COPENHAGEN/LONDON (Reuters) - Many European newspapers republished cartoons from the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo to protest against killings by Islamist militants seen as an attack on freedom of expression and the continent's tradition of visual satire.Some editors and cartoonists explicitly acknowledged that fear drove the decision not to republish any of the cartoons:
But most front pages expressed solidarity with the 12 people, journalists and police, killed in Wednesday's attack by publishing their own cartoons and editorials that veered away from Charlie Hebdo's more provocative sketches mocking Islam.
The front page of Austria’s Salzburger Nachrichten showed a cartoon which consists of a black space with ink and a fountain pen in one corner and this hand-written message:Look, I get it: republishing Charlie Hebdo cartoons about Islam can be dangerous. But the people at Charlie Hebdo knew what they were doing carried risk and did it anyway because that's what they do: they mock religions, institutions and pretty much anything else that catches their eye. (And they plan to keep doing it.) They got attacked because they were alone, just as Jyllands Posten, a Danish newspaper, was alone a few years ago when it published a number of cartoons mocking Islam, including one depicting Mohammed with a bomb in his turban. Jyllands Posten's staff remains under police protection for that "offense," and the paper chose not to republish any Charlie cartoons. If all newspapers -- or even most -- republished the cartoons and quit treating Islam like a delicate flower that can't be criticized, none of them would be alone. There really is safety in numbers, you know. But as long as Islamists believe they can make the media cower in fear and refuse to criticize Islam and Islamists, they will continue to attack -- literally -- anyone brave enough to do so. Almost no newspapers in this country appear to be that brave. The Washington Post published one of the cartoons on today's op-ed page, but won't be publishing any in the news pages. Most other major publications have either not published or cropped out or pixilated the "offensive" portion of the cartoon, as in this picture that appeared in the New York Daily News:
"As a caricaturist I have been of the opinion up to now that there was no topic that cannot be drawn. I have to admit that the tragic incident which took place in Paris yesterday taught me otherwise."
Wait, you blotted out Mohammed but left a caricature of a hook-nosed Jew? Really? Wow. Maybe they'll kill you last.
While it is foolish and shortsighted to let fear drive decisions, this isn't about bravery, really. It's about standing for principle. Free speech is worthless if there are topics that can't be discussed or criticized. That is doubly true if those topics can be designated by the would-be targets of the prospective criticism, and the ban on criticism enforced at the point of a gun. Still think you have free speech under those circumstances? Sure -- you're free to discuss anything you want to, unless someone willing to kill you tells you not to. If you knuckle under to those threats, you don't have free speech. And that's only the first right you'll give up. You can either grow a pair or, like the Daily News, hope they kill you last.
Well, anything worth having is worth taking some risks to keep. While the security budget here at Eff You is low (have you seen the price of ammunition lately?), we shall fear no evil. While I blog anonymously in theory, in practice anyone with any knowledge of the internet could find out my identity in about 45 seconds. In The pixelated Daily News republication, Mohammed is saying "Must not mock." 'Fraid I can't do that. The Daily News acted out of fear. I'm not, so now I'll show you the cartoon the Daily News wouldn't. And I have two things to say to any Islamists who see this and are murderously offended: 1) Please send no more than eight jihadis at a time, so I won't have to reload, and b) refer to the title of the blog -- Eff You:
Hat tip to Hot Air.