I need to follow-up on the post below. At the time I read the column below, I thought it was one of the better ones I'd read in terms of summarizing the events, and it made a couple good points, particularly in reference to Denmark, that I hadn't seen anywhere else.
By the time I finished writing my post however, and in retrospect, it became clear that I disagree with the Lessenberry's overall point—that a free press can, and should, do whatever the fuck it wants. It's still a good column and his opinion and point are valid, just not shared by me. I think Lessenberry is treating this whole thing as too academic, with no regard for real-world consequences. It's irresponsible. Especially for him to think his own paper had an obligation to print them, or for him to be annoyed that they didn't. On this point I disagree with him strongly for the reasons stated in the previous post.
Today, Ezra links to an excellent piece at slate.com and makes this point:
It is the case that other, more politically efficacious religious movements, have no problem bringing down massive pressure on media outlets that offend them. Think the Jewish Anti-Defamation League, or the Catholic Church. But since they have electoral/financial clout and can use accepted institutional levers, few get worked up over their blatant attempts to silence critical or derogatory speech. The Danish cartoons, which projected, during a tense time, anti-Muslim stereotypes on a continent already bristling with them, aroused the same sort of opportunistic religious leaders we're used to, but it their organizations deploy riots and flag burnings rather than boycotts and political pressure. Different, sure, but only in degree, not in kind.
Precisely. European Muslims are already feeling persecuted, and are not only powerless to protest in an effective or "acceptable" manner, it is patently obvious that the situation is ripe for trouble on the street and exploitation from the pulpit. Outside the Middle East, this is a population that feels oppressed. Within the Middle East they are often oppressed as well. It is no wonder that this stuff explodes. To be clear—I'm not excusing—just making a point.
The slate piece, written by a Muslim [link], acknowledeges the Muslim role in this, but also does an excellent job expressing the offense and rage in text, that overseas has more often taken the form of a rock or flame.