Sunday, February 19, 2006

Catholic League attempts to highlight double standard after Illinois Students are suspended from newspaper

Two Illinois students were suspended from the school newspaper after publishing the now infamous cartoons. All of the stories take great pains to point out that the paper is not actually part of the school. The students were suspended by the publisher of the paper. The problem lies in the support given to the publisher by the university chancellor. I'll quote the article (link):

A Catholic group Friday decried the suspensions of the editor-in-chief and the opinions page editor of the Daily Illini, the student newspaper at the Urbana-Champaign campus of the University of Illinois, for republishing cartoons that mock the Prophet Mohammed...

"In March 1997, the same Urbana-Champaign campus displayed drawings by Michele Blondel that showed the red glass vaginas hanging inside European Roman Catholic cathedrals; two of them had red glass holy water cruets with crosses on them," said Donohue....

Donohue said he wrote a letter to the president objecting to the art display and the chancellor, Michael Aiken, replied, saying he regretted "that the art 'disappointed'" Donohue....

"He instructed, 'Most viewers find Blondel's art to be quite subtle as it invites the viewer to contemplate and reflect on topics as diverse as the body, the church, and architectural and religious symbolism.' Stupid me - I thought it was Catholic-bashing porn," said Donohue....

"His closer was precious: 'The University believes that true intellectual discourse extends not only to written communication but also to the visual.' Except when Muslims get angry," added Donohue.

Now, if you do a news search you'll see that the publisher and the other staff members say that they were not consulted about the cartoons. The suspended editors claim that they did indeed consult the rest of the editorial staff. I have no idea if all of that is true. But Mr. Donohue of the Catholic League, who I sometimes agree with and sometimes do not, raises a good point.

I have highlighted in red the response that the chancellor gave Mr. Donohue over an anti-Catholic display (above). If that is the policy then why did the chancellor say this about the recent cartoons:

Chancellor Richard Herman maintains that “a discussion about the controversial Danish cartoons could have taken place without republishing them.”

It is indeed a double standard.

The Question:

Why is it alright to offend Catholics with a display of sexual imagery inside of a cathedral but not alright to publish the cartoons?

The Answer:

Despite the fact that people want to portray Catholics as insane dogmatic theocrats, they won't kill or hurt anyone over such displays. It is all about fear, not freedom.

Is it part of free speech in America to insult a religion?

The Supreme Court has ruled (1952 Burstyn vs. Wilson):

"It is not the business of government in our nation to suppress real or imagined attacks upon a particular religious doctrine."

Now, I believe that everyone has a right to peacefully protest such things. It does fall under our basic freedoms in the United States to offend each other, like it or not. It is a difference between what we can do and what we should do. Everyone has a right to show the world what an idiot they are. It is a right we take advantage of a lot. Like by saying:

'The University believes that true intellectual discourse extends not only to written communication but also to the visual.'

and then saying:

“a discussion about the controversial Danish cartoons could have taken place without republishing them.”

But are the cartoons really an attack on a religion?

I do have some questions:

Are the cartoons an attack on Islam?

Or are they an attack against what the fundamentalists have done to Islam?

Should those offended be angry at the cartoonists or at those who have given this perception of their faith to the world?

If the cartoons are a mirror reflecting what the world sees, and if that is wrong, then oppose those causing that reflection.

When I see a cartoon that paints all priests as sexual offenders, I am offended more by the priests who have caused the perception than by the cartoon. I want to take an active stand against those who deform my faith by their actions.

When the media focuses only on priests and not on the rampant culture of sexual abuse in all other areas of society...that is bias, that is wrong and that offends me. There is a subtle but important difference.


jack fulasofy said...

Would papers that publish the cartoons of Muhammad also publish cartoons that show the hypocrisy in Christian and Jewish cultures and risk offending their audience and advertisers? NO.
Check the taboo out at

DavidNic said...

I think that there have been many cartoons lampooning Christian beliefs over the years. Starting with Thomas Nast in the 1800's and all the way to this:

I have seen many papers publish anti Christian things, or more to the point...ignore when Christians are killed and tortured across the world.

If you want to see what I am talking about, search this blog for the word coptic and read some of the posts.

I followed your link and I agree that the ideals of Christians, Jews and Muslims are represented to the mainstream by radical and ill informed elements of the faiths.

Nothing upsets me more than people like Pat Robertson and his ilk. They prevert my faith into hatred.

Should the papers run the cartoons on the webpage you linked to? Sure. Since it would be my choice to look at them. Would they offend me as a knee jerk reaction? Sure.

But I wouldn't kill people over them. I wouldn't burn anything.

I might have a response to debate the political realities they represent. Or agree or disagree with the opinion.

I think both those cartoons reflect the same things the ones from Denmark do: Not the faith, but what people from the faith have done to prevert the faith itself.