The Danish situation bears repeating
I've written about this before, but Michelle Malkin has an updated rundown of the current international freedom of speech fight going on between enraged and violent Muslims and the Danish newspapers and government, who refused to censor editorial cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed, or apologize for exercising their freedom of the press. Read it all, including scrolling down to view the "offending" Danish editorial cartoons themselves, to see what all the fuss is about (especially in comparison with the anti-semitic and anti-American editorial cartoons and other materials that regularly appear in the Arab press).
Things came to a head over the past week. In Gaza City, Palestinian gunmen took over an EU office to protest the cartoons:Masked gunmen today took over an office used by the European Union to protest the publication of cartoons deemed insulting to Islam. About five gunmen stormed the building, closing the office down, while 10 other armed men stood watch outside. One of the militants said they were protesting the drawings, one of which depicted Islam's Prophet Muhammad wearing a turban shaped as a bomb.
Danish flags are being burned. Danish workers have reportedly been beaten. The country now faces an international boycott from Muslim nations.
Bullies. Michelle also links to Zombie's Mohammed Image Archive. Although the Muslims are saying that it is offensive to them to have their Prophet Mohammed appear in graphic form (as being against their religion), obviously images of Mohammed have appeared in print, oil, on the internet and in other media for centuries without inciting beatings and death threats. This is clearly a case of Muslims acting badly in countries where the "infidels" are used to the free reign of speech and press and the Muslims aren't. Their own thuggish actions lend truth to the caricatures of violence in the cartoons.
Meanwhile, the evanescent Bill Clinton, speaking at Doha, Qatar, tells the world which side he's on when it comes to "these totally outrageous cartoons against Islam" (at Little Green Footballs, via Ace). Cozying up to the side of the bullies and thugs with some mollifying moral equivalency. Who'd expect differently from the world's favorite American ambassador-at-large?
I beg to differ. I stand with the Danes. I'm buying Danish. I support their right and mine to say or write whatever we please, short of slander, libel, or yelling "Fire" in a crowded theater. If you disagree or are offended with that, express your viewpoint, don't slit my throat. At least not in the U.S. or other freedom-loving countries not under the boot (or the sandal) of Sharia law.
And Bill Clinton does not speak for me. I find his recent remarks offensive, but I would (at least in theory) defend to the death his right to say them. Too bad as an American he evidently didn't say that too. Another "teaching moment" wasted.
UPDATE (via Drudge): Seven publications in France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Spain have reproduced the cartoons of Mohammed:
...Reporters Without Borders said the reaction in the Arab world "betrays a lack of understanding" of press freedom as "an essential accomplishment of democracy."
...Other papers stood by their publication. In Berlin, Die Welt argued there was a right to blaspheme in the West, and asked whether Islam was capable of coping with satire.
"The protests from Muslims would be taken more seriously if they were less hypocritical," it wrote in an editorial.
Spot on and well said.
See also "Cartoon Outrage Bemuses Denmark"
And finally Kathleen Parker has an eloquent essay about the principles involved in this matter ("First They Came for the Funny Ones") at Townhall.com, including this summary:
In an interview with Jyllands-Posten, Marlette rejected the idea that Westerners ought to make special concessions to sensitive Muslims.
"The genius of Western democracy is that there should be no 'special' rights or privileges for any group or class of people. All are created equal and are treated equally under the law. Law is insensitive that way. And so is intellectual inquiry. And so is good satire."
None of us likes it when our icons are busted, or our revered symbols ridiculed. But we tolerate offense in the spirit of larger freedoms under rules that have sustained us for centuries.
What we have learned over time is that free expression is society's relief valve, without which aggression and hostility go underground. What eventually bubbles back up to the surface is the sort of spirit that drives today's jihadists. Better to air and view our disagreements by the light of day - in the public forum - rather than wait for them to find expression by darker means.
As Marlette puts it: "... our ability to engage in vigorous debate and to tolerate robust intellectual discourse and all the attendant controversies is a measure of the health of society."
Too bad Clinton didn't say that. But then, Clinton has always been best at saying what he perceives people want to hear, rather than what is true.
Oh, true. It's clear to me (and why not to Bill Clinton?) that people who issue bounties to murder political cartoonists are the same sort of people who send airplanes into buildings to kill Americans for being Americans.