Ezra Levant has hit the nail on the head as to why American and Canadian press in general has really dropped the ball on this whole cartoon/rioting escapade. Rather than paraphrase I'm just going to throw out some of his quotes from this CBC article.
I'm doing something completely normal. I'm publishing the centre of a controversy. That's what news magazines do.
-- Ezra Levant
Absolutely right, sir. Just like he says in the article, if these were Jews burning down embassies over cartoons of the Holocaust then those cartoons should be published too. It's news. That is their job. The reason the press in North America have been censoring themselves has nothing to do with respect, it's either an attempt at PR juggling now that the spotlight has been shone on anyone republishing the cartoons, or more likely, it is a matter of fear. We're willing to bring the Middle East freedom at the points of our sons and daughters bayonets, but we're afraid of publishing cartoons that might make these faceless threats angry.
It's exactly this kind of chilling effect which makes it critical that free speech be unabridged. It's this kind of PR/fear that keeps the press from asking the President hard, hard questions about statements like "... we need common-sense judges who understand that our rights were derived from God".
Critical examination of religion, religious beliefs and the events that come out of those beliefs is absolutely crucial for a modern society which claims to keep an open and free dialog. These issues affect all of our lives, religious or not, and often it affects our lives in terribly disruptive or violent ways. If the press becomes afraid of taking long hard looks at religion then we risk losing the right to exercise our own beliefs without fear of repercussion and even worse we legitimise the kind of barbaric nonsense going on in this current round of rioting.
I previously published two of the most mentioned cartoons if you're curious. Luckily it's easy for me to do because I'm nowhere near important enough to be endangered by doing so. I really hope that this shameful response by our mainstream press doesn't repeat in the future.
After the fact...
No... Actually, Rioters Are Choosing To Put Our Troops In Danger2006.02.14 06:20pm
Our government's reaction to the posting of the cartoons mentioned above? Regret. Fine, that's tap-dancing and I would expect nothing different from a baby kisser, but now we have people in relative authority saying stuff like this:
"I think the fact that people choose to reprint the cartoons could put our troops in danger,"
-- Riad Saloojee, Canadian Council American-Islamic Relations
If they aren't overseas to secure these rights and we should be so afraid as to not exercise them, what's the god damned point? It's amazing how much people often miss the point. These rights we're talking about a pain in the ass to defend. They cause huge problems for everyone involved with them. People abuse freedoms, they say stupid things, they hurt feelings and they destabilize regions. Either we want free speech or we don't. I think a lot of people have to ask themselves what they really want.
Stop the fear mongering! Damn.