Rocky Mountain News Publisher Rejects Dhimmitude
More encouraging news from the publisher of the Rocky Mountain News, John Temple:
The images of rampaging mobs are almost unbelievable.Of course, not all were pleased by the republication of the cartoons, and not surprisingly came in an all too predictable format:
How can it be, we ask ourselves, that people think it’s justified to burn and destroy over what they perceive as an offense to their religion?
In the face of such madness, I was encouraged by the positive response to our decision to print in our Commentary section last Saturday a collection of cartoons offensive to Catholics, Jews, Baptists and, yes, Muslims. You can still find the package of columns and cartoons at RockyMountain-News.com.
I thought you might be interested (emphasis in original) in seeing what readers said, given that the Rocky Mountain News is one of the few American newspapers to expose its readers to any of the Danish cartoons of Muhammad that are blamed for rioting across the Muslim world.
“Thank you,” was the consistent message. (emphasis mine)
“Thank you for taking a stand for freedom of the press when so many of our U.S. newspapers caved in,” an e-mail from Breckenridge told me. “My respect for you and the Rocky Mountain News is renewed.”
“Congratulations on being an equal opportunity offender,” another e-mail said.
“Well done and well said. The Danish cartoon reveals media double standards, bias and political correctness run amok (all of which continue to be denied, save for you and a few others).”
“Thank you, Mr. Temple, for not bowing to the pressure from the Muslim world concerning the printing of the cartoons,” a third writer said.
“It is time for the Western nations to know that the mere existence of the Western world is an ‘insult to Islam.’ There is a double standard at work here. We must tiptoe around to avoid offending Muslim ‘sensibilities’ while they can clearly state a goal as the destruction of Israel and run cartoons with impunity depicting other religions in an ‘insulting’ manner.
“I believe that political correctness is the downfall of a free society. It stifles free speech and expression and leads to both self-censorship and imposed censorship.” (emphasis mine)
I received only a handful, literally, of complaints, and three of them were form letters late in the week.Who is promoting hate? The cartoonists--or the fanatical race and religion-bating jihadists who stoke resenment in their communities by adding fake and intentionally offensive images, spreading rumors of burning Korans, and encouraging death, arson, and other violence to those who don't see things their way?
“Hello,” those e-mails said. “We have officially boycotted THE ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS newspaper due to your LACK of sensitivity and LACK of RESPECT for the ISLAMIC FAITH and millions of MUSLIMS around the world for REPRINTING images that MILLIONS find distasteful and disrespectful. DO NOT ADD FUEL TO THE FIRE. INSTEAD USE YOUR PLATFORUM (sic) TO PROMOTE PEACE, NOT HATE.”
Temple places the responsibility and the greatest criticism on the journalistic community (ostensibly the bastion of free speech and free press):
Stop The ACLU Open Thoughts of a Universal Mind
“Boston Globe ‘exercised an uncomfortable but necessary restraint,’ ” one link said. “Not running cartoons is like avoiding the n-word,” a link to the Portland Oregonian said. “We need to respect all religions and all views,” said a link to a column by the editor of the Indianapolis Star.
My colleagues’ words disappointed me. (emphasis in original) Clearly, we don’t need to respect all religions and all views. (emphasis mine) Clearly, there’s a difference between the n-word, a euphemism for an ugly word we all understand, and a cartoon, which can only be understood when it is seen. And of course it’s understandablethat Boston felt its restraint was “uncomfortable.”But “necessary”? I can see making an argument that it was the right decision. A justifiable decision. But necessary?
The Globe reflected a pervasive view when it quoted Editor Martin Baron saying the paper’s policy is not to print phrases or images that are considered “to be grossly offensive to a religious, racial or ethnic group,” a position to which no newspaper, including his own, can hew. Would a picture of a lynching be grossly offensive? How about of stacks of bodies at the death camps? They are to me. But newspapers publish them, for a good reason. People need to know the truth. (emphasis mine)
I was heartened later in the week when the ombudsman for National Public Radio published his own column on the NPR Web site, revealing that “Of the hundreds who wrote to me, more than 70 percent insisted that NPR was wrong not to show the cartoon, while 20 percent agreed that NPR did the right thing in not reprinting any of the drawings. (Ten percent “expressed frustration over being forced to choose between two legitimate values — freedom of speech and religious tolerance,” Jeffrey Dvorkin wrote.)
This whole experience of publishing these cartoons has been enough for me to want to wear a Danish flag pin in solidarity with that country and to regret — at least during this test of journalism’s commitment to free speech — my membership in the American Society of Newspaper Editors. (emphasis mine)
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