Freedom of the press or free press?

Decisions by various media including the Christchurch Press, Dominion Post and TVNZ to publish the controversial Mohammed cartoons have certainly created a lot of debate.

Overseas, things certainly are heating up. In New Zealand the publication prompted a quick response from the Prime Minister and others.

Today she has raised concerns that Kiwis overseas have been put at threat by the New Zealand media’s decision to publish. This follows concerns about trade implications and relations between both sides of the debate within New Zealand. The paper has also been criticised by Muslim groups freedom of the press is being used as an argument to up circulation numbers.

Dominion Post editor Tim Pankhurst defended his decision in this way.

Nine to Noon had an interesting interview with Russell Brown and Tom Frewen both of whom said they would not have published if they had been given the choice. Of Dominion Post Editor Tim Pankhurst’s decision Frewen said:

“…I suggest if he really wanted to test Islamic tolerance he should have printed them on a t-shirt and gone and stood in front of the Danish embassy in Beirut or somewhere.”

An interesting challenge, but one I very much doubt Mr Pankhurst will be rushing to meet.

Keith had this to say about the issue on the weekend:

“I don’t think sufficient notice has been taken of the context in which many Muslims have taken offence.

“Since George Bush launched his so-called ‘war on terror’ four years ago Muslims have had to suffer considerable abuse and discrimination. Muslims
living in the West (including in New Zealand) have been subjected to excessive police attention and immigration checks. People dressing in an Islamic style have often been mocked in the street.

“Particularly hurtful has been the portrayal of Islam as a violent religion, which is why the cartoon of Mohammad with a bomb has drawn the strongest condemnation.

“We should recognise that for many Muslims the cartoons were the straw that broke the camels back.

“Rather than blame Muslims for their reaction, we should strive to make our community more tolerant of Islam, and see it as a peaceful religion. We can’t judge Islam, or any other world religion, by the small minority of extremists within its ranks.

“Our government, rather than simply criticising the Dominion Post and the Press, should get its own house in order. Many Muslim New Zealanders have complained to me at the harassment they face from New Zealand Immigration and Customs when they return from an overseas trip, and the problems their overseas relatives have in getting visitor’s visas to New Zealand.

“The basic issue is the need to show respect for all religions in New Zealand, in both word and deed.”

The issue is one that is bound to get everyone hopping mad over.

109 Comments Posted

  1. waymad:

    Strong female writers are there. As in most places and times, they tend to come from educated families. You are unlikely to hear from them in our news media however.

    I do understand your point. However, is the USA and its current regime, part of your “our” and “we”? (Personally I prefer not to include that lot in mine!) Does your “we” include “western” behaviour in “their” region over the last century … including right now? (That is, if, for the sake of argument, we ignore Javispink’s valid point that Muslims are not a race, but followers of a religion.)

    “Them us” framing or “us them” framing … Neither represents the “big picture”. I believe we must (try to) learn to view things differently in this ever shrinking world.

    I was brought up always to consider before acting: “How would I like it if someone did that to me”?

    eredwen

  2. Yes, let’s hear from some strong, outspoken females from, say Saudi Arabia or Iran.

    Don’t hold your breath.

    eredwen: the point you’re missing about that them-us aspect, is that it isn’t our framing. Ed Koch in the RealClearPolitics blog notes:

    “Today there are new ostriches in our land. They refuse to take terrorists at their word. The Times reported on February 4th the comments of a cleric at the Al-Omari mosque in Gaza, ‘We will not accept less than severing the heads of those responsible’. Regrettably, many Westerners don’t take Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Osama bin Laden’s principal deputy, at his word when he said, ‘Killing the infidels is our religion, slaughtering them is our religion, until they convert to Islam or pay us tribute.'”
    (URL for this is http://www.realclearpolitics.com/Commentary/com-2_15_06_EK.html)

    And, no doubt to your chagrin, al-Zarqawi doesn’t dialogue too well.

    So we’re left with the underlying issue: how to interact with a substantial chunk of humanity, who frames things in (to our Western minds) an absurdly reductionist dichotomy of us=believers, them=infidels, and then proceeds to act literally on that framing.

  3. Jarvis Pink:

    I agree with all you wrote. Please accept my apology if you saw my comments as detracting from your excellent posts!

    My main theme was comment on “human behaviour” and our (boring) repetition of “we”/ “they” thinking, with little thought given to who the current “they” really are.

    eredwen

  4. Eredwen said:

    “there aren’t many females openly lined up on either “side?!”

    Agreed, most females seem to be generally as confused as most males around the issues raised by this controversy. As one thoughtful female, Tapu Misa, sensibly wrote in yesterdays Herald: on the topic of whether newspapers ‘should or ‘should not’ have published the cartoons, “neither position seems indefensible…”.

    “very good point … semantically. Muslims are not a race.”

    I was attempting to make a point beyond mere semantics, one relevant to the perception of where the ‘sides’ are in this debate. Some ‘ethnic’ Muslims living in the West have spoken out against pressuring newspapers to toe the line on religious sensitivity. Offended or not, they enjoy the freedom to offend and be offended. Likewise many ‘white’ people of a religious stripe have seized upon this controversy as an opportunity to demand more sensitivity to their own sacred cows.

    The fact that this is being framed as a race issue leaves liberal Muslims high and dry. Arab newspaper editors who chose to publish the cartoons are being persecuted in their own countries and liberal confusion means their plight is going largely unprotested in the West.

  5. Jarvis Pink:
    very good point … semantically. Muslims are not a race.

    However, the (often identifiable) ethnic differences between the “two sides” are causing a lot of the fuss, and while I’m on the topic of “identifiable differences”, there aren’t many females openly lined up on either “side”!

    One thing is for sure: Homo “sapiens” (the name we give ourselves) is right there in the fray (again!)

    What’s new in the human zoo?

    eredwen

  6. Psycho Milt said:

    “But I would make the case that the backlash we’re starting to see in Europe is in response to a militant refusal to assimilate by Muslim immigrants, or even worse, active hostility to their host nation’s culture, not any kind of racism on the Europeans’ part.”

    I would agree with that, especially in the case of countries like Denmark.

    Also, making comparisons between what happens in the USA (for example) and what happens in a country like Denmark overlooks an essential difference between the much larger muti ethnic, multicultural USA with its recent history of being a country of immigrants, from many parts of the world, encouraged to come there to fill up the empty spaces and provide labour etc, whereas Denmark is a very small stable country whose family groups of immigrants are more likely to be there for humanitarian reasons and not “for the good of Denmark and the Danes.”

    eredwen

  7. Isn’t race a distraction from the real issue anyway? Muslims are not a race. It’s memes that unite the offended, not genes.

  8. I don’t see how your concept of nativist racism could gain any kind of political acceptability in Denmark. The idea that Denmark is Danish would be pretty central to their concept of themselves, I’d think. As an example, consider attempting to explain to Maori that their attempts to preserve their own culture are racist – you’d find it a hard row to hoe.

    I certainly wouldn’t make the case that Mexicans are Christians and therefore better able to assimilate in America than the “more foreign” Muslims. But I would make the case that the backlash we’re starting to see in Europe is in response to a militant refusal to assimilate by Muslim immigrants, or even worse, active hostility to their host nation’s culture, not any kind of racism on the Europeans’ part. And I wouldn’t expect the Danes to give up freedom of speech for anybody’s sake, let alone for the sake of immigrants who dislike the culture they’ve immigrated into. There’s really only one useful action for people like that to take, and that’s to go home again.

  9. Psycho Milt asked:

    “On what basis could anyone suggest that Danish culture shouldn’t dominate in Denmark??

    On the basis that nativism is a kind of racism which is used to justify inequality, and that is inherently undemocratic.

    The arguments being put forward by the Danish Minister of Cultural Affairs are the same arguments that have been raised time and again by nativists in the United States, with each large wave of new migrants. Samuel Huntington is their current spokesman. His dire predictions about the impact of Mexican immigrants on American culture have much in common with those of Danish nativists who see Muslims as a threat to Danish culture. Here is one writer who rejects that pessimistic view:

    “Forgive my sarcasm, but I just can’t buy Huntington’s absurd argument that Hispanics are incapable of assimilation. In fact, I’m absolutely certain that Huntington will be proved wrong. Here’s how it will happen:

    “A crisis somewhere will send a new flood of immigrants to America — Uzbeks or Zulus or Tajiks. At that point, some fully assimilated Hispanic politician or pundit or Harvard professor will denounce these newcomers, citing their ignorance, their barbaric customs, their willingness to work for peanuts and their congenital inability to assimilate.

    At that moment, Prof. Huntington will find his Hispanic soul brother at last.?

    And before you say “Oh, but Mexicans are Christian, and therefore less foreign than Muslims?, have a read of the rest of this article and note the strong antipathy to Catholicism in America’s past. As the tall blonde said, it won’t happen overnight, but it will happen! But if you try to force the matter, it will probably take longer and involve far more bloodshed (no, she didn’t say that bit! – but now I think about it, it’s not a bad analogy!)

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A41786-2004Mar8?language=printer

  10. alistair: Thank you for your knowledgeable posts.

    Despite reading/listening to the media (who have not done a good job on this topic) for me, the following is the key that fits:

    ” … “in particular, the cartoon where we see Mohammed’s head (with the most sacred scriptural phrase on his forehead) as a bomb, is viscerally offensive to the average practising Moslem … equates Islam with terrorism… insulting because it labels them, implicitly, as terrorists, but worse … it insults their faith by labelling Isam as a religion of war, which is counter to their conviction”

    also bj, sam buchanan et al :

    For me, reading the latter part of this thread has been a pleasant, informative, “collegiate” experience … frogblog at its best!

    (It is interesting to have a quick run through this entire thread … quite a drama!)

    Very well done everyone!

    eredwen

  11. Alistair, I’m sure you’re right: there’s a danger that ‘ordinary, decent Moslems’ are being backed into the extremist corner by the polarisation that has taken place around this issue. But what about the ‘ordinary, decent’ rational, secular folk who are also being backed into a corner. To many in the ‘West’, freedom of speech, and of the press are values which produce a strong emotional response when threatened (as religious values do for believers). Dismissing this response as ignorant, arrogant insensitivity (as many bloggers and journalists have done) leaves the door open to the far right to stake a claim as the only ‘true defenders’ of free speech.

    Many on the broad left seem to characterising this as a dominant, arrogant culture (eg. Danish nationalists) deliberately provoking a vulnerable minority culture (moderate Danish Muslims) which looks like a blatant attack on multiculturalism and a threat to peaceful coexistence. Our natural sympathy is with the ‘victim’. No doubt there is some truth in this analysis but it misses the point of why many otherwise staunch ‘multiculturalists’ are deeply uncomfortable with the constant exhortations to be ‘sensitive’ to religious sensibilities.

    The dialogue between cultures in a Western country takes place, and is *enabled* to take place by a meta-culture of post-enlightenment humanist values. Limiting the rights of newspapers to offend religious sensibilities can’t simply be cast as protecting one cultural group from the excesses of another when it risks weakening the ‘scaffolding’ which allows cultural dialogue to happen in the first place.

    Contrary to assumptions made in posts here, its not hard to find examples of Muslims who were *not* offended by the original cartoons, and there are also Muslims in the West who *were* offended but still argue against actions to suppress similar expressions. (Link:http://www.sundayherald.com/53994). These are people who recognise the value of the meta-culture, which allows them to be Muslims in a ‘non-Muslim’ country. They see occasional offence and ridicule as being a price worth paying for having an uncensored voice of their own.

  12. Exactly …

    I’m certainly not defending Moslems for their irrational beliefs. Simply pointing out that you can’t dissuade someone from irrational beliefs by rational argument. And still less by belligerent argument. I learned that trying to reason with Christians.

    And it’s not (only) the religious zealots we should be worrying about. It’s more the average Joe Moslem, whose level of religious faith tends to be that of a typical European of 50 or 100 years ago (or that of a healthy plurality of Americans today), i.e. inclined to take the scriptures literally etc… Doesn’t make them bad people.

    And as for all this guff about islam being inherently bad because of the way they treat their wimmin… that isn’t actually islam, it’s the primitive tribals who were early adopters and propagated the faith… check it out, there’s no scripture that imposes the veil etc… But secular, humanist, enlightened islam worked well for centuries when christian Europe was steeped in bloody feudalism… Bin Laden and the wahhabis discredit Islam in the same measure that Cortez, the Inquisition etc discredits Christianity.

    Choose your enemies with care.

  13. To my obviously misguided way of thinking, anyone who unquestioningly believes anything to the exclusion of all others, who lives by a single book, is mad. The fact that this description applies to religious fundamentalists of EVERY religion does not make it any less applicable to Islam.

    The problem is that reason will not sway them from their belief because by its very nature, belief itself provides a comfort level that is really hard for most people to abandon. When asked a question about why something happened, even if they are completely ignorant, they are able to answer without hesitation, that God wills it. Absolute certitude and no unanswered questions. Why? is the question that’s built in. We ask it all the time because it is our monkey trick for survival… to know why things happen and so be able to predict and change what will happen. It makes us uncomfortable, the unknown. It makes us realize that sooner or later we WILL die.

    “Why ask why?” – It was a beer commercial once… but it is the basis for religions of every stripe… answering the “Why” that has no answers in science or logic. Go without doubt and you ARE a little stronger in some ways. Your “faith sustains you”.

    So its really hard to change a religious zealot’s way of thought… I would reckon it impossible, but zealots and fanatics make up only a small minority of all the religious people in the world…

    The rest can argue and reason and see the humor and the contradictions and not be threatened in their faith, but push them too far and they push back. They also gain something from the simple act of having faith, and they won’t let you take that from them. So going to the mat about “freedom of the press” with respect to religion is a fools errand if the free speech in question is an egregious insult. All it can do is make a lot of people angry and sell a lot of papers.

    Note: Religion is one of the forbidden subjects in the wardroom of a US Naval vessel. You are not permitted to discuss religion in the officer’s mess… nor draw your sword (still part of a full dress uniform).

    Discretion is sometimes the better part of valor.

    respectfully
    BJ

  14. … Let’s not back ordinary decent Moslems into a corner, like the Danish newspaper, with the connivence of their government, has done.

  15. My waymad or the highwaymad?

    Indeed, it’s a culture war we’re watching. As Greens, we should not be participating in it.

    In fact, we’re falling collectively into a trap set for us by extremists. The current troubles obviously suit Moslem extremists wonderfully. They hope ordinary Moslems will jump to the conclusion that the West hates them, and when exciteable souls in the West jump on their bandwagon to proclaim we must stick to our guns, they reinforce that caricature.

    It happens that, in particular, the cartoon where we see Mohammed’s head (with the most sacred scriptural phrase on his forehead) as a bomb, is viscerally offensive to the average practising Moslem.

    Why is that? It’s because it equates Islam with terrorism. That is not only insulting because it labels them, implicitly, as terrorists, but worse (arguably), it insults their faith by labelling Isam as a religion of war, which is counter to their conviction (and the theologians are on their side, in their great majority).

    The Moslems who will not be offended by that particular cartoon are that small minority who think terrorism is OK, and believe that Mohammed is on their side. Paradoxically it is they who are manipulating the anger, in an attempt (which we must hope will fail) to instill in the faithful, the sort of hatred against the West that can lead them to justify terrorism…

    In particular, Waymad, I’m appalled that you seem to equate Wahhabism with the reactions of ordinary Moslems (if I interpret your rant correctly). This extremist sect happens to control Saudi Arabia, and is militantly evangelistic, and should be opposed, in my view; but to equate this with Islam is rather like judging Christianity by the likes of Ian Paisley and his American fundie counterparts.

    And if you choose the West… warts and all… then what about the White Man’s Burden? Tolerance breeds tolerance. Let’s

  16. Whenever I’m assured that muslims are my implacable enemy, I’m struck by a curious fact: That no muslim has ever tried to kill, maim or otherwise act violently towards me (OK – a kid threw a stone in my general direction in Diyabakir once).

    It’s not for want of opportunity – I’ve travelled extensively in Islamic countries and slept in the house of my sunni relatives (now that I think about it, perhaps my aunt was trying to finish me off by over-feeding me – a cunning and diabolical plan indeed!).

    Actually, most of the serious violence I’ve suffered came from people who were most likely Christians, and I’ve had guns pointed at me by Buddhists on a couple of occasions. I have experienced a lot of hospitality from muslims, and been assured on a couple of occasions that Christianity and Islam are the same thing and had debates with Islamic fundamentalists that were much more intelligent and good natured than the average frogblog thread.

    (Warning: Rather impolite sarcasm follows)

    I agree that the west has produced some magnificent values, and has spread them to all the countries they’ve conquered, too. I’m sure the people enslaved or slaughtered by western imperialism were most impressed by their oppressors’ high-mindedness. And as a Pakeha I’m sure that our educated and enlightened forbearers would never have considered reducing Maori to something like the status of dhimmi – a minority with lesser rights than the ruling majority.

  17. Oh dear. No-one really wants to talk about the elephant in the room…

    As a Values Party member all those years ago, I do recall dem days when Values mattered. And what are the values at stake here?

    ‘Islam’ means ‘submission’ and views the world as two ‘houses’: Dar al-Islam – the abode of submission, and Dar al-Harb – the abode of war. And if you are not an accepted, practising Muslim, guess which house you’re in? Accepted means of course not Sufi, Shia, or any of the other ‘heretical’ Islamic sects. They aren’t inside the tent.

    So it really *doesn’t* matter why some Muslims are angry at us: nothing we can do short of conversion to their beliefs, would be enough. Tough luck too if you have XX chromosomes. You get to join a patriarchy.

    A little Kipling:

    “When the Cambrian measures were forming,
    They promised perpetual peace.
    They swore, if we gave them our weapons,
    that the wars of the tribes would cease.
    But when we disarmed They sold us
    and delivered us bound to our foe,
    And the Gods of the Copybook Headings
    said: “Stick to the Devil you know.”

    (from Gods of the Copybook Heading, 1919)

    The devil we know is the scientific, rational, West. And as Toynbee said long ago, civilisations don’t die, they commit suicide.

    I’m proud of the West and my heritage, and it sure beats the alternative on offer here. Not to stick up for Western values now is to contribute to their decline and eventual suicide.

    That’s what this debate is really about: Values. West versus Dhimmitude. Their definition, too, not ours. We don’t get to frame this one.

    I choose the West. Warts and all.

  18. Just to reply to something some time ago, no I wasn’t writing to support Keith Locke – actually I thought his comments were pretty banal, particularly his suggestion that Western persecution of muslims began four years ago – hence my brief history of Iran’s contact with the West.

    I think it does matter why muslims are angry with ‘us’. To suggest that fundamentalists are just looking for an excuse to stir up trouble sort of misses the point that happy, secure people aren’t particularly responsive to being stirred up. People who feel oppressed and under attack are easily incited and I think a lot of muslims have genuine reasons for feeling this way.

    I don’t think the government of Iran – or most of it anyway – sees the west, or the secular, democratic state as an inherent enemy. It seems to me that it’s the west that has a problem with Iran rather than vice versa. Iran has a stongly nationalistic and independent culture, and fiercely resists foreign domination. This makes it the enemy of certain western elites who believe countries should roll over and surrender themselves up to western corporate control.

    I’d imagine if I suggested to Iranians that they should folllow NZ in giving up ownership of most of its economy to overseas corporations and change their laws to suit foreign interests, I’d be treated like a village idiot – and fair enough too.

  19. Phil

    re:p**sing contest. –
    You have to read back a few posts in this thread, pick up on eredwen and smokey and lightcircle, Worthwhile reading.

    ciao
    BJ

  20. strongballs..(yawn..)..sorry..missed your conversation…

    (but how..pray..?..y’know..your pissing-contest claim..?..)

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

  21. JTF: “This is a belligerant agenda for cultural domination.”

    On what basis could anyone suggest that Danish culture shouldn’t dominate in Denmark? Self-loathing? I’m quite comfortable with the idea that Kuwaiti culture dominates in Kuwait (and as far as the Kuwaitis are concerned, if I’m not comfortable with it I can feel free to fuck off somewhere else), so why shouldn’t that be reciprocated by Muslims living in Denmark?

    Isn’t the Danish Minister of Cultural Affairs correct when he says that not everything is equally valid? If he’s wrong, what reason could there be for the existence of political parties (or environmental activism for that matter)?

  22. Gazza – The “war on terrorism” was born after Dubya ate a bad Burrito. It was born LONG before the planes hit the towers, and it is part and parcel of the PNAC manifesto. Because it is a “war” it gives el Presidente an excuse to put a line through any part of the Constitution or Bill of Rights that impairs the march to absolute power. Because it is “on terror”, a noun instead of a country, it will go on until it is declared over. The parallels with Orwell’s 1984 should be becoming clear. They certainly are to me. The ministry of truth has nothing on Bush. No WMD in Iraq? Oh, we made a terrible mistake. If you had do decide knowing what you know now, would you still have invaded? Yes, that part wasn’t a mistake. You didn’t decide beforehand to invade Iraq? No, we invaded because we believed there was a threat… If you are following this specious line of reasoning, these are the actual responses to actual questions, given by this administration.

    Bush and Cheney should be impeached, charged, convicted and shot for treason. They claim its a war, let them suffer the wartime punishment for traitors. Instead, the following things appear to be happening. Listen carefully, these muffled voices are the sounds of protest being silenced in the USA.

    http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2006/2/10/154248/969

    http://www.eugeneweekly.com/2006/02/09/coverstory.html

    …read down a bit and find this

    Regan is preoccupied with another threat to free speech: a proposed new provision of the PATRIOT Act, which Congress will consider for re-authorization on March 10. Section 602 would make protesting or holding a protest sign at any “national security event” a felony. If that provision were applied to Patterson, her “no” would become a federal crime, punishable by up to a year in prison.

    … and be grateful to live in THIS country.

    respectfully
    BJ

  23. ok gazza..how about directing your mental faculties to the question…”..why did they fly the planes into the towers..?..”

    see how you go with that one..eh..?

    oh..and btw…in case you’d forgotten..there were no afghanis or iraqis amongst the terrorists..eh..?..y’know..people from those two countries the americans have invaded (in retaliation) and continue to occupy….?

    i’t be a bit like some aussies doing some shit….and the americans deciding to invade us in retaliation…eh..?

    try and dig a bit deeper eh gazza..?..things aren’t quite as simple as you seem to think..eh..?

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

  24. Gazza, it’s your logic that is screwy. To blame all Muslims for Islamic terrorism is equivalent to saying that “the person who bombed that abortion clinic is a Catholic, therefore all Catholics are extremists”.

    Chefen, I don’t think I missed the point of your posts. You wrote about the context from the perspective of non-Muslims who are frustrated by the level of self-censorship in Scandinavia towards Muslims and wanted to challenge it. You said yourself that the cartoon issue and the reaction to it was the perfect way to highlight their concerns about Muslims: “Locals are left wondering if in fact Islam is as batshit crazy as its worst detractors make out.? Justin Raimondo’s article claims that the publication was a deliberate attempt to provoke such a reaction. I wrote that if this were true, it was clever, cynical and dangerous.

    This ex-pat Dane is of the view that “the paper wanted to instigate trouble, just not the kind of trouble it got.” He goes on to say that this was entirely in accord with government thinking at the time:

    ‘And in this mission it acted in concert with the Danish government. “We have gone to war against the multicultural ideology that says that everything is equally valid,” boasted the minister of cultural affairs, Brian Mikkelsen, in a speech at his party’s annual meeting the week before Rose’s cartoon editorial last fall. Mikkelsen is a 39-year-old political science graduate known for his hankering for the “culture war.” He continued, “The Culture War has now been raging for some years. And I think we can conclude that the first round has been won.” The next front, he said, is the war against the acceptance of Muslims norms and ways of thought. The Danish cultural heritage is a source of strength in an age of globalization and immigration. Cultural restoration, he argued, is the best antidote.’

    This is a belligerant agenda for cultural domination.

    http://www.salon.com/opinion/feature/2006/02/08/denmark/print.html

  25. It is amazing how Keith’s mind works! According to him, “Since George Bush launched his so-called ‘war on terror’ four years ago Muslims have had to suffer considerable abuse and discrimination.”

    Now I would have thought the war on terrorism was ignited by Muslims flying planes into civilian targets and killing thousands of people. How can Keith simply forget about this fairly important part of the story? He again shows his bias against the USA and its allies, and his continued apologetic stance to the real tyrants and terrorists.

    As far as “being sypathetic” towards Islam, he is essentially asking that I give up my right to do anything which goes against their beliefs. How far does one go with that attitude? I am not a Muslim, I do not live an Islamic country. Sorry Keith, but I will decide what I do, as long as it is lawful.

  26. Indeed, Pankhurst was foolish. If those really were his reasons you have to wonder how he got his job. If he’d come out and said he’d published them because they were news, he’d have my respect. That would have neatly headed off any objections as well, given that it was the Islamic world that made them news.

    If Keith’s point is that we should show respect to people, it’s about as banal a point as they come. Well, yes we should – the bit any debate’s about is, what happens when we don’t? And what if we had a good reason? If Keith has anything to say about that, I’d be interested to hear it.

  27. Keith’s point is that we should show respect to people. The Dom Post editor’s defense of his decision to publish the drawings http://www.stuff.co.nz/stuff/dominionpost/0,2106,3561191a6483,00.html
    is completely laughable — he acknowledges that they are deeply offensive to Moslems, but that doesn’t matter because “NZ is not a Moslem country”!

    OK, so it’s ok to publish cartoons ridiculing homosexuals, because NZ is not a homosexual country. It’s ok to publish cartoons ridiculing the handicapped, because NZ is not a handicapped country. (Repeat ad nauseam, with your favourite minority group).

    It’s nonsensical. People are either deserving of respect, or they’re not.

  28. Psykes:
    there is definitely a question of censorship. You left out the fact that what the Moslem complainants are after isn’t an apology

    Not at all. You seem to have missed the fact that I find the reactions in Moslem countries completely out of order, and should not dictate what happens in Denmark or elsewhere.

  29. The Imams went on the road using fake images because the originals were not offensive enough. Suggestive?

    My understanding is that they went on the road with the published images, plus others which had been submitted to the competition but not published. Suggestive?

    Yes, it suggests that the publishere knew very well that there was stuff that was too offensive to be published, and that they were mistaken about where to draw the line.

    However, if there was extensive debate in Denmark, then that indeed changes the aspect of the imams’ road tour. The effect was to unreasonably bring Denmark into disrepute : it seems that they felt that their loyalty to Islam was more important than their loyalty to Denmark. This is dangerously close to treason.

  30. alistair: there is definitely a question of censorship. You left out the fact that what the Moslem complainants are after isn’t an apology – they’ve had an apology from the newspaper editor and the Danish govt, after all. Perhaps NZ newspapers haven’t been reporting what’s been going on in Moslem countries – I only keep track of the one I’m in, but I can tell you that here at least, the politicians’ demand is that the Danish govt “reprimand” the editor and cartoonists (“reprimand” in this sense doesn’t mean the PM harrumphing at them as Helen Clark is wont to do, it means actual punishment of some description), and take steps to ensure that this can’t happen again. And the mullahs’ demand is that Danish products be boycotted indefinitely in support of that aim.

    I don’t know – maybe Keith Locke thinks passing legislation making it illegal to offend Moslems, and making it retroactive so that existing offenders can be punished is a good idea. I sincerely hope not.

  31. “Freedom of the press” :

    1) Whether or not the cartoons should have been published in Denmark, and what should have happened next, is a purely Danish matter. The rest of the world, whether Moslem, Christian, or Animist, has no say whatever in the matter. The only reason it was internationalized is because Danes sought to do so.

    2) People in the Middle East started to get exercised over the Danish matter. They had no legitimate reason for asking anything at all of the Danish paper or the Danish government; they have no standing in Denmark to demand anything. They are in the wrong, no doubt about it. People have a right to be interested in what happens in other countries, and to be sensitive about the rights of minorities, but rioting is no way of doing it.

    3) People in the West got curious about what the fuss was about. Various newspapers re-printed the cartoons. This was a serious mistake for several reasons :
    a) they offended local Moslems when they were originally published, they will offend local Moslems wherever they are published. This should not be done lightly, because it’s a lack of respect.
    b) it amounts to pouring petrol on the flames. The publishers must have known this.
    c) there is no question of censorship. None whatever. Anyone who is genuinely curious about the cartoons can find them easily enough on the internet. Daily papers don’t publish pornography : is this censorship? Of course not. They choose not to, because it would offend some of their readers. Those who want pornography know where to find it.

  32. Except your chronology starts at the cartoons, a long way into any real dealing with the issues.
    The death threats began four days later, before any calls for apology.
    There was public debate, look in the Danish papers. The PM has no role in determining public debate or commenting on independent media.
    There was outcry and condemnation, sensitivity training was suggested for
    journalists. There are regular articles nearly everyday back to the original publication discussing the issue.
    This was airing of “the issues”, if you look at the cartoons and understand them as drawn by Danish commentators.
    Muslims are a minority, but there are issues there that rightly concern all aspects of a civilised society. Pretending they don’t exist is how this began.
    The Imams went on the road using fake images because the originals were not offensive enough. Suggestive?

    To portray the whole thing as beginning with cartoons and as merely the oppression of a minority is to miss a much wider and more interesting story.

  33. The chronology of what happened in Denmark is pretty interesting.

    A right-wing paper publishes the cartoons. They deeply offend Danish Moslems, who make their objections known, call for a withdrawal, an apology, whatever. Gather a petition of 70 000 signatures, which the Prime Minister does not even acknowledge.

    i.e. their hurt is not even taken into account. There is no public debate, nothing. If similarly offensive cartoons about Christ had been published, there would have been an outcry, condemnation, public controversy. Probably not censorship or even an apology, but at least an airing of the issues. But no, they are only Moslems, a small and unpopular minority, so it’s OK eh?

    So the imams went on the road, touting the cartoons around the Middle East to whip up support for an apology from the paper and the Danish government. This was a mistake, as they subsequently acknowledged, because matters got out of hand.

    They have since, incidentally, obtained the acknowledgement and apologies that were their due all along, as Danish citizens.

  34. What they’re demanding is something we’d better not give them, that’s the bottom line.

    Sounds like a testosterone thing to me… 😉

    (just trying to tie the threads together eh)

    Just to state some bleedin’ obvious things :

    There seems to be a widespread belief that those stupid Moslems will see reason if we stand firm and shout them down.

    There have been, indeed, many occasions in history when whole populations have changed their religious beliefs and practices rapidly. To cite just a few : Julius Caesar’s invasion of Gaul; the rapid Islamisation of the Middle East and North Africa; the Spanish reconquista. It happens through fire and the sword, followed by harsh repression and colonization.

    I don’t think that’s a viable option these days : it’s a pipe dream (Pipes dream?)

    Merely confronting people about their religious beliefs is not an effective means of influencing them. On the contrary, it leads to hardening of positions, a “whose side are you on” phenomenon which means that moderate Moslem voices have not the slightest chance of being heard in the current cacophony.

    The cartoons are a rather pathetic pretext, the issue should have been dealt with by the Danes themselves, Moslem and otherwise. The issue has been cynically seized on by people who want to reinforce the political and temporal power of Islam, and they have managed to exacerbate and focalise feelings of resentment among Moslem populations.

    Among those who are beating the “freedom of opinion” drum in the West, there are a fair number who are just jumping on the bandwagon because it’s an opportunity to pile onto the Moslems. They are, in practice, the objective allies of the obscurantists; they are increasing the alienation between us in the West, and the mainstream of ordinary, decent, peace-loving Moslems, and driving them into the arms of extremists.

  35. JTF,
    Thanks for utterly missing the point of my posts about Denmark. I assume you’re taking the piss for some reason.

  36. Sam, I’m sure the govt of Iran has nothing against us personally, their enemy is “the West” in general – ie, the secular, democratic state.

    Admittedly, totalitarian is an oversimplification. But I don’t think the fact that Iranians get to freely elect the people who will carry out the religious politburo’s instructions qualifies as “quasi-democracy” either. Those elections might result in some political debate, but anyone who wants to suggest Iran should become a secular, democratic state will discover the police state is alive and well there.

    You didn’t mention the protests, but I assumed you mentioned the things “we” (ie, secular democratic states) have done to Iran over the decades to back up Keith’s views on why they’re angry with us. And my response was intended to convey that it doesn’t matter why they’re angry with us – Middle East imams will do whatever it takes to avoid their power going the way of the Christian Churches’ power, so one excuse to stir up anger against us is as good as another. What they’re demanding is something we’d better not give them, that’s the bottom line.

    PS: For my part, I use a pseudonym because the web is full of spammers and general-issue crazed mutants, and I’ve no desire for any of them to have contact information about me – not to shelter my opinions from consequences. I’m just as unpleasant in the flesh…

  37. When I posted two days ago it was not meant as a catalyst for a gender debate. Nor intended to distract from the issue at hand.

    I think what I was mostly trying to express at the time was that the free speech/religious profanity debate can, as a few of you have alluded to, pretty much be described as a pissing match.

    Simply with economic and ideological power as the prize.

    I believe we need to encourage the feminist perspective to help balance the male tendency towards escalation.

  38. Sam –

    Good points. I agree, the anonymity and immediacy of this type of communication has got a lot to do with stuff being said which is downright unpleasant.

    However, immediacy of the blog format is one of the reasons for its great success. Anonymity doesn’t seem to me to add much value to comments on a blog, either, but I think posters should have the right to be anonymous if they choose.

    I also believe that we can point out when things are getting nasty, and discuss why, as we are doing, but it shouldn’t lead to any restrictions or rules beyond those voluntary brakes we apply to our own behaviour online.

    Have a good weekend all and big smoochy “maternalistic” hugs

    Alison

  39. The other day in one of the anarcist groups we were discussing the tendency for e-mail/blog/etc. discussions to degenerate into slanging matches. Part of this seems to be the distance and anonymity involved (Even some people I know personally are nonetheless far less civilised in on-line debates than they ever are face to face).

    I’ve never understood the desire to hide behind pseudonyms, save in a few unusual circumstances. It would be nice to see more people putting their names to their comments.

    The other problem is the immediacy of the medium – people tend to reply without much thought. We are looking at going back to a paper ‘zine in order to raise the standard of debate.

    I do, however, reserve the right to say so when I think posts really are downright stupid, as opposed to merely something I disagree with.

  40. Two sets of interesting thread now:

    Sam – nice potted history of Iran! The blanket demonisation of a civilisation that is far more ancient than the West resembles the Soviet/West polarisations of old.

    Eredwen/lightcircle – I take your points and many are well-made and well-taken, but I believe I detect a little paternalistic (maternalistic?) superiority behind the some of your comments – a sort of “we’re educating towards more civilised discourse” kind of thing. Perhaps not, but I feel from your comments like the majority of males should change to be somehow more ‘acceptable’.
    What I’d like to point out is that our society is built on Greek and Roman traditions of ideas doing combat within defined boundaries. Our legal and political traditions are built directly on this. I’m not arguing it’s the best way or the way it should’ve been, or that it doesn’t discourage women (or even that I *like* it much), but women are not expecially excluded or disadvantaged by it, judging from the graduation roles of the university legal studies departments. Nor is the behaviour you experience necessarily a ‘pissing contest’ (though yes, that is undoubtedly sometimes the case).

  41. Thanks Eredwen – You still didn’t really satisfy my curiousity, but at least you did try to answer. There are some communications difficulties that defy words, and the one that exists between men and women is clearly evident. I do understand the problems of dealing with testosterone, but my question was directed more towards how it relates to participation in the discussions here. Lightcircle has something of an answer… though I am not sure that she is entirely correct…

    In this blog and others, replies are picked apart and quoted in isolation from the rest of a poster’s comments, analysed, held up for ridicule – in an attempt, I suspect, to make each post appear even more informed, intelligent, swaggering, testosterone-laden, fierce and brave than the last one.

    I don’t think that this is anywhere near as prevalent here as elsewhere. This is a comparatively civilized and civil place, and I am quite sure that my contributions to it are only VERY rarely as aggressive as this description of them. YMMV. Yes I DO strive to make them intelligent, and informative, and to make them add something to the lives of those who read them.

    OTOH, you may well be right about the Gorilla analogy. I suspect that you see that sort of shift occurring faster than I do, or care more about the fact of its occurring… I generally ignore it, or ignore those who are duking it out over some slippery semantics in some sentence 2 weeks old.

    For both of you I have great respect.

    There are certainly some belligerent folks treading this board, but I still find it quite tame compared to other places. This is a far more civilized and thoughtful place than (for instance) the Motley Fool “Political Asylum” board.

    … and when you criticize us for playing macho word games, it is a comment that hits at every one of us, not just the ones who are playing those games… and the comparative restraint and civility of the majority seems to be discounted. We WANT to hear from you on the issues of the day.

    Just my $0.05 ($0.02 US after bank conversion and exchange rates).

    respectfully
    BJ

  42. In reply to Psycho milt…

    First, what evidence do you have to suggest the Iranian government considers us “the enemy”? Our relations are actually pretty cordial.

    I think its simplistic to write off Iran as ‘totalitarian’ – it has a sort of loose theocratic base, but the government is a sort of authoritarian quasi-democracy with elected and appointed elements including an elected parliament, and several upper houses – some a mix of indirectly elected members and appointed ones. Elections do seem to have some effect, although certainly not enough to call the place a democracy. There’s a significant level of political debate in Iran – I would be surprised if this comes to much in terms of changing society, but I wouldn’t write it off entirely.

    By the way, I didn’t even mention the islamic protests (or Keith Locke for that matter), nor did I suggest we pass any more laws to control the press (we have plenty already, but they are based on protecting rich individuals). I was entering the debate over whether the cartoons should have been published, this is entirely seperate from a debate over the merits of the protests against them or the value of Keith Locke’s opinions.

    We don’t have to adopt the George Bush mantra of “you’re either with us or against us” which crudley insists that if you are against “us” you support terrorism, Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein.

  43. psycho milt said:

    “As a teenager long ago, I learned quickly that attributing female behaviour or opinions I didn’t like to hormones that were present inside them in greater quantities than inside me was a bad idea … if I was to put her more annoying features down to Estrogen or “time of the month.? They would in fact quite rightly put this down to personal prejudice on my part.”
    and
    “When I was very young, it used to be that you would only hear the following from men:
    1. Assertions that annoying behaviour or opinions of the opposite sex could be put down to “hormones?.
    2. The belief that men are good at x particular things, and women at y particular things.
    In the present day, so successful has feminism been that it’s comparatively rare now to hear such foolishness from men. On the downside however, we now get to hear it more and more often from women.”

    I reply:

    I agree with much of what you say.

    However, have a good look at the World psycho milt! Is commenting on hormonal differences just “foolish bigotry”?

    We know a lot more about hormones and their affects now than we did “when you were a teenager”. By the way … female primates “have to learn to cope with” the cyclical effects of oestrogen and progesterone, hence some changes in mood. Neither of these hormones comes close to “packing the punch” of testosterone (according to transgender female-to-male converts!)

    Knowledge is power … and humans who know enough about the chemistry of their bodies have the power to monitor their behaviour and ajust it to suit the social situation they are in.

    Both sexes need to be able to do this, and many do it very well.

    eredwen

  44. It seems to be the men falling silent, given my last comment seemed to disappear without trace. I’ll try a different tack:

    When I was very young, it used to be that you would only hear the following from men:
    1. Assertions that annoying behaviour or opinions of the opposite sex could be put down to “hormones”.
    2. The belief that men are good at x particular things, and women at y particular things.
    In the present day, so successful has feminism been that it’s comparatively rare now to hear such foolishness from men. On the downside however, we now get to hear it more and more often from women. I guess I should be happy that foolish bigotry is equal-opportunity these days.

  45. Lightcircle:

    I enjoyed your constructive reply. Thank you!

    I too “really enjoy the majority of everyone’s input – male or female – and have learnt a great deal from the knowledge apparent … ”

    However, as you say, the tone on this blog HAS changed perceptably in recent weeks, despite the number of male contributors who are unfailingly considerate of others in the content and tone of their responses.

    Geting back to the gender thing … If you had avoided the words “we” and “us” that indicated you were female, I would have guessed it anyway.
    Your last paragraph, which not only considers feelings but also soothes potential discomfort/hurt pride, gives you away!

    “Androgynous” behaviour has a very important role in our society. However, in additon, females in general still retain a good dose of the nurturing atributes that were necessary for our species’ survival … just as males in general still retain a good dose of competitive beligerance mixed with the hunter’s “mateship”. I believe that our past inheritance is on display here along with our present adaptations … and we each need to recognise this before any changes can be made.

    eredwen

  46. I’ve now read all three of Chefen’s posts on SH and as a result I’ve changed my view somewhat: the cartoons were not a test of the tolerance of Muslims but a challenge to the tolerance of Europeans, Danes in particular. The quotes below from Chefen’s analysis are what led me to that conclusion, and it was reinforced by Justin Raimondo’s piece, which I’ve also just read. That is, that the publishing and republishing of the cartoons was a calculated propaganda effort aimed at giving tolerant Europeans a reason to hate Islam, given that it could be predicted that they would cause a violent response from the more extreme Muslim groups. If true, it is very clever, very cynical, and very dangerous.

    Excerpts:

    “In a way it is the perfect situation to highlight a problem that no one cares to actually deal with. What in any other case would be a minor sensation for a week, if we remember such things as “piss Christ” for example, that dies away to nothing the reverse happens. It is completely outside the experience of a modern Western nation and people are left wondering what the hell is actually going on. No apologies are accepted, in fact they seem to make matters worse as opportunist Imams and foreign governments use the incident to their advantage. Locals are left wondering if in fact Islam is as batshit crazy as its worst detractors make out.

    “I say it is the perfect situation since it is not incited by a racial killing, burning down a mosque, Iraq, Israel, George W Bush or anything remotely like that. It is purely internal to Denmark and is directed at an important principle of a free society. There can be no question that the response is out of all proportion to the supposed “crime”, it is akin to chopping a hand off for stealing a loaf of bread. Not only are the demands for retribution an insult to a free press they also make a mockery of any concept of the rule of law. It also exposes the virulent strains of Islam for the frauds they are, when terrorists attack soldiers or Americans there are the trusty canards like imperialism. But here are those same ideologies almost verging on acts of violence in a country with no imperialist ambitions and with a source, the cartoons, with no connection to any conceivable larger issue.
    ……

    “Then there is the rest of the “Muslim community”, who are by and large excluded from work because of Europe’s social policies. They’re unemployed, often not well educated. Who do they look to? Not the moderate most often, he’s talking tolerance and cooperation. The Imam is telling them their troubles are the fault of the society they are in, they tell them not to integrate and stay true to Islam. They present them with deliberately false information to feed the resentment. If anyone is supplying the Nazi-like propaganda that Clinton day-dreams of it is these handful of hate-preaching clerics. When the government issues an appeal for tolerance from the general population, how does that look? What the Imam says must be true, if their own government is telling them to be more tolerant towards Muslims. Nevermind that the level of “anti-Islam” hasn’t actually changed because of the cartoons. But it soon will, once some genius acts on the inspiration of his prayer leader and sees the glory attained by suicide bombers and murderers of film-makers. Unlike 9/11 though, no one will be able to imply “they deserved it” with a straight face.?

  47. As a teenager long ago, I learned quickly that attributing female behaviour or opinions I didn’t like to hormones that were present inside them in greater quantities than inside me was a bad idea. In fact, it did nothing more than piss those girls/women off intensely. It’s fair to say I’ve never met a single woman who’d say “Gee, maybe you’re right, I never thought of it that way. Please advise me on how to better regulate my behaviour,” if I was to put her more annoying features down to Estrogen or “time of the month.” They would in fact quite rightly put this down to personal prejudice on my part.

    In the interests of not giving offence, and not underestimating the intelligence of the readership I won’t proceed to draw any conclusions from this personal anecdote.

    S@M – Iran’s a totalitarian theocracy. It’s govt would regard us as the enemy even if we were the wonderful characters we fondly imagine ourselves to be. The fact that European and NZ govts and newspaper editors are fully capable of displaying hypocrisy in regards to free speech doesn’t mean we should cheerfully pass laws ending free speech, does it? Because that’s the demand these boycotts and protests are backing. Does Keith Locke have any proposals on how we should satisfy that demand? Without dismantling important cornerstones of our society, which he strikes me as fully capable of suggesting? If not, he should shut up and let it play out.

  48. Interesting topic you have raised Eredwen and a shame in a way it is buried down the bottom of this thread.

    I’ve noticed too the increasing level of dismissive one-man-upmanship (hmm … pun not intended) in the comments to the blog. Although I have posted to the blog and enjoy doing so I’ve been less inclined to leap into the fray – because it has in places moved from a considered discussion to some kind of – well – digital pissing contest. Seeing as we’re apparently blaming testosterone here.

    A spoken discussion allows for give and take; generally the listeners understand and respond to comments in context. In this blog and others, replies are picked apart and quoted in isolation from the rest of a poster’s comments, analysed, held up for ridicule – in an attempt, I suspect, to make each post appear even more informed, intelligent, swaggering, testosterone-laden, fierce and brave than the last one. And yup, it’s men who participate in this – generally speaking – in my experience – etc.

    Women tend to bow out of the fray early on – why? Well, I think we have a good sense of when to stop wasting our time. The subtle shift from ‘constructive discussion’ to ‘silver backed gorillas fight it out’ is not lost on us.

    Having said that, I really don’t want to make all males who post to this blog feel uncomfortable or annoyed (and that comment definitively proves I’m a woman) – I really enjoy the majority of everyone’s input – male or female – and have learnt a great deal from the knowledge apparent in this loosely defined ‘community’.

    Alison

  49. OK BJ as you have asked, I will make a few comments:

    1. The quote (Smokey’s, not mine, 8 Feb 10:19am) was:
    “Testosterone makes idiots of idealists and extremists alike.?

    But it doesn’t make idiots of all men.

    Testosterone is not a “poison” (your word) but it can be a very difficult hormone to learn to live with in our society. Ask any caregiver of boy(s).
    When young boys get surges of testosterone it is VERY evident from their behaviour. They need help in learning to cope with what is happening to them and in learning to behave in an “acceptable” manner. Many males learn well, others do not. (To an extent this depends on the attitudes and expectations of the family.)

    In some societies “male” behaviour, pretty much undiluted, is valued. In other societies we expect more “androgynous” behaviour from everyone.
    However, in these societies (including Aotearoa/NZ) we provide activities to balance the “nature v nurture” component, where (for example) the hunter/warrior group from our “hunter gatherer” past can let go with their inherited “we/they” (cooperative) aggression. Rugby Football springs to mind as a good example!

    Go to the zoo some time and watch the primate males.

    Above all look at the World and what has happened in the past and and what is happening now. Homo sapiens evolved in extended family hunter gatherer groups. We remain loyal to our small groups but need formal structures to relate to any larger society. Beyond that we get into trouble.

    Footnote:
    (Despite the “bad press” from many males, the real problems in the world ain’t coming from the females’ frequently slated two-hormone cycles and the changes they cause!)

    enjoy!

    eredwen

  50. No I hadn’t seen the aw article. My info came from elsewhere.

    But I feel compelled to quote from Antiwar …
    “The publication of the 12 cartoons, and the reaction on both sides, is a classic case of how propaganda of the crudest sort is utilized to mold mass attitudes and whip up entire populations into a state of hysteria. Hate and fear are created out of thin air by the most skillful means, and stereotypes take the place of reality as the world prepares for war. That’s what this is all about: the hate propaganda emanating from certain quarters in Europe and the U.S. amounts to preparations for war just as much as the manufacture of arms and the mobilization of armies at the border. We are being psychologically prepared for another world war, and the first shots are being fired from the pages of Jyllands-Posten. I have the sinking feeling that they won’t be the last…”

  51. Some years ago the Dominion Post ran a cartoon depicting Satan phoning God to announce that some particular church body (might have been the World Council of Churches) had joined his side. A few days later they issued an unreserved apology without any ‘courageous’ platitudes about freedom of speech. The Auckland Herald cartoonist Malcolm Evans was sacked for drawing cartoons referring to the Israeli state’s oppression of Palestinians on the grounds that his depiction of the Star of David (a symbol used by the Israeli state to represent itself) was offensive to Jews. I find the sudden passion for press freedom by some editors a little hypocritical.

    Nazi publications are banned in much of Europe, do NZ editors feel compelled by their solidarity with fellow journalists to publish offensive caricatures of Jews? I hope not. Crude stereotypes of any religious or ethnic group are essentially dishonest. Freedom of the press doesn’t extend to the right to lie.

    If the context were different, one could consider the publication of such cartoons as stupid, but harmless. But contrary to the views expressed by many commentators on this blog, the islamic experience of the West has not been of a tolerant, pluralistic society that respects freedom, but one of a society that responds to islam with fear, intimidation, oppression and violence.

    Take Iran as just one example. After a couple of centuries of being dominated by Imperial Britain they were invaded and occupied in a joint British/Soviet operation and had the Shah deposed and replaced by a teenager. After reclaiming some independence their Prime Minister was deposed in a Western-backed coup when they threatened to take control of their own oil resources. The west then backed an oppressive and dictatorial regime for the next 30-odd years until it got chucked by a revolution. Iran was then invaded by its neighbour who received financial, diplomatic and military support, culminating in a direct military attack by the US in 1986, despite the invaders use of chemical weapons and willingness to attack international shipping. In 1988 one of its airliners was shot down with hundreds killed and the US naval officer responsible was promoted. Along the way two of its neighbouring countries have been invaded, one by the US, one by the Soviets. When it gives support to groups fighting the occupation of their country its accused of supporting terrorism by the a country that gives massive military backing to the country carrying out the invasion. When it prsues nuclear technology it is threatened by governments that themselves have nuclear weapons sticking out of every second orifice.

    Now all this isn’t to say that the Iranian government is beyond reproach (far from it). But it does explain why Iranians might feel a bit sensitive to the way they, and other muslims, are depicted in the west. If you are under direct threat, your sense of humour and tolerance of abuse tends to be limited.

    Cheers

    S@M

    By the way, I loved Petermck’s comment that “these clowns (extreme muslims) were just amping for a fight” just after saying “The world has put up with too much crap from certain extreme muslims – they need to be put in their place instead of the western world stepping on eggshells – the western world needs to say – go to hell”. Who’s the party pushing for a fight?

  52. Eredwen

    Smokey originally, you then responded above with the following:

    Very well said !
    “Testosterone makes idiots of idealists and extremists alike.?

    Unfortunately even frogblog is not immune and, with noteable exceptions, has in recent times been progressively becoming a “testosterone fest?. I wonder how many of the male contributors to frogblog even notice (or question) when the already few female contributors fall silent.

    As to why you aren’t here (but you so obviously ARE here)… however taking this to mean members who are not subject to the evils of testosterone, as I think you intended I still have to plead ignorance. I don’t know why there are so few females on this board, or why there are so few females on any OTHER board I’ve ever observed. I suspect the subject matter doesn’t interest women as much in general but I have no way to test that theory.

    “equal” was used to respond to what I felt was a criticism that something we men were doing here was not fair to women. Why DO you fall silent? I don’t know, but to ask me if I ask myself implies that there is something I have done that is somehow wrong or offensive. I am an equal opportunity offender… gender doesn’t come into it, but attitude may well do.

    Since I can’t see any reason for your silence, and you aren’t TELLING me what is wrong, I have to assume that there is some other cue I am supposed to be picking up and missing. I am used to that happening and your reaction reflects the same sort of expression of frustration as I get from my wife when I miss one of her non-verbal cues… absent of course, the kick in the shins under the table.

    This unanswerable unavoidable question asked by every male ever born on the planet (maybe not the homosexual males, they may not be interested or may already know the answer ) – the question – “What do women want?”

    I look at the posts and I get nothing… except perhaps a desire that we all shut-up? This is a blog and a board. It’s purpose is discussion and debate, not silence. This hasn’t been a really productive debate, we all seem to agree, but that happens sometimes.

    ?

    respectfully
    BJ

  53. Reading through these comments, and treating them as a microcosm of our society’s stand in the orchestrated ‘toons controversy, does not give one a great deal of hope.

    One of the many flaws in tolerant, Western cultures is that that same tolerance is extended to elements and views which are diametrically opposed to those which built and continue to sustain that culture. Once a critical mass (think, demographically) of opposing views is reached, a tipping point is passed, and the host culture switches to that desired by the former minority.

    So the real question in all of this is: given even a caricatured or stereotyped view of the two alternatives on clear display here, which one do we want?

    The one which allows freedom even to the point of tasteless and offensive images (Piss Christ springs to mind, for some reason), and encourages individuals to find their own way to enlightenment, however defined?

    Or the one which subjugates individuals to unalterable words dating to 632 AD, oppresses women, disallows music, proscribes art forms, persecutes the ‘errant’ forms such as Sufism which would allow individuals to define their own path, and threatens all comers with gangsta-style responses when challenged?

    It’s not a hard choice for me.

  54. And just a couple more points:

    1) These protest groups are benefitting from the very same Western freedoms that they so bitterly condemn — ie. the fact that they have an outlet with which to express their opinions.

    2) Over hundreds of years in our history, men and women have died for the freedoms we in the West take for granted today. Any attempt to censor or suppress expression is an insult to them, and the values they stood for.

    3) The intellectual content, taste or quality of the cartoons, is not what is in question. The question is one of values — ie. how highly we value the right to freedom of expression and opinion.

  55. If i may just briefly remind people, the 19th article of the Universal Decleration of Human Rights states the following:

    “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”

    I’m sure we are all intelligent enough to draw our own conclusions.

  56. 24 hours since my last post …

    Smokey: Very well said again!
    Tom and Husky Nut: Thank you for your comments.

    BJ: I suggest you check this with a woman you trust:
    “There is nothing stopping you from posting.” Then, why aren’t we here ?
    “Nothing stopping you from arguing here on a perfectly equal basis.”
    Why use the word “equal” in this context ?
    “We don’t get the non-verbal cues, the body-language or the hints.”
    A VERY interesting comment. Could you elaborate?
    “Saying we are poisoned with testosterone isn’t adding much to the debate.” Where was that said and if so, by whom ?

    eredwen

  57. Just a few remarks about the cartoons :

    I don’t think they qualify as satire. Satire is when the writer/artist lampoons elements within their own society. It’s risky because there is always the danger of reprisal, if the target doesn’t find it funny. If there is no risk, there is no satire : e.g. “funny” cartoons of homeless people or the mentally ill don’t cut it.

    Likewise if the “satirist” lampoons elements external to their society (the cartoons were not aimed at Danish moslems, but at Moslems in general). If Danes (or we fellow westerners) find them funny, but Moslems don’t, then that’s a pretty patent demonstration that they are pandering to/encouraging xenophobia.

    But that’s merely a demonstration that the cartoons are tasteless. Is there a case for banning them?

    Depends on what you ban. Personally I think not, your mileage may vary.

    What about cartoons of Jesus sodomizing children, as commentary on paedophilia in the priesthood? Should that be banned? No. But who would publish them? (except a student rag) — such a publication would win you powerful enemies.

    So, should the cartoons have been published? Depends on who publishes. It was a right-wing Danish paper. Not hard-right in local terms, but there’s a strong streak of xenophobia in Denmark these days which is close to the mainstream. A right-wing paper in France would not have dared to commission and publish such cartoons, because of the huge public outcry it would have provoked, and not only from Moslems.

  58. Yeah, well.

    Somewhere in Danish-land, an editor published a cartoon he thought was funny. I’m willing to believe he was genuine in thinking this, acting in ignorance rather than malice.

    Someone (or in fact rather a lot of someones) then pointed out that this cartoon was offensive, not because it was a caricature of something already in print (ie some existing image was altered to make it offensive whereas previously it was not), but that the subject matter itself was offensive to quite a lot of people.

    So then the newspaper editors across the world decide that reprinting the cartoon would be fun, knowing it to be offensive, and thus with the explicit purpose to cause further offense.

    That’s not what I call responsible journalism. There is a difference between reporting the truth, and making the news by deliberately acting to cause offense, and some people (or rather a lot of some peoples) evidently have difficulty telling the two apart.

  59. Heh-heh -there’s a reason why women aren’t included in protests in Moslem countries, Smokey, and it’s not because they have more sense! It’s still Kinder, Kirche, Kueche for them.

    NB: I always assume comments about “men” include me, as I am one…

  60. Protests on the streets of Damascus are hardly spontaneous in a totalitarian one party state, where the newspapers and broadcast media are run by the state to glorify the 35 year old Assad dynasty personality cult, and demonise anyone that threatens that.

    Protests don’t happen in Damascus without full state endorsement – the government there is far too draconian to allow any semblance of free speech – the protests help to turn anger about a stagnant economy and simmering discontent at the Alawi tribe running a predominantly Arab state. Bashar Assad has now reunited Arabs once more against an external enemy – good old fashioned Orwellian.

  61. When Paul Holmes was dragged over the coals for calling Kofi Annan a “very cheeky darky” nobody railed against our press for quoting the racial epithet.

  62. Oh p_m….sigh…..I was merely pointing out that the situation as it develops is being played out according to masculine stereotypes. It was at heart a simple dig at the patriarchal nature of Islam and the mainstream media. For as my girlfriend pointed out, there seem to be no women protesting on the streets of Damascus, nor dominating the Editorials at the rags in question…

    Perhaps not taking things so personally would result in raising the standard of debate?

  63. Oh free press, now that is something hard to come by!
    I believe that it is just a stir to make the govt look stupid by the corporate owned media agenda. And the reason this sucks is cause their point of view is the only one constantly reinforced with their monopoly of “news”.
    You don’t have to look around much or very far to see the effects of the perversion of monopolistic corporate media on other democracies and their societies-or here just switch on the t.v., open a paper etc for a dose of soul deadening miserableness.

    The reason it is an attack is because the media consistently, in a uniformly way, shapes the everyday opinions of people. If we really did have a “free independent press” it woudn’t matter cause most people would know, laugh it of or not feel threatened by it, cause they would know all it really was, is just another opinion.
    But it was part of a PROPAGANDA network, so that’s not the case. For example, when i tell an elderly relative some view points and reasons not given coverage in the media, or there are conflicting ideas, the response is “she doesn’t know what to believe”. This is the essence of the swindle, the corporate right has for their point of view( or lust for power).

  64. Huskynut – As a general rule I simply let the religious folk do their thing and keep out of the way… I don’t go out of my way to create trouble cause courtesy and politeness are the oil on the gears of civilization.

    They do make several demands though – we can’t have a depiction of someone of whom there is no photo or picture in any case. How would we know? I can’t recognize “Mohammed” in those cartoons any more than I could recognize Jesus based on the pictures available…. cause there aren’t any. It is all symbolic?! It is also so STUPID I can barely tolerate the thought of it.

    The thing they do demand that irks me though, is that we abandon our sense of humour. Poking fun at everything is the great human de-fuser of tension, but if someone takes themselves too seriously they can take offense rather than laughing with the rest of us. If someone wants to laugh at me or my belief’s and I can’t find it in me to laugh as well, I have taken myself too seriously for there is no one among us who is not, in the end, ridiculous in some way.

    I am annoyed that they lump the holocaust , which is quite well documented, with religious beliefs that have far less basis. Inaccuracy like that is always annoying… but I am not about to even bother sending an angry letter . Not worth it, and better to simply go back to work and go about my business and let them play.

    Eredwen – There is nothing stopping you from posting. Nothing stopping you from arguing here on a perfectly equal basis, whatever your point of view is. I’d love to hear what you want to say, but you actually have to SAY it here. We don’t get the non-verbal cues, the body-language or the hints. Saying we are poisoned with testosterone isn’t adding much to the debate, Not that there IS much actual debate here. We are agreeing violently.

    respectfully
    BJ

  65. Archon-OK, I am indignant about firebombings and embassy stormings. These things are stupid. And yes, freedom of speech does encompass the “strong” saying what they like about the “weak” too. My point is that it does not take much courage to do so.. The people who printed these cartoons see themselves as courageous defenders of the free press. Defenders of the free press? Maybe. Courageous? Nope.

  66. Eredwen – I’m sorry not to hear the views of the quieter (for I don’t believe it’s purely a gender thing) members who fall silent when the debate gets steamy. But actually I don’t think it’s that different to most political discussion, and I doubt very much that it’s likely to change very much, so I hope the quiet ones will put their views forward. The particularly difficult thing about electronic media is that without any visual or verbal cues it’s hard to tell that people are having an animated though basically friendly discussion and not a fight. (and I think it’s actually adrenaline rather than testosterone that causes the problem, and women are fully capable of it 😉

    BJ – frankly, on a personal level, I totally agree with you. I suspect we see the world pretty much the same, and if religious groups want to tell me how to live, I get pretty steamed.
    But the fact is that Islamic groups have made remarkeably few demands of us, and not ridiculing what they regard as sacred is not something that I see as an even a minor imposition. Rather, it’s a very basic and simple courtesy, but evidently one we’re incapable of respecting, and in fact seem compelled to disrespect.
    At a personal level, you’re perfectly free to eat what you want, keep your hair as you want, think as you want. You could argue that extends to being as offensive as you want, but that’s the danger of arguing in the abstract extremes. What the West seems to want is the right to behave as they wish without consequences they don’t like.
    Actually I just discovered Juan Cole said a lot of it already better than me:
    http://www.blogger.com/email-post.g?blogID=3463907&postID=113913201182217972

  67. Eredwen

    yes, you’re not the only one who has noticed the comments pages getting progressively dumber and angrier! The articles in the blog are still great, but the interesting commenters seem to be gone…

    Lately I’ve adopted the “first 5 contributors” test, to decide whether to read on. If any of these begin with “Keith Locke is a pinko communist/flaming idiot”, or with someone calling someone else a hypocrite, or with a belligerent question (“why should I blah blah blah when he gets to blah blah blah?”), then read on no more…

    Ditto for those thundering assertions along the lines of “the nanny state has no right to interfere with the beautiful workings of the free market”. Although at least these commenters are upfront about what they believe in.

    Oh well

  68. “Freedom of speech is an institution designed to allow the weak in society to express their opionions about the strong without fear of reprisals.”

    It’s also designed to allow the strong to say what they like about the weak. The same law that allows me to say that the National Front are a bunch of Morons should allow them to say the same about me. We shouldn’t have to get out our bank account statements or census results to see whom free speech should protect. It should protect everyone equally.

    In your post you point out that Muslims in general have been treated badly “caricatured, abused on the street, firebombed, sent threatening pork-laden letters, put on no-fly lists, hassled at customs etc”. My guess is that you disagree with this because all Muslims have been tarred with the same brush because of a few Muslim terrorists. I await your same indignant response to groups of Muslims tarring “the West” (via fire-bombing embassies, violence, trade sanctions) with the same Brush because of the actions of a few editors.

  69. Freedom of speech is an institution designed to allow the weak in society to express their opionions about the strong without fear of reprisals. Muslims have been caricatured, abused on the street, firebombed, sent threatening pork-laden letters, put on no-fly lists, hassled at customs, and generally made to eat sh** for the past five years. Are we expected to applaud the courageous decision of editors who have decided to pick on an already marginalised minority and kick people while they are down? Please.
    I am in favour of courageous journalism that speaks truth to power and challenges the status quo. This is not it.

  70. Smokey,

    Very well said !
    “Testosterone makes idiots of idealists and extremists alike.”

    Unfortunately even frogblog is not immune and, with noteable exceptions, has in recent times been progressively becoming a “testosterone fest”. I wonder how many of the male contributors to frogblog even notice (or question) when the already few female contributors fall silent.

    Likewise the (particularly)Muslim men in the current fracas.

    eredwen

  71. Huskynut – I don’t agree this time. Not on this one. The religion people believe in may well determine their reaction to things like this, but if people are going to learn to live together there is no room for absolutism. This is not JUST a problem with Islam, it is a problem that any liberal, free and permissive society has with those who choose to read only one book, regarding it as infallible.

    Does that free, liberal, permissive democratic society necessarily entail the problems you cite? I don’t think so. I don’t think the Swedes or the Danes are particularly subject to those problems… nor are Islamic states immune to them.

    As for the demise of spirituality…. I can’t even agree that this is missing , but being unable to identify what you really think it is , it is hard for me to know. I get a real rush out of the view of Wellington Harbour appearing as I drop down through the gorge. I don’t need RELIGION to feel good about the world and the people around me… so what is missing?

    My beef here is that people have taken themselves too seriously. A LOT of people, and there is a particular problem with Islam in this regard. If I am not a muslim I am NOT going to be bound by their restrictions. It is quite unreasonable for me to be bound by other people’s beliefs. There are a HUGE number of religions out there. Shall I avoid eating Beef on religious grounds? Pork? Shellfish? Milk with Bread? Not shave my beard? … and those are just a few. Run down through the “thou shalt” and “thou shalt not” lists of all those religions and it’d be difficult to live as a vegetarian recluse in a cave somewhere.

    Respecting all religions equally is impossible so respecting ANY is foolish, and any religion that demands special treatment , as many do and Islam is doing in this instance, is going to raise hell.

    Who is the victim of a blasphemous statement? Inquiring minds want to know.

    respectfully
    BJ

  72. While we are busy painting the media as provocative and Muslim extremists as irrational, we should also be very aware that this is an argument that has been largely started, sustained and escalated by men.

    Testosterone makes idiots of idealists and extremists alike.

  73. Just because we’re accustomed to operating with clear separation between church and society, does mean everyone does or is obliged to. In Islamic society the two are deeply intertwined, and a blasphemous attack is likely to be felt as a cultural attack as well. So the act of publishing the cartoons (despite the utter nonsense of ‘protecting freedom of speech’ – is western freedom of speech realistically under greater threat from the effort of respecting Muslim sensibilities, or from the ever-more-intrusive monitoring of communications and growing police-state torture in the West?) is deeply provocative (and it’s not like there’s been any shortage of preceding provocation..)
    For all the talk of ‘respect’, there’s a snide arrogance running through this thread about the role of religion in society. Well I’m not religious, but I’m willing to admit that for all the advantages of our secular corporatist democracy (for let’s not pretend that anyone gets to signup to ‘democracy’ without taking the full package inc free trade etc etc): nominally representative democracy; individual freedom of speech, action and thought; equal gender roles; and economic growth, there’s the also downsides: rampant consumerism, unhappiness, isolation, increasing concentration of power and wealth in the hands of a few, and the demise of spirituality from any meaningful place in society.

    Muslims have a culture organised and underpinned by religion and I’d assert that very few people in NZ have sufficient depth of understanding of the pros and cons of that culture to offer an accurate comparative assessment against our own.
    This is just a part of the ongoing culture-war, in which the West is seeking to assimilate the Islamic world and turn it into a nice little clone of itself (perhaps we’ll let them keep the nice headscarves). The extreme reactions make a helluva lot more sense if you look at them in that sort of context.

  74. To me, the issue in NZ has very little to do with freedom of speach and lots to due with knee jerk lazy journalism. An analysis of the Iranian & Saudi governments’ role behind this storm would be much more instructive but the ignorance displayed in this debate about Muslims, Islam and great disparate swathes of humanity is really quite distressing. Piles of ignorance upon ignorance. I thought we were supposed to be the enlightened ones, remember.

    By the way, are the Saudi’s still proping up the Bush family empire?

  75. I think Keith was a bit off, the PM is in a hard spot, we as a Nation don’t need to make enemies of anyone and the Islamic community needs to consider the fact that in most Western Democracies, the press isn’t controlled by or censored by the state.

    Keith needs to understand that this isn’t about being “sensitive”.

    I refuse to be “sensitive” to the degree of bending because someone else believes I shouldn’t draw pictures of X or say Y or wear Z. I will not be bound… and no free society can allow itself to be so bound without abandoning freedom. What will be the next demand?

    As for an image of Jesus making it with a goat =shrug= I should care?

    Those who know me best, know that these things are unimportant to me. Global Warming is important. This is just stupid.

    Very human, VERY stupid.

    respectfully
    BJ

  76. Those who think the cartoons were published solely to offend, or because the editor was stupid, should read this post from beginning to end. It’s at Sir Humphreys, but check your prejudice at the door and read it.

  77. Those who call publishing the cartoons some stunt, are way off base.

    It’s about not allowing nations to be intimidated, if they have freedom of speech. It’s about solidarity – collective security from such intimidation. That’s why other European nations published. That’s why our newspapers published

    Religious groups have no right to demand censorship, as the price for peaceful co-existence.

    It’s interesting that the UK and US media did not publish – this shows they have no common cause in defending our freedoms, but in asserting the inclusion of energy rich areas of the world within the global market. Also a sign that they support established religion and it’s use to manage peoples of the global market.

    Our government, in puting trade with that terrorist supporting dictatorship in Iran first, has shamed us. I no longer have any common cause with them.

  78. If the Greens don’t show some sign of defending free speech I will not vote Green in 2008.

    There’s more than a physical environment heritage to defend.

    Sorry Frog, but your starter has me looking for another party – one that can support BOTH.

  79. The handwringing whimpering gutlessness of the PM and now Keith Locke is utterly sickening. It is OUR fault that some Muslims call for, by implication, my beheading and the mass murder of any of us who happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time – that is what has happened.

    Keith is wrong. There is NOT a need for individuals (rather than the state) to respect all religions. Religion is the worshipping of a ghost, relying on faith over evidence, feeling rather than reason – it is source of enormous amounts of bigotry, and remains a justification for violence. Islam and Christianity are both overflowing with violence in the Bible and Koran, and by those who perpetrate it. Religion needs to be criticised, in fact it is our fundamental right to be critical of it and to laugh at it – just like we are critical of politicians and can laugh at them.

    Societies that hold any religions or politicians to be so sacred they cannot be the source of satire are sad indeed – and of course, the Muslim world happily portrays Jews as Nazis – a good example of “do as we say” not “do as we do”.

    Islam and many of the states that are predominantly Islamic (with the exception of Turkey) are largely where Christianity and Europe were in the middle ages – it needs to grow up and accept criticism and debate. It would help if those countries allowed others to own newspapers, tv and radio stations, and didn’t suppress censor them.

    Yes, one should not go around purposely trying to insult and inflame people because of their beliefs as it is childish. However, anyone anywhere who resorts to violence to respond to an insult on something they believe in is severely unhinged – think how many people in Iran have been arrested and tortured for insulting religion – but that’s ok, as long as New Zealand can sell butter to them!

  80. If the cartoons had been published 10 years ago, then the international reaction would not have been as extreme. Therefore, something has changed.

    If such a reaction can be sparked by the stupidity of a newspaper, then what hope do we have for the future? The action should be seen for what it was, and any action limited to boycotts of that newspaper alone, or even robust letters to the editor. This shows our world has become too polarised. In a world this polarised, actions are given more meaning than they deserve, and can be seen as an affront on one mass of people from a collective other, when it is clearly not the case. Proportion is lost.

    The only constructive thing we can do is to look at how we (being ‘the collective west’) have contributed to the deteriorating relationship. There is no point in whinging about Islam over-reacting, even when it is clearly what some within it have done.

    Some self righteous souls believe we have not contributed at all, some commentators jump to point out how Christians don’t react in such a way, and some idiots use this as ‘proof’ multiculturalism has failed, yet only few- such as Keith- attempt to look for constructive answers.

  81. I wonder how many Christians would react if a cartoon of Jesus fucking Mary Magdalene (which historical evidence indicates he is very likely to have done) were published.

    As someone who is neither Christian nor Muslim, and abhors the fundamentalist and violent tendencies within both religions, I cannot see how “free speech” justifies a deliberate intent to offend the followers of any prophet of any religion.

    As far as I can see, the publication of the cartoons was of no legitimate literary or journalistic merit – they were published simply to offend and provoke a reaction.

    Serious suspicions here – offend against Islam, provoke a violent reaction – could be percieved as justification for the next Crusade that George Dubya announced after 9/11, but then rapidly backed down from the terminology when someone gave him a history lesson re what the Crusades were really about.

  82. Am I the only one who found the DP and ChCh Press excercise totally childish and attention seeking. Now if they had run an expose on Iranian electoral corruption I would defend them to the hilt but this was just a piece of cheap sensationalist crap dressed up as “freedom of speach”.

    Get some real journalists to do some real investigative work for crying out loud.

  83. I thought Helen Clark’s response was pretty stupid, until I read Keith Locke’s.

    For the PM’s information, the people threatening my safety over here are the ones who’d beat or kill someone for sharing the nationality of someone that published a cartoon they didn’t like, not a newspaper editor.

    For Keith Locke’s information, if he wants to see excessive police attention and immigration checks, he should try living in the Middle East. And you know what? I’d rather have someone mock me for wearing Western clothes than beat me up because of a cartoon, you ignorant, stupid man.

  84. I wouldn’t call the PM’s response prompt, seeing how her comment came out a day and half after the DomPost. It’s bit like saying Jesus was dead for three days and three nights, from Friday afternoon til Sunday morning.

    Everything is sacred, therefore nothing is sacred.

  85. So if I understand it correctly, we should not be publishing, or possibly doing anything, that would offend some group somewhere, sometime. Not just Muslims, but anyone……. Our ability to use our right of free speech is curtailed because someone else’s right not to be offended has precedence?

    Well if nothing else, at least most modern art won’t be created then. Most of it seems to exist solely to offend someone.

    I’m glad that those cartoons were published in various formats, it gave me a chance to see what all the fuss was about. I guess I’m a very shallow and/or thick-skinned individual because there is nothing I hold dear that would be offended to such a degree by such a poor collection of cartoons. Russell Brown likened it to a cartoon of Jesus as a kiddy-fiddler, but I think that’s upping the ante a fair bit. Certainly worse than having Jesus standing there with a bomb fuse sticking out of his hair.

    I’m still glad these cartoons were published. Offensive yes, but so what. This is part of what it means to live in a world that does have some free speech in it. If you don’t like it, come up with a better arguement, or turn the page.

  86. well I have listeneed with amusement keith’s intellect over the years – certainly he does not do the greens any favours. His very stupid and outragous comment last year being “the circket tour to Zimbabwe is much much worse than sex tours” being just one of many examples of his stupidity with blinkers. The world has put up with too much crap from certain extreme muslims – they need to be put in their place instead of the western world stepping on eggshells – the western world needs to say – go to hell.

    the thing is will keith object when Iran publishes cartoons on the Holocaust (as they have promised to do. –

    these clowns (extreme muslims) were just amping for a fight – really they are just pathetic – they need to get a life (much like your member keith locke)

  87. Petermck, please take off your blinkers, in your warped view of the Greens so long as Keith Locke is involved we are always going to be the guilty party.

  88. imho keith locke has had the most sense to say on this subject…mainly by giving it some context…

    his straw breaking the camels’ back analogy is right on the money…

    and it is all down to a matter of respect of others fervently held beliefs..

    and to deliberately publish material just for the sake of publishing it…and not considering the context that material sits in..and knowing it would cause offence..is basically..offensive…

    especially when that prohibition of depictions of the prophet is such an integral part of muslim beliefs….

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

  89. Keith locke proves the point that he is a complete flake – and a very stupid one at that – in his warped view of the word, so long as USA is involved they are always going to be the guilty party. I find everything (yes everything) that Keith says is stupid and intolerant –

    Keith Take off your blinkers.

    Please please make him your co-leader – I want nothing more – then he will be exposed for the clown he is and then the greens will fail at the next election.

  90. Corporate media kills, it sucks, it’s propaganda for corporate ownership.
    Our corporate media(papers, radio, tv. mainstream intrnet providers etc) are the flag bearers of dysfunction and prejudice……it’s just degrading to society i think……envy, greed, division, buy buy buy

  91. I practice disrespect for all religions in proportion to the fervor of the believers… quietly.

    No sense stirring up religious wars.

    Which begs the question, how many papers did this publisher’s stirring sell.

    However, people should not take themselves and their “beliefs” this seriously,

    respectfully
    BJ

  92. The exclusive brethren smeared the greens anonymously and made a number of statements that were flat out wrong. You want respect? Show respect.

  93. “The basic issue is the need to show respect for all religions in New Zealand, in both word and deed.?

    Unless they are Exclusive Brethren of course. Hypocrite.

  94. It’s interesting to note that the same paper that initially published the cartoon has actually rejected a cartoon of Jesus because it was “offensive to readers and were not funny”…

    http://media.guardian.co.uk/site/story/0,,1703500,00.html

    So much for all that talk about how Christianity comes under fire as well..
    There are much better ways of expressing our core value of press freedom. That said, I reckon there are also much more important things for Muslims to get angry about… but maybe it’s the straw that broke the camel’s back for some people..

  95. If there is any human characteristic that by its absence could more greatly improve our odds of survival than religion, I do not know what it is.

    respectfully BJ

    “Blasphemy is a victimless crime”

  96. Sorry

    But I believe you are 100% wrong on this issue – just the fact that Muslims have reacted in the manner they have seems to me that the cartoons are spot on.

    I didn’t hear or see Keith protesting against the Virgin Mary in a condom. I also didn’t see any Catholics/Christians protesting against it threating to blow people up or cut of their heads.

  97. Why are we wringing our hands over this? Are Muslims the one group in this world that we cannot take the piss out of with some pretty lame cartoons. Is there some special clause giving specific ethnic groups specific rights? Check out the Baby Jesus butt-plug at Kete-Were and then tell me that our Islamic friends have a special status.

    They don’t like them? Then boo hoo! That’s their right. Our right is to print and view anything that does not actively promote hate. Rights sometimes need to be exercised, and I’m glad that this one was in this case. I don’t want to live in a country where rights aren’t used because it will offend trade partners. As a party we go on about Tibet which pisses off the Chinese government no end. This is really no different.

    Some Muslims are behaving like medieval Christians at a witch-burning. Maybe this will help them to accept a slightly wider view.

    And if not, too bad.

  98. We know that a fair whack of the country supports the NZ re-publication (at the very least a sizeable minority) – have we any sign of any NZ politician having the courage to support this decision?

    I wonder which Keith considers more offensive to the prophet Muhammad: people who depict him as a violent man, or the Islamic extremists who act as though he is one?

    The millions around the world who want jihad against the Danish people, and the rest of the West, finding support for their actions in the words (Koran) and deeds (Hadith) of the prophet surely cause graver offence to a man of peace than those in the West who depict their actions as defiling his legacy – their actions turning a man of peace into a terrorist.

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