February 08, 2006
Legality is not morality
The editor of Denmark's Jyllands-Posten has decided to print Iran's Holocaust cartoons:
February 8, 2006 (NEW YORK) - The Danish editor behind the publication of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad that ignited deadly riots in the Muslim world said Wednesday he's trying to coordinate with an Iranian paper soliciting cartoons on the Holocaust.I have a question: would your average American newspaper be more willing to publish Iran's Holocaust cartoons than the Danish Muhammad cartoons?
I think so, and I think so would many bloggers. Once again, I think it's primarily because of fear.
While most bloggers who might publish Iran's Holocaust cartoons would be doing so as a way of expressing disgust and disagreement, the fact is, they wouldn't be afraid of publishing them. In the case of the Danish cartoons, whether they're published in order to express disagreement isn't considered relevant; the general idea seems to be whether or not they dare to be published.
In my earlier discussion of Iran's Holocaust cartoon festival, I didn't mean to suggest any moral equivalency between Holocaust cartoons and the Danish caricatures of Muhammad or logical relationship between the subject material of the cartoons; only that they're both forms of speech. (Legally, at least in the United States, both types of cartoons are protected by the First Amendment, which is generally blind to the moral implications of free speech.) Meryl Yourish has a lot more on the merits and the moral implications, pointing out not only that there isn't any logical relationship between the Holocaust cartoons and the Muhammad cartoons, but that the moral context is completely different:
Jews had absolutely nothing to do with the publication of the cartoons. The fact that the Iranians plan to hold a Holocaust cartoon contest is utterly irrelevant to the issues at hand. But not to the AP, which will turn itself into pretzels trying to explain how the issues are similar.They are presented without context, and the context is of course vital to understanding the moral implications. The European laws against Holocaust denial (which I disagree with) were enacted to prevent a resurgence in Nazi activities, and it isn't fair to compare them to purely religious laws.
I think the reason they're getting away with it is because of an open season on Jews. There's nothing to fear.
In logic, Holocaust denial is about as relevant to depictions of Muhammad as would be pornography. The only thing it has in common is that both touch on the applicability of laws regulating speech. But suppose the Iranian mullahs held a "child rape cartoon contest," and then dared the Western press to print the results lest they be guilty of "hypocrisy." Wouldn't that be dismissed out of hand as an irrelevant and ridiculous argument? I suspect it would.
(Now that I think about it, that hypothetical is not so far from the mark, as I'd be willing to bet that the Iranian cartoons will include the old blood libel about Jews murdering children to drink their blood. Which means, I guess, that the hypothetical would only be seen as ridiculous if non-Jews were depicted as the rapists. Violence against Jews, of course, is usually given a pass. "That's just part of the Arab culture. We have to be understanding.")
The First Amendment does protect free speech, of course, which includes the right to insult the prophet, deny the Holocaust, and maintain the earth is flat.
That's a far cry from saying these things are the same.
What about that great religious leader, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem?
He visited the death camps, and obviously thought Hitler was doing God's work. [Or would that have been Muhammad's?] Here he is, meeting with Adolf Hitler:
Maybe the Iranians are unwittingly making a moral equivalency argument after all.
Talk about manufactured outrage!
Here's one of them:
Almost feel like saying "Heh."
Rarely have I seen such rank hypocrisy.
The Grand Mufti would be proud.
UPDATE: In what's starting to seem like a bizarre comedy, now it's no Iranian Holocaust cartoons! The Culture Editor has been overruled by the Editor in chief of Jyllands-Posten:
The top editor of the Danish newspaper whose caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad sparked rage throughout the Islamic world said Wednesday the daily would not reprint Holocaust cartoons being solicited by an Iranian newspaper.It's looking like just about everyone has been had in one way or another in what Austin Bay correctly spotted as an information war operation.
I'm glad they're showing some spine.
posted by Eric on 02.08.06 at 05:29 PM
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