Where USF faculty, students and graduates are invited to talk about journalism and its problems and opportunities. This blog is not affiliated with the University of San Francisco, nor is the university responsible for any of the opinions expressed herein -- though it is certainly responsible for the people who entertain those opinions, having educated them. They make us proud.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Put Your Head under the Blanket. Turn on Your Flashlight. Discuss.

From the Financial Times:

Kofi Annan, the United Nations secretary-general, said he believed “freedom of the press should always be exercised in a way that fully respects the religious beliefs and tenets of all religions”.

The dispute began on September 30, when Jyllands-Posten, Denmark’s biggest newspaper, published 12 cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed, a move considered blasphemous in Islam. One of the cartoons showed the Prophet with a bomb under his turban. The Danish newspaper later apologised but the row escalated this week after several European newspapers reprinted the cartoons to assert the right to free speech.



Here's a link to the cartoons.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Kofi is also on record as being against corruption, so a grain of salt is advised for anything he says. As Europe has become hollowed out by secularism -- defined here as having no belief in anything but guaranteed employment and six weeks of vacation -- it lacks the ballast needed to withstand the blasts of Islamic fanaticism that will blow harder and harder as time goes on. Europe will begin with small compromises on such dispensible freedoms as speech and press and then will abandon the whole baggage.

Juan said...

I dont know how its Kofi Annan but the thing here its the fact that the western world in my opinion is doing general statements about what is the Islam without knowing about it. I think we should respect the religion because not everybody that practice Islam is a terrorist. Also its good that the newspaper recognized the mistake but we should be very careful with the note that are going to be published.

Anonymous said...

The most striking aspect of the controversy is the leverage of the offended Muslim community. Even in the United States, even a publication as venturesome as Slate magazine describes the offending caricatures but is careful not to reproduce them. A quite natural curiosity attaches to how these 12 caricatures actually looked. One of them features Muhammad in a vaporous cloud addressing an assembly of suicide terrorists, with the caption that the heavenly kingdom has run out of virgins, so that aspirant debauchers simply have to lay off for a while. How was all that actually depicted by the cartoonist? Even the banal representation of Muhammad with a bomb replacing the turban on his head did not appear in The New York Times, the paper of record.

While the offending cartoons are available on the Internet, as far as the press is concerned, they have to be imagined. The reason for it is what turns out to be an iron glove at the disposal of the Islamic establishment. The publisher of Paris's France Soir, which did reproduce the images, fired the editor who was responsible. Massive boycotts of Danish goods are in motion. Foreign leaders and press spokesmen are objects of boycotts and even death threats. Flag burning is routine.

What we have seen is an intimation of the strength of a mobilized Muslim community. And this is early on, in the great narrative of the growth of Muslim power in Europe, where national suicide is reflected in the birth rates of Italian, German, French and British non-Muslims (to call them Christians would be wholesale co-optation). These societies seem to be willing themselves to go out of existence, as the birth rate falls below the replacement rate.

There are Europeans who are satisfied that the tradition of press liberty is asserting itself in the current challenge but who are entitled to wonder whether five, 10 years from now -- let alone 50 -- any such frolic as that of Jyllands-Posten would in fact be tolerated. The laws asserting the freedom of the press, like most laws, depend for their fortitude on public backing. Forty-two percent of Germans, polled on the question, opposed publishing "cartoons which might hurt religious feelings." Triggering a second question: Is the publishing of iconoclastic material integral to the question at hand?

Iconoclastic expressions in America are broadly condemned as being in bad taste. However, there is certainly freedom in America to deride Christ. This is done every day on Broadway, and every other day in Hollywood. Americans do not take up arms in protest. Derisory material at the expense of Jews is permitted only if the executioner is a Jewish comedian. Care on this front is a welcome legacy of the Holocaust: No jokes are told by visitors to Buchenwald.

But is the day imminently ahead when Muslim influence expresses itself here as vigorously as it is doing in Europe? How exactly to account for the nearly universal decision of the press not to reproduce the Danish cartoons? The arrival of decorum in Slate?

The question not being ventilated with sufficient thoroughness is: What are Muslim leaders doing to dissociate their faith from the ends to which it is being taken by the terrorists?

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
....J.Michael Robertson said...

As a journalism educator -- and I really am one; I don't just play one on TV -- the aspect of this morality play that interests me the most is the hesitancy of U.S. media to show the offending cartoons. Although the comparison far from exact, I think of how mainstream media in the past have leapt at the chance to air stories they originally ignored and even scorned, once those stories were published elsewhere. I think of Clinton and Gennifer Flowers and Henry Hyde career as a "youthful" homewrecker, which the MSM picked up only after Salon ran the tawdry tale. In the case of the Danish cartoons, do the media have a responsibility to show readers/viewers what the fuss is all about? This time when one says there's no easy answer THERE'S NO EASY ANSWER. But what a convenient out some have chosen. Many media outlets, this humble blog included, use Internet links to enable those who can stand the heat to go into the kitchen where the cartoons are. We must choose to go; we will not chance upon them. I can't decide if this is exactly and precisely the most deft, respectful and professional way to do this -- or is it just timidity. Or *cowardice* even?

In my current role -- journalism educator; remember? -- I need only raise the question.

Anonymous said...

So says the man who deletes comments.

Anonymous said...

Hang on. The professor has every right to delete postings he thinks are objectionable, whether because of religious, ethnic or other sensitivities or merely because he enjoys the exercise of unbridled power. I think his point is we must all learn to get along better and the burning embassies demonstrate this better than anything.

sonresia said...

since when is kofi annan a specialist on journalism ethics? by requiring journalists to only say nice things about religion you're limiting freedom of the press and it's a slippery slope...

sonresia said...

hey robertson! we should discuss the political cartoon done by a muslim student at berkley in response to the danish cartoons. i guess muslims around the world have decided to call the believability of the holocaust into question as a form of retaliation, so this student drew a cartoon of something like that. Professor Moore had it in our J2 class...

pjhaughey said...

the danish paper had every right to publish those cartoons. that's what i think, and if your the editor of a paper with an official political/cultural leaning that would agree with me, you should publish the cartoons as well. but if we're talking about the "objective" press, re-printing the cartoons automatically has you taking a side, and that just leaves no room for the myth of objectivity.

p.s. i don't recall seeing janet jackson's breast gracing the cover of the NY times after her infamous superbowl fallout.