libertarian is far from repressed.

That said, I find it hard to sign up on anyone's team. A lot of liberals carry around inchoate guilt coupled with self-righteous condescension (see Mek, #101). A lot of conservatives are totally incapable of self-criticism (see Ann Coulter). I hate authoritarianism on principle and viscera, so that leaves the libertarians, who I can more or less get down with until some twerp starts talking about privatizing the fire department. Republicans have become a caricature of patriotism, Democrats have become a caricature of progressiveness, and it's chilling to think that we still have the most functional system in the world.

For a while I thought of myself as liberal-tarian: I think we should have public schools, but no one should be forced to go there. But that was kind of a joke. I like the Constitution a lot, that I know.



February 10, 2006, 7:28 PM

You are a libARTarian, Franklin. (I bought the domain long ago).

But why did you link that awful web site about doing nasty stuff to Ann Coulter? That is worse that the garbage we are getting here, by a long shot. I'm all for free speech, but that sounded libellous to me.


demet koc

February 10, 2006, 9:58 PM

Let me, please, explain where I am coming from.
The Ottomans accepted Jewish people to its land to save their lives, in every century. The biggest Jewish population that migrated to turkey was in the 1492 from Spain (because, you know, the Christians made all the Muslims and Jews leave Spain). The sultan said that any Jew will be an asset for his country.
After turkey became a republic the last century and the Jewish people were being killed in the west, the republic did everything in its power to save its Jewish citizens (who had gone back to Europe) along with non-citizens.

My dad grew up with Jewish people and he absolutely loves them. One of my best friends is Jewish and there are many Jewish people in turkey who are very comfortable.
They are actually more powerful then a regular Turk!
Well as I said the motto of my county is "peace in the world, peace at home"
Some blonde hair Turkish gentleman was able to bring reforms and turn the Ottoman Empire into a republic and give rights. The rights westerners have plus equal rights for Turkish women. Hey, we had the right to vote before you ladies got it in US (even before Switzerland).
The blond guy, his name is Ataturk (which means the father Turks), was the one who said "peace in the world, peace at home"
Unless, a leader within the crowd gets out there and gives out a speech of freedom and peace toward a nation, you can not, you can not, and you can not force nations into democracy, peace and to be able to except a stupid joke and get insulted without violence!

Especially, by putting out the joke first before the speech, you won’t get any where for sure. But, I guess, you don’t want to get any where better then a situation where there is more war and more dead US soldiers. Why don’t you go join the army and loose your legs or even your life for this great cause; to force democracy on people who don’t even know what it is!

Yes maybe in some bad areas of an Arab country is a home for some Muslims that are not smarter then a monkey. (We are not all Arabs, by the way…) But you and I would not understand the monkey because the last monkeys in our families were generations ago!. It is true that they have had this mind too long to change it easily. I am not for them. I am against all the violence. (Do you think, when i was a little kid I liked to see inocent babies and women killed by Kurdish terrorists-PKK-in my country on TV ? Do you think I liked it when they put bombs in the middle of the cities? I did not care what Kurds did not have, nothing would justify killing a baby!)
But the violent Muslims are not the majority or at least peace loving ones exist.
There are seventy million people in my country. It is an Islamic country and everybody is welcome to it. Other then few we are peace loving people. If those few were Westerners they would be still killing for some other reasons.

This is verbal violence on the peace loving, kind and sensitive people like me. Just because some damaging is not visible to your eyes, it does not mean it is not damage. Something inside me hurts like you are twisting my arm! Believe it or not you are putting physical damage in me right now, only not on my skin. The bad part is that you know it and you like it!

If this was never discussed by intellectuals and got supported by them, I was just going to say "oh, these bunch of idiot Muslims” and not get hurt by it at this level.
Now it is a bigger deal for me because someone I know is launching and applauding for this insensibility on the www.

This has been a twilight zone!

I am sorry that my dad thought me how great others are! He told me to love people first and love him and then god! I guess, he was wrong about how awesome Jewish people were or perhaps, the ones in turkey are really nice. Well, it must be because it is a great Muslim country with great citizens!!!

But you should also now that people react to things in my country with freedom of speech too. They used their freedom of expression by making a movie. you can read about it if you wish.

The double standard is that even though it is just art, it is not good for Turks to think wrongly about its allies. Why? Aren’t they allowed to have what ever opinion they want to have about others? isn't it a democratic country?

I think i will try to do what art soldier says.


art soldier

February 10, 2006, 10:20 PM

My understanding is that liberals want to control money but not behavior, conservatives want to control behavior but not money, libertarians want to control neither, and authoritarians want to control both.

This is a skewed classification of political ideological from a libertarian perspective in order to suggest that libertarianism is the logical conclusion. The logic: authoritarianism is automatically seen as evil in our western society -- for us it's a perjorative that signifies oppression. Therefore it's set up to be the extreme opposite of what one would want (after all, who wants to be oppressed?). Also, "control" in this context has a negative connotation, especially in its association here with "authoritarians." Therefore, "authoritarian" is obviously "all bad" (2 controls), "liberal" and "conservative" presented as half bad (only 1 control), and "libertarian" as the natural opposite of authoritarian (no controls). This is, of course, total bullshit, because the logical construction maintains that liberals and conservatives are both partly oppressive, while libertarians are not. How could anyone choose anything other than libertarianism if this limited description of political ideology were really true? Sounds more like a a libertarian parent's way of describing politics to their child (to make sure they become libertarian). Am I right?

I regret that this discussion has been confused with political ideology. I don't think it need be. I'm not interested in discussing governance or law in this context -- since we all agree about the rightful legality of the cartoons, and all agree politically that they have the right to exist. For me, it's an ethical question --

Is it ethically responsible to celebrate cartoons that promote religious discrimination? (please notice: I'm not talking about the newspaper's decision to publish them, but Franklin's, and others, enthusiasm for endorsing them here).

The results:

I say No.

George says No.

Bailey says Yes and sees the cartoonists as heroes.

Steve #89 says Yes and actually finds racist cartoons to be beneficial to society because it identifies racists -- admittedly, the first time I've ever heard anyone anywhere make such an argument (not even from my texas-libertarian friends).

Franklin says Yes, and celebrated their worthiness in his original post but later revised his judgement by labeling some of the cartoons as "not commendable".

This leads me to my real concern here: Would cartoons that promote discrimination of african americans be similarly celebrated on this blog?

I highly doubt it (except for Steve #89, who argued that all racist speech benefits us by identifying racists), and I want to know why. I'm depressed and saddened by the likely answer.


Marc Country

February 11, 2006, 12:10 AM

Sorry, devil's advocate here...

artsoldier asks:
Would cartoons that promote discrimination of african americans be similarly celebrated on this blog?

In asking this question, one takes for granted that the Danish cartoons in question "promote discrimination" against Musilms.

But that'snot my interpretation of the image, so it is not a parallel example. I read the image to be a comment on how violent fundamentalist are sullying the good name of Islam. So, by my reading, I would then ask, who doesn't agree that violent fundamentalist are sullying the good name of islam?

Similarly, if I saw a hypothetical cartoon of say, Christ sucking off an altarboy, rather than assuming it is an indictment of Christianity entirely, I might consider the possibility that is could be interepretted as a wry comment of the sullying of a noble faith by the actions of some evil, child molesting priests... in either case, both my interpretation and my subsequent reaction are entirely up to me.


Resident Dane

February 11, 2006, 1:57 AM

Please, please: it's DANISH, not Dutch! (Dutch is what they speak in Holland, ya know; land of legal dope).

Does anybody even know the full story behind those cartoons? This Danish Newspaper, Jyllands-Posten, lies - as Franklin noted somewhere - center/center-right, politically speaking, and the publishing of the cartoons originally came about because NOT ONE SINGLE ARTIST in the whole of Denmark (an otherwise freedom of speech, freedom of expression-loving country) could be brought to illustrate a new book written on the life of the prophet Mohammed (author's name, for anyone interested: Kåre Bluitgen)...

So... Jyllands-Posten said "c'mon!! - this CAN'T be true???!!??" - and they huddled up and discussed the matter and then they searched and searched (and finally found) some daring artists, after all. Then came the statement; the printing of the prophet/prophet-mocking drawings - and not much really happened initially after that, in terms of killing people and burning down embassies. All that began after a group of Danish Muslims (from "Islamisk Trossamfund") returned from a roundtrip in the Middle East where they had gone canvassing for support after the Danish Prime Minister, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, refused to apologize to all Muslims, on behalf of the newspaper (which had apparently offered the angered Muslims only an unsatisfactory apology, following the publishing of the drawings). When prompted to apologize, the Prime Minister stated the following: "I cannot apologize on behalf of a privately owned newspaper - this is a free country..."

Is there politics in all of this? Sure. Was there politics in it to begin with? I don't think so. Us Danes, we're such an ungodly people - most of us (Jews, Muslims, Catholics - you name it) are so used to our beliefs being questioned and mocked that we don't normally take it too seriously. Normally.

I do agree 100% with what someone else said here, earlier: the statement, the insult, the responsibility that comes with freedom of speech - all of that and more - is debatable. Absolutely so. Violent retribution; however, is not. EVER.


art soldier

February 11, 2006, 9:49 AM

#123 Marc Country In asking this question, one takes for granted that the Danish cartoons in question "promote discrimination" against Musilms. But that's not my interpretation of the image, so it is not a parallel example.

Fair enough, although I disagree. I think Franklin and Steve #89 probably agree with you, although Steve argued that even if he thought they were racist, that even then they would be celebrated because racist speech benefits society.

So your answer to the question I posed in #122 is in agreement with George and I ("NO"), because you don't see the cartoon as discriminatory. If it were racist, you wouldn't think it ethical to endorse it, is that right?

It sounds like you're arguing that it's not possible for a cartoon to be racist. Is that a fair assessment? If not, then what would it take for these cartoons to be racist? (Need I remind you that anti-Semitism is widely accepted as one of the most prevelant forms of racism, how is anti-Islamicism then not racist?) How much farther could they possibly go in suggesting that Islam is a violent religion and its members are inherently violent?

There is a widespread insidious stereotype that because someone is Muslim they are more prone to terrorism than the rest of us. This is not true (or worse, do you agree with this stereotype?) This stereotype results in widespread discrimination against Muslims in this country (and especially in Denmark, where racially motivated crimes doubled between 2004 and '05). Muslims have a harder time getting jobs, get routinely searched at airports more often than the rest of us, and are generally viewed with suspicion by many Americans simply because they look Muslim. Some of the cartoons in question are promoting this very stereotype by linking Muhammad and violence. It's absurd. How could these cartoons any more clearly endorse this link?

I doubt any peaceful Muslims would be offended if the cartoons were only saying that "violent fundamentalist are sullying the good name of Islam." Most Muslims hate terrorists as much as the rest of us. If you want to ridicule violent extremists then I support you 100 percent, but don't generalize by lumping them in with peaceful Muslims who are on our side -- it only creates enemies out of those who agree with us.



February 11, 2006, 10:10 AM

You do not have to agree to the stereotype to understand why it is so widespread, AS. A day does not go by without one or more incidents of extreme mob-centered anti-western activity by Muslims. The inevitable perception will be that Muslims are irrational and easily led into violence, and that if this "majority" of "muslims who agree with us" exists they are certainly unable to do anything about their lunatic bretheren.

We can be against racial profiling and stereotyping and all that bad stuff all we want but what counts is what happens, not what we would like to happen. You and your fellow soapbox declaimers might want to get down and deal with the facts.



February 11, 2006, 10:43 AM

With no slight intended to Marc Country, I don't see how Marc Country's interpretation of the cartoons is a relevant assessment of their offensiveness, unless, perhaps, Marc Country were a Muslim.

It is very hard to judge whether or not something is truly offensive unless it is actually directed at you. We like to think of racists as blatently obvious people who spout idiotic, movie-like lines, but more often than not, they simply tend to be us. A lot of racist statements are made without the intent to offend--typically, the one making the statement assumes that what has been stated is indisputible fact rather than subjective prejudice. [Though I don't much agree with Steve Klotz, I think that this relates to his point]

Additionally, if the cartoons were intended to address only the extremist, violent subset of Muslims, then the character in the images would have been labeled as such. By making the character Mohammed, the cartoons are addressing all of Islam.



February 11, 2006, 10:58 AM

The article to which art soldier linked in #115 is excellent, and makes some of the points I was trying to make in my first comment much more succinctly.

Also in the article, this:

Steve Biko: "Not only are whites kicking us; they are telling us how to react to being kicked."



February 11, 2006, 11:00 AM

We seem to be so narrowly hard-wired into this PC matter of "offensiveness" that we are blind to the facts, for example, that the people (Muslims and otherwise) sitrring up the trouble couldn't care less about "offensive" except to further their political and personal goals. And so forth. This is the way things work.

It is this kind of blindness to realpolitik that led to our lack of preparedness for 9/11.

This is an art blog, and despite the fact that it allows him to demonstrate his intelligence, reasonableness and common sense, I wish Franklin had not introduced a political subject in the first place. Most of you simply do not know what you are talking about and it is tiresome to follow.



February 11, 2006, 11:41 AM

Denmark and Jyllands-Posten: The background to a provocation

This is an interesting article which suggests that both side may have used the cartoons for their own purposes. Please note, the article originally appeared on the World Socialist Web Site and was picked up by the Asis Times. I'm not sure exactly what editorial position (axe to grind) the WS might have. The information presented seems to fit what I've read elsewhere and supports the idea that there is more behind this tragic event than is immediatly apparent.

Of course, if we don't talk about maybe it will just go away and everything will be nice again.



February 11, 2006, 11:42 AM

I'm going to all E-prime on you and assert that a flaw lies in trying to determine whether the cartoons "are" offensive.

The cartoons offended some people. Does the offensive agent reside in the image itself? Does it work with foolproof regularity? Does the recipient have any choice about what response he will have to the cartoons? Does the artist or publisher have control over how people will react to them?

For all the problems I have with libertarianism, I do like how it emphasizes individual choice. The controversy looks different from that angle. I saw the anti-Semitic cartoons linked above and felt offended, and then blew them off - I have the presence of mind to say, Oh, looky, here come the jerks again. Wide swaths of Muslims in Europe, and amazingly, Egypt, saw the Danish cartoons early last fall and reacted in a similar fashion. Then some poltroons (thanks, Steve!) went around and stirred up violence with them, with the help of some super-offensive images that someone inserted into the original batch. The cartoons start to look like a pretty minor part of the problem in that light.

I laughed at the "we ran out of virgins" cartoon. I laughed even harder at the "Christ Almighty Jesus" cartoon at the bottom of this page. I laughed even harder than that at the Ann Coulter sodomy essay. I laughed at JdB's "I saw Mohammed in a Danish" remark. Call me racist or whatever else you like. I'll probably laugh at you too. I conclude from this incident that the world needs a big, refreshing bottle of Grow Up Juice.



February 11, 2006, 12:12 PM

Of course, pretend it isn't happening, maybe it will just go away and everything will be nice again.



February 11, 2006, 12:22 PM

Anyone unsure of whether the World Socialist Web Site has an axe to grind has no standing to direct the sentiment in #132 at me.


art soldier

February 11, 2006, 1:28 PM

I saw the anti-Semitic cartoons linked above and felt offended, and then blew them off

Franklin: You may personally laugh at anti-Semitic speech, but do you deny its threat to peaceful society (like Steve did)?



February 11, 2006, 1:44 PM

re#133. Well Franklin, I posted the disclaimer so a reader would know I was aware of the original source of the article. However, I have read several articles in the European press on the subject and the basic facts appear to be correct. Of course I would be suspect of a intrepretative bias but it doesn't change the history of events.



February 11, 2006, 2:06 PM

Okay, okay, "uncle!" I admit it, I've been reading along with every new comment and the quibbling is getting under my skin - I'll comment, I'll comment!

Why must the pro side of an argument so ruthlessly try to misrepresent the con side in order to back them into an imaginary drubbing corner, and vice versa? This may be standard operating procedure for a highschool debate club, but is that what this blog is really good for? There is so little agreement on what the argument is, that it must be declared discretionary and of little collective consequence.

Still, at least all the skewed worldviews (everyone has one, myself included) are getting aired out a little. No position is unassailable no matter what claims of resolute steadfastness are made, and every contributor here is sure to have had his opinion tweaked at least a little by putting them out there.



February 11, 2006, 3:58 PM

Ahab, competetive arguing is fun, even when ruthless, but ignorant competitive arguing, with everyone playing king of the moral high ground, is a bore. We need to get back to art.



February 12, 2006, 12:40 AM

Two people sent me this in my email this morning. It seems to be making the rounds. I pass it along without comment.

We wake up this morning to see video on CNN showing rampaging Muslims around the world. In Europe, the Middle East, the Pacific Rim ... Muslim Mobs spreading mayhem.

It seems that these mighty mad Muslims are rioting and firing their ever-present AK-47s into the air because of cartoons.

Yup ... this latest epidemic of Muslim outrage comes to us because some newspapers in Norway and Denmark published some cartoons depicting Mohammed.

Muslim outrage huh. OK ... let's do a little historical review. Just some lowlights:

a.. Muslims fly commercial airliners into buildings in New York City. No Muslim outrage.
b.. Muslim officials block the exit where school girls are trying to escape a burning building because their faces were exposed. No Muslim outrage.
c.. Muslims cut off the heads of three teenaged girls on their way to school in Indonesia. A Christian school. No Muslim outrage.
d.. Muslims murder teachers in the new Iraq for trying to teach Muslim children subjects other than memorizing the Koran.. No Muslim outrage.
e.. Muslims murder over 80 tourists with car bombs outside cafes and hotels in Egypt. No Muslim outrage.
f.. A Muslim attacks a missionary children's school in India. Kills six children under the age of twelve. No Muslim outrage.
g.. Muslims slaughter hundreds of children and teachers in Beslan, Russia. Muslims shoot children in the back. No Muslim outrage.
h.. Let's go way back. Muslims kidnap and kill athletes at the Munich Summer Olympics. No Muslim outrage.
i.. Muslims hijack a TWA flight and to enforce their demands they shoot an unarmed U.S. sailor passenger and throw his body out on the tarmac. No Muslim outrage.
j.. Muslims hijack a cruise ship and push a wheelchair bound elderly jewish man into the sea . No Muslin outrage.
k.. Muslims blow up a Pan Am flight over Scotland killing hundreds. No Muslim outrage.
l.. Muslims fire rocket-propelled grenades into schools full of children in Israel. No Muslim outrage.
m.. Muslims murder more than 50 commuters in attacks on London subways and busses. Over 700 are injured. No Muslim outrage.
n.. Muslims massacre dozens of innocents at a Passover Seder. No Muslim outrage.
o.. Muslims murder innocent vacationers in Bali. No Muslim outrage.
p.. Muslim newspapers publish anti-Christian and anti-Semitic cartoons. No Muslim outrage
q.. Muslims are involved, on one side or the other, in almost every one of the 125+ shooting wars around the world. No Muslim outrage.
r.. Muslims beat the charred bodies of Western civilians with their shoes, then hang them from a bridge. No Muslim outrage.
s.. Newspapers in Denmark and Norway publish satirical cartoons depicting Mohammed . Muslims are outraged.

Dead children. Dead tourists. Dead teachers. Dead doctors and nurses. Death, destruction and mayhem around the world at the hands of Muslims .. no Muslim outrage ... but publish a cartoon depicting Mohammed with a bomb in his turban and all hell breaks loose.

Come on, is this really about cartoons? They're rampaging and burning flags. They're looking for Europeans to kidnap. They're threatening innkeepers and generally raising holy Muslim hell not because of any outrage over a cartoon. They're outraged because it is a basic part of the jihadist culture to be outraged. If you are Muslim you don't really need a reason. You just need an excuse. Wandering around, destroying property, murdering children, firing guns into the air and feigning outrage over the slightest perceived insult is to a jihadist what tailgating is to a Steeler's fan.

I know and understand that these bloodthirsty murderers do not represent the majority of the world's Muslims. When, though, do they become outraged? When do they take to the streets to express their outrage at the radicals who are making their religion the object of worldwide hatred and ridicule? Islamic writer Salman Rushdie wrote of these silent Muslims in a New York Times article three years ago. "As their ancient, deeply civilized culture of love, art and philosophical reflection is hijacked by paranoiacs, racists, liars, male supremacists, tyrants, fanatics and violence junkies, why are they not screaming?"

Indeed. Why not?



February 12, 2006, 1:03 AM

The answer to the question, "What does Mattel have in common with Syria?" just occured to me.

It is: j. ....No Muslin outrage.

I hope I get extra points, and we get to see art on the next post.



February 12, 2006, 1:30 AM

Very good, Ahab. Even after reading the "j" line that did not occur to me. I assume that's what Franklin had in mind.


art soldier

February 12, 2006, 10:23 AM

Old pro #138,

That email makes a great point.

I've always wondered why Blacks spend so much time protesting things like the Rodney King trial, instead of protesting the fact that murderous and thieving Blacks are ruining the reputation of their race. I mean, Rodney King was a drunk driver; why get so angry about his mistreatment when their race does much worse things than whites everyday?

I'm mean, just think of all the horrible things that Black people do everyday. They are consistently the most statistically criminal race of people in America.

A quick rundown on the wonderful things that Blacks did last year (according to U.S. Crime Statistics for 2005):

a.. commited more murders than anyone else

b.. raped more people than anyone else

c.. assaulted more people than anyone else

d.. robbed more liquor stores than anyone else

e.. broke into more houses than anyone else

f.. stole more cars than anyone else

g.. used more drugs than anyone else

h.. drove drunk more than anyone else

I realize that most blacks are peaceful, law-abiding citizens. But as a race, they're consistently the biggest law breakers in our country. And yet, why do they spend so much time protesting everything other than these criminals who ruin their reputation as a race. Why are they not SCREAMING against those of their race that continue to sully their name?

Indeed. Why not?

Hell, maybe Muslims aren't the only problem race in the world today.



February 12, 2006, 10:44 AM

As I said, I passed the email along without comment.

What point are you trying to make here?


art soldier

February 12, 2006, 2:06 PM

#142 old pro What point are you trying to make here?

Merely that it's easy for us to recognize the racist overtones expressed in #141 because our country has battled for so long against the racial discrimination of African Americans. Most of us were raised with a hightened sensitivity to anti-Black racism and the danger it poses to society.

The passage is suggesting that Blacks are a lesser race of people because not only do they account for the most violent crime in America, but those not committing crimes are also guilty because they don't express enough outrage. It sounds like an argument made by racist organizations like the KKK in order to justify the discrimination of minorities.

I'm asking, what is it the difference between #141 and #138?


Thanks for the donut

February 12, 2006, 3:12 PM

Nice debate, actually quite civilized. I'll try to bring this back to art.

As an artist & promoter, I've done a few provocative projects & from that experience, the one thing I have to hold to is that the artist doesn't bear responsibility for the actions or interpretations of the viewer. The discussion on this site is an example of the vagaries of the written word, how much more inexact are visuals?

I have been attacked by folks who were angry about what they thought I was saying with an image. The most vehement ones were the knee jerks who saw an opportunity to hang their anger on my images, even if what they say has little to do with what I intended.

I see some of that in this event. As artists we need to be sensitive to the common practice of using our images to advance agendas not our own.

Franklin in #131 says it very clearly. There is a serious conflict between that concept & Demet's assertion that;

"This is verbal violence on the peace loving, kind and sensitive people like me. Just because some damaging is not visible to your eyes, it does not mean it is not damage. Something inside me hurts like you are twisting my arm! Believe it or not you are putting physical damage in me right now, only not on my skin. The bad part is that you know it and you like it!"

Demet, your assumptions lead to you to the conclusion that we (Westerners) are mean & we like it. That's pretty harsh, but understandable coming from a frustrated teen. We can only hope that the peace loving, kind & sensitive Muslims wiill see the violence by their angry compatriots as not only misguided but take actions to stop it. Violence done inside your head... comes from your head. it's not equal to physical damage. That's not a Western concept, that's just a reality we have to embrace to rise above animals and function as a cohesive social unit.

Any society Western or not, can't survive if it condones physical violence as a reasonable response to perceived internalized insults.

As artists we need to stand up for the belief that perceived visual insult is not morally or physically equivalent with physical violence.



February 12, 2006, 3:27 PM

I assume by asking "what is the difference" you are asking a rhetorical question, because the differences are certainly obvious.

Muslims were not brought here as slaves and systematically treated as inferior. The Muslims in question are not, for the most part, US citizens, and those who are are not treated the way blacks were treated and in some instances still are. One example is racist and the other is not because it aims at religious belief. The crimes of blacks are not tacitly approved by the society they reside in.The types of crime are different and differently motivated. The crimes of blacks are not encouraged by their government nor by large organized groups. Keeping statistics on the racial makup of crimes is certainly "racist", but in a relatively enlightened, law-abiding society such as our own they are kept as facts to aid alleviating a problem, not to promote organized, faith-based mass murder.

I could go on and on, of course.

A characterization of an individual by stereotypical conclusions about the group they belong to is liable to error and if these assumptions are imbedded in a culture and used for repressive purposes this is very unfortunate and should be changed. However, this thought process is part of the evolution of human behavior and as such it is a socially functional mechanism and cannot be excised from the human psyche. What needs to be done is not to get up on a soapbox and demonstrate one's allegiance with the angels - which is a large proportion of what has happened in this thread - but to recognize how and where repression and cruelty is taking place and do something about it or support those who are.


art soldier

February 12, 2006, 5:40 PM

A characterization of an individual by stereotypical conclusions about the group they belong to is liable to error ... this thought process is part of the evolution of human behavior and as such it is a socially functional mechanism and cannot be excised from the human psyche.

On Thursday I read steve #89's argument that racist speech is beneficial for society and now I have read your defense of stereotype. I have to admit that I'm a little dumbfounded.

I believe that negative stereotypes (we're not talking about positive stereotypes here) are not "liable to error," but always an error. They are, by definition, an oversimplification. Negative oversimplications are never beneficial in prejudging a person's worth based on their race.

How can negative generalizations of race ever be justified?

And please stop asserting that discrimination on the basis of religion is not racism. I keep repeating that anti-Semitism is widely considered to be one of the most widespread and insidious forms of racism in the entire world. No one here has disputed this, and yet the assertion that racism does not include "discrimination based on religion" continues to be made.

I assume by asking "what is the difference" you are asking a rhetorical question, because the differences are certainly obvious.

Yes, the intention was rhetorical. Of course there are differences. But I was hoping you would see that there are more disturbing similarities than differences -- that both viewpoints pose dangerous threats to peaceful society.

What needs to be done is not to get up on a soapbox and demonstrate one's allegiance with the angels ... but to recognize how and where repression and cruelty is taking place and do something about it or support those who are.

Repression and cruelty occur daily against peaceful Muslims around the world because of the very stereotypes that I have argued that some of these cartoons endorse. Of course that does not excuse the violent protests occuring in the Middle East -- I have asserted this numerous times here and have repeatedly condemned the violence.

I'm sorry if you feel that I have been "on a soapbox" or demonstrating my "allegiance with angels." I share no allegiences with anyone except those interested in pursuing a peaceful, tolerant existence. I consider everyone here to be part of that allegience. Even steve #89's defense of racist speech is not motivated by hate, I have to believe that he is as genuinely interested in peace and tolerance as I am. I have been consistently respectul and courteous to everyone engaged in this discussion and have no ideology to advance.

I have always centered my comments on this thread around how this conflict relates to art -- that is, do these cartoons advance a racist agenda, and is it ethical to endorse them if they do?

I, of course, believe that some of the cartoons do indeed advance a racist agenda and feel that it is unethical to endorse them. I have read little evidence here to dissuade that opinion. And yet, I am as adamant in defense of free speech as everyone else here, and have demonstrated that in numerous comments.

#144's argument that cartoons are incapable of racism is the intellectual equivalent of sticking one's head in the sand. I would recommend a refresher course on the history of racist cartoons that leave little room for "interpretation from the viewer".

One only need look at the anti-Semitic cartoons that were spread in the 1930s by fascist newspapers such as the Nazi Stürmer to get an idea of the evil power that racist cartoons can wield. Are these "artists" who created these cartoons not responsible for "how they are perceived by the viewer"?

I'm not arguing that the Danish cartoons are as evil in motivation as these examples, but that racist cartoons have existed in the past and are therefore possible. The parallel with the current cartoons in propagating stereotype is disconcerting.



February 12, 2006, 6:43 PM

The reason you are "dumbfounded", Soldier, is because you are not thinking clearly.

You apparently think that when I say antimuslimism or antisemitism is not "racist" I am making a value judgement or implying that it is some sort of "lesser crime". I am not. I am simply making a perfectly valid semantic distinction. It is best not to ask words to carry value judgements.

All generalizations are oversimplifications. We are guessing animals and we make our guesses on evidence which is necessarily incomplete. Stereotyping is certainly a socially functional mechanism, a matter of guessing what a unit will be like based on the characteristic of the group, as observed. You do it yourself in a hundred little ways every day. So do we all. This is just fact. Go read some cognitive psychology.

I did not say that you were on a soapbox, just that that was the flavor of the thread. You may have been on a soapbox but I have interest neither in demonstrating this nor in your ample recounting of your own positive characteristics.


Thanks for the donut

February 12, 2006, 7:17 PM

Art Soldier said:
"#144's argument that cartoons are incapable of racism is the intellectual equivalent of sticking one's head in the sand. I would recommend a refresher course on the history of racist cartoons that leave little room for "interpretation from the viewer".

Its a common tactic to ascribe extreme viewpoints to your opponent & then argue from that extreme.

I never said that images were incapable of racism, & I'm not sticking my head in the sand. These artists may have indeed wanted to insult Muslims, (I can't say for sure, I interpret some of the images a little more obliquely than that.) What I presented as my point is that no matter what the visual provocation, violence is not the equivalent response.

And even though I was using words... that was somehow unclear. And yet, somehow you can "know" for certain what an image is saying?

Bringing up extremes like Nazi activities doesn't clarify anything. It just pushes the discussion to the outrageous edges. It draws the comments away from my point & to a more sordid place that some evidently feel more comfortable debating in.

I know you are not saying that the Danes are planning on rounding up Muslims & cooking them, so what is the relationship to Nazi provocations? "Racist" cartoons might make me angry but I have no desire to burn down an embassy. If Demet's belief that cartoons cause damage to him physically, is the Middle Eastern excuse for riots, then are the cartoonists to blame?

I say no. If I piss you off, & you attack me physically, it's my fault?

I say heck no.



February 12, 2006, 7:35 PM

Blame that toon.



February 12, 2006, 7:44 PM

Donut writes:

"Its a common tactic to ascribe extreme viewpoints to your opponent & then argue from that extreme."

Common, indeed. I wonder if anyone has ever compiled all the ways one can argue illogically?



February 12, 2006, 8:01 PM

We got our top guys on this right now, solving the problem.



February 12, 2006, 8:07 PM

Donut #148 I never said that images were incapable of racism

You're right, I'm sorry if I was unclear. I was referring to when you wrote:

the one thing I have to hold to is that the artist doesn't bear responsibility for the interpretations of the viewer

I realize I made a bit of a leap, but you argued that artists are not responsible for how the content of their images is perceived. Thus, you are arguing that cartoonists are not responsible if their cartoons are perceived as racist (and that a cartoon cannot, therefore, be inherently racist because racist content is out of the control of the artist).

I included the Nazi example not to compare the Danish paper with Nazi papers, but to demonstrate that the Nazis creating those cartoons knew they were going to be interpreted as anti-Semitic, and in fact hoped that they would be. Thus, the creators of the cartoons bear responsibility for the fact that viewers interpreted them as such. This example debunks your assertion.

And yet, somehow you can "know" for certain what an image is saying?

Again, I offered the Nazi example as a demonstration of "knowing" what an image is saying. It's obvious that these cartoons are intended to advance racist ideology. I "know" they are racist. Do you disagree?

Obviously, some people here disagree that the Danish cartoons are racist and that's a fair enough opinion. I just want to know why. I'm not saying that I "know" for sure that some of the cartoons are "definitely" racist. But most people outside of this comment thread agree that they are at the very least discriminatory towards Muslims.

Oldpro: Claiming someone's argument to be illogical does not make it so, you must first assert specific examples in order to make your case.


Thanks for the donut

February 12, 2006, 8:11 PM

Here's a list I find useful:

"A List Of Fallacious Arguments"



February 12, 2006, 9:34 PM

I did not say you were illogical, Soldier. I said you were not thinking clearly, and then I gave 3 examples, one right after the other. Are we looking at the same thing, or what?

It is not an "opinion" that the Danish cartoons are not racist, it is simply inaccurate. They are antimuslim or anti something else but they are not aimed at a racial class so they are not racist.

Thanks for that link, Donut. I will check it out right now.



February 12, 2006, 9:40 PM

I have just looked at and bookmarked the web site of fallacious arguments, Donut.

After a very brief glance I think I may end up recommending it as required reading for those who commenbt on this blog.



February 12, 2006, 10:08 PM

oldpro #154: "I did not say you were illogical, Soldier."

I didn't say that you said I was illogical. ha, ha ;]

oldpro #154: They are antimuslim ...

At least we agree on something.





February 12, 2006, 10:31 PM

Thanks for the URL, donut. It is a great list.

Back when I taught logic, I told the class the reason they had to learn all the informal fallacies was because so many people respected them and therefore they could use them to win arguments. That was 40 years ago and it looks like the informal fallacies still rule.



February 12, 2006, 10:54 PM

You sly dog cat fish.

That fallacious list, I mean, that list of fallaciousness, it just rings with echoes of the arguments posited all over this thread. But I'm pointing all my fingers, not just one - because "to point your finger is to point three at yourself."



February 12, 2006, 11:16 PM

That'll teach me to not visit for a week. Tired of reading now, but at least I get to laugh a lot at what for me is the root of this discussion:
"we still have the most functional system in the world"
And with that unquestioning belief comment on anything else seemed pointless. Thanks Franklin. I'll be back for art.


art soldier

February 12, 2006, 11:28 PM

Gripes #159: "we still have the most functional system in the world"
And with that unquestioning belief comment on anything else seemed pointless. Thanks Franklin.

-- Agreed.

Franklin: Although we may disagree on this issue, thanks for keeping the thread open.



February 12, 2006, 11:34 PM

I guess you got me on #156, Soldier. Tangentially, anyway/



February 12, 2006, 11:49 PM

I'm open to hearing nominations for who has a more functional system than ours. The only one I can think of is Bhutan, and we can't replicate theirs. I've seen video of fights and sit-ins in South Korean parliament. In Italy I saw campaigns pitting Communists against Christian Democrats. Disagreement over the definition of chocolate nearly scotched the first draft of the EU. Not long ago the heir apparent killed the entire royal family in Nepal. There's some nutty stuff out there.



February 13, 2006, 12:41 AM

I'm sure there are many "it'd never work here"s, but I eversocasually nominate Canada!


Marc Country

February 13, 2006, 4:12 AM

I think this has been hashed out as much as it needs to be here, but i just want to respond to two comments...

Re: #127
Kathleen, thanks for being gentle with me... actually I wasn't offering an "assessment of [the cartoon's] offensiveness" (and my being Muslim has nothing to do with my position)... rather, I was offering my interpretation of the ostensible target of the cartoon. The Mohammad-Bomb-Turban drawing, to me and surely many people, represents the Bin Laden view of Islam. And yes, the Bin Laden view of Islam is offensive, absolutely, so yes, people should be angry at this image... not at a fucking cartoon, or a cartoonist, or a country... someone here wrote something about cartoonists making shoes, and it's up to people to put the shoe on, or not. I think that hits the nail on the head.

Re: # 146:
And please stop asserting that discrimination on the basis of religion is not racism. I keep repeating that anti-Semitism is widely considered to be one of the most widespread and insidious forms of racism in the entire world. No one here has disputed this, and yet the assertion that racism does not include "discrimination based on religion" continues to be made.

Repeat all you want, art soldier... Nevertheless, I'm with Oldpro on the semantic argument here. Perhaps my post #86 ("Remind me to never trust a definition looked up on ''...") was too subtle to register as a "dispute" to the notion of religious prejudice is a form of racism... I'll scoff more clearly from now on.
Mind you, I do not mean to say that being anti-muslim can't be thought of correctly as a form of bigotry, just as homophobia could be interpretted that way... but to suggest that homophobia is 'racism' is patently ridiculous, just as it would be nonsensical to suggest that protestants who hate Catholics are "racist"... Bad, perhaps, sure... but "racist" just isn't the right word, that's all.

Then again, bigotry is a big part of most religions, as there is the inherent assumption that fellow believers are "the chosen people" or some shit like that, while the unbelievers are destined for the pit... now that's offensive.

I guess that's probably why I fuckin' hate religious people so much.


Marc Country

February 13, 2006, 4:19 AM

Oh yeah, I also wanted to say that Franklin should add the list of logical fallacies to the proscriptions in his guidelines... except for the fact that comments would probably be reduced by at least half.

Maybe a better approach would be for Franklin to flag fallacious comments with a link back to the appropriate entry from the list o' fallacies. Uncensored, yet educational.



February 13, 2006, 8:10 AM

Good idea, Marc. Except that applying the rule too rigorously would be chilling. It probably would be enough to codify and post it and when one of the strandard species of bad thinking comes up we could say "you are in violation of logic rule #2a, subheading 6, so shut the hell up!"


steve klotz

February 13, 2006, 11:36 AM

Just for the record, I didn't say racist speech was good for society, a corruption so peculiar that I had to go back and see what the hell was up there that people could so radically misread. Which is:

The advantage of racist speech, as painful and ignorant as it is, is that it clearly identifies a racist, and we’re better off as individuals as well as a society knowing who the racists are, where they live, and what they do.

And it's hardly an original insight. It belonged to civil rights activists, black and white, working in the heathen south during the early 60s who noted that when certain outwardly respectable civic leaders, newspapers editors, church leaders, etc., got up on their hind legs to bray their racist ejaculate, they branded themselves indelibly, letting the entire world in on the vile secrets of their venomous bloodstreams. Made sense to me then, makes sense now.

We're also losing sight, I think, that what used to be vices are now habits. Counting the number of black people in the audience was racist until the federal government ordered theater owners to do precisely that in order to demonstrate their compliance with diversity mandates. Switch to the current issue, and you have people like us (and the world over) bickering not about making a cartoon or publishing a cartoon or even a plain ol' garden variety cartoon, but the motives behind it. That'll get us nowhere. Q.E.D.

Contest: How many Danes does it take to change a light bulb?


art soldier

February 13, 2006, 12:12 PM

#165: I fuckin' hate religious people so much.

Am I the only one here troubled by this sentiment, or does this reflect the general tone of discourse on this blog?


art soldier

February 13, 2006, 12:14 PM

I meant comment #164 (bottom) not 165



February 13, 2006, 1:12 PM

I have to agree with you on this on, Soldier. As the old cliche goes, some of my best friends are religious. What you "hate", if you will, is religious extremism that causes pain and suffering.

i go along with you also Steve. As for how many Danes it takes to change a lightbulb, the answer is: none. They are all cowering in the dark.


Marc Country

February 13, 2006, 1:53 PM

Sorry... I was just testing to see if artsoldier had a sense of humour... guess not.

I take that as my cue to quit while I'm ahead.



February 13, 2006, 3:06 PM

Sorry, Marc. I took it wrong also, which I should not have, because given your other comments it had to be just a wisecrack and not serious.

I think this thread is depressing enough to kick the humor out of anyone.



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