February 22, 2006 | Graham

More complexity on those cartoons – burn Dante’s Inferno

More evidence of the gormlessness of Australia’s media on the Mohammed cartoons is coming to light. This NYT article outlines how the cartoon issue pits Muslim against Muslim. It also indirectly poses a really strong question to Al Jazeera (one of the media organs criticising the cartoons):

What brings more prejudice against Islam, these caricatures or pictures of a hostage-taker slashing the throat of his victim in front of the cameras, or a suicide bomber who blows himself up during a wedding ceremony?

In other words – isn’t your offence not only selective but misdirected?
Stephen Crittendon on the Religion Report interviews Paul Marshall who wrote an article for National Review, which has a portfolio of examples of Islamic, as well as European, portraits of the Prophet. Shiites frequently represent him, perhaps partially explaining why there were few, if any, riots in Iraq.
When it comes to Western portrayals of Mohammed, Dante has Mohammed in the eighth circle of hell with his entrails being drawn. Pictures by Blake, Rodin and Dali represent this. Dante invented the modern Italian language, but, what the heck, if his book offends Muslims, let’s burn it.
This is an important issue. Not to stand up on it is to allow others to dictate how our societies, and the world, should be run. But regimes which favour freedom of speech and back human rights are also those which have done most to advance the course of mankind. Islam has a long way to go before it has earned the right to lecture us.

Posted by Graham at 10:54 pm | Comments (5) |
Filed under: Media


  1. <nitpick>I think it might be worth noting that the question you loosely attribute to the NYT article is a direct quotation of Jordanian journalist Jihad Momani. Helps take the us westerners vs them Islamic extremists (or extremist Islamics) edge off the piece.</nitpick>

    Comment by Gummo Trotsky — February 23, 2006 @ 10:14 am

  2. Would papers that publish the cartoons of Muhammad also publish cartoons that show the hypocrisy in Christian and Jewish cultures and risk offending their audience and advertisers? NO.
    Check the taboo out at http://www.expensivespeech.com/

    Comment by jack fulasofy — February 23, 2006 @ 12:00 pm

  3. Gummo, that was my point. You’ve found a nit that is only a couple of microns thick.
    Jack, you’re missing the point. If Jews and Christians were burning US embassies down because your journal had published those cartoons, then I would have no hesitation in publishing them or linking to them. But they’re not, and I don’t see the point in just gratuitously offending someone.
    The issue isn’t whether I would have published the Danish cartoons, but whether the Danes should be allowed to publish them without being intimidated. Quite clearly they should.

    Comment by Graham Young — February 23, 2006 @ 5:56 pm

  4. sheehanjihad
    February 24th, 2006 at 8:35 am
    Truly, the only thing that means anything to muslims is simple….Kill as many infidels as you possibly can as often as you can, or, survive being killed by infidels and whatever sect of Islam you dont belong to. Anyway you look at it, muslims live to kill and die in the process. So asking them to practice what they preach is telling the so called moderate muslims to get out there and kill somebody too. Moderates are that way because they are afraid of being killed by their own people for not adhering to the strictest of religious codes. So, they live in fear, or live to be feared. There doesnt seem to be an in between.
    Fromanother forum comments website

    Comment by Danny B — February 26, 2006 @ 10:32 pm

  5. My view is simply that ALL religion is utter, self-deceptive nonsense! (Read Gullier’s Travels and the story of the Big-Endians and Little Endians. The only difference here is that it’s heads and not eggs that are cracked).
    I find it PREPOSTEROUS that one group of humans feels they have the right to slaughter another group, simply because the other doesn’t believe in the same ideals as the first. (now let’s not mention The Inquistion!)
    On the same basis I could quite simply say: “I’m an atheist and therefore all theologists should be butchered”. Does that make sense?

    Comment by Iluvatar — February 27, 2006 @ 10:20 am

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