In the past few weeks there have been several cartoons that have pushed the boundaries of good taste.
The Washington Post received a letter from the Joint Chiefs of Staff (signed by all six of ’em) saying that a cartoon previously published in the Post of a soldier who had lost his arms and legs in combat was “beyond tasteless.” I have not seen the cartoon, so I’ll refrain from saying if it was tasteless or not (though I think it probably was), but I will say that those in our government should NOT be trying to influence our media. If they want to write to the editor as American citizens, that’s fine and dandy. But don’t be trying to throw your weight around. And besides – if they didn’t want people printing political cartoons of the soldiers they’ve sent into battle, well then, they shouldn’t have sent the soldiers into battle in the first place.
The next incident was the infamous “Mohammed” cartoon published in a Danish newspaper. I have several observations about this… The first is, yes, the cartoon is offensive. But I also find people who burn the U.S. flag and cut people’s heads off offensive as well. The second observation is that the cartoon was published months and months ago. If the Islamic world had simply ignored the cartoon, no one would have seen it other than a few Danes who probably don’t care much anyway. Now, though, since they’ve made a big deal out of it, millions and millions of people have seen the cartoon. I have no doubt that the overwhelming majority of Muslims are nice, easygoing people, but they’re letting the minority speak for them. If you get upset because people equate your religion with violence (and this goes for us Christians, too), well then, police yourselves. Make your religion the most tolerant, rational group around – a paragon of virtue. Then no one will offend you by drawing nasty cartoons.
If you don’t think the “Mohammed” cartoons are inflammatory, by the way, simply think of your reaction if you’d see a cartoon portraying Jesus in such a negative light. Think of Pat Robertson’s reaction – he goes ballistic at the slightest provocation. Now think of what would happen if Pat Robertson were influential in our government…
The world’s a delicate place, people. We need to work together on this stuff. We can’t afford to stifle free speech, and neither can we afford to overreact to those who think differently than ourselves. (“If there’s one thing I just can’t stand, it’s intolerance.”)
Them’s just my thoughts.