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Thursday, February 02, 2006
Marching to My Own Drummer

I've been watching the fur fly on this whole Danish cartoon story, and wondering what the fuss is all about, especially when contrasted with this other story about a cartoon which has outraged people.

Personally, I agree with the outrage over the Toles cartoon. I'm not personally outraged over the Danish cartoons, but I can understand the Muslims being angry. Now the question is what form that anger takes. When it's calls for boycotts of Danish products in Muslim nations, it's perfectly appropriate. I mean, we're only a few weeks past the Book of Daniel debacle, and I would not have objected to anybody who suggested boycott of that show's sponsors.

When it's death threats and the like, then clearly the response is inappropriate. But that doesn't mean the cartoons themselves are okay. Let's go back to the Book of Daniel. If some wacko had threatened to kill the show's producers, or the actors themselves, we'd all tut-tut that the response was inappropriate and extreme. But would we then decide that we now had to watch the series, or that its message needed to be spread further? Or that legitimate forms of protest against the show, like letter-writing campaigns, were now beyond the pale?

Go back to the original stories about this and you'll see that the Danish newspaper intended to provoke a reaction--just as the Book of Daniel and Tom Toles disgusting cartoon were, just as Joel Stein's pathetic piece in the LA Times was.

Juste said he wanted to counter growing "self censorship" and see how many cartoonists would be "bold enough" to draw the Prophet.

So to me, it's not that the protest itself is illegitimate, it's the form the protest takes. I am willing to take Muslims at their word that cartoons of the Prophet are objectionable to them, just as I take Christians at their word that the depictions in the Book of Daniel were objectionable to them, just as I hope people will take my word that the depiction of the US soldier in Toles' cartoon was objectionable to me.
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