The audacious and savage attack on the Paris offices of a satiric newspaper yesterday by radical Islamists sent shockwaves throughout the civilized world. Two heavily armed gunmen stormed the Paris offices of the French publication Charlie Hebdo and proceeded to single out and execute writers and cartoonists. Their "crime" was publishing images and stories that offended Muslims by showing rude caricatures of the prophet Mohammed. It was a major escalation in the ongoing conflict between violent religious primitivism and decent society and it is a certainty that the gunmen will be hailed as heroes by millions of Muslims and quietly praised by other interested parties. The domestic media was on it like gravy on rice to amplify the fear factor but they are self-censoring the actual cartoons.
While it is appropriate to be outraged over the attack and murder at the Charlie Hebdo offices it is more than a bit hypocritical to milk the tragic slaughter for maximum ratings but not show the controversial material produced by the magazine. The old newspaper maxim of “if it bleeds it leads” is certainly in effect as well as the saturation coverage that likely pleases the government to no end by serving to further justify the domestic surveillance state that is the greatest threat to freedom that we currently face. But why not show the cartoons? If nothing else it would be a big middle finger in the face of religious fanatics and Islamist extremists who believe that sprees of cold-blooded murder will intimidate westerners.
As reported by a story from the CNN Money website “The Charlie Hebdo Mohammed cartoons: Media outlets shy away or take a stand”:
In the wake of Wednesday's killings at the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo, most major media outlets are choosing not to republish the French magazine's satirical but highly controversial cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed.
The news instinct to show the cartoons and express support for the slain journalists is countered by concerns about safety and sensitivity. Depictions of Mohammed are a strict taboo within Islam.
It's brought forth a fierce debate among journalists.
What some are calling sensitivity, others are calling censorship -- an acquiescence to terrorists. There has been widespread speculation that Wednesday's attack was motivated by the publication's criticism of religion.
CNN is among the news outlets that verbally described the cartoons but refrained from showing them on Wednesday. The network has made similar decisions about depictions of Mohammed in the past.
"We are actively discussing the best way of addressing the key issues and images across all of our platforms," a CNN spokeswoman said. "Those conversations will continue throughout the day and beyond as the story develops."
The Associated Press, the world's largest news gathering operation, has a "longstanding policy" to "not move deliberately provocative images on the wire," according to a spokesman. This includes depictions of Mohammed.
Jackson Diehl, deputy editorial page editor for the Washington Post, announced on Twitter that the newspaper will publish a Charlie Hebdo cartoon on the op-ed page on Thursday, though he didn't specify which one. The cartoon, Diehl said, will "help readers understand the story" and serve as a show of solidarity.
The New York Times, "after careful consideration," also decided that "describing the cartoons" would suffice, according to a spokeswoman.
NBC News said that the network will not be showing "headlines or cartoons that could be viewed as insensitive or offensive," and that guidance also applies to CNBC and MSNBC.
Another major network, ABC News, has taken the same position. A CBS News executive, meanwhile, said the network had implemented no explicit ban on the Mohammed cartoons, but had instructed its producers to exercise judgment. "CBS Evening News" showed some of the magazine's provocative cartoons, but none that depicted the prophet. Other outlets took a similar approach, showing covers that did not feature Mohammed.
Fox News told Mediaite it has "no plans to air" the Mohammed cartoons.
When Americans who have already surrendered to fear and the imposition of mass domestic snooping and data-mining programs as well as a de facto police state in the aftermath of 9/11 also engage in stifling themselves then the terrorists have already won. If halting the spread of the anti-Mohammad cartoons was the goal of the fiends who assassinated Charlie Hebdo staffers yesterday then having the majority of the domestic media censor the cartoons is a huge victory for their cause. Have we really become that much of a cowardly nation in the new American century?
Or perhaps not publishing the cartoons – particularly the most graphic ones – is a way to dance around the fact that Charlie Hebdo also published more than it’s share of material offensive to other religions. There are images that portray Jews negatively, Catholics take a beating and the magazine even had the gall to feature an image of Jesus Christ engaged in an act of anal sex. The failure to show the cartoons is not only a disservice to Americans by media corporations that have come to fancy themselves as the ultimate moral arbiters in our slowly closing society but also sheer cowardice of the worst type. God only knows how much further that American McNews would be dumbed-down and dummied up if something similar to what went down in Paris would happen here in The Homeland.
There is nothing quite as offensive as surrendering to the terrorists and the failure to provide the proper context by showing the cartoons in their entirety is exactly that.