Depressing, but I applaud the way they handled their decision. This is more poignant than any of the hundreds of hollow, self-flattering “pen is mightier than the sword” media tributes to Charlie Hebdo over the past 72 hours.
Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, which angered Muslims by publishing cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad 10 years ago, will not republish Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons due to security concerns, the only major Danish newspaper not to do so.
“It shows that violence works,” the newspaper stated in its editorial on Friday…
“We have lived with the fear of a terrorist attack for nine years, and yes, that is the explanation why we do not reprint the cartoons, whether it be our own or Charlie Hebdo’s,” Jyllands-Posten said. “We are also aware that we therefore bow to violence and intimidation.”
An honest surrender, and a somber footnote to the “Je suis Charlie” protests. Jyllands-Posten was in the crosshairs for publishing cartoons of Mohammed before Charlie itself was, and having spent nine years there, they’ve decided they can take no more. Other Danish papers ran Hebdo’s cartoons in solidarity but JP, a special target for its earlier blasphemy, stood down. I don’t get that, frankly. One of the hallmarks of the jihadi mindset is its long memory for affronts to Islam; I’m sure they feel they still owe Jyllands-Posten payback despite yesterday’s attempt to appease. In for a penny, in for a pound with these cretins. But maybe JP thought that refusing to publish the cartoons in this case would better illustrate the crisis of free speech in the west than publishing would. Here’s a newspaper that’s world famous for its willingness to defy Islamic blasphemy norms, now capitulating and making no bones about why. That’s the state of western “progress” in standing up to violence aimed at self-censorship. And in caving here, they’re at least respecting the first rule of journalism: Don’t lie to your readers. They’re afraid and they admit it. Violence works. If that makes the readership uncomfortable, it should. Maybe that’s the way to reverse the trend towards blasphemy blackouts.
Meanwhile, in the U.S., the first rule of journalism doesn’t much matter anymore.
New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet explained Thursday that the Grey Lady won’t republish provocative Muhammad cartoons from a French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo because the images are simply too obscene…
“Have you seen them? They are sexual, and truly provocative. They are not the ones a handful of papers have run. Those are mild. If you really want to understand the issue, you would have to show the most over-the-top images,” he said. “And they don’t meet our standards. They are provocative on purpose. They show religious figures in sexual positions. We do not show those.”
Elsewhere, in separate statement to Politico, Baquet explained that the New York Times is also trying to avoid offending its Muslim readers: “[L]et’s not forget the Muslim family in Brooklyn who read us and is offended by any depiction of what he sees as his prophet.”
This is a lie, and it’s so brazen a lie that righties and lefties are unusually united in calling it out. But if this wasn’t the Times’s policy before, it will be now. Images that are even marginally offensive to some group will be excised from the paper, not because the Times worries sincerely about its readers’ feelings but because maintaining the charade that this is about “sensitivity” and not fear of being attacked requires that they be evenhanded in their censorship. (Bill Donohue understands that and can’t wait to take advantage.) The only way to limit censorship to Islamic blasphemy, specifically, is to do what Jyllands-Posten did and confess the real reason for it. Instead, in Baquet, we’ve now got the head of the most powerful newspaper in the world arguing for censoring key facts in a huge international news story, not because publishing them would jeopardize national security (the classic example in terrorism stories is troop/spy movements) but because some subset of readers might be offended. There is consistency in that — in both this case and the case of withholding details on troop movements, reporters are blacking out information that might get someone killed if they published it — but Baquet can’t admit it. If Jyllands-Posten can, why can’t he?