Monday, February 13, 2006

You Know Who You Are 'cause You're Offended

As the "row" (as the British call it) over the Danish cartoons of Muhammad continues, one of the weirder skirmishes is taking place in Ohio. Last week, the Akron Beacon Journal published a cartoon by their cartoonist that seems to comment on the media reaction to the controversy. It has a couple sitting on the couch watching CNN, which is showing one of the offending "cartoons" but is digitally blurring the Prophet's face. The woman comments, "no wonder Muslims are upset. Muhammad looks like he's on acid." (see the cartoon for yourself over at the Volokh Conspiracy).

Some local Muslims are offended, although it's not particularly clear at what:

At Friday's news conference at the Islamic Society of Akron & Kent in Cuyahoga Falls, the speakers were passionate.

A.R. Abdoulkarim, Amir of the Akron Masjid, applauded newspapers that decided against running the cartoons, but condemned those who did. The Beacon Journal, he said, was in a class of its own.

'They take the prize for being the most ill-intended, irresponsible property group,' he said. 'Allah curses and condemns them and every Muslim in this community should curse and condemn them.'

Julia A. Shearson, director of Ohio's Council of American-Islamic Relations, said they want the Beacon Journal to apologize for running the 'unethical' cartoon and want the paper to publish their letters to the editor.

Now, putting aside the whole "any image of the Prophet is de facto insulting" argument, I don't see what the hullabaloo about this cartoon is. It seems pretty clearly aimed at media outlets who, as they so often do, try to discuss something sensitive without actually showing whatever is they are discussing for fear of further offending people. That approach simply doesn't work and, potentially, ends up with people having the wrong impression as to what the whole controversy is about. It does not appear to be aimed at the Muslim community in general or done with an intent to offend.

The offended parties are free, of course, to peacefully protest, call for an apology, and write letters to the editors. But it seems to me that if something like this cartoon is a grievous insult to your faith, maybe some self examination is in order.

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