Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Just because it is a right, doesn't make it right...

As I mentioned in my last blog piece, the Danish newspaper; Jyllands Posten got into a bit of hot water recently for printing twelve caricatures of the prophet Mohammed. As I mentioned, this is seen as a sacrilege by Muslims. Criticism and condemnation poured in to Denmark from around the Islamic world as well as from the Islamic community in Denmark urging the Danish government to punish the newspaper. The Prime Minister, Anders Fogh-Rasmussen said flatly that he would not act because Denmark has a free and independent press (unlike many of the nations where the outcry came from).

It is totally understandable that the Prime Minister of Denmark took this stance. He should not and could not have taken action for this. As such, the Danish government is in the clear. Jyllands Posten, on the other hand, is not. Just because you can print whatever you choose to deem news worthy, does not mean that you should. These caricatures were an insult to Muslims, many of whom are Danish citizens.

Certainly the cornerstone of an enlightened and free society is free press and the ability to express opposing view points on many issues. From a purely legal stand point, Jyllands Posten did nothing wrong. From an ethical perspective, what Jyllands Posten did was reprehensible. It is not okay to insult a people of a particular religious faith simply because it is legal. The editorial board at the newspaper needs to use better judgment in the future. Hurt feelings are not easily repaired and discretion must be used. Faith is the single defining characteristic of many people’s personalities. That may be a strange and foreign concept to many Danes and people in the wider (readers will know I hate this term, but for lack of something better) “western world” but that does not excuse the affront.

As our societies continue to liberalize and become more accepting of people with alternatives lifestyles we must make sure that we continue to be equally respectful of those who wish to live traditional lifestyles as well.

1 comment:

gracie said...

as long as people exist, so will ignorance, and as long as ignorance exists people will offend and others will be offended. it's a sad reflection of selfishness when one uses the technicality of 'it's legal therefore cause no harm' to excuse boorish behaviour.

gracie