LEMMING ROSE of Jyllands Postens has a remarkable article in the Washington Post Sunday, Why I Published Those Cartoons. Denying that his newspaper was engaged in a gratuitous use of press freedom to insult Islam, he declared that, "I commissioned the cartoons in response to several incidents of self-censorship in Europe caused by widening fears and feelings of intimidation in dealing with issues related to Islam...The idea wasn't to provoke gratuitously -- and we certainly didn't intend to trigger violent demonstrations throughout the Muslim world. Our goal was simply to push back self-imposed limits on expression that seemed to be closing in tighter."
The original intended audience of the cartoons, according to Mr. Rose, was not the Muslim world at all, but the societies of Denmark and Europe practicing "self-censorship" over "issues related to Islam." What are these "issues?" Mr. Rose gives a stark example: " Nowhere do so many religions coexist peacefully as in a democracy where freedom of expression is a fundamental right. In Saudi Arabia, you can get arrested for wearing a cross or having a Bible in your suitcase, while Muslims in secular Denmark can have their own mosques, cemeteries, schools, TV and radio stations."
What he's saying is that out of "respect" or "sensitivity" for the religious feelings of Muslims, so often expressed in non-religious and violent ways, many in Western societies are willing to ignore certain aspects of Islam that we would consider reprehensible in our own societies, to be "tolerant of the intolerant." For example, the hideous treatment of women in Muslim societies, the theocracy that is at the heart of Islam, the claim that "we are the one true religion"; and of course the Muslim-on-Muslim mass murders that Islamist terrorism has wrought on the world. When a taboo on idolatry produces a far more virulent and violent reaction over Danish cartoons than the Bali Bombings, or Zarqawis wedding blood feasts in Jordan, it would seem they could do with a little quiet reflection and criticism from journalists. Not fear and appeasement alone though, are whsat motivate the religious editors of PDI. It is a desire to protect the rights of DOMINANT religions in LOCAL habitats. The members of Roman Catholic upper crust in the Philippines who basically control media and education, are sensitive and respectful and understanding towards the Islamist rage over the cartoons because both are protecting the current practices of religions (Islam and Roman Catholicism) that were imperial theocracies but today must bow to common Democracy, which demotes Religion from the status of wielding state power to that of "mere" form of free speech and expression. I have advanced the theory that what we have here is the "intolerant urging tolerance for other intolerants." One big fish in a small pond stands up for the rights of another big fish in a different pond.
Those here who don't really understand the principle that "freedom of religion IS freedom of exression," -- like the Editors of the Philippine Daily Inquirer -- are apparently religious zealots themselves who believe that religious beliefs are basically off-limits for the normally disrespectful, iconoclastic, skeptical or even taunting style of journalism that PDI itself knows and practices oh so well in other social areas. What they really want is a Separation of the Church and Press so that religions can pursue all the things they do to each other such as tax-free parochial politics and missionary conversion.