Right-Wing Media Lusts For Images That Offend Muslims

The murders of the staff of satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris are universally regarded as a heinous assault on humanity and free expression. Virtually every public commentary on the crime repudiates the killers and the violently extremist ideology they claim to represent. That includes the prominent Muslim advocacy organizations like the Council on American-Islamic Relations, and the major Islamic governments of Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Egypt, Iran, and more.

Yet even as this international chorus of condemnation resounds throughout the world, there are some petty voices in the media that seek to take political advantage of the situation. One of the tactics they employ is to attempt to cast shame on any media enterprise that fails to publish the offensive images that are reputed to have incited the attack on Charlie Hebdo. Many conservatives are calling anyone who doesn’t repost the images cowards and terrorist appeasers.

Why is the willingness to give more attention to a specific example of insulting imagery a test of dedication to a free press? Certainly the right to publish such material is one that must not be infringed in a free society, but that doesn’t make it a requirement for everyone to do so. It is possible to protest censorship, intimidation, and terrorism aimed at free speech without engaging in the same speech.

For instance, conservative extremists like Ted Cruz have every right to compare supporters of ObamaCare to Nazis, as he did on the Senate floor. But that doesn’t mean that in order to uphold his rights I have to stand up in public and make the same asinine comparison. It is quite enough for me to articulate my opinion that he is free to say whatever idiotic and inflammatory bullcrap he wants.

The problem is that there is an ugly underpinning to the calls by the right to post offensive images of Mohammed everywhere. And that is that they get off on it. They are only too happy to malign the prophet of a religion that they hate and regard as an evil enemy. Never mind that, by far, most Muslims are as appalled by the Paris murders as everyone else. The rightist, Christian martinets of virtue won’t be happy until every magazine, newspaper and television program has featured the images on their front pages and at the top of every broadcast.

It goes without saying (though I’ll say it anyway) that these same defenders of freedom would never insist on such widespread reproduction if the images maligned their sainted Ronald Reagan. Can you imagine Todd Starnes of Fox News calling out the cowards in the media for not prominently displaying an offensive picture of Reagan? Of course not. But that’s what he did to those not displaying the Mohammed cartoons.

A few years ago there was a movie about a fictionalized assassination of President Bush. It wasn’t even a political film, but rather a crime drama that delved into the complexities of an investigation into the killing of a president. Conservatives were apoplectic, complaining about the film and demanding that it be pulled from distribution. CNN and NPR refused to air advertisements for it.

The Dixie Chicks had the temerity to exercise their rights to free speech by saying merely that they were ashamed that Bush was from Texas. That rather tame bit of criticism led to record burnings, concert boycotts, and even death threats. No one was demanding that everybody play their music on the radio to demonstrate a commitment to free speech.

And then there was the notorious parody ad that appeared in Larry Flynt’s Hustler Magazine. It was a mock ad for Compari that played off of the liquor’s ad campaign at the time. However, Hustler’s version put televangelist Jerry Falwell in, shall we say, a compromising position. The response to that was both outrage from offended Christians and a lawsuit from Falwell. Eventually, Flynt prevailed in the Supreme Court, scoring a victory for free speech. But none of the conservatives today who are so anxious to see more public displays of Mohammed cartoons were clamoring for such a movement of solidarity in defense of Flynt. And it should not be forgotten that Flynt was also the victim of a terrorist attack when he was shot by a white supremacist, severing his spinal cord and leaving him confined to a wheelchair.

Jerry Falwell Compari

What is painfully clear is that conservatives would never condone reproducing images, or promoting other forms of speech, that they find offensive. But they are drooling ravenously to see more of the images that offend Muslims. And it’s all in the name of defending free expression. But beyond the obvious hypocrisy, it is apparent that they are more interested in satisfying their own repugnant desires to denigrate their perceived foes than in standing up for freedom.

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[Addendum] As an example of some of the intrepid Fox News soldiers of press freedom, these statements were recently broadcast:

Ralph Peters: The correct response to this attack by all of us in journalism – we pretend to be so brave. If we had guts those cartoons would be reprinted on the cover pages of the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the L.A. Times, the Washington Post tomorrow. They won’t be. We’ll cry, but we’ll continue to self-censor.

K.T. McFarland: If there is any guts, if there is any courage, if there is any role that a free media has, it is to go out and call it what it is. If we are already self-censoring, if we are already cowering under the desk because we’re afraid of this, we’re afraid of that, then you know? Free speech is already lost.

Note that the official position of Fox News is to not display the images from Charlie Hebdo. They issued a statement saying that “The safety of its correspondents and questions of taste are at issue.” So apparently, free speech is already lost. But if they are still interested in publishing images to demonstrate their solidarity with oppressed journalists, maybe they will publish this image of a cardinal giving Jesus a blow job on the cross. It was featured on the cover of the German satire magazine, Titanic, who have encountered their own problems with censorship and could use the support.



15 thoughts on “Right-Wing Media Lusts For Images That Offend Muslims

  1. Wow, sounds like somebody actually GETS IT. You can support free speech without agreeing with what is being said! Too many on BOTH sides of the aisle seem to forget that of late. It’s either a wash of “You can’t say offensive things” or “How dare you NOT support free speech by agreeing with us?” I don’t particularly care for what Charlie Hebdo had in it’s pages, but I DO care, and support, the right to say those things.

  2. I’m Jewish and I very grudgingly support the KKK’s freedom of speech when they call for my grisly murder and burning because my nose is not small as a button.
    I’m not gay, and I absolutely despise the Westboro Baptist Church but I grudgingly support their freedom of speech to say the heinous things they say about gays.
    The list is endless.
    The point is, once we restrict the speech of one group…which group will be next? There are people, extremists, on both sides of the argument who try to take the freedom of speech to the extreme and dare you to disagree, then hundreds of voices come after you to punish you for disagreeing. its been my experience that the vast majority of this type of fanatic is on the Conservative side, though we Liberals do have a small army of such people. Defending freedom of speech by deliberately being as offensive as possible to another group is not defending freedom of speech. It’s being a total jerk.

  3. “…by far, most Muslims are as appalled by the Paris murders as everyone else.”

    This is a generalisation, without data. The ‘moderates’ are ‘most Muslims’ and they on the whole follow and regard the Sharia as sacrosanct, and although they may say that the murders are appalling they will still agree with the justification by the ‘extremist’.

    This is the fallacy propagated by the apologists and the ignorant. Their concept of society and thinking is not the same as in the ‘West’.

    • And where’s your data to back up your generalization?

      The first paragraph mentions “public statements” by organizations and countries. That data is easily fact checked.

      Let’s see yours so they we may fact check it. Fair and balanced, right?

      • These “public statements” do not represent in total their true feelings.
        Yes the murders are called heinous by these organisations and countries.
        However these same organisations and countries still back up all their ‘divine’ laws and rules as spoken by their ‘prophet’. They will defend the same Hadiths that the radicals use to justify their violence.
        (Go back and read the background of these organisations and countries.)

        So many keep talking about the ‘moderates’ who should stand up and reject the violence and hatred of the ‘extremists’.

        It is erroneously assumed that the majority of the Muslims who are called ‘moderates’ are liberal or tolerant.

        This is NOT correct – the ‘moderates’ of Islam are conservatives, who do back up their Sharia in their families. They do insist on arranged marriages and submission to Sharia, and will agree with ‘honour killings’.

        The ‘moderates’ are the ones who condemn the ‘liberals’ in Islam as ‘bad’ Muslims; which is why the liberals are fearful of speaking out against their family and extended community.

        We have every reason to be Islamophobic – there is much to fear.
        Your data is everywhere if you choose to analyse it.

  4. If FOX NOISE had any balls, they would show the cartoons in question. Instead, like the cowardly hypocrits that they are, they want everyone else to do their fighting for them.

  5. Wow. So you’re a mind reader, too. All you’ve given us is your slanted opinion. You’ve provided no “data”, just fear mongering. If you’re so afraid, go hide in a hole somewhere and cower.

    Still waiting for this data that doesn’t have “fox news” all over it.

    • So you doubt what is plain to read in the world’s papers, and not just from the uber-conservative tea partiers. (I usually disagree with FOX 99%)
      Do your own bloody homework but I seriously doubt that you will ever see what is so obvious to the rest of us. You are starting to sound like a troll.

      It will be the apologists and ignorant apathetics, including the doubters, who are to blame for this all destruction by this demanding religious ideology dominating and dictating over our free and democratic systems. Do you want this ideology?

      Now get one thing straight here – your attitude puts our lives and culture at stake. You put our very existence at peril. You do not have that right to try to force the rest of us to be complacent.
      Read again what happened in France, then open the news for Africa, Middle East, South Asia, South East Asia, East Europe.
      Give us your august opinion on these points then.
      What do you know about Islam? Have you lived in their countries for 15+ years, or married one?

      • Geez – you sound like the Chicken Littles who were so certain that Ebola was going to spread across America and infect every man, woman, child. How can you exist in such a frantic state of fear?

        You need to realize that the terrorists, while they are able to inflict some damage from time to time, are still a tiny minority and they do not threaten the survival of the planet or America. We are not all hanging on the precipice of existence, for crissake.

        But more to the point, your frenzied fear mongering is wildly off-topic. If you don’t have anything to say about the subject of this article, please just return to the safety of your bunker and finish your Cheetos.

        • I can see where you all are coming from. To ignore what is obvious is stupidity; but your stupidity endangers the lot of us.
          Read some history and see that this is not some Spanish Flu, here today gone tomorrow; there is an clear and growing evolution of a very powerful religious/ideological system; growing in numbers and area.
          What part of all this are you missing? Start edifying us with your foresight.

          • Good god Brien, you sound like one of those street corner doomsday preachers yelling at everyone that the end is near. I don’t doubt facts and evidence. And no, I’m not asking you to do my “bloody homework” for me. What I’m doing is calling you out for not doing any of your own. It’s obvious you don’t or you wouldn’t say things like “most moderate Muslims, etc, etc.” What is your evidence? My point is you don’t have any because it doesn’t exist except in your poisoned mind.

            And then there’s this little gem:

            “Now get one thing straight here – your attitude puts our lives and culture at stake. You put our very existence at peril. You do not have that right to try to force the rest of us to be complacent.”

            Try the Prozac. I hear it can be helpful.

            I’m not forcing you to do anything. You made a batshit stupid statement about which you know nothing. All I ask is for you to produce the evidence that supports your claim and generalization that says most moderate muslims aren’t tolerant. Short of that, I call bullshit.

  6. You are working real hard to stay stupid. Why? They are already burning your civilisation – what are you not seeing?

  7. But like the theists, bleeding heart left wingers refuse to see though the fog of their own hatreds for the truth. Your hatred of FOX does not let you even consider when the fools at FOX may be right (which is rarely).
    Get past your selfish arrogance and your infantile insults and you might see the danger to ‘our’ society.

  8. Best art of that day the police chalk outlines of the 2 jihadists on the street

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