Feb. 7, 4 p.m.: Cartoon violence and the hypocrisy of intolerance

This is not about free speech, but about political opportunism.

By: Hank Kalet
   Watching the demonstrations and bloodshed in Europe and the Muslim world over the publication of a dozen cartoons in a Danish paper depicting Muhammad in a variety of manners has been difficult.
   My first instinct always is defend the freedom of the press to publish anything it deems important or necessary. So I defend the Danish paper by offering this reprint of a Doug Marlette column in the Columbia Journalism Review.
   I also understand the reaction (here a particularly good column on the problems), given the politics of the region and the context in which these things appeared. Danish society has turned decidedly anti-immigrant, in particular anti-Arab. And the publication in a small newspaper was used for political gain.
   Basically, this has been an issue rife with hypocrisy. The Arab leaders and governments calling for an apology have defended Arab publication of anti-Semitic cartoons or those portraying Israeli Jews as if they were Nazis. And those on the Christian Right and in the right-wing media in the United States who have taken the Arab world to task need to admit that — aside from the violence — they would be out there marching in the streets and demanding an apology had the cartoons depicted Jesus in an unflattering light.
   How do I know this? I’ve seen it. Anyone remember the furor over the Martin Scorcese film "The Last Temptation of Christ"? Not one of his better films, but still a good one and one that attempted to tell an alternate tale of Christ’s life. "Dogma," Kevin Smith’s film, met the same kind of criticism.
   Just a thought.