US Government Caves on Mohammed Drawings

A commenter pointed me to this article about how our state department has reacted to the controversy surrounding the Mohammed caricatures in a Danish newspaper:

The United States condemned the cartoons on Friday, siding with Muslims who are outraged that newspapers put press freedom over respect for religion.

"We ... respect freedom of the press and expression but it must be coupled with press responsibility. Inciting religious or ethnic hatreds in this manner is not acceptable," said State Department spokesman Kurtis Cooper.

An incredibly irresponsible quote that sends precisely the wrong message. And this from an administration who savages anyone who thinks we shouldn't go to war as "appeasers", yet here they are clearly attempting to appease the unreasonable demands of people who think that they have the authority to punish anyone who offends their religious views. I can't find the full text of Cooper's remarks, but I've left a request with the State Department to get them.

Update: Oh, and there's more. Here's another State Department spokesperson:

"These cartoons are indeed offensive to the beliefs of Muslims," State Department spokesman Justin Higgins said when queried about the furore sparked by the cartoons which first appeared in a Danish newspaper.

"We all fully recognize and respect freedom of the press and expression but it must be coupled with press responsibility," Higgins told AFP.

"Inciting religious or ethnic hatreds in this manner is not acceptable. We call for tolerance and respect for all communities and for their religious beliefs and practices."

I would argue that the only thing that is going to incite religious or ethnic hatred here is the reaction of the whackos who think that insulting their religion justifies killing the offenders. A cartoon that mildly makes fun of a religion is not hatred; demanding the death of the cartoonist - that's hatred.

And for those who want to see the actual drawings, you can find them here.

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With all due respect, the State Department are idiots. Letters to the editor which are more offensive and insulting by far than any of these caroons are published daily in major newspapers across the country in the U.S. I fail to see the difference, considering that the sentiments expressed in the Muhammed cartoons were never presented as being those of the Danish newspaper itself-- quite the contrary, as stated from the beginning.

You're right, it sets a new record for hypocricy on part of the Bush regime - but that should not really surprise you by now, should it? Besides, it dovetails nicely with their position on religious bigotry in general.

- JS

I dunno, it kind of makes sense to me. The bush administration will go so far down the path of irrationality to appease the religious fundamentalist whack jobs of christianity, the dobsons and the robertsons et al, so I can see how they would be sympathetic to the view that a cartoon representing the all powerful god-being must trump freedom, democracy and the rule of law. The good folks of europe are in many cases more logical, progressive, secular and, well, free, than we are here in America...


hemlok wrote:

The good folks of europe are in many cases more logical, progressive, secular and, well, free, than we are here in America...

The people may well be more secular and progressive, but as a legal matter they certainly are not more free to speak their minds. I've documented often how the laws in Europe (and Canada) tend to be much less protective of controversial speech.

While it is undoubtedly correct that European countries often have less than full freedom of speech in their legal codes, in many cases those laws are holdovers from the monarchies, and are often not enforced (the new British law being a notable exeption). In Denmark, for instance, we actually do have a law forbidding blasphemy. There have been (IIRC) a grand total of two suits based on that law over the last hundred and sixty years. In both cases the prosecution lost.

- JS

PS: Manual backtrack:…