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Sunday Brunch

2.12.2006

Only driving to dublin is worse than getting the train. So I arrive before you wrecked and weary. I havent listened to Sunday Brunch yet but I am familiar with parts of it. So a coy plug to all of you to go download and have a listen.

Kevin and I were drafted in to do some dissecting of the Danish cartoon row.

Below is a transcript if you wanna have a go, Id be more than happy to entertain you.

The editor of the Danish newspaper was right to publish the cartoons because he was free to publish the cartoons.

That much is about s as far as this debate has gotten. The Danish editor did indeed have the right to publish these and any other cartoons. He has the right to publish any article he likes or picture he likes. He also had the right to a free and fair prosecution if his publication of any of the above falls foul of libel laws.

That the editor had freedom did not for one millisecond place any imperative on him to act. It left him the option to publish or to spike the piece, like it does all editors. I don’t object to freedom of expression. In this case I think its place at the heart of the debate is questionable.

The editors were indeed free to publish these cartoons; it is not however in that freedom that one defends them. They are not simply expressions of freedom; they make serious claims about the nature of Islam and of its followers-freedom of expression does not put the cartoons above the possibility of being wrong.

These cartoons are deeply offensive, even barring the depiction of Mohammed. If Jesus was caricatured with a crusader’s helmet, sword and flag, pillaging a near eastern village, I think there would be a great deal of furore. The depiction of Mohammed with a bomb on his head feeds this idea that we in the west are on a collision course with Islam which is seen as an inherently violent religion. It provokes varying degrees of anger from the worlds Muslims while at the same time rallying support around the freedom to do so.

Such a collision course is in this case a fabricated one. Since these cartoons should have been published and roundly condemned as being wrong-headed. The depiction of Mohammed is an issue for Islam to deal with; the false and stereotypical depiction of Muslims by our media is one we should examine.

The decision then to republish in the name of freedom of speech suggests that >the moral content of the cartoons is irrelevant, Muslim objections to the moral content equally irrelevant and that the principle of freedom of expression at the heart of the issue. I disagree with such an assessment.

The right to free expression was clearly present in the first instance of the Jyllands Posten publishing the cartoons. What ought to have followed is an evaluation of the cartoons by both communities.

The freedom was underlined by their publication, what hasn’t been addressed was whether it was the right thing to do.

Instead there was a rush to divide the issue into 'us and them' positions of freedom and tyranny.

This action puts the cartoons above reproach. The resulting persistence in propagating the cartoons again places the content above criticism at the expense of defending the principle.

The Muslim community has a right to be angry. There is no doubt that all violent protest is to be condemned and it’s deeply damaging. Yet it is worth recalling that a vast majority of the worlds 1.5 billion Muslims were not on our TV screens this week burning flags or embassies.

I think the decision to republish was the wrong one; it was an unnecessary propagation of a series of offensive and ignorant cartoons. Being free implies the responsibility to reflect on ones actions and perhaps sometimes not use the freedom.

If I were an editor I wouldn’t have published these cartoons and certainly wouldn’t now republish them, but it is in the hands of the editors that the right must stay. The media should be free and fair.

RR

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  1. Blogger R. Delevan | 7:12 p.m. |  

    Thanks a million for doing it Cian. You did a great job - very persuasive. And superb delivery. You convinced my wife, anyway, who had previously had her mind poisoned by me!

    Hope you'll agree to do it again soon!

  2. Blogger Cian | 10:46 p.m. |  

    Thanks for the kind words richard, they are really appreciated.
    I would love to do it again, if i can convince but one that is a success.

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