Whether we have freedom of speech or not was amply demonstrated this week by the fact that not a single media outlet dared to publish the cartoons that were apparently so offensive that people have been executed because of them.
I am now crowing about a gutless media here. If I had copies of the ‘offending’ cartoons, then I would not reproduce them on my website and for obvious reasons.
But this is sad and it is important because these images are entirely central to this tragedy. In fact, they are the story. And newspaper editors frequently use images that have tenuous links to a story – I refer to half naked women who feature in so many news stories – a blonde bombshell on a Californian beach accompanying a story of Steven Gerard moving to LA springs to mind.
And yet in this story – the images are a glaring omission – and I understand why. I get it. No editor wants to be killed nor jeopardise the lives of his staff.
Which is why we don’t have the freedom of speech that we all so cherish. People can stand in squares and join in solidarity with banners stating that we are not scared – but in reality we obviously are scared because Islamists are bloody terrifying and why we have to wrap our airports in concrete and put our ceremonial soldiers behind iron railings.
Perhaps an alternative media response might have been a collaboration whereby all media outlets worldwide put these cartoons on every front page – strength and safety in numbers as it were.
But this might have unintended consequences – namely a quasi-declaration of us against them – which is precisely what these people want of course. The last thing the Islamists want is inclusion. They want the very opposite. They want exclusion which is why we have IS and they demand a caliphate and their hope of a Holy war, whatever that is?
Having not seen the cartoons, I can’t say how offensive they are. And not being a Muslim, I wouldn’t know anyway.
The whole story is so sad. Cartoons are something which make us smile. They are evocative and remind of us of our childhood and endless hours being beguiled by Tom n Jerry. Then Disney of course. Toy Story and Matt in the Telegraph – and more irreverent stuff like Spitting Image where our monarch and PM of the day were there for us all to laugh at.
I expect that the cartoons in question are not even that offensive. Not to sane people anyway. Just as Christians have all heard the joke about Jesus on the cross calling forward an apostle because he can see his house from his vantage point – not terribly funny but not so offensive either that anyone needed to be executed.