This is not offensive

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Cartoon - This is not Mohammed
With apologies to Michael Foucault.

I chickened out of posting this yesterday, but with embassies burning down around the world, I felt it needed to be said.

19 thoughts on “This is not offensive

  1. Oh dear James… I don’t think this did need to be said.

    It is not Mohammed who is blowing up Embassies around the world – but an insignificant disillusioned minority.

    I would be offended if you posted up a picture of Jesus on a cross in a Nazi uniform saying… “Don’t worry, my Father will get His revenge on the Jews in 2000 years time”

  2. I think you’ve somewhat missed my point (which I knew would be the danger, but anyway). You certainly don’t speak French. Go away and read that link to Foucault.

    As it happens though, the original cartoon is NOT the equivalent of ‘Jesus on a cross in a Nazi uniform saying… “Don’t worry, my Father will get His revenge on the Jews in 2000 years time”’ It is a juxtaposition of a bomb and a representation of Mohammed and as a matter of fact it isn’t saying anything more than that. What interpretation you put on it is up to you.

  3. Rather inclined to agree with James on this one. I’m of Arab extraction, and I can see why some might take offense…. but tough shit! There are a lot of of bad things in the world… Anyway since your trackbacks dont seem to be working, go check out my take on the article here: http://blog.stodge.org/288

  4. Trackbacks working – just lightly moderated. Thanks for your comments – relieved that someone gets the point I was trying to make!

  5. I think I’m on your side on this one James. I think the aruments are very finely balanaced on publish/not to publish but I’ve felt very odd debating this issue with myself while not having seen any of the cartoons. I was leaning towards non publlication as (I’m told) the cartoons are of no artistic merit and not very funny. But when you see the kind of scenes you see in london yesterday I’m kind of inclined to a “two finders approach”. anyway the foucault link made me laugh

  6. Would you find a pejorative depiction of a Jew offensive? I would. I would even consider it anti-semitic. I’d also find it spurious if the sub-title was ‘This is a not a Jew’. But maybe my sense of irony is underdeveloped.

  7. But that’s your problem Simon. Every pejorative depiction of a Jew is anti-semitic? Even this one? We had that reactionary nonsense last year with Labour’s flying pigs poster (which, despite the hysteria, most certainly was not anti-semitic).

    Your problem would appear to be that you would find any depiction offensive, regardless of context. I don’t want to live under the cloud of self censorship that you appear to advocate.

  8. I must admit when I heard the descriptions of that cartoo it didn’t include the caption, which does completely change the meaning of the cartoon from the one suggested in the press.

    It is ironic that the target of the cartoon is the very extremists that think it is making fun of their prophet.

  9. The caption is my addition. But yes, I think it does change the meaning and makes a new point. I also think that people have inferred a lot of meaning into the original that when you look at it again, just isn’t there.

  10. As I said James, perhaps my sense of irony is not as developed as other people’s; then again, perhaps it is and I still think that some things are offensive beyond the limits of free speech.

    I am also quite sure that these cartoons will be used as justification for anti-semitic, anti-Christian and anti-western propaganda across the Middle East, defended on the grounds of free-speech. No doubt neo-Nazis will be licking their lips as well. So, a failure to show respectful restraint on the part of European editors has led to the patently ludicrous situation that the most significant defence of free-speech that Europe has made in recent times is based round the right to publish religiously offensive images, rather than on the issues of state censorship and the rights to free expression, so curtailed as they are in large sections of the world. I imagine that many authoritarians across the Muslim in particular world are lapping up what must appear to be the most persuasive case against western style freedom of speech – handed to them by European liberal intelligentsia – that freedom of speech is incompatible with an Islamic way of life. But then, if one is ironic, perhaps one can enjoy pyrrhic victories.

  11. Despite your French it is Mohammed in the same way that Life of Brian was about Jesus. This is actually more offensive than the Jesus joke for 2 reasons.
    1) Depiction of the Jesus on a cross isn’t inherently blasphemous whereas depiction of Mohammed is.
    2) The people doing it aren’t Islamic. This is where the Dave Allan comparison doesn’t hold – Dave was noticeably an Irish Catholic – which is why him telling anti-Paisly jokes would not have been funny. This is also why the fatwa against Rushdie, brought up in Islam, was a more important moral issue.

    Despite that I approve of the right to publish it but having a right doen’t stop it being discouteous (& not actually very funny).

  12. Simon,

    I’m just not impressed by your “don’t scare the horses” approach. The flipside to your pessimistic view is that this whole wrangle is both increasing understanding in the West about Islam and challenging the notion that Muslims have a right to not be offended. I can see a lot of good and mutual understanding coming out of this mess. None of which is to deny that there won’t be a mess in the meantime, but mess is the natural by-product of living in an Open Society.

    And it isn’t irony. I’m being the exact opposite of ironic by posting that image. How is making the simple observation that a drawing of X is not the same thing as X ironic? You might not have a sense of irony, but at least take the trouble to understand the concept!

  13. James, if something is not worth publishing once, it is not worth publishing merely because it has become controversial. Indeed, if there was a violent reaction to neo-Nazi propaganda I would think it deeply counter-productive to republish that in the name of free speech. By republishing the cartoons the editors are behaving in a petty tit for tat way; and we are allowing ourselves to be provoked by Islamist extremists. Across much of the Islamic world there is precious little freedom of speech and freedom of expression. As we seem to indulge hatred against Mohammed, so it will become easier for hatred directed towards Jews, Christians and secularism to be ‘excused’ with recourse to moral equivalence, while the chance of increased freedom of speech within the Islamic world to be resisted on the grounds of the defence of Islam. I am not worried about scaring the horses; rather I am taking a different viewpoint – that the republishers would have been better advised to judge whether the cartoons would ordinarily have been published (probably not), and whether it might have been better to observe the Christian maxim to turn the other cheek rather than risk an escalation to no good effect.

  14. Now these anally retentive morons are imprisoning english teachers. Too frightened/paranoid to allow any other religion into their 3rd world/13th Century country they have no sense humour or humanity what are they going to do next? Imprison the CHILDREN?? Oh – they already do that, oh well – SUDAN YOU ARE PATHETIC!

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