The Dominion Post has published the infamous Danish cartoons. In explaining why they have done so, they cite both press freedom, and letting readers (well those not on the Internet) see what they are about.
The Dom Post notes that “In its pure form Islam is a religion based on peace and tolerance. This is a test of that tolerance.”
My hope for this is that the more radical elements of Islam will realise the counter-productive nature of their threats. If they had acted like any other religion and confined their protests to strong worded letters to the editor, then almost no-one would have seen the cartoons. By trying to threaten and intimidate the inoffensive Danes they have caused the cartoons to be seen by tens of millions of people. And every extra newspaper which publishes them, helps send that message and also helps protect just one country or newspaper from being targeted.
The NZ Herald has decided not to publish the cartoons, and that is of course their right.
Personally I find their reasoning to be illogical. They say it is fine to publish cartoons of Islam in the name of satire, but not to publish them just to prove you can. This misses the point that with no other religion do you have to worry about consequences of satirising them. Hell I even paused for a day before I decided to publish, having to weigh up the possible consequences of publishing them on my blog. In the end the fact that the NZ Muslim community is thankfully almost totally free of extreme elements is what convinced me to go ahead. Those in Australia and Europe are not so lucky.
Press freedom will have its victory when an editor doesn’t even have to pause and consider whether the threats are worth it. Press freedom will happen when an editor spends just as long deciding whether to publish a photo of “The Virgin in the Condom” as they do of these cartoons.
UPDATE: The editorial is also a must read. It deals with so much of the hypocrisy around this issue.