Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Rocky defends cartoons, doesn't publish them

The Rocky waddles in with a defense of free speech in the mo-toons controversy today:

The strokes of cartoonists' pens have proven mighty enough to open deep fault lines in European society.

The Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten was trying to demonstrate an important truth about tolerance and freedom of speech when it commissioned a dozen cartoons portraying the Prophet Muhammad that it published Sept. 30. The truth: People in Europe have become frightened of saying things that Muslims might find offensive, for fear of violence and the threat of violence. . . .
The editorial clanks to a predictably ringing conclusion:
The Vatican also got it wrong, saying on Saturday that "freedom cannot imply the right to offend" religious believers.

On the contrary, freedom must imply the right to offend religious believers - as well as the members of every other organization or group. Otherwise, we will have ceded our freedoms to the veto of the most intolerant among us. The intolerant in Europe and throughout the Muslim world are now trying to exercise such a veto. They must not be allowed to succeed.
Only one problem: the News itself hasn't published the cartoons.

Update: Neither, of course, has the Post, and all they've managed editorially is Cal Thomas.

Update II: Well, I'm confused. John Temple says the News ran one of the cartoons "with the editorial," but I didn't see it yesterday and I don't see it today. He also says they've linked to all 12 cartoons "since Thursday," but the only link I can find is in his post. I'll ask him. Also, the Rocky has a reader Q & A with its cartoonist, Ed Stein.

Update III: Rocky editorial writer Linda Seebach replies in comments to my query of John Temple:

One of the cartoons ran in the newspaper -- you know, that old-fashioned kind of news that comes on paper? Since we seldom use any kind of illustrations with editorials, there's no automated process for making sure they make it onto the Web page. A human's help will be solicited.

(We printed the one about running out of virgins, but not all of them because they aren't worth that much newsprint.)

There's a box on the front page that has "Islam cartoons" as one of the options, and if you click on that, there are links to the editorial, to a Dutch site that has all the cartoons, and a story about local reaction

Dear Ms. Seebach: What is this "paper" of which you speak? Hah! Zing!

All funnin' aside, I see the links to the cartoons and the local reaction story are on the editorial page now, but they were added long after I wrote this post (tho I don't know when you put up the link on the front page).

In any case, shouldn't John Temple have noted in his post that the single cartoon the Rocky published appeared only in the print edition? And can I take it from "A human's help will be solicited" that that cartoon will now be posted on the Rocky website as well? A wondering world waits, or maybe a waiting world wonders. Or maybe everybody's just off getting drunk somewhere. Thanks for your response.

PS: Oh, and since you didn't link to it here, the Rocky's story on the "reax" of local Muslims is quite interesting.

Update IV: Post title changed from really lame to fabulous.

Update V: John Temple gives himself an indirect pat on the back for the News' publishing of one of the cartoons while chiding other American media for not doing so. No mention that the cartoon was published only in the News' print edition and has yet to show up on the paper's website.

Update VI and I hope to God the last: Another note from Linda Seebach:

John Temple says the link on the main page has been up since Thursday last week. Someone from the Web desk added a link from the editorial online to that site with all the cartoons as soon Wednesday after I saw your post as it took me to catch John to tell him about it and him to send them an e-mail and someone there to respond. (It only *seemed* like "long after" to the anxiouly waiting blogger ...)

I don't think it's much of an issue whether there's an actual cartoon on that (web) page or just a link. Wouldn't you think that just about everyone who is interested enough in the topic to be reading an editorial about it on the Web has already seen them? And in case there are those who haven't, we gave them a link. If it weren't for the backstory, nobody would think that worthy of comment.

When John wrote in his Tuesday post "we printed one of the cartoons" it hadn't occurred to any of us in Commentary that something needed to be done about the Web. I don't think it has happened before (we've used illustrations but not where they were an essential part of the content). Although "printed" does rather suggest paper was involved somehow.

Well Linda, if Steve Outing at Poynteronline agrees with you guys, as he apparently does, this "anxiously waiting blogger" (my fingernails are a fright) must be wrong (as bloggers tend to say, "/sarc").

I just think that by "printing" one cartoon, one time, only in the "print" edition, Temple was taking the easiest way out consistent with maintaining some measure of self-respect.

And even though it was rather rude to print the cartoons in the first place, once the reaction--and the role of the Danish imams in fomenting it--became clear, it would have been better for the News to avoid the appearance of ambivalence toward publishing the cartoons by publishing them all (including the fakes) both in the paper and, especially, on the web. After all, you have plenty of room there.

Update (sorry) VII: Buncha' Poynteronline Poindexters pontificating (via podcast) on the subject here. (There's text too.)

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