Monday, June 18, 2012
The Muhammad Cartoons: An Ethnocentric Double Standard
In 2005, the Dutch newspaper, Jyllands-Posten published a series of 12 editorial cartoons that depicted Muslim prophet Muhammad in a negative light. The paper's intent was to show that it would not be cowed by demands for self-censorship. Muslims the world over were dismayed by the disrespect shown their prophet by Jyllands-Posten. A few were positively apoplectic about the rudeness shown by the paper, and an even smaller percentage called for death to the perpetrators.
Crazy, huh? Not so fast...
Interestingly, the Jyllands-Posten already has a regime of self-censorship. It refuses, out of good taste, to print pornography, pictures of dead bodies, or any but them tamest of curse words--and that only rarely. Why? Because it respects (ahem, most) of its readership and doesn't want to offend them.
More to the point, Jyllands-Posten had the opportunity, just two years before the Muhammad cartoon series was published, to print cartoons that were mildly unflattering as regards Christ and his resurrection--yet they chose not to. Jens Kaiser, the paper's Sunday editor, said of the decision: "I don't think Jyllands-Posten's readers will enjoy the drawings. As a matter of fact, I think they will provoke an outcry. Therefore I will not use them."
If I were I Muslim, I would be angry at Jyllands-Posten too. Wouldn't you? Come to think of it, I'm not a Muslim, and I'm still angry at JP's ethnocentric double standard.