The Economist On Cartoon Censorship

kinnon —  February 10, 2006 — 2 Comments

As usual, The Economist has one of the most well-reasoned responses to an issue inflaming certain parts of the world.

Cartoonwars Freedom of expression, including the freedom to poke fun at religion, is not just a hard-won human right but the defining freedom of liberal societies. When such a freedom comes under threat of violence, the job of governments should be to defend it without reservation. To their credit, many politicians in continental Europe have done just that. France’s interior minister, Nicolas Sarkozy, said rather magnificently that he preferred “an excess of caricature to an excess of censorship”—though President Jacques Chirac later spoiled the effect by condemning the cartoons as a “manifest provocation”.

We live in a world where certain parties want us to think exclusively as they think – or be destroyed for resisting. That leaders of liberal democracies would succumb to placating these parties creates a greater sense of concern in me, than all the shouts, signs and bulged-eyed interviews with the spokesmen of hate.

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kinnon

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A television editor, writer & director since 1978. A Christian since 1982. More than a little frustrated with the Church in the West since late in the last millennium.

2 responses to The Economist On Cartoon Censorship

  1. O boy. How I’m gonna be hated for this one…..
    I have to say that while freedom of expression is a wonderful privilege (that I am using right now), it can and has been used almost shamefully. Yup. You heard right. I think that political cartoons are generally a wonderful way to keep things in perspective while enjoying a slightly shamefaced laugh at our human nature and stupidity. That being said, I am frankly disappointed with the way freedom of expression is being used as an excuse for bad manners in this situation. Is it really worth starting this international incident in which countless people are offended, and many will be physically hurt and some even killed. Is freedom of expression more important than human relations and lives. How are we supposed to get along with our Muslim neighbours when we display our bad manners. No wonder we are called infidels!

    That being said……..
    If some people can only react to a cartoon by throwing public fits (like a bad tempered toddler) and destroying lives and property all I can say is…………….
    If the shoe fits, wear it!

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  2. I don’t hate you for saying that ;). Indeed when creating cartoons, movies, songs or any medium one should consider what audiences may be offended. Sometimes only a few people will be offended compared to the millions who enjoy it and see it as a practical joke. Sometimes it pays to offend. Sometimes the part claiming to be offended really is overreacting and needs to back off.

    When offending someone, you should think about why you’re doing it. If the material delivers a deep message that is useful for everyone to see then by all means go for it. If the message is implied but harder to notice due to ridiculous sattire, I think that is still okay. But when you are pissing people off for no reason, just for fun and effectively being a bully, don’t be surprised if people are less than kind to you.

    So in conclusion, agreed, freedom of speech is unfortunately an excuse for being rude in quite a few cases. But if that happens, make sure the person who is being rude is either made painfully aware of the danger he is creating or fired. Don’t ban his works and tell others that they can’t watch them even though you did. Common sense is the answer, censorship is never the answer.

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