Amid the fiery noble talk of a free press, one question seems to need a little more attention, and it does not really have anything to do with freedom of speech: Must you people be such cunts?
Why be so determined to publish low-quality cartoons only, and specifically only because they will upset a vast amount of people who never did anything to you, but who, rather, have had to put up with this crap in escalating doses since September 2001? The right to 'take the mickey' is truly satisfying when the powerful are being mocked. What kind of satisfaction are these newspapers taking from putting the boot into people who are already floored? I mean, what is the point?
What I hate the most about these 'freedom-of-speech' moments, is that when the desired outrage is elicited from some cheap shot (eg, a newpaper gets called a pack of cunts, people stop buying Danish cheese) then those reactions are deemed attacks on freedom of speech. Well, they're not. They're further expressions of freedom of speech. Sow, reap, eat.
Okay, death threats, setting stuff on fire, not expressions of free speech, rather, anti-free speech. Very clear, very bad. The same introductory question applies (ie 'Must you people...etc). So the publishers didn't expect this kind of reaction? Geniuses. Statements however, to the effect of "You publishers should have expected this kind of reaction, and it'll only get worse if you keep being such assholes", are expressions of free speech, not an attack on free speech. People who say such things are not making anti-free speech statements. They are merely asking 'Must you people be such cunts?'
Here's what the Guardian has to say anyway
newspapers are not obliged to republish offensive material merely because it is controversial. It would not be appropriate, for instance, to publish an anti-semitic cartoon of the sort that was commonplace in Nazi Germany. Nor would we publish one which depicted black people in the way a Victorian caricature might have done. Every newspaper in the country regularly carries stories about child pornography, yet none has yet reproduced examples of such pornography as part of their coverage. Few people would argue that it is essential to an understanding of the issues that they should do so.
Very nice, you bleeding-heart poncey so-called 'Guardian', but you're dead wrong. In the current press climate, newspapers clearly are obliged to republish offensive material, precisely because it is controversial and therefore highly saleable, even if it will not contribute at all to any level of debate or increase understanding whatsoever, but merely reinforce prejudice, inflame hatred and even provoke unnecessary violence (or, in the case of relatively non-flammable New Zealand, make Javed Khan sad, Chris Carter antsy, and sheep-exporters poor). John Stuart Mill didn't say that his favourite spin-off of freedom of speech was that it was materially useful for spurring the intellectual progress of civil and political discourse, and supporting the development of wisdom and good judgement, did he now. Oh, he did? Bugger.
To be fair, context is everything, and I've not seen how the Dom or the Press have handled this at first instance - my guess is something like: 'oh dear, look at this complex controversy over freedom of speech raging across Europe! In the interests of our readers' curiosity, and with the utmost respect to our chilled-out Muslims who have never blown up or firebombed anything here (unlike the French and the National Front), and who we are not trying to piss off at all, here is a picture of Mohammed growing a bomb out of his turban. Cute eh? Discuss.'
[EDIT: okay, so the actual Dom angle was even more stupid, more like 'we are doing this to annoy you nice chilled-out New Zealand Muslims, but it's a test of your tolerance to see whether you're fit to live in our secular liberal society'. Since when did newspapers stop reporting news and start conducting sociological experiments in offensive provocation in the guise of citizenship tests, and laying bets on whether anything gets set on fire as a result? Like, roundabout the time of 'Dancing with the Stars'? You dicks. Why don't you just openly invite those National Front kids (sorry, 'ex-National Front kids') to start faking 'Muslim rage' attacks on churches and newspaper offices? They're probably thinking about it now, believe you me.]
Meanwhile, this op-ed in De Spiegel equates a newspaper's apology for causing offense with kowtowing to totalitarianism. In fact, it equates simply choosing not to publish the cartoons, with kowtowing to totalitarianism. I guess if you're not a total cunt... you're a pussy?
And from the editor of the original Danish newspaper:
Humour, even offensive humour, brings people together. Because by making fun of people we've also including them in our society. It's not always easy for those concerned, but that's the price they've got to pay.
That has got to be the stupidest thing I've ever heard. I sure as hell have never felt 'included' into New Zealand society by a sidewalk 'ching-chong go home'. And Mohammed with a bomb for a brain is not exactly a bro'Town wink-nudge you know. What I hate the second-most about these 'freedom-of-speech' moments is when people who have been insulted or pissed off get accused of having 'no sense of humour'. Go ask Dave Chappelle why he just quit the game - on this highly recommended video-clip Chappelle describes a turning-point where he realised that some white guy on set was laughing at not with him after all. Go tell him he has no sense of humour, go on.
A recent expert on bFM declared that a woman's idea of a good sense of humour in a man was if he was funny. Meanwhile, (the expert believed) a man's idea of a good sense of humour in a woman was not whether she was funny, but that she laughed at his jokes. He'd done a study.
Women, ethnic minorities, religious minorities, are not going to laugh at your jokes when they're unfairly at our expense. Does the fault lie with our sense of humour, or your sense of humour? Ah, postmodernism.
Let's compare this whole affair with the next chapter on the War on Monsoon Poon. So far it's Angry Asians 2; Monsoon Poon 0. Shortly after I blogged on the appalling set menu experience at the Restaurant of Seasonal Downpouring Vagina (why didn't they just call it 'wet pussy'?) I discovered their appalling website. It was, to put it bluntly, racist.
I fired off an email to Angry Minsoo at Angryasianman.com, and he put up this mention on his site, frequented by squillions of angryasianamericans:
Oh boy. I guess New Zealand has its share of kitschy orientalist restaurant chains too. Check out this restaurant's site: Monsoon Poon. Every cheesy Asian restaurant needs yellow funny funny joke jokes on its website. Like here: "If you drink and drive, you bloody iriot dial a rickshaw." Or this oh-so-hilarious review: "That Monsoon Poon, i hear pretty damn good, now, where you go?" - Sum Yung Gy, Ricksaw driver Hanoi. T-shirts for sale include :"LOVE U LONG TIME" (with faux [Vietnamese] accents on selected vowels) and "Me hungry, you cook now, yes?" That's racist! ...Drop the restaurant a few notes of love at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And so, before the local Movement got off its collective holiday ass to take on the Poon in a big way, they had already been undoubtedly bombarded via email, and had removed the two most offensive lines (the 'bloody iriot' and 'Sum Yung Gy'). Thanks angryasianamericanactivists! The website is still a shitter though, unevenly using 'Broken Asian' english, and adopting a tagline probably all Asian women in the West know, have a laugh at from time to time, but feel humiliated by if it's used by any non-Asian person to mock or 'sell' us. All the more reason for No Asian Person to Ever Set Foot in this Joint. Why are they going out of their way to make fun of us? What did we ever do to them? They're making money off this! Must these people be such cunts?
Anyway, for reference purposes on 'humour' here are some excerpts from the script of Full Metal Jacket, dir. Stanley Kubrick. If you like, you can replace 'me so horny' with 'me so hungry', 'love you long time' with 'feed you long time', and 'I'll skip the foreplay' with 'I'll skip the entree'. Hilarious! What a great restaurant. For imperialists.
51 EXT. DA NANG STREET, VIETNAM--DAY
Motorcycles, cars, Vietnamese civilians. Swinging her hips with exaggerated sexiness, an attractive HOOKER in a mini-skirt walks toward a cafe table on the pavement where JOKER and RAFTERMAN are seated.
Music: Nancy Sinatra's "These Boots Are Made for Walking."
The girl stops at JOKER's table.
Hey, baby, you got girlfriend Vietnam?
Not just this minute.
Well, baby, me so horny. Me so horny. Me love you long time. You party?
Yeah, we might party. How much?
Fifteen dollars for both of us?
No. Each you fifteen dolla. Me love you long time. Me so horny.
Fifteen dollar too boo-coo. Five dollars each.
Me suckee-suckee. Me love you too much.
Five dollars is all my mom allows me to spend.
Okay! Ten dolla each.
What do we get for ten dollars?
Everything you want.
Well, old buddy, feel like spending some of your hard-earned money?
Just a minute.
RAFTERMAN raises his Nikon and starts photographing JOKER and the HOOKER.
The girl strikes quick poses for the camera and coughs.
JOKER puts his arm around her.
You know, half these gook whores are serving officers in the Viet Cong.
The girl coughs again.
EXT. WRECKED MOVIE THEATER--DAY
The marines are seated outside the theater on rows of broken movie seats.
A motor-scooter, driven by a young ARVN soldier with a pretty teenage Vietnamese HOOKER sitting behind him, and pulls up in front of the LUSTHOG SQUAD.
The girl gets off slowly, swinging her hips as she walks.
Adlibs, hoots anal hollers.
More hoots and hollers.
Good morning, little schoolgirl. I'm a little schoolboy, too.
Adlibs and laughter.
What you got there, chief!
The girl stands facing them, hands on hips.
Do you want number one fuckee?
Adlibs and laughter.
Hey, any of you boys want number one fuckee?
Oh, I'm so horny. I can't even get a piece of hand.
Hey! Hey! Me want suckee.
Suckee, fuckee, smoke cigarette in the pussy, she give you everything you want. Long time.
Everything you want! All right! How much there, chief!
Fifteen dolla each.
Number ten. Fifteen dolla beaucoup money.
Five dolla each.
Come on. She love you good. Boom-boom long time. Ten dolla.
No. Ten dolla.
Be glad to trade you some ARVN rifles. Never been fired and only dropped once.
Laughter and derisive adlibs.
Okay, five dolla. You give me.
EIGHTBALL, a black grunt, walks up to the girl.
Let's get mounted.
(speaks in Vietnamese)
(argues in Vietnamese)
Something wrong there, chief?
She says, uh, no boom-boom with soul brotha.
Hey, what the mother fuck?
She say soul brotha too boo-coo. Too boo-coo.
Hey, what is this, man?
I think what he's trying to tell you is that you black boys pack too much meat.
Too boo-coo. Too boo-coo.
Oh, shi-i-i-t! (laughs) This baby-san looks like she could suck the chrome off a trailer hitch.
She say too boo-coo. Too boo-coo.
Uh, excuse me, ma'am. Now what we have here, little yellow sister, is a magnificent...
(takes out his dick)
. . specimen of pure Alabama blacksnake. But it ain't too goddamn boo-coo.
The girl looks at it.
Hoots and catcalls.
Okay. Okay. Emjee.
(mimicking Vietnamese word)
Okay! Okay! Emjee! Emjee!
Adlibs of "Emjee."
EIGHTBALL starts to lead her away.
All right! This is my boogie!
Hey, we need a batting order.
ANIMAL MOTHER grabs the girl's arm, EIGHTBALL holds on to the other one.
I'm going first.
Hey, now back off, white bread. Don't get between a dog and his meat.
MOTHER slaps EIGHTBALL on the wrist like he's a naughty boy and pushes the girl into the movie theater.
All fucking niggers must fucking hang.
Adlibs of "Fuck you!" and laughter.
Hey, hey! I won't be long. I'll skip the foreplay.