Friday, March 10, 2006

East European Journalists Show the West.

Some in the Russian press have more courage than CNN and the New York Times. If we want the news we can't turn to The Washington Post but might well find it in Gazeta.Ru. There is no reason at all to blame Time or Newsweek for their vile cowardice. We might simply not buy their products and shift our reading habits to include support for outlets that deal better with issues of concern to us. We're seemingly better off with the news from Belarus or the Czech Republic than we are with the L.A. Times.

Russian News Website Warned Over Publishing Mohammed Cartoons

Created: 09.03.2006 21:47 MSK

Gazeta.Ru news website has received official notice after having reprinted the scandalous cartoons of Prophet Mohammed first published in Denmark's Jullands-Posten.

Russia's Federal Service on Law Maintenance Control in Media said in its notice quoted at the website that Gazeta.Ru had "committed an action aimed at arousing religious and social hatred and set up a real threat of causing damage to the social security." The service demanded to "remove the violation" immediately.

The cartoons were published on February 2 at the site in a material entitled "Cartoon War" that wrote on protest among Moslems indignant over Danish cartoons.

Gazeta.Ru editorial staff expressed disagreement with the service. Its editor-in-chief Mikhail Mikhailin said the material and pictures had been aimed at representing the anti-Danish protest in the Muslim world as an important social event.

The website is considering a possibility to challenge the service's notice in a court.

Earlier, Russian newspaper "Our Region+" was closed after having republished the cartoons. The paper editor was charged with arousing national hatred.


Yes, even Belarus has done better than CNN. Belarus is known, if at all, as a nasty little dictatorship. And yet the people of the Belarus press found themselves able to screw up the nerve they needed to print the Mohammed cartoons and suffer the consequences. Not ours, not the BBC.


Belarus Paper Faces Trial Over Prophet Muhammad Cartoons

Created: 22.02.2006 20:36 MSK (GMT +3)


The Belarussian State Security Committee has initiated a criminal case against the Zgoda newspaper for publishing caricatures satirizing the Prophet Muhammad, a source in the country's prosecutor's office told Interfax on Wednesday.

"The criminal case was opened following an investigation carried out by the republic's prosecutor's office and the State Security Committee. The inquiry was conducted at the request of the committee for religious and ethnic affairs and the Muslim community of Belarus," the source said.

"The criminal case was initiated based on charges of incitement of racial, ethnic and religious hatred — Part 1, Article 130 of the Criminal Code of Belarus," he said.

The case materials have already been forwarded to the State Security Committee.

Cartoonists draw support

Political lampooners gird for a busy schedule in run-up to elections

By Kristina Alda Staff Writer, The Prague Post
March 08, 2006

'We're flying to make contact with new civilizations ... We'd better leave the cartoonist at home ...'

If Prime Minister Jiří Paroubek loses in June's general election, cartoonists across the country — regardless of their political affiliation — will weep.

Like former Social Democratic Prime Minister Miloš Zeman, Paroubek is a favorite among those who make a living drawing political caricatures for local papers and magazines.

"He's got such great strong features," says Štěpán Mareš, 33, who draws the "Zelený Raoul" comic strip for the weekly magazine Reflex. "He's always saying ridiculous things and getting caught up in scandals."

Politicians do battle on television and on the campaign trail, but it is often their depiction on the opinion pages of periodicals that shape public discussion. With the election approaching, cartoonists are sharpening their pencils and their wits, eager to administer a few more jabs at Paroubek, Health Minister David Rath, Culture Minister Vítězslav Jandák and other strong-featured political figures who function as fodder for the funnies.

But that preparation comes at a time when their profession is under more scrutiny than ever, after caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad that first appeared in a Danish newspaper ignited weeks of violent protest throughout the Muslim world and fresh debate over the basic right of free expression.

Miroslav Kemel, 42, a cartoonist who draws for Mladá fronta Dnes, likens the pre-election period to harvest time. "Politicians really stick their necks out," he says.

Which is just the way cartoonists like it. "It's great," Mareš says. "They're all trying to outdo one another in who can act more stupid."

But Mareš, whom former Minister Without Portfolio Karel Březina sued several years ago for a particularly unflattering likeness, insists he never tries to be malicious without reason. "All I do is offer a slightly warped mirror," he says.

Poking fun

That has been the role of cartoonists since man learned to draw. Like the Shakespearean fool, cartoonists can get away with underlining certain unpleasant truths that a regular political commentator might miss.

"Cartoons were always an important political tool," says Jakub Končelík, a media studies lecturer at Charles University's Faculty of Social Sciences.

One reason is because Czechs love humor, especially dark humor. "It's so natural for Czechs to make fun of those who rule," says Končelík.

"In times of trouble, Czechs like to poke fun," he says. "During World War II, the Germans called Czechs 'the laughing beasts.' It's their way of dealing with the situation."

Fearing for cartoon liberty

Which is why most Czech cartoonists found Europe's reaction to the outrage over the cartoons of Prophet Muhammad worrying.

"I think it's disturbing that new democracies such as Slovakia and the Czech Republic are backing Denmark, while many West European countries are holding back," says Mareš.

Mareš questions the comments of Javier Solana, the European Union's high representative for common foreign and security policy, who has promised that something like the publishing of the Muhammad cartoons will never happen again. "But how can he guarantee that?" Mareš says.

According to Mareš, the answer would be censorship. "I'm starting to fear for the liberty of cartoonists," he says.

Končelík is also concerned. "The whole controversy surrounding the cartoons of Prophet Muhammad was a matter of an utter lack of understanding on both sides," he says. "To many Muslims it's inconceivable that the Danish prime minister can't influence the content of a daily paper."

Of course, even politically independent papers in democratic countries practice a certain level of self-censorship.

"Under the communist regime, I encountered censorship on a regular basis," recalls Vladimír Jiránek, 67, who draws for Lidové noviny and is arguably the country's premier cartoonist. "It taught me to express myself in more indirect ways with subtext rather than saying something overtly."

Jiránek says the general rule for choosing a subject is that his or her actions must in some way set the tone of political culture in this country.

"I try to maintain some distance when doing caricature," he says. "For some people caricatures are toothless and uninteresting."

It's no easy task. A cartoonist's typical day usually starts with reading all the country's major papers and following the political debates on television.

Mareš says he spends 10 to 12 hours a day drawing, including the weekends.

In the past he has come across certain topics that were off limits for some Czech papers, he says. "It was nearly impossible to make fun of religion, the pope, Gypsies and other minorities, even if the jokes were innocuous," he says.

Kemel, the cartoonist who draws for Mladá fronta Dnes, notes that cartoonists themselves practice self-censorship.

Given the current political climate, he says he wouldn't draw something along the lines of the cartoons of Prophet Muhammad. Otherwise, though, Kemel says he has no taboo topics when drawing for an intelligent audience.

"A cartoonist should be able to appropriately react to world events," says Kemel. "He can't live detached from reality."
Kristina Alda can be reached at


What then do we in the modern West get from our journalists and intellectuals who do live in a phantasy world of their own making, one that refuses to report on the world as it is? We get much tripe. We get our news from each other from the Internet. We meet and exchange our ideas and opinions. We must do so because we cannot trust the intelligentsia not to lie to us from the cloud cuckoo land they inhabit. Who needs them? Only the police states and Left dhimmi fascists who love them. But not I. Not you. Thank God for courageous people in Russia, Belarus, and the Czech Republic bringing us our news.


truepeers said...

Mareš questions the comments of Javier Solana, the European Union's high representative for common foreign and security policy, who has promised that something like the publishing of the Muhammad cartoons will never happen again.

-and last night, Dag, you said you had no sympathy for certain religious fanatics engaging in wars of castration. And here's a "man" proposing to be high censor for Europe. Good God. Cut Cut.

dag said...

I've changed my position. I was satisfied with hanging these people from lamp posts, but one really must wonder if it's sufficient to appease the beast that takes over the rational mind in cases like that above.

We can look at this sort of evil behaviour from our "leaders' in terms of petty crime: people will argue that robbery is a matter of property crime, and that the punishment for such should be some reasonable and rational detention or some such of the criminal because no one was actually hurt or harmed. In the same way, Solana isn't really ding anyone any "harm." So, perhaps our resonable response would be to shrug it off, to criticise him, to perhaps write a letter to the editor of a local newspaper.

I look upon Solana and his lot as "harmless" in the same way a thief is harmless: they take away from us all our privacy, our security in our own being, our time that we invest in making money to buy the things we've had stolen, in the affection we might have invested in the things we chose to have over the things we chose not to have.

When someone steals my pencil he does more than take away a pen: he insults my privacy, puts me on guard against the innocent, robs me of my lifetime, humiliates me and betrays the trust I have in Humanity. None of this is as petty as a pencil but is as vast as an assault on my privacy as a person entitled to live my own life as a free man. To take the time I put in to make the money to buy my pencil, to take the time I put in to walk to the store to buy it, to poison the memory I have of that pencil, to compound it with the shame of not being able to protect myself from a robber, to humiliate me by forcing me to acknowldge that another can do me harm and leave me helpless to change it or correct it or gain anything in return, that is only the beginning of the crime of one stealing my pencil.

To try to take away my rights to express myself freely in public, that transcends anything I can imagine, short of physical assault; and even then I'm able to defend myself under most circumstances, which I would find it more difficult to do in a battle against the U.N.

There's a price to pay for those who would steal our personalities and our privacies from us. The price is our hatred, something we have no reaason to want to live with. Crimes such as this make normal people angry and perhaps violent in time. If Solana and his lot continue to push the people into corners till we must push back it belittles us that we must act in response. We do not deserve to be made mad.

We must, if we are rational, put limits to behaviour that is offensive so the transgressor has some idea that we will not allow him to drive us to madness and violence. there have to be clear rules all understand cannot be transgressed without real consequences. No exceptions for him or her because of this or that. It's not a personal matter, the law of the land, but one of law objectively that is real for all because all are real. Without the bounds of clarity and consequence there will only ever be a further decay of respect for the rights of others till others are so demeaned and disgusted that there will be no law but that of man against man as best he can.

One of the goals we might have in our meetings each week is to publicise our resistence to the lack of rules, the lack of rules that permit Islam to flourish inspite of its obvious evil. If we say nothing, express no disgust, enforce no laws, then Islam will continue to commit crime with impunity till we are so maddened that we will act in fury rather than in the pursuit of rational law and civil life.

If one were to continue to steal my pencils with impunity, in time, and soon given my nature, I'd break his fucking arm. Rational people have limits to their tolerance. We owe it to ourselves to prevent Islam from bringing us to a boil. We owe it to Muslims to prevent them from antagonising us to the opint that we do indeed feel justified in castrating them. We don't deserve that. We have no reason to accept that we should be pushed to insanity.

If we don't stop people like Solana now, we will stop them when they are so intolerable that nothing we do to them will be mean enough to slake the thirst we beastly folk will have for blood. We do not deserve that. It is up to us to prevent our decline.

Marat, as nasty as he seems on the surface, calling for murder and mayhem, was a ration medical doctor who understood the need for remedial surgery, of the need to cut out the bad in order to save the good before all was rotten. We have to stop sentimentalising our criminals and our barbarian guests, and we have to demand, publicly, that they conform to common Human decency or that they will pay a price they'd likely rather not. We owe that to ourselves.

Before it comes to hanging and massacres and atrocities we must act on our own behalves to restrain those who would drive us to extremes. We do not deserve what we will become if we do not act soon enough to prevent our hatreds from over-taking our good reason.

I've seen enough of reasonable and decent people pushed to madness. Not a one of us deserves that. If the price we pay is being ridiculed by trendy Leftists, so what? We have our rights to privacy, to live our own lives as we will regardless, and if we do not protect ourselves from this provocation by the Solanas of the elite, then the time will come when my hand is as bloody as any of any savage bastard I'd be ashamed to see today.

We can fight today by meeting in public and declaring that we will stand for no more of the outrages of our leaders, such as they are.

We have the right to be and to remain decent and honest people. We might well have to fight for it. We might even have to fight hard. If it comes to it we might have to fight this battle not for our own salvation but for the sake of those to come sop they won't have to do what we might. Regardless, the less we do now the more we'll be forced to do later.

And yes, Jimmy from grade two, I remember you stealing my pencil. I'm a brutal man today because of it. And the world is a worse place for it.

On the bright side, Jimmy will never forget his broken arm.

truepeers said...

Yes, the less we do now, the more we'll have to do later. So let us not be depressed by the great difficulty of our work that wishes to change minds and thus avoid the easy violence that is otherwise coming.

I'd only add one thing. When you say: Marat, as nasty as he seems on the surface, calling for murder and mayhem, was a ration medical doctor who understood the need for remedial surgery, of the need to cut out the bad in order to save the good before all was rotten.

I'd say what we have to cut out is the puritanical desire for utopias, ummas, and the like, so as to insure the body remains impure, or at least complex, cloudy, respectful of what remains beyond our grasp.

Your post on Trinidad and the above comment led me back to a writer who has been central to my re-education as a post-academic intelelctual. You might like this article Dag: an honest intellectual

dag said...

The first few paragraphs caught and held my attention straight off.

I find it funny that honest writers who come to mind on the subjects of racism, sexism, colonialism and so on are Ali Sina, Ibn Warraq, Robert Spencer, Hirsi Ali, Bat Ye'or, VS Naipaul, Neil Bissoondath, and a handful of others.

Gotta go back and finish that essay.

Thanks for the tip.