A Few Questions For The New York Times About Depictions of Muhammad

In the wake of the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris, some media outlets have published pictures of the cartoons that were terrorists' purported justification for slaughter. Some have not. Some have steered a bizarre middle course and shown people holding blurred cartoons.

The New York Times has elected not to publish the cartoons depicting Muhammad. The Times' public editor explained the decision as follows:

Mr. Baquet told me that he started out the day Wednesday convinced that The Times should publish the images, both because of their newsworthiness and out of a sense of solidarity with the slain journalists and the right of free expression.

He said he had spent “about half of my day” on the question, seeking out the views of senior editors and reaching out to reporters and editors in some of The Times’s international bureaus. They told him they would not feel endangered if The Times reproduced the images, he told me, but he remained concerned about staff safety.

“I sought out a lot of views, and I changed my mind twice,” he said. “It had to be my decision alone.”

Ultimately, he decided against it, he said, because he had to consider foremost the sensibilities of Times readers, especially its Muslim readers. To many of them, he said, depictions of the prophet Muhammad are sacrilegious; those that are meant to mock even more so. “We have a standard that is long held and that serves us well: that there is a line between gratuitous insult and satire. Most of these are gratuitous insult.”

“At what point does news value override our standards?” Mr. Baquet asked. “You would have to show the most incendiary images” from the newspaper; and that was something he deemed unacceptable.

I have questions for the Times in light of this policy.

1. Does the Times maintain a list of gratuitously offensive types of expression, and act based on that list, or does it address items on a case-by-case basis? If there is a list, is it public?

2. How big does a group have to be for the Times to accept its assertion that particular expression is offensive?

3. What percentage of a group must view expression as offensive for you to refrain from that expression? In other words, what portion of Muslims must find depictions of Muhammad to be gratuitously offensive for you to refrain from that expression?

4. Do you consider the degree of offense within a particular group? How do you measure that degree?

5. If there is dissent within a social or religious community about whether something is gratuitously offensive, how do you decide which faction to listen to?

6. Do you consider whether claims to offense may be politically motivated? For instance, if some American group (say, religious conservatives) asserted loudly that use of terms like "Happy Holidays" was gratuitously offensive, would you accept that, or would you ignore it on the basis that it was part of a "culture war?" If Americans claimed that the Flying Spaghetti Monster is gratuitously offensive because it is calculated to mock religion, how would you evaluate that claim?

7. Do you consider the recency of claims of gratuitous offense? If the claims arise relatively recently — when in the past the conduct was tolerated or did not occasion great statements of offense?

8. Does it make any difference to your decision that a particular group will react to what it sees as "gratuitous offense" with violence? Follow-up: if you do consider that, do you evaluate whether responding to threatened violence by not publishing something may encourage more threatened violence?

9. Has the New York Times ever decided not to run a religious image other than Muhammad on the theory that it would be sacrilegious or gratuitously offensive? Which one?

10. The Times has previously run anti-Semitic cartoons when they are in the news, "Piss Christ," pictures of a painting of the Virgin Mary smeared with dung, and pictures of Westboro Baptist protesters in vivid anti-gay shirts. Is it the Times' position that those decisions can be reconciled with this one, or is this a change in policy? If it is a change in policy, is it intended as an institutional one, or one that just remains during the tenure of a particular editor?

11. Please consider the cover of the new post-massacre Charlie Hebdo:

hebdo

Is this picture, leaving offense aside, newsworthy? If so, will you weigh that newsworthiness against the offense you believe it will give, or apply a categorical ban? Do you believe that words can adequately convey the literal, figurative, and emotive impact? If someone asserts that the picture is offensive not just as a depiction, but as a caricature, can your readers evaluate that claim without looking at the picture?

12. Are there particular staffers at the Times who specialize in evaluating and advising about degrees of offense? How are they trained?

13. Do you have a plan for what to do if a group expands its assertions about what is offensive? For instance, suppose that some Muslims begin to assert — vociferously — that depictions of all those it counts as prophets (including Jesus) are offensive and must be avoided, how would you evaluate that claim?

14. There are, as you know, different groups within Islam. What if a reform group began encouraging depictions of Muhammad as a signifier of reform, asserting that the contrary interpretation is false, and that those who attack depictions are wrong about Islam? How would you decide which faction to avoid offending?

15. Let's say some blogger starts a trend of using this emoticon: @[–<. It is widely understood that the emoticon is meant by its users to depict Muhammad, in an effort to illustrate that bans on depictions are unprincipled and can easily be made ridiculous. Would you run the emoticon? Or would you just describe it? How would you decide? 16. Imagine that a segment of Muslims begins to assert that it is sacrilegious to print Muhammad's name without a ṣalawāt like "pbuh." Are there conditions that would arise that would lead you to do so? What are those conditions? Are violence, or threats of violence, one of them? I'm just asking questions.

Last 5 posts by Ken White

Comments

  1. stillnotking says

    My question, which I sent to them in the form of an LTE, is what previous examples they can furnish of declining to print an image on the grounds of its offensiveness to a particular religious group. Are there any non-Muslim examples? If not — and I'd be willing to bet a lot of money on "not" — why not?

  2. says

    I am completely offended that the Times continues its insensitive streak by publishing the word "santorum" in their ostensible "news" paper. According to Google's site: search, this anger-inducing work appears on no less than eight thousand pages. Are they really so ignorant that they do not know what it means? Or are they just so callous that they not only ignore the pain they are inflicting with each use (death by 8000 cuts) but also ignore even addressing this contentious issue?

    FU NYT. May an endless flood of santorum spill from your office's pipes, water coolers, and coffee makers. Ramen.

  3. Marc Cooper says

    17) Do you see any sort of inconsistency between deliberately avoiding causing offense to people known to respond with violence and referring to critics from whom you do not expect the same as "assholes"?

  4. Marty Cohn says

    Answer to questions 1 – 16: "Anything the Islamists want as long at they don't hurt us. Or at least so they know we are their kuffir friends and kill us last".

  5. CJColucci says

    I support anyone who wants to publish the offending cartoons. I also support anyone who doesn't want to publish the offending cartoons, and I don't much care why they don't, whether they don't publish them because they suck, or because the cartoons would piss off a respectable part of the community for no better reason than to make a point they don't feel the need to make, or because thousands of shareholders with millions at stake don't want to see their investment blown up, or because staff might get killed. I am naturally curious to see them, and I did see them in some venues, but in that respect I am much of the mind of Justice Black, or maybe Brennan, who never actually watched the porno movie involved in any obscenity case because the gory details wouldn't affect his judgment on the question at issue. (FWIW, I would have watched, but only for the same reason I would watch as a civilian rather than a Supreme Court justice.)

  6. says

    I think it's perfectly fine for any publication to decide they will not try to offend their readers. However, I think your most salient point was #10 – why is it OK to offend Christians or Jews? Because they don't resort to violence. What if everyone starts resorting to violence? What does it teach those who prefer silence? I think, like The Interview, you just do what you do and accept whatever consequences come your way because someone will always find offense. Like they say at Popehat, free speech is not consequence-free speech.

  7. L says

    Suppose terrorists murdered 12 people working in the offices of a white power/neo Nazi magazine that specialized in publishing racist and anti-Semitic cartoons. Would your blog have reprinted three of these cartoons to show your commitment to free speech and solidarity with the victims? Would you be surprised if the New York Times declined to reprint any of the cartoons? Would you draft 16 questions for the New York Times to answer in defense of their exercise of editorial discretion? I'm just asking questions.

  8. Nick says

    Outrageous, there should be some kind of rule or law to prevent such irresponsible lack of speech. The NYT is obviously far too irresponsible to enjoy this much freedom in their publishing decisions.

  9. CSHunt says

    Or, Nick, we could, you know, do what we're doing here – mock them for cowardice and hypocrisy. I'm gonna stick with that, over your heavy-handed devotion to opposing free speech. :) Have a nice day.
    Oh, and yeah, L, I'm pretty sure Ken would have. And we would have had the same reaction. See, some of us *understand* free speech and aren't just mouthpieces like … oh, whomever. ;) I'm guessing YOUR dedication to free speech is about as pathetic as Nick's.

  10. CSHunt says

    Of course, the Times has printed anti-semitic images many, many times. But don't let that get in the way of a good rant.

  11. Nancy says

    There was a time when the NYT was willing to take risks because they believed that it was necessary. They were willing to fight city hall and were willing to take cases to the Supreme Court when necessary for journalistic principles. The Sullivan decision and the Pentagon Papers are only two examples of their decision to take risks. This is clearly not the NYT of former days.

    It's sad to see them backing away.

  12. Larry says

    The Times wimps out again. Big surprise.
    There is one other problem I am having with the sites that do publish the cartoons,
    I don't read French. I can sometimes guess what it says, but many times I can't. It is difficult to determine if something is 'offensive' if I don't know what it says.

  13. Vorkon says

    "Twelve posts before someone pulled Godwin. I'm impressed."

    You know who would have invoked Godwin's Law to try to shame their opposition into silence? Hitler.

    That said, in response to the original question, yes, I'm certain he would have. Or at least he would have linked to a location where the image in question could be easily obtained. Popehat has always been very good at linking to the appropriate sources. Being a print publication, unfortunately, the New York Times has no option to provide hyperlinks, and if they are interested in telling the complete story, they need to republish the pertinent information.

  14. says

    So, it's not that they're not printing the cartoons because they're afraid of the enemy, but because they want the enemy's business?

    Doesn't sound like much of an improvement to me.

  15. Fasolt says

    @L: I agree with azteclady and think Ken would. If I had a blog, I would. Here's why.

    If you're a free speech advocate, you can't just support the speech you like. You have to take the good with the bad. In the case of undesirable speech (racist, sexist, etc), you do what should be done. Criticize it, ridicule it, mock it, ignore it, debate it, or whatever. What you don't do is kill people for it. No matter how disgusting, vile, horrifying, misguided, misinformed, or whatever it is, you don't kill people for it. There is no rational justification to kill another human being because they publish cartoon images you don't like. None. They didn't have it coming, as some people have suggested. They didn't deserve what they got, as some people have suggested.

    I for one want to see the imagery that drove some people to kill some other people because that imagery contained a cartoon image of the prophet of their religion. I think the New York Times does their readership a disservice by forcing them to look elsewhere. I also believe their decision to not publish those images is based on selective cowardice. It's easy to go with the crowd, or your own personal beliefs, and publish ostensibly offensive images where the only retaliation the publisher can expect is the offended party canceling their subscription.

    Quote from Margaret Sullivan's article at Ken's link above:

    I found it interesting that at least one outspoken champion of free expression, Glenn Greenwald, questioned the solidarity angle, tweeting: “When did it become true that to defend someone’s free speech rights, one has to publish & even embrace their ideas? That apply in all cases?”

    As he said, no one is asking Dean Baquet, or anyone, to get behind Charlie Hebdo. Just give us the news, whether they're uncomfortable with it or not. The pictures would not be gratuitous. They are the essence of why those people killed other human beings. We all need to see those pictures and they should have published them.

  16. The Real Sarcastro says

    I think the reason people are sympathetic to the "no pictures of Mohammed" thing is that Muslims can claim some ownership of him and his symbols. This sort of thing wouldn't fly if Muslims started demanding a ban on bacon or something.

    This idea would allow for some sort of organic case-by-case line drawing.
    —————-
    A separate point. This decision is not driven by political correctness, or fear of Islam, but by capitalism. It's based on risk analysis and PR. I'm sure there are some things they wouldn't publish to avoid offending Jews of Christians, but the Islamic ambit of offense seems larger.

    In short, the problem lies not in our Times, but in ourselves.

  17. Castaigne says

    @Ken White:

    Honest questions:

    1) Are you "just asking questions" literally, or are you just JAQing off? Yes, there is a difference.

    2) The New York Times is a private newspaper sold to the public by The New York Times Company, which is a publicly traded corporation. In other words, a non-governmental entity. As a free speech advocate, does it bother you if a private entity determines that they will censor what they publish of their own free will? And why, since they are exercising a libertarian choice to do as they will within the confines of the law?

    Note that I'm not saying the NYT shouldn't be criticized for their choice, or that they should be immune from criticism. I'm just not understanding why it should be a free speech concern, since free speech doesn't really exist privately, being a government-issued legal right.

  18. Castaigne says

    @Eric Mesa:

    What does it teach those who prefer silence?

    I would say it teaches the silent to be smarter, but then, I also believe that violence (so long as it is within the bounds of the law that hold jurisdiction in the location) is an effective and acceptable solution to whatever problems are posed. So, YMMV.

    @Thad:

    Twelve posts before someone pulled Godwin. I'm impressed.

    The post by L does not qualify as a Godwin, according to the criteria for laying down a Godwin.

    @Harry Johnston:

    So, it's not that they're not printing the cartoons because they're afraid of the enemy, but because they want the enemy's business? Doesn't sound like much of an improvement to me.

    Well, the purpose of the NYT is to make a profit by selling 'news', which is best done by selling to as many people as possible. So yes, you don't want to block off markets doing that.

    @Fasolt:

    I for one want to see the imagery that drove some people to kill some other people because that imagery contained a cartoon image of the prophet of their religion.

    So, why? I ask, not because I think you shouldn't see the imagery, but because I don't understand why you want to. I haven't gone looking for the Hebdo covers; I don't need to. It doesn't matter to me what is on the covers or whether it's satirical or scatalogical or what-the-fuck-ever. All that matters to me is what the Hebdo terrorists did, why they did it, and what's being done about it. Knowledge of what the covers look like…I just don't see how it adds functionality. I do not see the utilitarian or empirical point to it. (Yes, I am just curious about your why. Nothing else implied.)

  19. Rob says

    There was a time when the NYT was willing to take risks because they believed that it was necessary. They were willing to fight city hall and were willing to take cases to the Supreme Court when necessary for journalistic principles.

    I suspect that since they are no longer able to use Gatling guns to defend their offices from rioting mobs, they are less willing to stick their necks out.

  20. TheCarl76 says

    I live in Australia, and among the Australian Aboriginals, it is apparently bad luck and/or offensive to use the name or the recorded voice of a deceased person. Most of the broadcasters respect this in some way. Usually, when a notable Aboriginal person dies, broadcasters try to contact close relatives to gauge whether it is acceptable to use his name, or some version of it, and then abide by their wishes. If a broadcast contains voices of aboriginal people that (might have) died since, the broadcast is usually preceeded with a warning to that respect.

    In many cases, broadcasters have to make a call whether the newsworthiness in a particular case is more important than these concerns. And different people regularly come to different conclusions.

    Fundamentally, I think it is a good thing if journalists, publishers, and broadcasters consider whether they really need to offend someone to tell a story. Do you really have to name and/or put a photo of the victim on the front page, so that relatives learn of the violent death of their loved ones from the cover of your news paper?

    Back to this story: There are good reasons to publish the cartoon. There are good reasons not to. Some people will go with A), some people will go with B), and both is fine, as long as they carefully considered it, and weren't only concerned with the financial implications.

    When reading your plathora of questions, I get two feelings very quickly:
    1) It feels to me a lot like sea-lioning, and
    2) You want the journalists to be activists too. And while press freedom is probably the most imporant issue for journalists, even in this regard, there is still a difference.

  21. Mikee says

    @Eric Mesa
    "why is it OK to offend Christians or Jews? Because they don't resort to violence."

    Well, you mean aside from the many, many crusades, the Gunpowder plot, and the KKK? Wasn't it the divine that inspired the Monroe Doctrine that nearly wiped out the indigenous inhabitants of America? Never heard of "Positives Christentum"? What about the Anti-balaka forces in the CAR? What about the National Liberation Front of Tripura in India? The assassinations in Odisha? The Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagaland? The Christian Maronites that massacred thousands during the Lebanon civil war and then terrorized non-Christians for years afterward? Anders Breivick in Norway? Joseph Kony and his Lords Resistance Army? How many abortion doctors were murdered by people with group names like, "Lambs of Christ" and "Army of God"? "The Covenant?" "The Sword, and The Arm of the Lord"? I understand that 9/11 is much more recent, but has everyone forgotten about McVeigh's act of Christian love at the Murrah building? It certainly did suck when the Israeli Olympic team was murdered by extremists decades ago, and it sucked when Eric Rudolph bombed the Atlanta Olympics, an abortion clinic, and a lesbian nightclub in the name of his lord and savior. And just like ISIS attacks other Muslims for betraying their insane vision for our world, the IRA killed other Christians in order to bring about their Christian world, with recent reports suggesting that since the recent bailout and austerity measures on the island that more extreme versions of the IRA have begun to sprout.

    You should also ask the Palestinians how they feel about your claim of the alleged lack of Jewish terrorists. Gush Emunim Underground, Keshet, Bat Ayin, Brit HaKanaim, the Kingdom of Israel, and Lehava all in the past century, with some still preaching their version of tolerance and love as dictated by their scriptures.

    History has taught us that regardless of faith (or their lack of it for Stalin and Mao), human beings will find any excuse they can to selfishly take what they want at the price of the lives of those they don't like. Hell, even those "atheist" Buddhists in Myanmar have found a new joy in slaughtering Muslims, and China is cracking down on the Uighers in Xinjiang. You're free to believe that Muslims are more violent than the other religions, but I challenge you to actually look beyond the medias surface and go deeper into the facts before you repeat the claim.

  22. Je Suis Charlie says

    @TheCarl76

    I try to respect other people's idea of blasphemy out of politeness, in much the same way that I will try not to swear when at my grandmother's house.

    In the face of threats however, I will cheerfully and openly mock somone's precious magic.

  23. L says

    Lotta people pretty certain that Ken would post Nazi cartoons. With all due respect, I'll take the answer from Ken, if he feels like answering. (And no, I'm not suggesting he has any obligation to answer.)

    I'm not asking whether Ken is equally committed to the free speech rights of Nazis. I'm sure he is. I am, and I'm sure everyone commenting here is too. But just because you support someone's right to free speech doesn't mean you have to join them in it. If I had a blog, I'd probably reprint at least one CH cartoon in the wake of the mass murder, but I sure wouldn't post some Nazi cartoon.

    The point is that it's okay to have a line, and there's nothing inconsistent in saying, I'll defend your right to say vile things, but I'm not going to join you in saying them. Maybe you all are right and Ken has no line. Or maybe his line is different than the N.Y. Times. But either way it's not a sign of weakness to have one.

  24. C. S. P. Schofield says

    I have a much more basic question for the New York Times; For most of my life it has apparently been the editorial policy of the New York Times, once the Newspaper of Record, to transform itself into an outright parody of a Provincial Leftwing Political Hack Rag. Do you consider that you are done now, or is there more?

  25. Stevie says

    Ken

    If you are genuinely devoted to free speech then where the hell were you back in 2009 when Maurice Sinet, made a bad joke in Charlie Hebdo , about the impending marriage of Sarkozy’s son to a wealthy Jewish woman. He was charged with anti-Semitism under French laws, and promptly sacked by the magazine: why weren't you sending up the smoke signal to assist him in providing him competent legal advice?
    I appreciate, of course, that that there are personal preferences , and that people are strange. But if you want people to respect you then you need to earn it…

  26. says

    Ken doesn't account for a majority-minority power differential. That's a gap in his reasoning he always misses, but at least he's consistent about it.

    Catholics who were upset about "Piss Christ" have plenty of political power and avenues to protest and make their displeasure heard in ways that can actually affect policy or other people's bank accounts. (We won't even talk about the Supreme Court right now.) In short, Catholics are not a marginalized group. In contrast, no one reasonable believes Muslims in America have any real political power or avenues to log game-changing nationwide protest outside of Dearborn, MI.

    When one understands the power differential, one realizes that the failure to deliberately antagonize minorities isn't a free speech issue per se–it's a basic tolerance issue, i.e., the majority respecting a minority b/c they realize some groups lack institutional protections and there's no need to pile on.

  27. Fasolt says

    @Castaigne:

    No implication taken. I think it's important to show them because it demonstrates the completely disproportionate response of the terrorists to published cartoons. Saying they were killed because they published cartoons of Muhammad and then not showing them might imply there was some quasi-legitimate justification for the slaughter of those people. I would hope that anyone who wasn't already thinking, "they died because they were publishing satirical cartoons?", would then think that. I'm stating this on the assumption that the terrorists killed them solely for religious reasons. I've seen anti-Christian cartoons and slurs, but it didn't send me into a homicidal rage.

    I put this sort of thing in a different category than I would a published story about a crime involving something like a homicide. I don't want to see pictures of the crime scene or anything like that. If for example, it was a love triangle, and the jilted husband/wife/partner shot the other man/woman in a fit of jealous rage, I don't need to see pictures of the parties involved. Jealousy is an easily understood emotion, and requires no additional explanation. I've felt jealousy, but don't understand how it could make a normally sane person kill someone. I know it happens though.

    I suppose I want to make sure it is well understood how trivial a thing it was that those people died for. I think the images would reinforce that. I have seen the ones here on Popehat. I saw a few others reading about the attack in various places. I didn't go out of my way to find any. The NYT didn't have to list every single one. A few representative cartoons would have sufficed. If any of the cartoons contained actual slurs, definitely leave them out. By that I mean the use of derogatory terms related to Muslims, not the mere depiction of Muhammad saying something the Charlie Hebdo staff found humorous.

    As others above have said above, the NYT doesn't have to show them if they want to. I just think they should have.

  28. Slayton Ford says

    @L, you miss the point, as do others who defend the Times. Whether they approve of the images being published is not contested; I don't think anyone generally expects that of the Times. Personally, I couldn't care less if they published them or not. That's their prerogative. The problem is their reason for refraining from doing so, namely that "we don't run things that are designed to gratuitously offend", is pure hypocritical bullshit. @Marc Cooper rightly points out that Dean Bacquet responded to a critic of the decision by calling him an "asshole" on Facebook. One wonders what the intent of that was, if not to "gratuitously offend". The Times doesn't seem to have any problem disparaging any number of other groups in their publications, not coincidentally those who don't conform to the editorial staff's various ideologies; it begs the question of exactly how much deliberation went into these choices, as well. And I can't help but notice that, thus far, the only group to have received said consideration just happens to be the group that responds with violence. I'd wager Bacquet limits his application of labels such as "asshole" to those he feels reasonably confident won't rebut by storming the Times' offices and executing him with a Kalashnikov. Free speech is hardly the issue. Thinly disguised cowardice posing as self-righteous "tolerance", that's another story.

  29. says

    @Stevie

    Ken has already earned a lot of respect. You must be new here. Trying to criticize him for not getting involved in some obscure issue in another language he most likely never heard of is a weak argument.

  30. C. S. P. Schofield says

    If the New York Times has declined to publish the offending cartoons and said "We simply don't want to" or "they're tacky", I would be less annoyed. The "We don't think we should publish cartoons that are offensive to people with certain deeply held beliefs" shuck-and-jive is an insult to my intelligence. Correect me if I am wrong, but hasn't the Times come out strongly in favor of SPENDING PUBLIC MONIES on the display of "art" that is intended to offend people with some deeply held beliefs? I have absolutely no interest in censoring Andres Serrano or any of his juvenile ilk, but the notion that it is acceptable to fund exhibitions of his nasty little joke with tax money strikes me as deranged.

    Hell, if the Times said "We like Muslims and we don't like Christians" that would, at least, be refreshingly honest.

  31. Ancel De Lambert says

    You know, if he had just shut up, everyone with a half-lick of sense would have left it alone. Instead, he opened his mouth, and promptly inserted his foot.

  32. says

    Ok, sheesh. Now that that's out of your system, step out into the real world where we're all constantly making squishy reality-and-emotion based judgment calls about everything.

    Journalism needs more systems and rules than a lot of things, but case-by-case is often the best practice. So it goes with cultural offense issues.

  33. Martin says

    @Ken: Just asking questions? I'd say you're swinging a wrecking ball into a disingenuous and morally bankrupt kludge of rationalization. Good on you!

  34. Curmudgeonly Ex-Clerk says

    Sarcastro wrote:

    I think the reason people are sympathetic to the "no pictures of Mohammed" thing is that Muslims can claim some ownership of him and his symbols. This sort of thing wouldn't fly if Muslims started demanding a ban on bacon or something.

    Nonsense. The same could be said of Christians and Christ. I've not noticed any similar delicacy about not portraying Christ or other Christian religious imagery in ways that might offend Christians. Should non-Muslims also refrain from writing about or commenting on Mohammed out of solicitude for Muslim's supposed "ownership" of his identity?

  35. The Real Sarcastro says

    @Curmudgeonly Ex-Clerk

    Do you really think there are no boundaries about depictions of Jesus? Anyhow, I suspect that the difference lies 1) in the power differential that @Matt Raft discussed, and 2) in the lack of unanimity among Christians regarding what's worthy of taking offense.

    Refraining from doing something that offends someone else is often just common courtesy. It has it's limits, to be sure, but there is some legitimacy in a group putting limits on it's own icons, name, etc.

  36. barry says

    The word "nigger" offends some people. Only some of the people who it offends will get violently offended. Choosing to not use the word does not make someone a coward, they just might not want to offend people by using it. They might choose to use "n-word" to explain a situation instead. I've noticed the media tend to do that.

    A protest for free-speech against people who might get violently offended by the word does not have to include offending others. Being more broadly offensive than necessary (the percentage offended does not matter) is not everyone's default position. A right is not a duty.

    Anyone insisting other people use offensive words and images because free speech are being pickledicks.

  37. stillnotking says

    The "power differential" argument seems a little weird in the context of a group that has just demonstrated its power by murdering people, and exercised that power by successfully influencing the mainstream press.

  38. says

    I'm a little late to the party, it seems, but for those of you looking for the cartoons themselves, and some translation/explanation, here are a few links:

    On not understanding Charlie: Why many smart people are getting it wrong.
    What everyone should know about Charlie Hebdo.
    The Charlie Hebdo cartoons no one is showing you.
    Charlie Hebdo: Its history, humor, and controversies, explained.

    There you go. I've got more to say, but I'll put that up a bit later when I've had more time to put it in words.

  39. C. S. P. Schofield says

    @ The Real Sarcastro,

    In this country, we have had plays touring the country depicting Christ as an active Homosexual, we have spend public money exhibiting a crucifix submerged in urine. Hell, I remember an underground comic from the 1970's that drew a direct parallel between Christ and Charles Manson. If people complain they are derided by All The Right People (™), specifically including the provincial hack rag that has taken over the banner of the New York Times. Yet Mohammed is a curiously delicate subject with these worthies.

    I suppose it is possible that the difference ISN'T that the followers of Mohammed kill people who they perceive are disrespectful, but I have yet to hear a convincing alternative.

  40. Resolute says

    Is anyone surprised at how many people in these comments are confused enough to believe that the right to free speech is the same thing as the right not to be criticized? I'm not.

  41. mcinsand says

    @ barry,

    Thank you, and I'm being sincere. You have expanded my lexicon. Now that I have a new word, I can't wait to use it.

  42. says

    @luis: The Times can publish, or not publish, as they please. And we can comment as we please.

    @L: Accepting for the sake of argument that deliberately anti-Semitic cartoons are the equivalent of any depiction of Muhammad, yes, I would expect a news entity to publish a sample to help illuminate the story of why someone was mad enough to kill. Moreover, I would expect the NYT in particular to publish because they have a record of publishing anti-Semitic items for their news significance, which is part of the point of this comment.

    @Castaigne: (1) The "just asking questions" comment is a deliberate reference to that distinction. Frankly I find the concept of "JAQing off," like "concern trolling," to be the usual province of ideological purists and ideologues. (2) If the NYT were some blogger, I wouldn't care. But, for better or worse, it's a powerful and history-laden news organization with huge impact on public narrative. Of course they have the right not to publish the cartoons. But their decision not to is comment-worthy, particularly when premised on flimsy logic, because they style themselves a reliable news provider.

    @L: Whether I would personally publish the Nazi cartoons in your hypothetical is a different question than whether I would question the NYT if they didn't. If the murders of Nazi cartoonists was part of a broad movement in which anti-Nazis sought to use violence to suppress racist speech, and in which claims of right were made about killing Nazi cartoonists, then yes, I would probably print at least enough to give context.

    @Stevie: Contrary to popular opinion I am not omniscient. I don't recall hearing about that particular incident. Had I, I might well have written about it. I likely wouldn't have offered help, because I have no knowledge of French law and no contacts with French lawyers, so I have nothing to give. But congrats on an excellent example of the "if you truly care about X why didn't you talk about [obscure example y]" trope.

    @Matt: If the NYT would articulate the viewpoint you articulate, that would answer several of my questions about the basis for their position. I might not agree with it, but it would be an answer.

  43. Jack B. says

    Ken

    If you are genuinely devoted to free speech then where the hell were you back in 2009 when Maurice Sinet, made a bad joke in Charlie Hebdo , about the impending marriage of Sarkozy’s son to a wealthy Jewish woman.

    Thanks for pointing this out, but don't expect an answer from Ken. I've been on him for years to explain his whereabouts in 1919, when Charles Schenck was being prosecuted under the Espionage Act of 1917. He talks a big game when it comes to free speech, but on the important matters, he's nowhere to be found.

  44. The Real Sarcastro says

    @C. S. P. Schofield

    The difference I see is that most of the Christians I know do not much care about some play positing that Jesus was a homosexual. Indeed, many devout Christians affirmatively believe that some underground play is nothing to get bent out of shape about. When All the People(tm) includes some from your own cohort, your position is rather weakened.

    Conversely, even the moderate Muslims I know from law school and whatnot tell me that they find depictions of Mohammed offensive.

    I know which position I'd take, but I try to not be a dick to people who take positions different from my own.

    I'm not saying the risk of violence isn't a factor in these decisions, merely that it's not the sole factor.
    ————–
    On the "murderer's veto" issue, such risk aversion is going to be part and parcel with market incentives, so I do not fault the NYT. On the other hand, public institutions, with their less pragmatic incentives, should not take threats of violence into account, to avoid heckler's veto problems.

  45. Martin says

    @The Real Sarcastro

    I'm not saying the risk of violence isn't a factor in these decisions, merely that it's not the sole factor.

    I'd say darned near 100% of Jewish people are offended by anti-semitic cartoons. Yet the NYT has expressed no qualms, no moral quandary, about the rightness of publishing those when appropriate. Most people are complex, and generally don't have a sole factor for big decisions. But I have trouble seeing the NYT decision as anything other than cowardice clothed in a thin tissue of self-serving rationalization.

  46. The Real Sarcastro says

    @Martin

    I'll admit I'm not too aware of the issue with the NYT and antisemitic cartoons. Indeed, given the number of Jews on the NYT staff, I hesitate to give credence to your 100% of Jews postulate.

    But as to your point about cowardice, I think your paradigm is wrong – moral bravery is not a virtue for a corporation.

  47. luis says

    Stillnotking that is a straw man if you don't acknowledge the power differences between for example Jews and Muslims well there is something wrong with you.

    Anyway, being en equal opportunity offender does not a martyr make, he be suis pas Charlie, if I owned the nyt I would not post the cartoons because most of them lack taste and substance, they are not trying to convey absolutely nothing but a sheer desire to offend for offense sake

    Did these guys deserved to die for their cartoons? Hell no

    Are they martyrs of free speech? Same answer

  48. luis says

    @Josh M I don't know why your post did not show on my phone the first time around

    Thanks for the links

  49. Fabio says

    Like they say at Popehat, free speech is not consequence-free speech, to figuratively kick a beehive just because I'm "allowed" to, is just dumb, this need to offend for offense's sake and then calling it satire and Freedom! is dishonest and is taking a nasty turn with these fanatics, the 2(3?4?) factions are getting further and further away from another, the problem is obviously the extremism, violence-provoking offenses are not helping, we are acting like extremists as well, free speech or death, there is only one outcome to an extremist worldview; total annihilation of the opposite side, no way to live along each other. I understand the NYT's "let's be moderate for the moment, lives may be at stake". Sure, something has to be done, I don't know what, but no problem has ever been solved by spitting in the face of the innocent-that-just-looks-like-the-problem over and over again… The terrorists are winning, because we are making extremists out of the moderates by becoming extremists ourselves and offending or even physically attacking the moderates gratuitously. We (Charlie) are making the equivalent of very poor "yo' Mama" jokes to offend millions of people who do not want to kill anyone in their Mama's name. Call it free speech, but we are just bullies shielding our offensive behavior behind the first amendment. I'm not saying we should give in, but maybe we should stop spitting and look for a real solution, which I hope is not total annihilation.

  50. Argentina Orange says

    @mikee

    When your #1 example of Christian violence has been dead for a thousand years, perhaps you should reexamine your arguments.

    @Matt Raft

    Any model of power which claims that people with kalishnakovs have *less* of it than the unarmed civilians they gun down has very poor applicability to reality.

  51. Argentina Orange says

    @luis

    Under what possible definition of martyr are you claiming that the cartoonists don't qualify? They were literally killed for not ceasing their speech by people who were literally killing them because of what they were drawing.

  52. Marc Cooper says

    @Fabio Which would be fine, if the stated position of the NYT were, in fact, "let's be moderate for the moment, lives may be at stake." Completely understandable. Instead, they said, "We don't gratuitously offend", ostensibly in deference to the Muslim families in Brooklyn, which is laughable as following that logic there must not be any Jewish or Christian families in Brooklyn, among many other groups that the Grey Lady has let loose on over the years in ways that can't be explained as anything except attempts to gratuitously offend. While I'm sure that we would be better served as a society refraining from the beehive-kicking, to borrow your term, it's no coincidence that the cowards in the ivory tower on Eighth decided to pick this specific instance to practice moderation. They did it because, unlike the other beehives they otherwise have no problem kicking on a regular basis, this one has bees that sting instead of simply buzz back. As the article tag says, abject spinelessness.

  53. Castaigne says

    @Argentina Orange:

    When your #1 example of Christian violence has been dead for a thousand years, perhaps you should reexamine your arguments.

    *looks at examples provided by Mikee*
    Uh, dude? Most of those are from the past CENTURY. I mean, sure, he left out the Christian Falangists, but last I checked, I was alive during the Rudolph affair. And the Army of God. And the Kony business. And so on.

    Or what the hell were you referring to with "#1 example of Christian violence"?

    @Ken White: Thanks for the answers! Appreciate it.

  54. Argentina Orange says

    @Castaigne

    You have trouble with the concept of ordinal numbers? Oh wait, you're that guy.

  55. says

    Perhaps pedantic, but it was really Dean Baquet—not "The New York Times"—that made this decision. He confirmed this: “It had to be my decision alone.” A different editor in his stead might very well have made a different decision.

    As others have pointed out, the NYT is a private, for-profit enterprise. They can choose to publish—or not publish—whatever they want for whatever reason. Freedom of speech does not imply a mandate to promulgate, which is essentially what Glen Greenwald tweeted.

    And to perhaps state the obvious, it might have been better for Mssr. Baquet to simply say nothing, or something vague like "using my editorial discretion". By opening the kimono, he has opened himself up to being judged by these editorial standards for other instances—past and future—where something might offend "the sensibilities of Times readers".

    All this of course begs the question: what is the "line between gratuitous insult and satire."? Perhaps he knows it when he sees it? And if "Most of these [depictions of Muhammad] are gratuitous insult.", why not publish the remainder that aren't?

  56. Castaigne says

    @Argentina Orange:

    You have trouble with the concept of ordinal numbers? Oh wait, you're that guy.

    If you're referring to his first sentence as "#1", then I think you're an idiot not to notice that he's going in order from past to present historically. Any monkey with basic reading comprehension would understand that.

    If you're referring to "#1" as in "most salient example", like most people would, then you need to specify which you think is the most salient example.

    If you think that his first sentence is the most salient example because it's at the beginning of a paragraph, then you're not only an idiot, you are a dipshit.

    @Ken White: I can't believe you were accused of sealioning. JAQing off is not sealioning. Although I would be amused to see you buttonhole the editor while he's sleeping in bed. (Although either is JAQing off if you are not looking for actual answers. And I like to think that you were actually looking for answers instead of engaging in crank/quack methodology.)

  57. Martin says

    @The Real Sarcastro

    I think people of good conscience (like Jewish staff members at the NYT, like the Christians you discuss earlier who support publication of Maplethorpe's work) can find something offensive and still go ahead and publish it. So I wouldn't gauge the taking of offense based on the religion of NYT staffers + it's editorial decisions. YMMV.

    As to moral bravery, we're not talking about a generic company; we're talking about one of the flagship newspapers of the republic. If papers like NYT don't have moral bravery, it's the end of the Pentagon Papers, and Watergate, and the Iran-Contra affair, and the Lewinsky scandal, and the torture practices or US interrogators, and a whole host of other stories which risk the ire of those powerful enough to retaliate.

  58. Martin says

    @Argentina Orange

    Do my posts next, please! I haven't had anyone attempt to dismissively ignore the content of what I've said, and then insult me when called on it, in quite some time.

  59. Marc Cooper says

    @Dave Cortright It appears that line is coterminous with the probability that the subjects of said "satire" might kill you. If nothing else becomes of this kerfuffle at least current and future objects of the paper of record's derision (I.E., conservatives, flyover state residents, Austrian-school economists) know exactly what they need to do to shut them up.

    I may perhaps also state the obvious, but I don't think anyone wants to deny Bacquet or the NYT their right as a private institution to control their content. That being said, if they want to continue the pretense of being a serious and esteemed journalistic bastion they would be wise to at the very least lay off the self-righteous progressive masturbation when they decide to save their collective hides.

  60. JeffDG says

    I would like to officially notify the NYT that myself, and those similarly informed individuals, that I'm am deeply and strenuously offended by the use of typesets that use little tails on the ends of characters (commonly referred to as "Serif" typesets. I note in the latest edition of the NYT, that all of your print material is represented by such a typeset.

    As a result, I demand that the NYT cease depicting any written communications with such typesets..

  61. barry says

    @mcinsand, Thank you. I found it in one of those cheap LA magazines that satirize criminal street gangs.

  62. Mikee says

    RE: Argentina Orange

    I apologize for trying to keep my list chronological, I thought that might help to show that it's not a new trend, but rather one that has encompassed almost all of recorded history of humanity (and probably even longer if we could somehow figure out how to use evidence that wasn't quantified, measured, or recorded somehow.)

    But I did my best to not list anything as being any more of a priority than anything else on the list, they're all equally disgusting acts of violence perpetrated by small minded people with very little of anything other than hate in their hearts. Almost all of those acts took place during my short few decades on this planet, and most of those groups are still alive and kicking/punching/killing at this very moment, as you're reading this comment (or did you?) Go ahead and google them for yourself if you have doubts.

    For the record, I practice no religion, I just happen to be one of those non-believers that really doesn't mind if others believe. I'm perfectly fine with the existence of religion (so long as it's not shoved down my throat) as long as they're all treated equally in accordance with the First Amendment. I like to study religion as a hobby, I've read more scriptures than most believers mostly out of curiosity (hint, God did it, with its powers, in the chapel, at the end of time). I'm not saying one religion is better than the other, or that one is more violent than the other, I'm saying religion is usually just an excuse that humans use to kill one another, which is a bad thing 99.9999999999% of the time.

    You are certainly free to think otherwise, but I can't take you seriously unless you provide some evidence to back up your claims. :)

  63. brian says

    I think point 7 (recency of offense) must be a factor – though it makes me think of our changing attitudes towards racial slurs (such as our constant flirtations with the N word, or the use of "redskins" as a name for a sports team), gender-specific language ("dame" and the like in office settings), etc. Times change, offense is perceived or recognized, and public speech alters to follow suit.

    That aside, I suspect the NYTs variable standards are calculated on a daily basis (if not sooner), with the only real criteria being "what move costs us the least readership".

  64. says

    @Argentina Orange: you wrote, "Any model of power which claims that people with kalishnakovs have *less* of it than the unarmed civilians they gun down has very poor applicability to reality."

    It's very interesting that you fail to differentiate between Muslims in general and terrorists. It's as if you see Muslims as a singular blob, despite their diversity (including geographic diversity). It also explains much of your "reasoning" here.

    Also, do you have statistics showing the number of armed Muslim-Americans vs. armed non-Muslim Americans? If gun ownership is your benchmark to establish a power differential, then I'd guess Muslim-Americans have much to worry about in America.

    Finally, let's not lose sight of the actual issue being discussed in Ken's post–we're not arguing about violence or guns per se. We're arguing about whether mainstream, respectable publications ought to recognize their ability to influence the public in both positive and negative ways; and whether refusing to print racist and Islamophobic cartoons in a national American newspaper is an issue solely of free speech or, rather, tolerance/respect for minorities who lack political influence and power in America.

    And as long as we're asking questions, here are a few more:

    1. If the cartoons at issue included bucktoothed Japanese subjects who wore large glasses, would you still support their printing in the NYT in 2015? If yes, would you support it in America in 1942? If not, why not? (For extra credit, Google "racist Japanese cartoons" before answering.)

    2. Who decides what speech is considered hateful speech against minorities who lack political power? Should minority viewpoints be considered? If so, how and to what extent? Can we at least agree that the determination of whether speech is hateful should not be decided solely by the most bombastic persons amongst the majority?

  65. says

    @Matt Raft

    1. If the cartoons at issue included bucktoothed Japanese subjects who wore large glasses, would you still support their printing in the NYT in 2015? If yes, would you support it in America in 1942? If not, why not? (For extra credit, Google "racist Japanese cartoons" before answering.)

    If the article was about, say, the unfortunate history of racist propaganda cartoons then yes one might expect to see them. It would certainly be reasonable grounds to include as such. I've no need to google the background, I am aware of it.

    2. Who decides what speech is considered hateful speech against minorities who lack political power? Should minority viewpoints be considered? If so, how and to what extent? Can we at least agree that the determination of whether speech is hateful should not be decided solely by the most bombastic persons amongst the majority?

    (1) Nobody is allowed to rubber stamp these things, ideally (2) sure. (3)We'll play it by ear.

    We don't let anyone get to be in a position of "determining what speech is hateful" because nobody would do a good job of it for an extended period of time, and because inevitably and probably fairly quickly someone would do a spectacularly bad job of it. If it was up to you, what would be next? Should we not post examples of racist cartoons when discussing the history of racist cartoons? Just say "yo, it was bad and take our word for it?" There are people who, given this power, would waste no time in getting up to all sorts of lovely things like finally ridding the world of Huckleberry Finn.

    Interestingly enough, the majority-minority power differential (an issue I've no doubt the Times has editorialized about at length) seems like a moot issue here. If not the Times, who is going to go such great lengths to ensure that a Muslim voice is heard on these matters?

  66. albert says

    Seems like some of you kinda missed the point here. To print or not to print is not the question; it's the reasons not to print.
    .
    The editor: "…both because of their newsworthiness and out of a sense of solidarity with the slain journalists and the right of free expression….". 'newsworthiness', for sure. 'sense of solidarity' and "right of free expression', not in an article, but in an editorial, yes.
    .
    The editor: "…remained concerned about staff safety….". Seems like a reasonable concern, even if the staff didn't think so.
    .
    The editor: "…sensibilities of Times readers….". Should a new organization be concerned about reporting a newsworthy event, including all the background? Or is it their job to judge the 'sensibilities' of their readers?
    .
    The editor: "…We have a standard that is long held and that serves us well: that there is a line between gratuitous insult and satire. Most of these are gratuitous insult.” Again, put it on the Editorial Page. Opinion should have no place in news coverage. This sort of thing is protected speech; here, and in France.
    .
    Mr. Baquet is speaking on behalf of the NYT, not his own personal opinion. Ken is absolutely correct in questioning this. If Mr. Baquet had said, "I didn't like it, so I didn't print it, and that's my right as editor", there probably would be any lengthy and tedious discussions.
    .
    Mr. Baquets has given his reasons, apparently without much forethought. If that's the best he can do, then it speaks volumes about the editorial quality of the NYT, and his belief in his decision.
    .
    It's better to be silent, and thought a douchebag, than to speak and remove all doubts.
    .
    BTW, I respect everyone's right to practice their religion. I don't have to respect their religious beliefs. I have only so much room in my life for the absurd and irrational, and I don't need to add any to my my own.

  67. Jacob H says

    I think Mr. Baquet has done a sloppy job reporting on his own decision process here. He states that he started the day wanting to publish the images, then over the course of the day he changed his mind twice, and yet somehow he ended up deciding NOT to publish the images!! This is obviously self-contradictory, Mr. Baquet – you must have changed your mind once, or three times, but TWO times?! Impossible, I say!

  68. Jon H says

    The claimed requirement that adequate coverage of the Charlie murders requires publishing the cartoons is a bit like saying coverage of the Bill Cosby rape allegations needs to include photos of what the victims were wearing.

    They aren't actually relevant, unless you think the cartoon/clothing actually could justify murder/rape.

  69. says

    @Castaigne: personally, I think we should hold allegedly "serious" newspapers to a higher standard than that we might consider appropriate for an arbitrary business. If it was The National Inquirer, or some such, your point would be well taken.

  70. Sami says

    See, if they'd just elected not to publish, that would be one thing, and a matter of editorial discretion.

    But discoursing about how you carefully considered it and decided not to because oh, the gratuitous offensiveness – no, shut up, you're a weasel and a snivelling coward and you're just making excuses. Whether you're lying to your public or yourself, you're a cowardy custard and a hypocrite and can shut the fuck up.

  71. Argentina Orange says

    @Matt Ratt

    It's very interesting that you fail to differentiate between Muslims in general and terrorists. It's as if you see Muslims as a singular blob, despite their diversity (including geographic diversity). It also explains much of your "reasoning" here.

    Also, do you have statistics showing the number of armed Muslim-Americans vs. armed non-Muslim Americans? If gun ownership is your benchmark to establish a power differential, then I'd guess Muslim-Americans have much to worry about in America.

    On the contrary, it is you who is failing to distinguish between the specific and the general, and furthermore misapplying concepts which only apply to the abstract to the concrete. Those specific, concrete gunmen has almost exactly as much political power in a societal sense (i.e., arbitrarily close to zero) as their victims. Individuals with non-negligible social/political power are extremely few. But they damn well did have lot more physical power than their victims, which is why they were the victimizers. The shooters were concrete human beings. The victims were concrete human beings. They interacted in a concrete world. Trying to apply levels of abstraction such as group identity is an error.

  72. Argentina Orange says

    @Mikee

    You were applying a wall-o-text in an attempt to somehow discredit the idea that in 2015 the NYT might be more afraid of Al Qaeda than Richard Coeur de Leon. And your wall-o-text was not only utterly inapplicable and falsely equating, but it contained several obvious errors of fact.

  73. says

    While I think these are legitimate questions, what is lost is the safety of reporters in the field, like in the middle east, who are in harms way. For the Times not to publish might be viewed as cowardly, they do have some responsibility to their employees, who are targets already, but even more so with these images published by their employer.
    While publishing the photo of Piss Christ may or may not have been offensive to some, those offended were not part of a sworn enemy of the U.S., so of course there was no backlash- well other than the very thin skinned religious right. Move beyond the outrage and maybe even think a bit more deeply about why they chose not to publish – you know, instead of jerking your knee.

  74. says

    @KTN:

    I think it is entirely possible that your explanation is part of the NYT's thinking.

    But they don't say it.

    Why aren't they saying it? Isn't it newsworthy if the "paper of record" treats one group specially because it is afraid they will react violently to offense?

  75. says

    @Fabio: "we are making extremists out of the moderates" – no, because genuine moderates would not have taken offense at the NYT republishing the cartoons under these circumstances.

    @The Real Sarcastro: so basically you're saying that even "moderate" Muslims aren't really all that moderate. I'm not sure this observation helps your case.

  76. barry says

    @Harry Johnston

    in one of those cases the offense is reasonable, and in the other it isn't.

    My people have no tradition of either Islam or slavery, so it is not obvious which of those cases it is reasonable to be offended by. I am not offended by either, but I know that many people are. And knowing that helps in not offending people that I don't mean to offend, however irrational taking the offence may look.

    I was looking for an example to convey the degree of offensiveness rather than it's validity. Several commenters had given examples which really weren't really very offensive to western culture at all. I think the degree of offensiveness makes more difference to the argument than it's reasonableness.

    "It doesn't offend me, so it shouldn't offend you" just doesn't work.

    Also, several of the commenters seemed to have the view that Islam itself rather than the few violent extremists should take the blame for the Hebdo killings, so conclude that all Muslims who are offended by drawings of the prophet are fair targets to be offended. Popehat is taking some flack here for suggesting that cowardice is the only reason for not republishing the Charlie Hebdo cover when it's obviously not.

  77. says

    @barry:

    Popehat is taking some flack here for suggesting that cowardice is the only reason for not republishing the Charlie Hebdo cover when it's obviously not.

    Well, no. I suspect fear of danger to self and employees (I won't say cowardice) is one reason. But I think there are other reasons as well — like muddle-headed cultural reasons that might be oversimplified as "political correctness."

  78. Fasolt says

    Jon H:

    I believe I see the point you are trying to make but your analogy is flawed. Those woman that Bill Cosby allegedly assaulted were not assaulted because of whatever they happened to be wearing at the time. The Charlie Hebdo staff were killed because of the cartoons.

  79. rxc says

    I agree that the NYT has the absolute right to print or not print whatever it thinks is "Fit to Print". However, in recent years the press in the US, and especially the NYT Company, has called for lots of privileges for itself that it does not accord to the rest of the citizenry. All in the name of supporting the first amendment.

    They call for shield laws that protect them from testifying in legal cases where they know the source of something they have printed. They demand special access to politicians and events that the public is not allowed to have. Most recently, they have denounced the Supreme Court decision that all corporations and groups of citizens have the right to participate in the election process and spend money to influence elections – they say that only the "real press" should have that right, as if it is something they inherited from an ancestor who actually set type by hand.

    In essence, they consider themselves to be "special," with a special role as guardian of the first amendment. I think that people and organizations that consider themselves to be guardians of important principles of our society should demonstrate that commitment, by putting their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor on the line when those principles are at stake. They expect that soldiers and sailors will do this in their name and on their behalf during time of war, and that the police will do it to protect them from non-foreign agression. Anything less reveals them to be nothing more than unprincipled propagandists.

  80. says

    @barry:

    "It doesn't offend me, so it shouldn't offend you" just doesn't work.

    How about "we don't belong to your religion, so it isn't reasonable for you to expect us to follow your rules"? Or even, "religion just isn't important enough to a reasonable person to take offense over".

  81. says

    @barry:

    Also, several of the commenters seemed to have the view that Islam itself rather than the few violent extremists should take the blame for the Hebdo killings

    There's an old saying: if you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem.

    Choosing to take offense at such cartoons is not being part of the solution.

  82. Alyric says

    The answer to most of these questions is: "Whichever choice is least likely to get us decapitated".

  83. Mikee says

    @Argentina Orange

    "You were applying a wall-o-text in an attempt to somehow discredit the idea that in 2015 the NYT might be more afraid of Al Qaeda than Richard Coeur de Leon."

    lolwut? I was discrediting the idea that Muslims are more violent than other religious and non-religious fanatics.

    If that's really what you got out of my comments, I apologize, and will ignore you from here on out since your reading comprehension skills don't amount to a pile of dog feces. As I said, you're free to believe what you want, but if you want me to take you seriously, you need to post evidence. You continue to make wild, grandiose, and bullshit claims without providing any specifics or evidence, so I will stop this train of thought that it might be possible for me to take you seriously. Good day. :)

  84. Jacob H says

    @Mikee Regarding whether some religions might be more prone to violence than others: While there certainly are extremists of all stripes, I would direct you to a Pew study from 2013 which showed rather alarming attitudes from Muslim non-extremists. Majorities, and uncomfortably large pluralities, supported rather horrible ideas such as the death penalty for apostates and blasphemers, and other equally bad policies like honor killings and death for adulterers.

    Link: http://www.pewforum.org/2013/04/30/the-worlds-muslims-religion-politics-society-beliefs-about-sharia/

    Although the percentage of violent extremists across religions may be similar (or not), the greater level of support from the wider community can make a real difference in how it plays out. The idea that all religious communities are absolutely, completely equal in terms of acceptance of violence strikes me as political correctness gone amok.

    PS keep in mind that Pew could not even conduct their study in some countries, the ones that are the most hostile to the west and liberalism (meant in the sense of enlightenment values, not left/right affiliation), such as Saudi Arabia, so the numbers from the study must be regarded as underestimates.

  85. @C. S. P. Schofield says

    I have a much more basic question for the New York Times; For most of my life it has apparently been the editorial policy of the New York Times, once the Newspaper of Record, to transform itself into an outright parody of a Provincial Leftwing Political Hack Rag.

    Wow, not to defend the NYT here, but how far off the scale of whacko does one have to be to see the NYT that way?

  86. Jacob H says

    @Fasolt As a thought experiment, what if Cosby said, "Yes, I forced myself on that woman, but I was justified because of what she was wearing"? Would her outfit then be newsworthy? I honestly don't know what my answer to this would be. Naturally, all rational people would think that couldn't possibly justify rape, just as all rational people don't think the cartoons justify mass murder.

  87. says

    @Mikee: McVeigh seems out of place in that list. I'd never heard that he had a religious motivation for the bombing. (Also, for what it's worth, I've just checked the Wikipedia article, and that seems to back me up.)

    Do you have a reference?

  88. Mikee says

    @Harry Johnston
    http://www.ethicsdaily.com/an-accurate-look-at-timothy-mcveighs-beliefs-cms-15532

    @Jacob H
    Look at the death toll counts for the 20th century ( http://necrometrics.com/all20c.htm ) and then tell me that Islam is a primary source of violence for our species. The media trumpets each and every atrocity committed in other countries as an indicator of the entire region, yet we're not held to the same standard locally. Just using the top US news stories from CNN, some white kid was just arrested for plotting to attack Washington, DC, so where's the same outrage directed towards white kids that is directed towards all Muslims for the acts of their extremists?

    Americans think Muslims are more violent, so please, explain why America's murder rate is 4.7 per 100k people, and most developed Muslim nations are far, far lower?
    Kuwait, 0.4 per 100k.
    Saudi Arabia, 0.8 per 100k.
    Indonesia, 0.6 per 100k.
    Qatar, 1.1
    Oman, 1.1
    Bosnia and Herzegovina, 1.3
    Even Syria, Malaysia, and Lebanon have lower murder rates.

    Americans kill almost as many Americans as ISIS kills anyone else.
    http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/10/07/isis-s-gruesome-muslim-death-toll.html
    Less than 10,000 dead in the first 8 months of 2014 at the hands of ISIS, so if that continued it would be close to 15,000 murders by ISIS.

    http://www.statista.com/statistics/195331/number-of-murders-in-the-us-by-state/
    Close to 15,000 murders in America by Americans of Americans in 2012, the last year for which numbers are available. Why is it that our officials have more accurate counts of the dead in the Middle East than they do of the dead here in America? Could it be because they want you to believe that things are more violent elsewhere, because if you really understood how violent America is, you might have a problem with it?

  89. Argentina Orange says

    @Mikee

    Since you seem to enjoy historical revisionism, please allow me to quote what was actually written:

    @Eric Mesa
    "why is it OK to offend Christians or Jews? Because they don't resort to violence."

    Well, you mean aside from the many, many crusades,

    So yeah, you chose to lead of with a completely unresponsive and irrelevant example. Undoubtedly you want to make a kumbya "we are all peeplz" argument, but that entire line of reasoning was non-responsive to what you were actually replying to.

    But do go on saying that it's other people's fault for not misconstruing things in the way you'd like.

  90. princessartemis says

    @Mikee, in response to

    Regarding whether some religions might be more prone to violence than others:

    you say,

    Look at the death toll counts for the 20th century ( […] ) and then tell me that Islam is a primary source of violence for our species.

    And then proceed to talk about American violence. I suppose, because…American is a religion now? Is that why it is relevant to bring up in relation to a question of the propensity for violence in religions?

    Your goalposts are highly mobile.

  91. Jacob H says

    Whoa, Those are some serious non-sequitors. I wasn't comparing violence in Muslim countries to non-Muslim countries. I also never said that Islam was the "primary source of violence for our species". What I actually said was that some religions are more tolerant of their extremist wings than others. For example, you don't see the Catholic church making reward payments to the families of terrorists. You didn't address that in your comment at all, instead preferring to straw-man my comment (I know that term is overused, but here it is appropriate).

    As for what you said about countries' murder rates: nations are defined by more than just religion. There are so many factors (presence or absence of gun control laws, cultural acceptance of violence, levels of drug use, etc.) that it seems impossible to untangle them to determine cause. Who ever said I was OK with the level of violence in the US? I certainly am not! Also, what you cited is the murder rate. It obviously doesn't include, for example, someone who is executed for blasphemy, or who has their clitoris cut off with a sharp rock.

  92. Jacob H says

    Oh yea, I forgot to mention, in order to be included in the official murder rate number, the government actually has to notice that the person was murdered. This explains the "lower" murder rate in Syria. And as for ISIS, if you look at per capita numbers, which is the only rational way to judge it, then the murder rate of ISIS is much, much higher than in the US.

  93. David Schwartz says

    L: Suppose I can eat cereal or eggs for breakfast, and have a history of doing both. Then, someone threatens to kill my family if I eat cereal. From then on, all I eat are eggs. When asked why, I say, "Oh, it has nothing to do with the threat to my family. I just prefer eggs". Well, that's awfully hard to believe. Your hypothetical takes away the threat. Sure, without the threat it's plausible that I'm eating eggs just because I like them.

    When a group threatens you and puts a gun to your head, particularly in an attempt to chill your speech and even more particularly when you're a media company, you should go out of you way to not give that group what they want. Otherwise, it will never end. It's like paying ransom.

  94. Mikee says

    @Jacob H

    I really expected nothing less. It's easy to point out the violence committed by extremists on the other side, it's hard to point out the violence committed by extremists on our own side. "Why don't these Muslims root the terrorists within their societies, even though we haven't figured out how to take care of our own internal problems!"

    "For example, you don't see the Catholic church making reward payments to the families of terrorists. You didn't address that in your comment at all, instead preferring to straw-man my comment (I know that term is overused, but here it is appropriate)."

    Hahahahahahahahahaha, did you really just accuse me of making a straw-man argument, while injecting your own straw-man into your argument? "Well you didn't address one specific thing in your comment, if you don't include absolutely every detail then you're wrong!" Good one, kid.

  95. Jacob H says

    Is it fair to say that you don't think that some religious communities are more tolerant of violence than others? That seems to be your point, though I didn't see you say so explicitly. Is it your position that members of the Ba'Hai faith are exactly as tolerant of violence in their ranks as Christians?

    What I was commenting on was the level of tolerance for violence amongst religious communities, and I cited a Pew study to back that up. You didn't address it at all; instead you offered up evidence that the US is more violent than predominantly Muslim countries. Who ever said it wasn't? The US is predominantly Christian, but so what? So are Denmark and Sweden, and they have very low murder rates. Again, so what?

    As for violence by extremists "on our side" – don't speak for me; they aren't on *my* side. I have no problem whatsoever condemning that too. I wholeheartedly condemn violence by Christian extremists, "eco-terrorists", Hindu extremists, or whoever else uses violence. I never suggested I didn't. Is that somehow incompatible with also acknowledging that "moderate" members of some communities are more forgiving of violence than "moderate" members of others?

    As for "my own straw man," maybe you could spell it out for me: What position of yours did I mischaracterize? I don't see it. That's what a "straw man" is – a mischaracterization of the other's position.

  96. barry says

    Niccolo Machiavelli said "A war is just when it is necessary." I'm extending that to offences in general, and saying the scale of the collateral insult of republishing the Charlie Hebdo cover wasn't really necessary. That it was ok to choose not to republish.

    It is muddle headed to think it is ok to offend a whole group for what a few do when claiming they are acting on behalf of the group (unless you think the blame really is on the whole group).

    There are two main views here. One is that Islamic violent extremists do not really represent Islam. And the other is that there is something inherently violent in Islam that produces these violent extremists.

    The Army of God is a christian terrorist organization worthy of insult. Is it reasonable to blame Christianity for the actions of that group, or would it be "political correctness" not to blame Christianity as a whole for those murders? (Just asking.)

    But that is not the main muddle. The compounded enmuddlement is criticism of someone else for choosing not to offend the whole group for the actions of a few. What would make that necessary or just?

    I am happy that Pope Francis (peace be upon his funny giant hat) has come out in agreement with me on this one.

    But Popehat-Twitter I'm not so sure about anymore (but that's probably just Patrick):

    What is it about Islam that causes all of its neighbors, Chinese, Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, secular, communist, to marginalize it so?

  97. Jacob H says

    It is true that I should have used parentheticals to make it more clear what the word "that" referred to – it's just a case of a vague predicate. That was my mistake. This:

    What I actually said was that some religions are more tolerant of their extremist wings than others. For example, you don't see the Catholic church making reward payments to the families of terrorists. You didn't address that in your comment at all, instead preferring to straw-man my comment (I know that term is overused, but here it is appropriate).

    Should have been this:

    What I actually said was that some religions are more tolerant of their extremist wings than others (for example, you don't see the Catholic church making reward payments to the families of terrorists). You didn't address that in your comment at all, instead preferring to straw-man my comment (I know that term is overused, but here it is appropriate).

    But it still wasn't a "straw man," because I wasn't mischaracterizing your position as something I would prefer to argue against. In fact, I can't figure out your position. Is it that extremists come in all stripes, which everyone already agrees with? Or is it that no religious community is any more forgiving of violence than any other?

  98. says

    @Mikee:

    “Why don’t these Muslims root the terrorists within their societies, even though we haven’t figured out how to take care of our own internal problems!”

    That's not the point, though, is it? Perhaps you haven't been keeping up with the news:

    In Pakistan

    In the Phillipines

    In Niger

    It isn't just about the terrorists. The issue of religious supremacism is wider than that.

    (Of course, there are popular religious supremacist movements in the US, e.g., California Proposition 8. But if, hypothetically, a member of such a movement murdered a bunch of prominent SSM campaigners, I'm fairly sure the rest of the movement wouldn't be holding protest rallies against the victims a week later.)

  99. says

    @barry: I think you're still overlooking something. It isn't just about the terrorists.

    Anybody that would be offended by the NYT reprinting the Charlie Hebdo cover might not be a terrorist but is, prima facie, a religious supremacist. As far as I'm concerned, religious supremacists deserve to be offended and/or insulted just as much as, say, white supremacists do.

    (And, yes, my reasoning applies just as well to religious supremacist movements in the western world; for example, I argued here that the campaign that forced Brendan Eich to step down as Mozilla CEO was justified.)

  100. Jacob H says

    @Harry

    But if, hypothetically, a member of such a movement murdered a bunch of prominent SSM campaigners, I'm fairly sure the rest of the movement wouldn't be holding protest rallies against the victims a week later

    inb4 someone mentions the WBC as if that's comparable

  101. says

    @Jacob: Westpac Banking Corporation? Wholesale Boot Company? White Blood Cell? Women's Basketball Championship? World Boxing Council? WBC Eaterie? (OK, that's the first page of Google listings.)

    Oh, I get it – Westboro Baptist Church. It was right at the bottom, in "searches related to". :-)

    I dunno; they're pretty crazy, I wouldn't put it past them to protest a murdered SSM campaigner's funeral. But they're kind of an outlier in a way that the anti-Hebdo protests don't seem to be. (Also, I'm thinking they probably wouldn't go so far as to issue a press release saying that the murder was a "moral lesson".)

  102. Jacob H says

    I know, I was predicting that someone was going to use them as a (bad) example of something that is equivalent. I completely agree, the WBC is an extremely small outlier that is not at all comparable to the protests you mentioned. And yes, they absolutely would issue such a press release. They think every soldier's death is a "moral lesson" to the US on our tolerance of homosexuality.

  103. says

    Oh, I understood what you meant, I just wasn't sure that it was as bad a comparison as you seemed to think it was. I was thinking out loud as much as anything. :-)

    Regarding the hypothetical press release, though, I'm not sure the WBC actually approve of the people that are shooting at US soldiers per se, do they? It's more that they think God arranges for it to happen. Perhaps the distinction is a bit subtle, though, I suppose one might argue much the same of the anti-Hebdo protests.

  104. Fasolt says

    @Mikee:
    As the saying goes, "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics." As Jacob H. said, you should go with the per capita numbers.

    @Jason H:
    After some thought on your comment, I can't base my opinion for this particular issue on logic. I understand what you're saying and it makes sense. I don't think their outfits are worthy of showing but think the NYT should have run a cartoon or two. I stated in a comment above that I thought showing the pictures would reinforce the triviality of what they were killed for. That's a feeling, and inconsistent with your logic, but I'm sticking with it.

  105. barry says

    @Harry Johnston
    My argument was: Not wanting to offend a large group of innocent bystanders who you know would be offended is reason enough not to republish the Charlie Hebdo cover.

    If you think everyone who is offended deserves to be offended, then fine. That's a valid reason for everyone to republish the cover. There would be no innocent bystanders and my argument would not apply. I don't even know where to start with that one, except; not everyone thinks that.

    It would be similar if it was somehow legal to broadcast executions on TV. Many people would find that offensive. Some networks would broadcast them, and some people would get annoyed at networks that chose not to broadcast them. There would be all kinds of reasons for not broadcasting, some of them entirely valid. If someone told me I deserved to be offended by executions, I would have no idea what to do with that.

    Yes, I was overlooking that it wasn't just about the terrorists or the events in Paris. It was also an opportunity that could be used for other political/religious agendas. It is possible that is what made me feel there was something a little 'wrong' about this particular post.

    What happened to that slightly odd Clark blogger anyway? I liked it much better when I thought he was wrong about stuff. He always had a more fun kind of wrongness.

  106. Ryan says

    Pfft. When journalists get killed, journalists like to engage to solidarity.

    But what about solidarity with people who insult people and subsequently die in a bar fight?

  107. barry says

    Of the ten commandments of the people of the book, it is the second one that is causing trouble here. The one about no graven images; Exodus 20:4. Islam takes it seriously and Christianity doesn't. Islam takes it so seriously that for most of it's existence Islamic art was all neat geometric pattern with no pictorial elements at all. In the sects of Christianity where the second commandment even means anything at all, it has been watered down to mean only something like; "no drawing Cthulhu", and even then hardly anybody gets the slightest bit upset if you do draw Cthulhu.

    So yes, it's for irrational cultural reasons that the same cultural/religious offence will cause different levels of offence in different cultures. I think that makes it methodologically incorrect to equate the relative level of offence of an insulting cartoon of Jesus with an insulting cartoon of Mohammad. Drawing Mohammad has always been a known biggie.

    I think the more correct way of comparing the degree of offences between different cultures is to make a ranked list of things that would would be most seriously offensive for group A and another ranked list for group B, and approximately equate the rankings.

    Although my analogies comparing the offence caused by racial slurs and televised executions might look a bit over the top and extreme, I still think they are valid comparisons. I think people are people everywhere, and as groups have about the same total offendedness at what other people do. Some cultures might be slightly more 'relaxed' than others, but I don't think overall different enough to make this method of comparison invalid. Different things are offensive because they just are.

    @Harry Johnston, you never did explain why being offended by the n_word was reasonable and being offended by drawings of Mohammad was unreasonable. Are you sure that reasonableness doesn't just depend on which culture you are part of?

  108. barry says

    ps. Please can nobody tell me that the Koran doesn't have a 'ten commandments' or I will be forced to argue that the Old Testament doesn't really either, and why Exodus 22:21 "Thou shalt not vex a stranger" didn't make it onto the list.

  109. says

    @barry: yes, I did.

    I can expand on it, though, if you like: in one case, we have someone using a word with the intent of indicating their supposed racial superiority over the subject; in the other, we have someone taking offense precisely *because* of their supposed religious superiority over the speaker. It's rather ironic to try to compare them!

    I'm fairly sure Ken has gone into this before: if you accept the reasoning that you shouldn't do anything that another religion prohibits, you've painted yourself into a corner. It's a blank cheque. Besides anything else, religions tend to contradict one another; how do you choose which one to follow and which to ignore?

    PS: readers may be interested in this BBC article which discusses whether the Islamic prohibition against pictures of Mohammed has always been in place. I had the impression that it was a recent addition to the faith, but it turns out (as usual) that the truth is more complicated. (It *is* still true that it depends on the particular variant of Islam; for example, they are allowed, perhaps even required, in Iran.)

  110. King Squirrel says

    @Barry –

    That was confusing.
    The "people of the book" refers to Jews and Christians. The Koran does not prohibit graven images. That is why you can find *lots* of images of Mohammed in the early Islamic art. It does have a set of commandments, but no-graven-images is not one of them.

    The prohibitions against images come up later in the religion's traditions – much like the idea of Purgatory, Limbo, Satan, or Hell with Christianity – and vary widely in application among the different branches of Islam.

    (All that said, I don't think any of it undermines what I understand your point to be.)

  111. barry says

    @Harry Johnston, Sorry, yes I did read your explanation but possibly left it in the 'unexplained' file in my memory because I didn't agree with it or something.

    if you accept the reasoning that you shouldn't do anything that another religion prohibits, you've painted yourself into a corner.

    That was never my view. I liked the post massacre Charlie Hebdo cover, it was even better than I expected. It was ambiguous enough in it's "all is forgiven" caption to be interesting, for people to think about who was meant to be forgiving who, and the head was not drawn distastefully. And it put the caption at the top so that TV channels like AlJazeera and whoever else chose not to show the drawing could do a close-up pan across the top of the cover to show both the name and caption to give the meaning of the cartoon without showing the offending head.

    When I saw it, I thought it could easily have been a caricature of Graham Chapman from "Life of Brian".[pic] (If only the sign he was holding had said "JeSus Charlie".)

    But they more or less had to put a drawing of Mohammad on the new cover because they had drawn him often enough before that it would have been the absolute wrong time to stop doing it.

    It was not even my argument that other media shouldn't republish the cover or image. But that just because it was 'news' that the magazine had been published, other media shouldn't be harassed, harangued, cajoled, coerced, vexed or trolled into republishing the cover if they thought it would be irresponsible or offensive.

    It's right there on the cover dammit! "Journal Irresponsable". I did not agree with the suggestion I saw here that all western media had some duty or obligation to republish it.

    @King Squirrel, OK, I was bluffing and you called me on my threat to get all theological. The hole is dark and I'm afraid of rabbits.

    Just after I hit the submit button, I had that awful "what if that was one of those things I only thought I knew but didn't really know" feeling. The 48 minute timestamp difference between my two comments was a google session. Apparently it's in the Hadith somewhere rather than the Koran, but by that time my head was hurting and confused enough that I didn't even look it up.

    Thanks for correcting the "people of the book" thing. I knew it was a Moslem term, but always thought they included themselves in it. It's still odd that they don't. I could have gone on for years thinking it included all three Abrahamic religions. (I understand that there's now cartoonists at the gates of paradise to decide who gets in.. I saw a picture of it in a newspaper last week, so that might not actually be true either.)

    And thanks for getting my point about comparisons (and that it doesn't really matter where the offence originally came from). I've written more on this thread, which I had originally decided not to join, than on any for ages, and was starting to doubt my ability to put any idea into coherent words.

  112. Mark932 says

    There is little difference between Islam, Christianity, fascism, or communism: the are all dehumanizing, intrinsically immoral ideologies that have promoted corrupt and totalitarian government and caused widespread suffering and death. Why should some of these destructive ideologies be protected from condemnation while others are fair game?

  113. Horatio M says

    Barry,

    If by not offending people you are censoring what would otherwise be written, then you are capitulating and sacrificing your principles to violence. Orthodox Jews like Muslims believe that depictions of their prophets are wrong, so THEY refrain from doing them. But they don't superimpose their views on the rest of us and expect us to respect THEIR religion. That's why depictions of Jewish prophets are not even considered controversial.

    By demanding that non-Muslims not depict Mohammed, they are essentially demanding that everyone act in accordance with their own irrational religious views.

    The difference between being offended by racism, and being offended as a result of irrational religious edicts is obvious.

    And your notion of innocent bystanders is silly and hypocritical. Every Islamic country from Malaysia to Qatar, locks people up for even the slightest attempt to scrutinize Islam. Even in France, three "moderate" Islamic groups tried to sue Charlie Hedo for offending their religion. Christians who acted in that manner would be called extremists. Jews who protested against papers depicting their prophets would be called zealots. Let's apply the same standard to Muslims. If they are offended by others depicting their prophets, they are extremists, not "innocent bystanders." And if that makes the overwhelming majority of Muslims extremists, then that is the reality of it.

  114. says

    Ran across this yesterday. It expands on Mark's observation about labeling certain group beliefs "religious" and hence immune from criticism; I found it interesting.

    Which reminds me: every time I see the word "Islamophobia" I want to start talking about "Naziphobia". ("We shouldn't blame moderate Nazis for the actions of a few extremists!")

  115. barry says

    @Horatio M,

    The difference between being offended by racism, and being offended as a result of irrational religious edicts is obvious.

    Media can report on examples of racism without being racist, eg. Using a quotation by a racist in a news story about racism. Yet many still choose not to use the n_word because the word itself regardless of context offends some people. There is comparable irrationality here, and my point was; why aren't you equally outraged by a NYT decision not to print the word? It's not being offended by racism, it's being offended by a word.

    And your notion of innocent bystanders is silly and hypocritical. Every Islamic country from Malaysia to Qatar, locks people up for even the slightest attempt to scrutinize Islam.

    That was probably my fault from mentioning elsewhere that I was a fan of non-sequiturs. I don't even know where to start on "there are no innocent bystanders". It sounded wrong when AlQaeda used it to justify the Twin Towers attack, and it sounds wrong here. That line of thinking could end up concluding that most Muslims are extremists.

    @Rogier,

    Outstanding questions. Thanks Ken.

    Even Question 14? If anything defined caving in to confused imagined political correctness, it would be that. How offended could that hypothetical group possibly pretend to be that the image wasn't republished?

    Mostly Ken is on the side of fairness, reason, and 'sounding about right to me', but I can't go along with this one. I would think less of the NYT editor if he replied to it.

  116. Robert What? says

    I have almost no respect left for the NYT. I was a subscriber for many years, but stopped a couple of years ago. One simply has to do a quick scan on the internet of legitimate important stories that are simply ignored by the Times. However, if they had come out and admitted that they were afraid of being Hebdo'd, I could have appreciated it and given them a modicum of respect for it. But they came out and gave the lamest of lame excuses, proving once again that while they may be a legitimate reference source for Liberal Democrat Talking Points, they are not a "news organization", in the sense that most people understand it.

  117. Robert What? says

    @CJColucci

    "I support anyone who wants to publish the offending cartoons. I also support anyone who doesn't want to publish the offending cartoons, and I don't much care why they don't,

    I agree with you for a person or organization that is not representing themselves as an unbiased news source. If they are, I think they need to come up with a non-lame excuse for not including a critical part of an important story. The NYT gave the lamest of lame excuses. I would have more respect for them if they just admitted they were afraid of being Hebdo'd.

  118. Robert What? says

    @Mikee

    Well, you mean aside from the many, many crusades, the Gunpowder plot, and the KKK? Wasn't it the divine that inspired the Monroe Doctrine that nearly wiped out the indigenous inhabitants of America?

    I guess you like your herring nice and red. Firstly, the Crusades were a defensive war against Muslim aggression into Europe, not an offensive war. Most of the recent attacks have also been defensive in nature against Muslim attacks on Christian towns. But if your sole news source is the NYT then you have certainly read about the Christian attacks, but not about the Muslim attacks that preceded them. But if you want to allow someone to attempt to wipe out your family and town without challenge, and even make apologies for the aggressors, by all means, feel free.

  119. Horatio M says

    @barry

    Perish the thought that we apply the same standards to Muslims that we apply to everyone else in the world, lest the result be at odds with your politically correct
    conclusions made without any concern for the facts.

    Perish the thought that we might consider as extremists some of those who believe in the infallibility of a sexual pervert, who raped children and murdered and beheaded people freely and who had those who dared disagree with his tyranny executed.

    Given that you have progressed from equating depictions of Mohammed to racism, to equating them to terrorism, I can only imagine where your boundless enthusiasm for fallacious reasoning will take you next.

    @mikey

    Accepting your argument, Islam is essentially 300 years behind Christianity. But given that unlike Christianity, Islam's violence is rooted in the Quran itself where Mohammed
    engaged in extremely brutal and violent campaigns of terror against anyone who didn't obey him, it is unlikely to ever catch up.

  120. barry says

    @Horatio M

    Perish the thought that we apply the same standards to Muslims that we apply to everyone else in the world

    Muslims have as much right to be irrationally offended as anyone else. You have the right to be irrationally offended by a word, even when it's not used in a racist way. It's a similar standard. Everyone has blind spots.

    Given that you have progressed from equating depictions of Mohammed to racism, to equating them to terrorism..

    You even have the right to think that's what I was saying.

  121. Guy who looks things up says

    I like my herring pickled, thank you, and without a side order of bullshit, as quoted below:

    Firstly, the Crusades were a defensive war against Muslim aggression into Europe, not an offensive war.

    That's just wrong. Here are a few inconvenient facts, courtesy of Wikipedia:

    The First Crusade (1096–1099) started as a widespread pilgrimage (France and Germany) and ended as a military expedition by Roman Catholic Europe to regain the Holy Lands taken in the Muslim conquests of the Levant (632–661), ultimately resulting in the recapture of Jerusalem in 1099.

    The Second Crusade was started in response to the fall of the County of Edessa (a Crusader state founded in Asia Minor, not Europe) the previous year

    The Third Crusade (1189–1192), also known as the Kings' Crusade, was an attempt by European leaders to reconquer the Holy Land from Saladin

    The Fourth Crusade (1202–04) was originally intended to conquer Muslim-controlled Jerusalem by means of an invasion through Egypt. Instead, in April 1204, the Crusaders of Western Europe invaded and sacked the Orthodox Christian city of Constantinople

    The Fifth Crusade (1213–1221) was an attempt by Catholic Europeans to reacquire Jerusalem and the rest of the Holy Land by first conquering the powerful Ayyubid state in Egypt.

    The Sixth Crusade started in 1228 as an attempt to regain Jerusalem.

    French king Louis IX led the Seventh Crusade into Egypt, thinking it would be a good base for a campaign to regain Jerusalem.

    The Eighth Crusade was a crusade launched by Louis IX, King of France, in 1270 … Louis was disturbed by events in Syria …

    The Ninth Crusade meandered all over the Eastern Mediterranean from present day Israel to present day Syria or maybe Turkey. Hard to tell from the map. No operations in Europe at any rate.

    Wait, there's more:

    Wasn't it the divine that inspired the Monroe Doctrine that nearly wiped out the indigenous inhabitants of America?

    Wrong choice from the seventh grade multiple choice test. The right choice is Manifest Destiny.

  122. babaganusz says

    thanks Guy, looks like Mr. What never learned the subtle difference between the Reconquista and 'the Crusades' (not nearly as serial as the neat and tidy numbering might have us reckon). and not to mention the Albigensian Crusade, which certainly took place entirely within Europe but didn't require any Muslim input whatsoever…

    also, I'll just leave this here (not because I consider it entirely on the proverbial nose, but because I can recall many times Mr. White has shown abundant self-awareness in this regard): https://ohtarzie.wordpress.com/2015/01/07/i-do-not-mourn-the-deaths-of-racist-imperialist-provocateurs/#comment-15544

  123. babaganusz says

    (and apologies if the link would have been more appropriate on the open thread – certainly more timely – i'll gladly repost there if'n someone wants to baleet my mess)

  124. Jacob H says

    @ Baba – In that comment you link to, the author of the blog post agrees that yes, gunning down people IS the best way for a muslim in france to fight anti-Islam propaganda

    a commenter writes:

    Don’t muslim gunmen have a better way to discourage propaganda against the soi disant muslim community than provoking the entire white race against their murderous rampage?

    I think the answer is no. Immigrants don’t have the resources and education to create alternative media or the corporate connections to publish widely.

    To which the blogger replies:

    This common sense point is routinely ignored. “The best remedy for bad speech is more speech” said the rich, white guy with a big platform to a person with no platform.

    You don't find this a repellant justification for the use of violence? I certainly do. As for the rest, I'm not sure I get how it relates to Ken's self-awareness. I was not under the impression that he is particularly rich (or even particularly white (other than being Mr. White)), nor is Popehat a big platform, and what's more, literally anyone can, in fact, start a WordPress blog.

  125. Jacob H says

    In fact, Charlie Hebdo itself is not even a big platform, or at least it wasn't three weeks ago

  126. Sav says

    @babaganusz

    That's ridiculous. 99.9% of regular white people don't have any platform either.

    This whole ridiculous Muslim/far-left defense for Islamic terror needs to die.
    Every person in the world is angry at one government or another. There are poor disillusioned people in every country on earth. And yet it seem that the only ones who seem to express that by carrying out acts of terrorism, are Muslims.
    Muslims are far from being the most oppressed people. Non-muslims living in Islamic countries face far more discrimination that Muslims living in non-Muslim countries.
    And that whole idea of young disillusioned people falls apart when you consider that the terrorists were in their thirties, and the 5 terrorists arrested in France yesterday were aged 26-44. And then of course there is the fact that many terrorists are highly educated and live comfortable middle-class lives.

    TLDR: Islam alone is responsible for the terrorism that we're seeing. The other explanations (and justifications) for terror don't pass the sniff test.

  127. Guy who looks things up says

    Every person in the world is angry at one government or another … And yet it seem that the only ones who seem to express that by carrying out acts of terrorism, are Muslims.

    Another case where someone checked his memory at the door or maybe just has a different definition for "acts of terrorism."

    Here are a few non-Muslim acts of terrorism:
    – Bombing the Olympics
    – Bombing an abortion clinic
    – Murdering abortion doctors
    – Rioting in Ferguson, Mo.

    Maybe we should even think about including school shootings in that list.

    And a couple that were nipped in the bud:
    – That kid in Ohio
    – Those two old galoots in Georgia

  128. Jacob H says

    There are lots more examples, too – the failed MLK parade bombing from a few years back, horrific violence from narco-controlled areas in Mexico, and Anders Brevik certainly counts. But if we generously interpret his comment to mean "the vast majority," rather than "the only ones," then I think he has a point. Whether that has to do with something inherent in Islamic doctrine or socio-economic conditions is a different question. But it's willful blindness to pretend that all demographics are equally likely to commit violence.

    Who's more likely to become violent – a Jainist extremist, or a Muslim one? Pretending the answer is "neither" doesn't help anything other than making onesself seem tolerant

  129. Sav says

    @Guy who looks things up
    And exactly which group and which ideology were those people alligned with?
    Oh that's right, none, they were acting alone.

    As opposed to the Muslims around the world who have formed large pro-terror and extremist groups in every country where are large numbers of Muslims and a weak government who can't beat them down. Terror is a natural outgrowth of Islam. The same can't be said for any other religion.

    If you are Muslim who wanted to commit acts or terror and wanted to obtain training and weapons, you can easily go to places like Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Yemen, Egypt, Gaza, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nigeria, the Phillipines and so on and so forth.

    On the other hand, if you are a Christian extremists, where would you find such groups? Where would you even find an ideology that supports your desire to kill people?

    You couldn't. Because unlike in Islam where terrorism is widely supported (e.g. 1/3 of Muslims around the world believed the 9/11 attacks were justified), and where some of the greatest scholars have written lengthy books demonstrating that Jihadism (i.e. terrorism) is the duty of every Muslim, in all other religions, terrorism doesn't have a foothold.

  130. Guy Who Looks Things Up says

    @Sav

    Just Google "KKK website." See how many times "Christian" appears in the tag lines.

  131. babaganusz says

    the author of the blog post agrees that yes, gunning down people IS the best way

    actually, the tactical aspect of it is the one that he would bother to question (repeatedly), though at no real length since that wasn't the point of the post.