Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Gary Trudeau and Free Speech

From Nobody’s Business, a bit of information about cartoonist Gary Trudeau, and what he thinks about free speech.

Standing in proud solidarity with the mortally offended Mussulmen (see the post immediately below this one) is leftist comic-strip creator Gary Trudeau, who was asked by the Santa Barbara Independent:

What did you make of the Danish cartoon mess? I understand that you said you would never play with the image of Allah. But did you feel you should have done so out of a sense of professional solidarity, or to make a statement about freedom of speech?
Trudeau responded:
What exactly would that statement be? That we can say whatever we want in the West? Everyone already knows that. So then the question becomes, should we say whatever we want? That, to me, is the crux. Do you hurt people just because you can? Because you feel they shouldn’t be deeply hurt, does that mean they aren’t? Should the New York Times run vicious caricatures of blacks and Jews just to show the First Amendment in action? At some point, common sense and sensitivity have to be brought to bear.
Ah, common sense. Is appealing to people’s common sense strictly a one-way street? Because I confess that common sense is not the first quality that comes to mind when I think of jihadists who want to cut off a man’s head for drawing a picture.

Note that Trudeau doesn’t speak of the fact that twelve of his Danish colleagues live under a never-ending death sentence, and that ten of them to this day dare not appear in public. Evidently, he believes that artists who unleash the murderous wrath of those they’ve displeased have simply brought it on themselves.

I wonder if he feels that way about Salman Rushdie and Theo van Gogh. I also wonder if he’d be so understanding if a diehard Dubya fan or a Christian fundamentalist, enraged by a less than charitable Doonesbury strip, threatened to murder him for not displaying sufficient “common sense and sensitivity.”
The point about the Bush supporter or Christian fundamentalist is the key one. The desire to “not offend” coming from liberals and leftists isn’t a principled commitment to civil discourse. They are happy with speech that offends Christians, Republicans, conservatives and other politically-incorrect groups.

Their unwillingness to offend Muslims appears to be the result of political correctness -- the notion that official “victim” groups get to shut up speech they don’t like. “Blacks and Jews,” of course, were traditionally on the list, although Jews now have a tenuous place (at best) because of the anti-Israel pro-Palestinian biases of the left.

The only other explanation is even less flattering to the left: cowardice in the face of physical threats from Muslims.


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