Monday, February 13, 2006

Cartoon Controversy

Freedom Of Speech For Who?
By Joanna Palmer

As I understand it, Muslims are furious because of the recent publication of several unflattering cartoons of their beloved Prophet Mohammed. Generating such accusatory likenesses (or any likeness to their supposed savior) is considered ‘sacrilegious’ by the Muslim faith.

Many people have been killed, numerous savage acts have been committed and the threat of war is hanging heavily between the followers of Islam and Denmark and France, who support their freedom of speech. The Prime Minister of Turkey even said that there should be a limit to what the press should be allowed to publish, casting aside the notions of freedom of speech that countries the world over have come to lean upon in times of crisis and controversy.

The Muslims seem to believe that freedom of speech is an enigma, a theory, or a huge joke. These people think that if everyone is allowed to say what they think, I suppose everyone would start talking at once, and then no one would be heard.

In order to avoid such a travesty as no one’s voice being heard, the Muslims have preferred to generate so much noise with protesting, arson, and manslaughter that if anyone is talking, they don’t have to worry about hearing it. This raises a dilemma in my eyes: Muslims believe that freedom of speech should be limited.

In essence, this group is under the impression that people should keep their opinions to themselves, and be told what they should and should not have opinions about. If these are the conditions of their faith, then it is acceptable behavior to want to defend their beliefs. However, how does protesting, lighting flags on fire and murdering and maiming countless (or thus far uncounted) victims in the name of a belief not constitute as freedom of speech?

If this faith is truly concerned with the issue of controlling humans ability to speak openly and honestly and voice their opinions (even if the people in question are not of their faith or belief system), why are they engaging in acts that represent the exact opposite of that?

One final issue is raised by this scandal: Why is America conforming to the Islamic values and beliefs and defying the very Amendment that the country holds so dear? Freedom of Speech is quite possibly the highest protected and most frequently used excuse in the American media today.

However, because one religious group became enraged with a set of inanimate two-dimensional doodles, the entire country is ‘censoring’ the media. refuses to post the cartoons ‘out of respect.’

The New York Times also refuses to release the images to their readers and online frequenters. Perhaps Americans themselves are turning their backs on free speech and the media is merely responding to this movement. Wikipedia has locked the site containing the controversial cartoons due to ‘vandalism’.

I have seen numerous caricatures of the President Bush, including on national television. Sacrilegious cartoons concerning God, Buddha, and the Pope can be seen in any publication from a local newspaper to Hustler Magazine. Does this offend people in America? Of course.

Do they become so enraged that they riot on the street and burn flags while crying out “Death to Media”? Sometimes, yes, this is the case. Has this ever stopped other countries from printing their own ideas and humorous anecdotes about God and Bush? Not that I have seen. What is the real issue here?

Free speech, respect for a religious figure, or does it just boil down to the fact that Muslims have found a way to gain not only respect but fear for their beliefs and a way to vanquish all thoughts that the feelings and rights of others’ may be pushed aside in their pursuit of holy greatness?

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