It can, and must, be fixed

Abhishek Phadnis reams the publishers and media outlets who refused to publish the Jesus and Mo cartoon that Maajid tweeted (and who talked as if they were occupying the moral high ground in the process, which made it all the more disgusting).

The media’s refusal to show the cartoon has elevated this ancient superstition into a masochistic national fetish, emboldening professional victims and censorious grievance-peddlers at the expense of inoffensive satirists. It has robbed the cartoonist of the presumption of innocence, by feeding insidiously into the notion among the uninitiated that the cartoon really must be beyond the pale if no outlet will show it. As Flemming Rose, the publisher of the Danish cartoons, lamented to Jytte Klausen, “once people see them, they see that they are not as bad as their reputation would indicate”.

Those of us who have followed the news media’s refusal to show any illustration of Mohammed over the past decade will recall being fobbed off with soothing explanations that the climate is unsuitable, the editorial justification not strong enoughor the content too crude, to publish the images in question. Nine years after the Danish cartoons affair, the Goldilocks moment of this piece is upon us – an utterly innocuous depiction of Mohammed is at the heart of a major news story, at a time when the right to depict it is in question and a nascent school of Islamic thought is defying crude reactionary opposition in urging the media to show the cartoon. If they won’t show it now, they never will.

The Islamist propensity for violent offendedness is the national equivalent of a child’s tantrum in the cereal aisle, not an insuperable law of physics for which every allowance must always be made. It can, and must, be fixed, and if the media won’t support those undertaking this thankless task, the least it can do is admit it’s scared, and stop getting in the way.

Beautifully said.


  1. jagwired says

    It almost seems like the news media is intentionally spreading Islamophobia. Why would they want to do that?

  2. quixote says

    “the media … can … admit it’s scared”

    That’s the real issue. The problem with violent offendedness is the offendees may decide to firebomb your studio. So project highminded respectfulness and protect your real estate. Win-win!

    If it was all pure highmindedness, they’d be respectful to every offended group, right?

  3. ezraresnick says

    Some people are offended by the sight of a woman’s uncovered hair. Or uncovered face. I wonder if Channel 4 News will begin blacking out all female faces on its programs, too? (Maybe I shouldn’t give them any ideas.)

    I’ve written more about this here.

  4. rnilsson says

    @2, quixote: There is precedence, from France certainly. Wasn’t that the Chained Duck? A periodical got firebombed by some people upset for similar reasons to this frankly harmless t-shirt. IIRC.

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