Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary

August 29, 2018

Your Danish Cartoons Hangover Update

I haven't run that headline in a while, but I somehow missed that last June avowed anti-Islam Netherlands parliament member Geert Wilders put together a Free Speech Stunt involving cartoons that depict Muhammed: a new cartoon contest, to be specific. There has been a reaction in Pakistan as the contest approaches, a range of responses in the form of peaceful street protests, strong rhetoric, demands for political consequence and wistful imaginings of dropping nuclear bombs in upper Europe.

This kind of thing is never to my mind about Free Speech, or rather not primarily so. I don't know of any sign that free speech is threatened within that country, nor do I believe that opting away from provocation is a curb on speech. I suspect very strongly this is about base-enervating politics. It's just that in this case, this kind of ploy comes with potential human cost. I am also pained that a political party can be formed around an issue like blasphemy, although it seems like most countries are moving in that direction values-wise, whether religious or cultural/religious. That can bring us to ugly places very quickly and usually does. These are forces and emotions and principles in play here too volatile for anyone to negotiate without hitting a nerve, if not several nerves, along the way. I think that's the idea. It's the equivalent of those dopes in Texas strapping on gigantic automatic rifles to go to Arby's or whatever.

I hope this particular episode gets sidetracked in some way before people get hurt and/or die. I hope that people could be discouraged from stunts, period.
posted 5:35 pm PST | Permalink

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