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The Danish Cartoon Row

February 8, 2006

I generally hate the Socialist Workers’ Party for being shameless opportunists, using the genuine struggles that people face to increase their profile, recruit more cannon fodder and – ultimately – come to power to create a Socialist state run by middle class academics.

But having said that, their paper has a reasonably sensible take on the Danish cartoon row. They point out that the issue is anti-Muslim prejudice, and remind us that the paper that originally published the cartoons – champions of free speech, according to the liberal media – had previously refused to print other cartoons on the grounds that they might offend Christians.

The cartoons were designed and published as an act of provocation. It’s just such a pity that some Muslims perpetuated the stereotype by rising to the bait.    

UPDATE: Here is an excellent analysis of the row. It attacks both sides, pointing out that the cartoons are more in the tradition of Nazi anti-Semitism than an open society’s free critique of religion, while also attacking Muslims for reacting to the provocation so predictably and stupidly.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Mr.Behi permalink
    February 9, 2006 7:41 am

    Thanks for the view. Here is also a view of an Iranian

    http://mrbehi.blogs.com/i/2006/02/the_danish_past.html

  2. Alan permalink
    February 17, 2006 12:44 pm

    I totally agree. The Iranian govt. apparently had an unusually creative response – a competition for the best holocaust cartoon. When you start to think about *that* you realise how phoney the ‘free speech’ response has been. Certain cultures sacred cows are considered more sacred than others.

  3. Walton permalink
    February 17, 2006 2:02 pm

    You make a very good point about free speech, and how it’s sometimes used to hide real issues, because it’s such an emotive issue.
    Often it’s used as a foil by the right. It was right wing newspaper that published the cartoons, and they only care about censorship when it suits them – but the left are all championing their right to publish.
    A few years ago the New York city council banned a march by the KKK through the city, and the NAACP, a liberal Black organisation, came out in favour of the march on the grounds of defending free speech. To me that’s totally stupid, like the dread Sparticist League supporting the right of the Paedophile Information Exchange to publish information. When the far left defends the far right against censorship, I think it brings them uncomfortably close together and obscures the fact that their ideals are totally opposed.
    The point about free speech is that it’s a nominal right only. We have the right to freedom of speech, but not the means, since we don’t have advertising budgets or own newspapers. In reality, it is the rich who are able to get their message across.
    It’s like in South Africa, where you have the right to life – if you can afford the medical bills.
    And the right to free speech should never be invoked to defend people spreading intolerance and lies. Without censoring things, we need to find some kind of intelligent quality control on the info that people consume, since TV and tabloids pump our heads with crap.
    Obviously, peer-reviewed citizen journalism is one solution, but we don’t have the reach of News Corp.

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