Hypocrisy of cartoon architects revealed

Jyllands-Posten’s defense has been refuted by its own record.

Exhibit A:

Rune Engelbreth Larsen reports in "05.02.2006 | JPs dobbeltmoral og Hornbechs kritik" (with my own bland  translation into English following):

Nu har Politiken (4.2.2006) afsløret, at JPs dobbeltmoral også viser sig deri, at avisen i 2003 nægtede at bringe en temmelig uskyldig Jesus-tegning (sammenlignet med en dæmoniseret Muhammed med bomber i hovedet) – og med hvilken begrundelse? Daværende søndagsredaktør, Jens Kaiser afviste den 9. apil 2003 tegningerne med begrundelsen: »Faktisk tror jeg, at den vil udløse et ramaskrig. Derfor vil jeg ikke gøre brug af den.«
Politiken (2006-02-04)
[roughly the Danish equivalent of the New York Times, except with a spine --Svend] has reported on the double standard evident in the fact that in 2003 JP refused to print a rather innocent drawing of Jesus (compared to a demonizing rendering of Muhammad with bombs on his head).  The reason?  Jens Kaiser, the editor for the Sunday edition at the time, justified his rejection of the drawings submitted for April 9th 2003 by explaining, "As a matter of fact, I think these would cause an uproar.  Therefore, I won’t be using them."

Den ville udløse et ramaskrig? Der var tale om forskellige versioner af Jesus’ opstandelse – f.eks. en smilende Jesus, der hopper op af et hul. Hvis en redaktør på JP kunne frygte et ramaskrig som følge af en smilende Jesus i 2003, som hopper op af et hul, og af denne grund tilsidesætte »ytringsfriheden« – hvordan kan avisens chefredaktør så i dag hævde, at det kommer helt bag på ham, at muslimer er krænket af at se Muhammed dæmoniseret fremstillet med bomber i hovedet?
They would cause an uproar?  He was talking about different versions of  Jesus’ resurrection, such as a smiling Jesus who pops out of a hole.  If an editor at JP would fear creating an uproar with a smiling Jesus popping out of a hole in 2003 and for this reason set aside "freedom of expression", how can it be that the newspaper’s editor in chief can now claim that he’s completely mystified at how Muslims could be offended by a portrayal of Muhmmad with bombs on his head?

He also passes on some wise commentary from another Danish politician from the ruling party (who, according to her parliamentary bio, happens to be the daughter of a pastor, for what that’s worth), Birthe Rønn Hornbech:

Naturligvis må også muslimer i Danmark finde sig i, at de er kommet til et land med ytringsfrihed. Naturligvis må muslimer finde sig i, at der i et land med religionsfrihed også er frihed til religionskritik. Men at tegne Muhammed med en bombe i turbanen har jo ikke et klap med saglig religionskritik at gøre.
It goes without saying that Muslims in Denmark must also accept that they’ve come to a country with freedom of expression.  It goes without saying that a country with freedom of religion is also a country with freedom to critique religion.  But drawing Muhammad with a bomb in his turban obviously has nothing to do with serious religious critiques.

Vi har ikke fået ytringsfriheden for at genere hinanden uden andet formål end netop at genere andre. Ytringsfriheden blev med Grundloven i 1849 først og fremmest indført for at borgerne og ikke mindst pressen på borgernes vegne kunne og kan kontrollere den offentlige magtudøvelse. Det bruges ytringsfriheden da også stadig til. Men i alt for høj grad er ytringsfriheden blevet forvaltet som en ulækker lyst til at bringe personfnidder både i pressens reportager og i læsernes indlæg. Alt i ytringsfrihedens hellige navn. For den er vor ret.
We didn’t get freedom of expression to offend each other merely for the sake of offending others. [...] Far too often, [the invocation of] freedom of religion has has been guided by an uncivil desire to introduce personal grudges into both press articles and reader responses.

Det er, som om ytringsfriheden er ved at blive helliggjort som en eller anden fundamentalistisk religion, hvor det gælder om at dæmonisere hinanden. Ikke mindst dæmoniseres muslimerne ud fra den barnagtige indstilling, at når der nu er nogen muslimer, som vi synes opfører sig mærkeligt eller forkert, så skal alle muslimer så sandelig også mærke, hvordan vi er.
It is as if freedom of expression had been sancitified as some kind of fundamentalist religion whose purpose is to promote the demonization of others.  Muslims are demonized in particular by the childish expection that since there are some Muslims who we think behave strangely or immorally, that all Muslims need to understand how [much better] we are.

(…) Dæmoniseringener ikke blot lavpandet og åndløs. Dæmoniseringen er med til at vanskeliggøre mindretallenes forståelse for vort samfund og øger tværtimod de pågældendes følelse af at være marginaliseret. Og det er dødsensfarligt.
[...]Demonizing isn’t just primitive and stupid.  Demonization increases minorities’ difficulties in understanding our society and heightens their feelings of marginalization.  And that is lethal.

Det kan blive skæbnesvangert for vort land, hvis vi ikke snart fatter faren ved, at store herboende grupper føler sig marginaliseret og søger trøst i den mest yderliggående religiøse fundamentalisme, der ikke levner demokratiet en chance.
It could be of momentous consequence for our country if we don’t quickly grasp the risks in a situation where large groups residing in Denmark feel marginalized and seek comfort in the most extreme forms of religious fundamentalism which reject democracy.

Exhibit B:

Oops, almost forget the curious case of the Jyllands-Posten leadership’s rather intolerant stance regarding a pornographic painting of Jesus, also from Rune Engelbreth Larsen’s blog  ("02.02.2006 | JP bifaldt censur af Jesus-afbildning"):

Måske skulle man også i disse dage lige minde om, at da kunstneren Jens Jørgen Thorsen i 1984 fik lov til at afbilde Jesus med erigeret lem på et vægmaleri i Birkerød, forlangte Jyllands-Postens daværende chefredaktør, Asger Nørgaard Larsen det fjernet – i dag er han formand for avisens fond og har den modsatte opfattelse i sagen om Muhammed-tegningerne.
Perhaps we should also recall these days how when the artist Jens Jørgen Thorsen obtained permission to paint a Jesus with an erect member in a public mural in Birkerød, Jyllands-Posten’s editor in chief at the time, Asger Nørgaard Larsen, demanded it removed.  Today, he’s the chairman of the newspaper’s fund [Am not sure how to translate that.] and has the exact opposite view of the cartoons of Muhammad.

Dengang blev Jesus-maleriet overmalet på trafikminister Arne Melchiors ordre, og i en kommentar hertil i Jyllands-Postens leder skrev Asger Nørgaard Larsen, at trafikministeren »har vist både fornuft og mod til at forlange smøreriet fjernet, selv om han kan forvente nye råb om grundlov og censur« (Kilde: Politiken, 23.10.2005).
When the mural of Jesus was painted over at the order of traffic minister Arne Melchiors, Asger Nørgaard Larsen wrote in a leader in Jyllands-Posten that the traffic minister "had shown both good sense and courage in demanding the removal of the painting, even though he can expect new screams about the constitution and censorship" (Source:  Politiken, 2005-10-23).

Som formand for Jyllands-Postens fond skriver han imidlertid i dag om avisens Muhammed-tegninger: »Vi har ytringsfriheden under ansvar for den verdslige lov som grundlag for demokratiet. At denne tilkæmpede frihed er dyrebar er de færreste danskere i tvivl om … Ytringsfriheden skal bruges og prøves.« (Jyllands-Posten, 30.1.2006).
As the chairman of the Jyllands-Posten fund today, howevever, he writes this of the cartoons of Muhammad: "Freedom of expression is subject to secular law and is the foundation of our democracy. The overwhelming majority of Danes understand this… Freedom of expression must be used and tested."  (Jyllands-Posten, 2006-01-30).

Altså – »bruges og prøves« til propagandaformål vendt mod muslimer, men censur er på sin plads, hvis det drejer sig om en pornograficerende fremstilling af Jesus …
So, "used and tested" is reserved for propaganda purposes against Muslims, but censorship has its place if it concerns a pornographic representation of Jesus…

Ergo, all this preaching about freedom of speech and religious freedom is just a smoke screen to distract fairminded people from the real agenda: humiliating and disenfranchising those uppity , unassimilated Muslims.  Which is why bigots around the globe are rallying to these knuckedraggers’ defense.

Update (2006-02-07): 
Corrected a typo that Micheal was kind enough to bring to my attention.  I absentmindedly translated ytringsfriheden in "og af denne grund tilsidesætte »ytringsfriheden«" as "freedom of religion" rather than the correct "freedom of expression".  I apologize for the error and hope it didn’t cause any misunderstandings.

Update (2006-02-07):
Just I took another look and realized that I greviously mistranslated the phrase "Jesus’s opstandelse".  Doing this in a rush while at work, I translated opstandelse as "appearance".  It’s actually "resurrection"!   A rather serious screw up for which I apologize profusely.

  • http://www.modspil.dk Carsten Agger

    The Guardian also has a piece about this today:
    http://media.guardian.co.uk/site/story/0,,1703500,00.html

  • Svend White

    Tak!

  • Michael Mahmut Aytac

    I’m from Denmark and I’d like to help readers get a better understanding of what Rune Engelbrecht has written on his blog. In his articel about Jesus (peace be upon him) Rune writes “ytringsfriheden” which simply means “freedom of expression.”

  • Svend White

    Ay hvor er jeg dum! Thanks for catching that mistake, Michael!

  • Svend White

    Just I took another look and realized that I greviously mistranslated the phrase “Jesus’s opstandelse”. Doing this in a rush while at work, I translated opstandelse as “appearance”. It’s actually “resurrection”! A rather serious screw up for which I apologize profusely.

  • James

    Jyllands-Posten may have been wrong, or even hypocritical, in not publishing a potentially offensive cartoon, but that doesn’t in any way diminish the right of free expression for the rest of us.
    If you’re going to character assassinate in order to prove a point, consider Mohammedans who claim theirs is a religion of peace while throwing Molotov cocktails through embassy windows.

  • http://akramsrazor.typepad.com svend

    Thanks for the comment, James. I guess.
    I don’t see this is a question of freedom of expression. When the newspaper chose to exercise its right in this irresponsible way, it became a political matter.
    I don’t think I engaged in character assasination, if that’s what you’re implying, and I don’t condone those actions.
    But as I’ve said before, extremism begets extremism.

  • Peter Krogsten

    Quote.
    I don’t see this is a question of freedom of expression. When the newspaper chose to exercise its right in this irresponsible way, it became a political matter.
    Unquote
    You couldn’t be more wrong, and your thoughts are fundamentalistic. If a a paper – or anybody else – misuses the freedom of speach according to the limitations laid down in laws, this becomes a matter for the courts. If your view is enforced, it will always be the ruling government that decides what is allowed to be said, and by whom. In a democratic system Parliament chosen by the people makes the laws. Juridical system, which are hired professionals, handles violations of these laws.This is the way used in all democratic countries.
    Your method is and have been used in used in
    Nazi Germany
    The Soviet Union
    Mao’s China
    In a modified form current-day China.
    Saudi Arabia.
    Iran.
    and you may continue the list on your own.

  • svend

    Tak for dit indlaeg.
    With all due respect, Mr. Krogsten, I think you’re missing the whole point. The problem with so much of the often lazy analysis in the media is how it discusses what is clearly xenophobic brinksmanship and political maneuvering as if were some cerebral debate in a socio-political vacuum, an exchange of ideas out in the Platonic ether of philosophical debate.
    If this were not a deliberately political act, I’d probably agree with you to a great extent, as I believe passionately in freedom of religion (which includes the right to hold beliefs others find offensive).
    But it *was* political and there are real world consequences to the way this was done, for Muslims and Danes (not that the categories are mutually exclusive) alike that deserve criticism.
    Then there’s the fact that Muslim-bashing had become a national sport in Denmark *before* the cartoons. Contemporary Denmark is no Nazi Germany, of course, but way open bigotry towards and conspiracy theories about Muslims have become socially acceptable bear an unpleasantly familiar ring.
    BTW, my “method” is to strive to avoid needless intercommunal strife and provocation in society, which actually bears little ressemblance to the nasty regimes you listed. If anything, the Jyllands-Posten approach, publishing Der Sturmer-style cartoons in the name of religious freedom, seem a lot closer to the Orwellian doublespeak of those hypocritical regimes and ideologies.


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