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April 2006 Europress

By Taso Lagos

We here at Europress always believe press matters.  So when the imbroglio from publishing 12 cartoons in Denmark's Jyllands-Posten conservative paper flared, well naturally we stood up and noticed.  Riots over cartoons? Had I made this prediction only last January would anyone believed me? 

First of all if you wish to see all the cartoons in their entirety, please visit  Smart, sassy but hardly incendiary to western eyes, but to our Muslim brothers and sisters, clearly offensive (forbidden to draw the image of Prophet Muhammad).  What is Europress to make of this? 

The culture editor of the Danish paper clearly was gunning for provocation when he published the cartoons last October, after being warned by Islamic leaders in Denmark against it.  Went ahead anyway.  He immediately got threats but this was only published on blogs. 

A Muslim cleric in Denmark was incensed that more people were not protesting so he led a delegation of Muslims to the Middle East to spread the word about the published cartoons. That is when all hell exploded. 

What strikes me is the insensitivity on both sides.  That the paper's culture editor would deliberately publish the cartoons for incendiary purposes and that the cleric would lead a campaign by furthering an already explosive atmosphere in the Middle East. 

Scores of death, burnt buildings and flags and long simmering anger later, we are left wondering what the heck happened and if this is not some slide into global chaos. 

Is this what World War III looks like?  Fueled by a drama-starving media, such scenes have tawdry currency in today's culture.  Nothing like some fire and bloodshed to liven up the news at night.  Meanwhile, calls for restraint and decency seem like patsy cries.  Always the retort is the same:  those who call for peace are appeasers! 

The culture editor and the Muslim cleric should both be locked in a jail for several months, together.  Then perhaps there might be a sliver of hope that understanding might result.  We don't need more hysteria.  The press is not meant to fuel the flame, but show us why it's bad and how to put it out. 

I believe in press freedom (I teach about mass media after all!) and believe in a reasonably peaceful life.  But there are instances when that freedom can be misused, even if for good reasons.  This is why our legal system does not allow someone to yell "Fire!" in a crowded theater. The potential for disaster outweighs one person's right of free speech. 

Let us always publish. But let us not hurt in the process.  A few printed words cannot get back human beings' lives!

 May 2006 Europress

February 2006 Europress

October 2005 Europress

September 2005 Europress

June 2005 Europress

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