Feb 04 2006

Tolerance Of Cartoons, Tolerance Of Violence?

Published by at 10:54 am under All General Discussions,Bin Laden/GWOT

The Cartoon Wars, as this time may unfortunately be called, has broken open a lot of culteral idiosyncracies which, to be honest, I did not appreciate. It seems so ridiculous to be angered to the point of violence by some pencil and crayon it should be straight forward to face the twin facts of free speech-ugly speech.

From my latest post on this, some of my favorite readers have lashed out at the still totalitarian societies in the Middle East nations that censor speech, as if to say this censorship (re bibles in Saudia Arabia) somehow legitimizes Western anger in this situation.

This is not isolated. The LA Times has a piece out claiming our tolerance of censorship (limiting the available information) and of the remaining hate speech (propoganda) in these muslim states is the reasons this is coming to a head.

Much of the problem is the existance of state sanctioned hate and tolerance of violence aimed in certain directions

The West’s current struggle with a murderous global Sunni Muslim insurgency and the threat of a nuclear-armed theocracy in Iran makes it clear that it’s no longer possible to overlook the culture of intolerance, hatred and xenophobia that permeates the Islamic world. The hard work of rooting those things out will have to be done by honest Muslim leaders and intellectuals willing to retrace their tradition’s steps and do the intellectual heavy lifting that participation in the modern world requires. They won’t be helped, however, if Western governments continue to pander to Islamic sensitivity while looking away from violent Islamic intolerance. They won’t be helped by European diplomats and officials who continue to ignore the officially sanctioned hate regularly directed at Jews by the Mideast’s government-controlled media, while commiserating with Muslims offended by a few cartoons in the West’s free news media.

Agreed, if we are not, everyday, saying these kinds of actions are beneath proud peoples, then we are not doing enough to change the image of censorship and hate.

However, do we impose censorship as a way to save free speech and freedom itself?

The decent respect for the opinions of others that life in modern, pluralistic societies requires is not a form of relativism. It will not do, as Isaiah Berlin once put it, to say, “I believe in kindness and you believe in concentration camps” and let’s leave it at that.

The proof of this is written in the facts on the ground. Across the United States, there are Saudi-funded mosques, teaching that nation’s particularly intolerant brand of Islam. There are no churches or synagogues in Saudi Arabia; they’re against the law.

So, because the Saudi’s censor free expression of religion we are not at fault when we over react and lash out at Islam in general? Seems some are looking for a rationale to be angry.

In Iraq on Friday, the country’s dwindling community of Chaldean Catholics prepared for more of the terrorist attacks that have become routine; there were no reported attacks on Muslims in any of the countries where the Danish caricatures were republished. Muslims in those places may have been affronted, but they are not in fear for their lives. No Western leader claims that Ferdinand and Isabella did not expel the Moors from Spain or that there were no massacres during the Crusades. If they did, they’d be howled off the podium and ridiculed into obscurity. The president of theocratic Iran claims that there was no Holocaust and people across the Islamic world applaud.

These are too simplistic of examples to a complex problem. And they make the classic mistake of lumping moderate muslims, who are not buying the idea there was no Holocaust, with radicals who use this as propaganda to recruit with. All this does is legitimize the propaganda when the West claims this is a muslim belief, verses islamists propaganda lies. If we are angry and use this propaganda as the excuse for our anger, then some will beging to wonder if the propaganda is true.

So the ‘logic’ here seems more of a rationale to be angry at the situation than to look at objectively and clinically. And when one uses faulty logic, when comes to false conclusions:

The European media may have behaved in a provocative fashion this week, but it was provocation in a good cause. The Western governments — ever mindful of their commercial interests — aren’t required to endorse what their press has done, but they do nobody a favor when they apologize for it.

Got that? Insulting a religion to the point where President Karzai of Afghanistan took issue with the ‘humor’ was in a good cause. The good cause was not insulting Mohamed. The good cause is freedom of expression. And I know of no Western government using ‘commercial interests’ as an excuse to not challenge the possible violence.

This media person wants the West to stand behind the cartoonists right to insult and inflame. Well, no – we won’t. Free speech means dealing with the consequences. Many a person has found their mouths negatively impacting their careers. We are not required to subsidize anger at and denigration of others. The cartoonist has a right to speak out, and we have a right to say ‘what an idiot’. We do not have to stand by the message of the cartoonists to stand by their right to speak. I do not stand by the KKK’s message when I support their right to speak. Ditto the communists and socialists.

I for one am not going to risk all out world war because some cartoonists want me to agree with their actions. I agree they have the right, but I do not have to agree with how they used that right.

Tolerance of a cartoon (free speech) does not mean we support censorship, state propaganda or violent solutions in the Middle East. I am not getting the connections some people are trying to make.

12 responses so far

12 Responses to “Tolerance Of Cartoons, Tolerance Of Violence?”

  1. sbd says:


    I don’t know how to do a trackback, so here is the story that I think is important to this whole cartoon saga.

    Fabricated cartoons worsened Danish controversy

    The controversy over the publication of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed is expanding, as more Muslims join the boycott and protests against Denmark and various European newspapers decide to publish the cartoons, mostly out of solidarity with Jyllands Posten and to make a strong political stand. One issue that puzzles many Danes is the timing of this outburst. The cartoons were published in September: Why have the protests erupted from Muslims worldwide only now? The person who knows the answer to this question is Ahmed Abdel Rahman Abu Laban, a man that the Washington Post has recently profiled as “one of Denmark’s most prominent imams.”

    a little further down..
    On its face, it would appear as if nothing were wrong. However, the Danish Muslim delegation showed much more than the 12 cartoons published by Jyllands Posten. In the booklet it presented during its tour of the Middle East, the delegation included other cartoons of Mohammed that were highly offensive, including one where the Prophet has a pig face. But these additional pictures were NOT published by the newspaper, but were completely fabricated by the delegation and inserted in the booklet (which has been obtained and made available to me by Danish newspaper Ekstra Bladet).


  2. sbd says:

    “The War is On”
    From the desk of Hjörtur Gudmundsson on Fri, 2006-02-03 01:54

    Yesterday (Thursday) Mullah Krekar, the alleged leader of the Islamist group Ansar al-Islam who has been living in Norway as a refugee since 1991, said that the publication of the Muhammad cartoons was a declaration of war. “The war has begun,” he told Norwegian journalists. Mr Krekar said Muslims in Norway are preparing to fight. “It does not matter if the governments of Norway and Denmark apologize, the war is on.”



  3. sbd says:

    The link did not work for some reason, so I’ll try again.

    The War Is On


  4. smh10 says:

    I believe the reason you are “not getting the connection” is because there is not one.

    If violence is accepted as retaliation for free speech then when Dan Rather opened his mouth and inserted foot I suppose Conservatives should have burned down a city. How absurd on the face.

    I agree, you have the right in a free society to say and print what you wish but you must also accept the consequences of your actions.

    Religion is one of the topics that as a child I was taught would be best avoided when having discussions with relatives and friends. Somehow, I think others would be well served to do the same. The end result is usually anger and in this particular case with possible deadly results. Why throw more fuel on the fire?

  5. bloodyspartan says:

    I have worked for what you AJ would call a moderate muslim.

    NO Thanks. He treated people like the proverbial you know what.

    I do not trust them and they do not belong in a country with the separation of church and state.

    I am not prejuduced but postjudiced.
    Their religion will always come first even though they proclaim it will not, after all “We all want to go to heaven.”

    Everyone talks about moderate Islam but I see no evidence of it.

    IF I remember correctly Salomon Rushdie is still on a hit list, Yes?

  6. Larwyn says:

    “being happy now, in this life, means being damned tomorrow”

    Bloodspartan, you will want to read the essay.

    Finding the “moderate” among the faithful at this point in time
    – and why we do not hear “moderate” voices is explored
    in the presentattion of this essay. When you think of the
    people in Europe that knew what what was going on and
    said/did nothing to stop the slaughter of the Jews, you can
    understand why “moderates” will not speak out. It is dangerous
    to do so.
    This essay tells us what radical Islam has done to the
    personalities of the people under their rule.

    Thank Gates of Vienna for bringing this powerful insight to our attention:
    Because Allah Wills It
    On the fundamentalism of fatalism and the myth of moderate Islam.
    by Ali Eteraz
    The type of man borne from the sermons in Dera Ghazi Khan welcomes sorrow, relishes pain, and exalts suffering. For him there is no value in the success of his relationships unless they add to one’s misery; there is no value in tears because they would mitigate the sorrows — and that is not wanted. The irony is that even if one comes to realize the unhealthiness of such a way of life, the impractibility of always being life’s martyr, one dares not let go of it, because being happy now, in this life, means being damned tomorrow. After a life in Dera Ghazi Khan, no one wants an even worse afterlife.”

    Please read the Baron’s post in addition to the essay.
    Just as we cannot understand parents that abuse their children, we can never accept and give credence to this disparate view of life.
    The teaching of hate and intolerance is outright abuse.

    It is accepted that abused children have a high rate of becoming
    abusers. Part of this is they develop a very low threshold to any
    slight, insult or criticism.

    Islamists have created this sensitized culture and trained it and
    can utilized at will to their advantage IF we allow it.

    Here are the links:

    […]Blog: Gates of Vienna
    Post: The Opposite of ?Salafist?

    Click here: KtB – Because Allah Wills It


  7. AJStrata says:


    Did you not get my message? I have no interest in your comments. You keep assuming you understand my point. I am not calling moderates perfect or nice or what I want to be..

    I am saying they are not our enemies at this stage. That is why we call them MODERATE. I never called the PERFECT. Not what we would want them to be, but assisting us in our efforts to fight Al Qaeda none the less. Until some fools in the West screw that up.

    Your search for perfection in our allies is naive. Your egotistical assumption I have not already read the post you are keep brining up here is also naive.

    If your answer is to piss off our non-enemies and make then our new enemies, count me out.

  8. AJ,
    There is a two pronged problem here. One is that in the West we tolerate free speech even, especially of noxious people we dislike whose ideas and comments are anathema. I absolutely agree with you that people in general should be respectful of the feelings of others. The first issue then is that becasue PC has infiltrated the thought patterns of so many in the west, whether or not something is offensive is left up to the “victim”. When Muslims fundamentalists, almost certainly provoked by their radical Imams and state run press take exception to anything they decide is offensive, it doesn’t matter whether we are sensitive or not. This whole crisis has been manipulated and driven by the radical Muslims. (I suspect the Iranians, al Q, and Saudis, for their own reasons, have been fanning the flames.) If the cartoons had not been a provocation, something else would have come up. When a bully is looking for a fight, you don’t have to do anything to provoke them. (“You looking at me?”)
    The other side of it is that when someone does go over the bounds of propriety we have no choice but to tolerate it. There is no reason not to speak out and say that “Piss Christ” or “Sharon as a baby eater” are noxious and disgusting; there is nothing wrong with decrying the cartoons as unecessarily provocative and puerile. Nonetheless, we cannot let an agrieved minority use violence and threats of violence to silence even the most obnoxious among us.
    We are now seeing the immovable object of free speech run up against the irresistible force of Islamic sensitivity; it will be instructive to see which side blinks first.

  9. Larwyn says:

    Let’s just agree to agree that we each must
    misunderstand the other’s points on this one.

    And go on to the LIBBY/PLAME

    And the NSA LEAK

    And Able Danger

    We seem to be on very same page on those

    – why I would not give up on your site.

    I don’t agree with everything from GW or
    really from any human being – they are not

    Actually, I hold divergent POV on some issues
    that I have not yet resolved – so I don’t
    always agree with myself.

    And having regrets for some decisions, I don’t
    agree with myself at different points in time.

    A truce!

  10. MerryJ1 says:

    I’m really glad that’s settled.

  11. […] The Al Qaeda plot to insight moderate muslims seems to have taken hold to a small degree. Like the Paris rampages on trumped up news, the cartoon row is another in what should be a long line of faux insults meant to get the West and moderate Muslims at each other’s throats. The media, as expected I am sure, is not helping to put things in context or perspective. I have posted on how we in the West could lose control of this situation through our own anger. It seems the Muslims have little self control to pin our hopes on – but we still must try to separate the radicals flaming these fires from the moderates. […]