Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Cartoons used to be funny

The cartoon depicts a hooked nosed Jew dressed in black, grinning demonically as he drags a diminutive black Sambo to the auction block by the chain he has clamped to his neck.

As an American I cannot imagine a cartoon more offensive. It’s anti-Semitic and racist. No one in North America or Europe would think of publishing a cartoon like this without risking being marked a neo-Nazi. Unlike the legal maxim I believe that ignorance is an excuse but once enlightened that excuse is no longer valid. We have been informed that the cartoons of Mohamed represented as a rag headed terrorist, are as offensive to non-terrorist Moslems as Sambo is to black Americans. Why then do we (and in this I include the Europeans) continue to publish these cartoons in the name of “Free Speech?”

There is a responsibility associated with free speech. I am free to say anything I want in public. This is an unalienable right in all western democracies and, we all hope, eventually the rest of the world, but if I yell “fire” in a crowded theater I am responsible for the consequences of that act. We have forgotten that the right to yell “fire” in a crowed theater carries with it the responsibility not to.

If ever there was a situation that called for restraint this is it. Extremists on all sides are working their blood lust to a fevered pitch and should the genie of armed racial hatred fully combine with extreme religious zeal this century may well see the end of the modern age as we have come to know it and the promise of progress, of a broad upland of economic security and spiritual enlightenment will come to an end.

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