Saturday, February 18, 2006

Spartacus moment for world publications?

Eric Zorn at the Chicago Tribune's "Change of Subject" blog has an interesting thought worth mulling over. With a $1 million dollar bounty being placed on the head of a/any of the cartoonists who drew the controversial political cartoons in the Dutch newspaper Jyllands-Posten, is it time that publications of the West have their "I am Spartacus" moment?
Is the announcement Friday of a million dollar bounty on the head of any cartoonist who drew one of the images of the prophet Muhammad an "I am Spartacus!" moment for publications worldwide?
The idea being, well, you know. Unity. Solidarity. Defiance. You can't push us around by picking on just one of us.

So does this grotesque, million-dollar offer mean we should all just apologize more loudly, promise we'll work harder next time to be sure no one dares violate Islamic taboos when expressing himself, and hope these dozen-odd artists can stay in hiding while appeasement works its magic?
I'm willing to stand up to this bullying of a free press, but to put it into Zorn's context, my standing up would be like a midget in Spartacus's forces saying "no, I am Spartacus!" It would be a symbolic gesture more than anything. Those who can do the most, and who risk the most, are the publications and the editorial cartoonists of Western publications. Will they have the courage to stand up both for their own and themselves, or is CYA so endemic in the Western press today that anyone can bully them around?

We are learning a lot about the Western media right now, and they are not impressing many of us. They are willing to lob volleys at people who really are of no threat to them, like George W. Bush, but to those who would just as soon silence them permanently they have very little to say.

No comments: