Wednesday, February 15, 2006

What Freedom of Speech Looks Like

Ezra Levant is a coward and an asshole. Canadian Muslims have not responded to the offensive Danish cartoons with any kind of violence or threats, outside of a reasonable case that Levant might be comitting a hate crime under Canadian law.

People need to understand there's a difference between the exercise of free speech, and the moral high ground that free speech sometimes gives you. Levant has the right to publish this giant "Fuck You" to Canadian muslims (which is all this is) but he can't expect us to congratulate him for essentially laying a turd in the middle of the living room.

Want to see what a real exercise of free speech looks like?
Amitai Sandy (29), graphic artist and publisher of Dimona Comix Publishing, from Tel-Aviv, Israel, has followed the unfolding of the “Muhammad cartoon-gate” events in amazement, until finally he came up with the right answer to all this insanity - and so he announced today the launch of a new anti-Semitic cartoons contest - this time drawn by Jews themselves!

“We’ll show the world we can do the best, sharpest, most offensive Jew hating cartoons ever published!” said Sandy “No Iranian will beat us on our home turf!”

The contest has been announced today on the website, and the initiator accept submissions of cartoons, caricatures and short comic strips from people all over the world. The deadline is Sunday March 5, and the best works will be displayed in an Exhibition in Tel-Aviv, Israel.
This is such a beautiful response to all of this insanity. I'm overjoyed to see that a sense of humour remains the best response to this kind of idiocy.

The contest is open to all Jewish cartoonists. So if there are any in my audience, knock yourselves out!


Lord Kitchener's Own said...

I haven't seen the infamous cartoons, but I do wonder a little whether seeing them would put all the violence into context. I'm sure some are much more offensive than this, but my understanding is that one of them is a depiction of the Prophet wearing a turban in the shape of a bomb. Offensive, sure, but it's also an interesting commentary on the way radical Islam has usurped a peaceful religion and morphed some of it's former followers into violent fanatics. I'm sure there must be more offensive cartoons in the collection than that, and frankly I can't comment too much, since I'm not at all interseted in seeing the cartoons, but still. I do wonder just how offensive something would need to be to me before I decided I needed to burn down an embassy or kill someone over it. I just don't think any drawing could ever offend me that much.

Ezra's clearly an idiot, but I do wonder, would we feel differently if he had published the cartoons, not in isolation, but juxtaposed them with anti-semitic, and anti- Christian (or other anti-"insert religion here") cartoons that are also extremely offensive. Might there have been some probative and intellectual value to THAT discussion?

I don't at all think it's necessary for other media outlets to publish, or continue to publish these cartoons, but I'm not sure simply publishing an offensive drawing is ever such a sin, even though in this case I rather suspect this is more about publicity, money, and maybe some latent anti-Muslim bias than educating the public.

Again, having not seen the cartoons I'm pretty ill-informed, but I also worry about people referring to the publication of the cartoons as a hate crime. I'm proud that we have hate crime legislation in Canada, but I think it loses its meaning and power if we yell "hate crime!" everytime someone says, writes or draws something offensive. It leads to idiots claiming that the government will ban the bible as "hate literature" someday, which is patently ridiculous, but still, people will say if you can't draw a cartoon of Mohammed with a bomb, you sure as HELL can't keep printing some of the stuff that appears in the old testament... and we're off to the silly races. Maybe some of the cartoons cross the line into "hate crime" territory, but I would be surprised. That's a line I think we have to draw at a pretty far extreme, and somehow I feel there needs to be more than a drawing with a caption (no matter how offensive) to reach that line.


john said...

I actually don't think that there's a hate crime case to be made in this case, though I see a certain value in making sure people understand this is extremely offensive to Muslims in Canada.

I'm going to work on a bit of a longer post in a bit - but not today, probably.