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February 13, 2006 5:13 PM

Reaction to Rocky's decision to publish Muhammad cartoons

It was astonishing to me today to see how many editors have decided not to print any of the Danish cartoons about Muhammad. You can see the headlines from their columns at Poynteronline - Romanesko.

The reaction to our Opinion section package Saturday regarding the cartoons has been overwhelmingly positive.

We asked this poll question: Should the Rocky Mountain News have published any of the Danish Muhammad cartoons?

96% of the respondents said yes.

I think this editorial controversy may reflect the fact that many editors are uncomfortable with visual journalism, that they come from writing backgrounds. Drawings speak on a different level than words. Editors have repeatedly said words suffice to describe the cartoons. But we could say that about almost anything visual. But that misses the experience of seeing something. I think that's true in this case. It's easy to inflate the drawings into something they're not if you don't see them.

You can see from the Romanesko site that editors are treading lightly. The headline from the Seattle Times says we have "a responsibility to be sensitive to people." The Indianapolis paper says "We need to respect all religions and all views."

Come on. Do we really? I know the editor of that paper. He's a bright person. But do we really need to respect all views? Are there no views unworthy of respect? I think there are.

Many readers clearly disagree with these editors. Here are some examples of the e-mails I've received.

To: RMN Editor
Subject: Thank you, Mr. Temple.

For not bowing to the pressure from the Muslim world concerning the printing
of the cartoons.

It is time for the Western nations to know that the mere existance of the
Western world is an "insult to Islam". There is a double standard at work
here, we must tiptoe around to avoid offending Muslin "sensiblities" while
they can clearly state a goal as the destruction of Israel, and run cartoons
with impunity depicting other religions in an "insulting" manner.

I believe that political correctness is the downfall of a free society, it
stifles free speech and expression, and leads to both self censorship and
imposed censorship.

To: RMN Editor
Subject: fear a factor

MR. TEMPLE, wow wow wow thank you for taking the factor of fear in cartoon
descions head on .for the RMN to talk about this puts your paper among the
nations elite .when a paper choses fear over its role of in forming, it
gives up its role . wow wow wow thank you

To: RMN Editor
Subject: Cartoons

Dear Mr. Temple,

Thank you for your coverage of the Danish cartoon controversy. I think the RMN did the right thing by allowing readers to view the cartoons. Our strongest condemnation should be reserved for the rioters and the Moslem leaders who expoit the situation for their own personal and political gain. Your coverage of this issue and Ward Churchill makes me want to switch from the Denver Post to the RMN.

To: RMN Editor
Subject: Danish Cartoons

Mr. Temple:

I am proud of you.

You said newspapers and journalists need to keep the press free. You are right. So right (no pun intended). Maybe I should say you are correct, so correct.

Freedom of the press is so much more important than most people realize. It is a fundamental right. Thank you for taking a stand for freedom of the press when so many of our US newspapers caved-in. My respect for you and the Rocky Mountain News is renewed.

I could go on with many more like this.


  • February 18, 2006

    2:12 PM

    Dana H. writes:

    You are my new hero! The right to free speech means nothing if it is not also the right to offend. (Even repressive regimes allow the publication of "inoffensive" speech.) When speech is threatened with violence, the issue of the offending content becomes completely secondary. The primary issue becomes the moral obligation of any free speech defender to put his honor where his mouth is and publish the material.

  • February 19, 2006

    11:07 AM

    Christian writes:

    Thank you for publishing the Cartoons and standing up to the intimidation and threats from the Islamists. The free world needs to stand firm on its core principles in order to survive in a world where there is more and more pressure to appease the Muslim societies. If muslims can stand being on equal footing with other religions they have no place in our culture!

  • February 21, 2006

    1:09 PM

    Mike Woodson writes:

    Dear Mr. Temple:

    You did the courageous thing.

    Now go take a concealed weapons course and buy some heat.

    There are nutcases out there who would shoot people over cartoons instead of jailing their own leaders for paying families to detonate their Islamic teenagers (wow courage) and whipping their women for not being good slaves (wow chivalry).



  • July 19, 2013

    5:34 AM

    Alberta Wilson writes:

    I am so grateful for your article.Much thanks again. Fantastic.

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