The Muhammad Cartoons: An Ethnocentric Double Standard

We all thought, didn't we, that the Muslims were somehow crazy to be so incensed that a Dutch newspaper would publish cartoons in 2005 that portrayed the Islamic Prophet Muhammad in a negative light? Well, we were wrong. Let's look at what the same newspaper didn't publish because of its offensiveness to readers.

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.


  1. It's not a double standard, it's a choice. One you might disagree with but not one that should get people killed. I'll go so far as to say that if they had published those unflattering pictures of Jesus the worst that would have happened would have been outcry, calls for someone's job and perhaps a boycott. All quite tame in comparison to what the muslims, across the world, did. What price free speech and personal choice eh?


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