Oh yeh? Well I don’t care about your views on the Danish cartoons either!

I have two of ’em.

1. This idea that your proclamations in favour of free speech or reporting on the issue are for shit if you don’t reproduce the cartoons yourself are beyond mindless. David Irving is in jail in Austria for making offensive statements. Does the BBC have to reproduce five minutes of holocaust denial every time they cover this story, in order to show that it won’t bow to overseas pressure?

2. I have to say that if, ten years ago, someone had offered me the deal that the Muslims could decide what cartoons would be published in Jyllens-Posten, and in return we could decide who was allowed to have nuclear weapons, I would probably have said “deal”.

I quite like it when there are riots on the telly. It is interesting and so far nobody has been actually hurt. I was quite impressed that a Pakistani crowd apparently burned an effigy of the Danish Prime Minister on Wednesday; presumably the effigy-maker was working from a photograph, and they would have had to hang some sort of “I AM THE DANISH PRIME MINISTER” notice around its neck, because I for one would not be able to tell an effigy of the Danish Prime Minister from an ordinary shop dummy. Still, it’s pretty slick work to be able to knock up an effigy of the Danish Prime Minister in no more than a couple of days. I wonder if the guy has a website where I could order a few dozen Tom Friedmans?

btw, I guess that the first newspaper to publish these cartoons in the UK will be the Independent. They like their big, splashy picture front pages. I prefer news myself, but there is clearly a minority audience for this stuff.

So my final considered conclusion is that I had previously assumed that the only people who wrote letters to newspapers were loonies, but the reaction of the Islamic world to these cartoons suggests that it is not always a bad idea. A sternly worded letter of complaint with an unfunny sarcastic remark at the end would have been a much better and not obviously less effective form of protest. In general I am quite sympathetic to downtrodden people who overreact massively to any minor slight – having the option of taking any shit from anyone is actually quite an expensive luxury only available to those at the top of the tree – but there is such a thing as taking a good idea too far. I am more neutral on the subject of making death threats to cartoonists because my prejudice is to believe that newspaper cartoonists are a smug bunch of wankers who are in the habit of claiming to be “puncturing pomposity” or “adding an element of anarchy” rather than providing something for the 40% of newspaper buyers who are illiterate to look at. I think the occasional death threat might have a salutory effect. Martin Rowson has got a lot better since I locked him in my car boot for 48 hours.


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