Free Speech Worth Dying For?
By Kate Nichols
As a United States citizen who appreciates an editorial cartoon now and then – no matter the social or political message – there is an easy way for viewers to accept the Prophet Muhammad cartoons: with a grain of salt. As a subscriber to Newsweek, the editorial cartoon section is one I cherish and actually respect.
Whether fun is being poked at someone I admire, or someone I would rather not run our country – I can appreciate the subject matter at hand. With the growing controversy surrounding the Prophet Muhammad cartoons, it is expected that Islamic nations might take offense to these drawings.
However, it is impossible to count the number of Bush bashing caricatures or fun-poking Kerry cartoons Americans have seen in recent years. And while these American political drawings are not wholly or usually regarded as culturally insensitive or insulting, we as a public must respect the Islamic countries’ right to feel offended.
The cartoons might be blasphemous, but the making of death threats against the cartoonists is almost as purposterous, yes expecting as the fact that they must now go into hiding. And while unhappiness and offense is natural from the Islamic countries, any action of apology expected from the Danish government might be slightly presumptuous.
Since many protests against the cartoons have taken place, some of them violent, we are left to wonder if the Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen still sides with his statement that, “the government refuses to apologize because the government does not control the media or a newspaper outlet; that would be in violation of the freedom of speech.”
Is free speech worthy of the Danish and Norwegian embassies in Syria being set on fire? As of this past Friday, at least 11 people have been killed in the protests.
Yet after constructing this message in late January: “In our opinion, the 12 drawings were sober. They were not intended to be offensive, nor were they at variance with Danish law, but they have indisputably offended many Muslims for which we apologize,” we can expect another, more effectual message of withdrawal and apology?
While it might be counterproductive to suggest that the Danish Prime Minister should stick to his guns, I doubt whether an issued apology would be acknowledged this far into the controversy.