Someone’s going to die.
Someone is going to die because a Danish newspaper printed a series of cartoon that people found offensive.
Someone’s going to die.
It hasn’t happened yet, but embassies are being burned and protests have hit the streets, and one side says that there should be limitations on the material covered by the principles of free speech, and the other side says that in a fair society everything in the public interest is fair game and anything less is a restriction on the rights of the press.
The moderate voices are lost, of course, the voices that say that yeah, the cartoons are offensive, but that doesn’t mean some loonweasel should threaten Denmark with its own 9/11, the voices that say freedom of speech should be enshrined but there needs to be sensitivity in how that freedom is enacted. These voices are always lost, right until the end, when amid the flames and the rubble and the ranting, people realise that they should have been heeded in the first place.
That said, maybe it’s gone beyond that. Certainly for the European press to back down now could easily be read as appeasing a dangerous lunatic fringe (which, of course, disenfranchises mainline Muslims who will pretty much get the sticky end of this particular stick in the coming months and years), and seeing banners telling me to prepare for the “REAL Holocaust” (sic) just makes me believe the British press should print the stupid cartoons (no-one threatening that sort of thing deserves our respect), and I’ve got to wonder if the same restraints that would block these cartoons would also apply to anti-semetic cartoons that appear in newspapers in countries who have issues with Israel.
But someone is going to die.
To anyone – ANYONE – who truly believes that the penalty for printing or drawing or reproducing a dodgy cartoon should be the death sentence, I say this: lay down your arms, the metaphorical guns and bombs that scar societies and communities and that drive people on both sides closer to the extremists rather than the sane voices who just want to disagree in peace. It’s not worth it, truly, it’s not worth it. Because this sort of thing doesn’t earn respect, it earns fear, and societies based around fear fall apart. Sooner or later, people discover reserves of courage, or they get pushed too far, or the targets of the hatemongers run out of ‘acceptable’ victims and turn towards their supporters instead. Fear destroys.
The pen is mightier than the sword, it’s just a bit slower is all. Write angry letters to the publishers of the cartoons, draw caricatures of Danish journalists, write cheques to a cancer charity in Denmark and undercut the hatred with love and decency and honour. Don’t threaten war and violence and death. It just gets people mad. It just gets people killed.
Someone’s going to die, I think, but as far as I know it hasn’t happened yet. It can be avoided. The anger can still find an acceptable outlet. The freedom to offend isn’t something that needs to be perpetuated once its point has been made. Lay down the guns. Listen to the voices of reason and honour and true faith, before it’s too late.
Because no-one should die over a cartoon.