February 5, 2006

The Danish Cartoons, or Diversity v. Freedom of Speech, Part CMXLIV

I've been pointing out for years that diversity and freedom of the press are in natural conflict, but the press has been slow to catch on.

"Reporter" Craig S. Smith writes in the New York Times:

Adding Newsprint to the Fire

EUROPEANS hoisted the banner of press freedom last week in response to Muslim anger over a dozen Danish cartoons, some of them mocking the Prophet Muhammad. But something deeper and more complex was also at work: The fracas grew out of, and then fed, a war of polemics between Europe's anti-immigrant nationalists and the fundamentalist Muslims among its immigrants.

"One extreme triggers the other," said Jonas Gahr Store, Norway's foreign minister, arguing that both sides want to polarize the debate at the expense of the moderate majority. "These issues are dangerous because they give the extremes fertile ground."

But this did not take place in a political vacuum. Hostile feelings have been growing between Denmark's immigrants and a government supported by the right-wing Danish People's Party, which has pushed anti-immigrant policies....

Let me see if I have this straight: what the New York Times is implying is that one representative of "extremism" is the elected government of Denmark?

In the current climate, some experts on mass communications suggest, the exercise was no more benign than commissioning caricatures of African-Americans would have been during the 1960's civil rights struggle. "You have to ask what was the intent of these cartoons, bearing in mind the recent history of tension in Denmark with the Muslim community," said David Welch, head of the Center for the Study of Propaganda and War at the University of Kent in Britain. Nicholas Lemann, dean of the Columbia Journalism School, put it this way: "He knew what he was doing."

Way to uphold freedom of the press, Nicholas! I always knew you had it in you, you duplicitous toad.

And there was agonizing over what it meant for both press freedom and tolerance. "The limit to freedom of expression is the point at which there is an intent to harm a person or a community," said William Bourdon, a French lawyer who has handled high-profile freedom of speech cases...

No, the limit to freedom of expression should be falsehood. "Intent to harm" is a disaster for free speech.

But Mustafa Hussain, a Pakistani-born Danish sociologist, said the cartoons showed how far to the right Europe's debate has swung. "Switch on the television and you have the impression that Muslims are all fanatics, that Muslims don't understand Western liberal values," he said.

Perhaps Muslims should stop acting like fanatics whenever a TV camera is pointed in there direction? As for whether or not Muslims understand Western liberal values, a more pertinent question is whether Westerners still understand Western liberal values? What this pathetic article suggests is that Muslims understand the new and improved Western liberal values perfectly: that the highest value in the contemporary West is to be considered an official minority, which then gives you that ultimate value of victim status.

Mr. Rose offered a distinction between respecting other people's faith, which he favors, and obeying someone else's religious taboos, which he said society has no obligation to do.

But whether his exercise had achieved his stated goal — of forcing citizens to think about their submission to someone else's taboos — it was clear that it had helped extremists on both sides who would keep Europe and the Muslim world from understanding each other.

Yeah, yeah, all us freedom of speech extremists.

Isn't this last sentence a perfect example of elite media BS? What's happening is that people in Europe are finally coming to understand the values of the Muslim world that the media has tried to keep from them.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

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