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RE: <nettime> publication of "Jyllands-Posten" cartoons is not... [3x]
nettime's cartoonist on Tue, 14 Feb 2006 22:14:56 +0100 (CET)

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RE: <nettime> publication of "Jyllands-Posten" cartoons is not... [3x]

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   RE: <nettime> publication of "Jyllands-Posten" cartoons is not...               
     Joe Lockard <Joe.Lockard {AT} asu.edu>                                               

   Re: <nettime> publication of "Jyllands-Posten" cartoons is not...               
     Florian Cramer <cantsin {AT} zedat.fu-berlin.de>                                     

   Re: <nettime> publication of "Jyllands-Posten" cartoons is not...               
     sascha brossmann <01 {AT} brsma.in-berlin.de>                                        


Date: Mon, 13 Feb 2006 14:42:52 -0700
From: Joe Lockard <Joe.Lockard {AT} asu.edu>
Subject: RE: <nettime> publication of "Jyllands-Posten" cartoons is not...

I write this from Poona, in India; last Friday there were huge protests on the
streets here about the Jyllands-Posten cartoons in faraway Denmark and
unfortunately innocent Europeans filming were subjected to anger and taken into
shelter though the protests were otherwise non-violent.

Its unfortunate that the persona of the Western Artist should seek to defend the
publication of such cartoons in the name of Freedom of Expression but fail to see
through the political agendas behind such cultural production. The attempt to
blatantly provoke and naturalise the representation of Others in our media to
secure an electoral backlash for the calculated ends has become a formula for
success; sadly in Europe today ? in Denmark, the Netherlands - this is precisely
what sanctioned European political parties and politicised Islamist agents are
intent on delivering to their electorates. In a postcolonial networked world, the
cultural Kristallnachts can be anywhere. But this is not the mid 20th century.
So why defend this matter in the name of freedom of speech? For those of us who
BELIEVE we have the (or the luxury of) freedom of expression, enjoy the belief!
but bear in mind that there will be those who are paying the price for this. 
Just like all the other inexhaustible pillars of Modernity - like infinite
availability of energy, and so forth - everything has material and political
limits and nothing is inexhaustible or universal.


Siraj Izhar s-i {AT} publiclife.org

- ----


Any advocate of not publishing cartoons of Mohammed should consider that the
demand here is essentially for a free pass on lampooning or satire of any nature. 
This position demands that critics of Islam or any other religion should respect
'cultural sensitivity' and refrain from visualized critique of religious figures
or practices.  Polite deportment in a place of worship or compliance with another
household's expectations is a matter of good manners and respect for neighbors.  A
grant of immunity to religion from negative representation on grounds of
sensitivity is quite another and quite impossible, since the very concept of
critique here lies in discomfiting the certainties and practices of religious
faith.  An affirmation of a right to blaspheme -- that is to say, a right to
express a different or counter-opinion towards sanctified 'verities' -- is at the
heart of the Enlightenment.  It appears in texts such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau's
'Profession of Faith of a Savoyard Vicar', which recognizes that both Moslems and
Jews have a right to their own non-Christian 'heresies'.  There is no cause to
surrender this Enlightenment-born and hard-established tradition for some fairly
blas=E9 Danish cartoons.  All religions are subject to critique, and it seems
predictable that the faithful will deem satirical representation as blasphemy,
racism, or whatever might stick.

Poor taste has the same legal protection as good taste.  Which is good and which
is poor are not legal questions.  The very notion of 'taste' implies that there
will be that material adjudged in 'poor' taste alongside that elevated to the
status of 'good' taste.  Those standards change as a culture itself changes, and
in a multicultural society there will be many tastes, often in conflict.  In a
multicultural society it becomes even more important to emphasize the legal status
and social value of free expression irrespective of 'cultural sensitivity', given
that these societies need to express their internal conficts openly in order to
resolve them. That strong strains of xenophobia and racism flow through
contemporary Europe is unquestionable.  Public education is far more effective
response than censorship, even if a slower means of social prophylaxis.

Joe Lockard

- -------------------------------------------------------------------

Joe Lockard
Assistant Professor
209 Durham Languages and Literatures Bldg.
English Department
POB 870302
Arizona State University
Tempe, AZ 85287-0302
Tel: (480) 727-6096
Fax: (480) 965-3451
E-mail: Joe.Lockard {AT} asu.edu

Antislavery Literature Project


Date: Tue, 14 Feb 2006 15:57:09 +0100
From: Florian Cramer <cantsin {AT} zedat.fu-berlin.de>
Subject: Re: <nettime> publication of "Jyllands-Posten" cartoons is not...

Am Montag, 13. Februar 2006 um 03:22:52 Uhr (-0500) schrieb s-i {AT} publiclife.org:
> why defend this matter in the name of freedom of speech? For those of us who
> BELIEVE we have the (or the luxury of) freedom of expression, enjoy the belief!
> but bear in mind that there will be those who are paying the price for this.  Just
> like all the other inexhaustible pillars of Modernity - like infinite availability
> of energy, and so forth - everything has material and political limits and nothing
> is inexhaustible or universal.

Please explain why uncensored opinion and free media are limited resources that,
if practiced, take away freedom from others.

- -F

- -- 


Date: Tue, 14 Feb 2006 19:13:21 +0100
From: sascha brossmann <01 {AT} brsma.in-berlin.de>
Subject: Re: <nettime> publication of "Jyllands-Posten" cartoons is not...

s-i {AT} publiclife.org wrote:
> So why defend this matter in the name of freedom of speech? For those
> of us who BELIEVE we have the (or the luxury of) freedom of 
> expression, enjoy the belief! but bear in mind that there will be 
> those who are paying the price for this.

i ardently disagree for several reasons.

first, the only price for the freedom of speech is paid by those who do 
not like to support freedom, including but not limited to that of 
speech. i do not object. there were also people who paid the price for 
the abolition of serfdom and slavery. i fear i don't feel for them.

second, freedom might not regarded as a set of communicating vessels,
and it is certainly not a limited resource or commodity that needs to
be traded or could be kept in a supply or stuffed into a bank account.
further, freedom is something that only exists when exercised and it
cannot be gained by taking it away from somebody else, but only by
granting it also to others, regardless of person, status, ethnicity,

third, the sad fact that freedom is not as well spread as it should be
does absolutely not turn it into a luxury. even though i entertain
certain doubts about the classical concept of freedom of will, i still
hold freedom to be a basic and undeprivable human right. nonetheless, i
certainly recognise that the ability to exercise any kind of freedom is
not totally independent of socio-economic issues. or, in other words:
freedom gets more convenient to exercise on a more secure and stable
economic basis than the given one in many regions of the world. still, i
am quite convinced that this is much more a systemic interdepedency than
a question of cause and effect.

> (...) everything has material and political limits and nothing is
> inexhaustible or universal.

human stupidity obviously is. though i have not yet stopped whishing
that the same might also apply to human intelligence. nonetheless i
guess i won't see any kind of proof for either.

> Political equality doesn't equal social equality or opportunity;


> We may expect our supermarkets to have beautifully clean packaged food
> and all the other First World benefits but there are those who do the
> invisible work; they may be invisible to those who so strongly uphold
> the freedom of expression.

i agree that there might be parts of the 1st world population who
are definitely not aware of the possibility, that their political
and economic status might have some connection with the respective
global disequilibrium. i still miss the connection with your argument,
though. you aren't really suggesting a necesary relationship between
supermarkets filled by invisible work and freedom of expression, are

> But the cold-blooded appliance of the ?freedom of expression? credo 
> will not go unchallenged.

i'd rather have a cold-blooded appliance of this credo anytime compared
to the hell on earth invoked by the hot-blooded compliance to any
kind of belief system. and yes, i am perfectly aware that western
rationalism and its cousins are also in a certain way belief systems and
personally i am definitely not prone to subjugate the irrational parts
of myself. but neither will i, for fuck's sake, subjugate my rationality
to anybody who values any(!) kind of anti-emancipatoric or otherwise
oppressive belief system higher than my or anybody else's freedom. there
is only "freedom to..." but never "freedom not to..." (i won't count the
possible exception of "freedom not to be forced to..." here) but i am
drifting off track here.

> Thus the reason for the rank and file protests around the world
> against world including the one I witnessed in Poona a Hindu majority
> town. (...)
> The protests are against the NATURALISATION of such forms of
> repetitive 'freedom of expression' in a brutally uneven world - that
> is their cultural purpose.

i apologise, but i am not able to agree here, not even a little. some of
my issues, partly again:

- - how many of the protesters actually *do* know what exactly they are
protesting against? i.e. have seen the very reason why and, further, are
they aware of the fact, that the original publication is the product of
a private enterprise (and not a public one), furthermore a mainly
conservative right-wing one which "naturally" expresses a certain very
unpleasant xenophobe point of view?

- - are the protesters equally discontent with the disrespectful depiction
of other ethnic/religious/... groups or their symbolic representations,
maybe even in their own cultural area? e.g. do they have any problem
with e.g. the depiction of jews in several middle eastern media? i can't
help to think, that the whole affair gets pretty hypocritical at that point.

- - equally i fail to see why the specific touchiness of a certain group
should be globally respected, but the very "same" group fails to support
basic human rights where "they" (i am quite aware of the pitfalls of
generalisation here) represent the majority of the population, and this
disrespect might even get excused - and this concerns the critics here
and elsewhere - by an argument of cultural relativity.

- - consequently, i don't see any sustainable argument that supports a
view of the protests as a general call for justice. except maybe
protests of the danish muslim population. who as far as i am informed
about the current state of danish home affairs have most propably more
than one reason to protest against apparent xenophobe tendencies of the
political mainstream. OTOH this is not an issue that only applies to
just a certain religious minority.

- - i am missing a discussion on the topic of the apparent
instrumentalisation of (protesting/criticising) people on the "other"
side. we have now heard the accusation that freedom of speech was used
to cover up for hate speech and so on. but what about the 4 month
delay between publication of the original controversial subject and
the current protests? what about the quite obvious anti-emancipative
tendencies of a large share of the protesters? now tell me who gets
instrumentalised by whom. some of the so-called critical public in
the west seems prone to stepping into the same trap over and over for
the sake of some kind of misunderstood solidarity. how long will it
still take to get mostly rid of the idiotic fallacies of classical
anti-imperialist ideology and critically open *both* eyes?

NB: i would also like to add the idea that some of the mechanisms at
work might be well understood as behavioural repercussions of a kind of
cultural inferiority complex. something which i would neither like to
support (by "understanding") nor fuel. sure, western colonialism and
imperialism (which as a phenomenon is not exactly unique occidental
either, mind you) might well represent a quite large part of that
problem. but i don't think that it is the only reason.



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