John on February 21, 2006 at 9:29 am
I wrote here about the Culture editor for the Jyllands-Posten who, shortly after the cartoon controversy erupted into violence, had a plan for setting things right. His plan was to offend Christians and thereby show the Muslim world that they weren’t being targeted unfairly:
We want to show that Jyllands-Posten does not have an anti-Muslim bent,’ he told TV2, showing a cartoon of a crucifix with a black shadow looming over it.
Rose said printing the cartoons was a way to show that all sides were open to criticism in a multi-cultural society.
The next day he was susupended indefinitely and his senior editor apologized for his statements. But brainstorms like this one never really die, they just find their way to other outlets. In this case, a student paper in Canada called The Strand has published a cartoon showing Jesus and Mohammed kissing in the “Tunnel of Tolerance.”
Interestingly, The Strand chose not to publish the original Muslim cartoons, having decided that they wanted to respect readers freedom to choose whether or not to view them. So what was the guiding principle that led to publishing this cartoon but not the others? In his explanatory piece that accompanies the cartoon, the editor explains it this way:
You can see the cartoon we almost didn’t publish below. In light of everything else, it seems pretty damn tame. Hell, those could be any two guys kissing! And who doesn’t play tonsil hockey in the Tunnel of Love? As for the other ones, you can view them online, but only if you want to.
I’m not sure how depicting Muhammad as gay is “tame” compared to the original cartoons. Well, that’s not quite true. For a group of Canadian college students who’ve come of age in a Will and Grace world, I’m sure this does seem tame. Something tells me Islamic groups won’t look at it the same way.
While bashing religion, the secularists want us to understand it’s all about freedom. But can anyone imagine The Strand or any other paper publishing a cartoon offensive to gays as a statement of press freedom? Some cows are just too sacred to be gored.
Update: Thanks to my Canadian friend Scott at Magic Statistics for pointing out this (see his comment about it below). It seems the Univeristy of Toronto (where the cartoon above was published) had a very different standard when it came to pro life images:
In 2004, a pro-life club at the university wanted to present a pictorial display which graphically compared abortion to historically recognized genocides. The University of Toronto obstructed the free speech rights of its pro-life students. The university insisted that the display be erected in an open-sided tent with most of the posters facing inwards, making it virtually impossible for the signs to be seen from outside the tent. (see coverage: http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2004/mar/04032405.html )
The images in question are part of the Genocide Awareness Project or GAP. This is a campus program run the the Center for Bioethical Reform. I have supported CBR in the past and am very familiar with the content in question (click here for photos of the GAP at a variety of campuses).
Certainly, CBR is a very confrontational group. The material they present is intended to be disturbing and inevitably will offend some pro-choice students. But isn’t that what we keep hearing about in the ongoing cartoon war? Freedom means freedom to offend or it means nothing. So why the double standard?
The media (whether it’s The Strand, Jyllands-Posten or the NY Times) are pushing an agenda which has its own sacred shibboleths. I think in the cartoon above you have a perfect, almost crystaline, distallation of bashing the old faiths while bending over before the new.