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A Controversial Cartoonist on the Controversy, plus related updates

Sites Hacked Over Cartoon Controversy

As hackers attack Danish Web sites over the controversy over the cartoons of Muhammed and some cartoons are shown to be a hoax, Iran makes plans to publish holocaust cartoons.

A news report says 800 Danish web sites have been hacked since the end of January. The controversy began after 12 images were printed in a Danish publication. Most of the messages left on the Web pages are hate speech or comments, including expletives, saying not to offend Muslims.

Not helping matters is that Imams have circulated offensive images which were not printed. Right wing bloggers are besides themselves over the matter.

Meanwhile, an important voice has spoken in the controversy about the
cartoons of Muhammed. Doonesbury” creator Garry Trudeau knows from controversies and censorship. Some of the 600 newspapers that carry his strip run it on the editorial page, a move intended to placate readers who say it is not funny. At least five times in the last decade some of those newspapers have refused to run his strips when they deem it to offensive. All this is to say, Trudeau knows what he is talking about when it comes to free speech discussion.

Trudeau says this is not about freedom of speech and expression. In the the San Francisco Chronicle Trudeau commented:

It’s not censorship, it’s editing. Just because a society has almost unlimited freedom of expression doesn’t mean we should ever stop thinking about its consequences in the real world. Nor will I be using any imagery that mocks Jesus Christ. I may not agree with their reasons for dropping any particular strip, in fact, I usually don’t, but I will defend their right and responsibility to delete material that they feel is inappropriate for their readership.

Iran does not share Trudeau’s opposition to using imagery mocking a prophet of Jesus Christ, apparently. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice Wednesday accused Iran and Syria of fanning the flames over the controversy. Indeed, Hamshahri, an Iranian newspaper, has announced it will hold a contest for the best cartoons about the Holocaust.

Does the West extend freedom of expression to the crimes committed by the United States and Israel, or an event such as the Holocaust? Or is its freedom only for insulting religious sanctities?

The BBC, like many other media organizations, vocalized a dilemma many newspapers are facing: whether to print the cartoons, or link to them online, in order to give the story context.

It provides some needed explanations at its Internet site, answering questions about the whole controversy. The issue has now sparked some resignations. Four New York Press editors quit after being told the newspaper would not print the cartoons.

The New York Times and USA Today also decided against printing the cartoons, the Philadelphia Inquirer is one of the few American papers to run them. It has now printed readers responses to that decision.

About Scott Butki

Scott Butki was a newspaper reporter for more than 10 years before making a career change into education... then into special education. He has been doing special education work for about five years He lives in Austin. He reads at least 50 books a year and has about 15 author interviews each year and, yes, unlike tv hosts he actually reads each one. He is an in-house media critic, a recovering Tetris addict and a proud uncle. He has written articles on practically all topics from zoos to apples and almost everything in between.

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