Danish Cartoons & Abu Ghraib Photos

If this connection has been made, I haven’t seen it: there are many people in America and elsewhere in the West are making statements about how the media should self-censor and not publish the Danish cartoons that have sparked several days of Muslim rioting. That’s fine, and their argument isn’t completely without merit.

However, it seems to me that these same people are precisely those who said that censoring the Abu Ghraib prison photos would be an unacceptable restriction on freedom of speech and a betrayal of the media’s allegiance to the truth.

I recognize that there’s a distinction between a photo and an editorial cartoon, but isn’t the gist of the argument that if the speech in question paints a bad picture of the West, it’s fair game and must come to light — but if it calls into question the violent behavior of Muslims, then it must be hidden?

FILED UNDER: National Security, ,
Leopold Stotch
About Leopold Stotch
“Dr. Leopold Stotch” was the pseudonym of political science professor then at a major research university inside the beltway. He has a PhD in International Relations. He contributed 165 pieces to OTB between November 2004 and February 2006.


  1. dutchmarbel says:

    I think the difference is that the publication of the pictures is not solely and deliberatedly to insult and provoce, but to bear witness of things that happened and make sure the people responsible are punished.

    You are aware that there are more pictures of Abu G’hraib, that were not publiced because they might cause uproar (Rumsfeld gave the explanation I think). The US government was sued, the judges decided that they should be made public according to American laws, and the government is still blocking that. Not many – if any – people who now say that the cartoons should be published to prove our press freedom (a point I disagree with but that is not without merit) protest that those pictures should be publised. Yet their newsvalue is much bigger.

    Tnxs for phrasing it correctly btw: most ‘opposers’ don’t feel that the papers are not entitled to publishing them, but feel that they should refrain from doing so themselves. I read a christian based newspaper that would not do it, and I am glad they don’t.

  2. yetanotherjohn says:

    The difference is that the Abu Ghraib photos had the potential to hurt the Bush administration and made the job of our military harder, thus more likely to fail. The Danish cartoons don’t seem to have the potential to hurt Bush and MSM editors may face personal fatwahs for publishing them.

    So to sum up, free speech is good if it can be used to hurt Bush and is not to be worried about if it involves any potential danger to the media elite.