Thursday, February 16, 2006


Honolulu Weekly assails Islam with its own smirky cartoon

It's very seldom that cartoons make headlines. Sure, they are a key part of editorial page expression, but the leap to Page 1 must be exceedingly rare.

The publication of cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad and the ensuing riots in various countries resulted in a huge splat, if not a splash, on the front pages of newspapers everywhere. Mostly, it was news that I think readers wish would not have happened. With all the troubles in the world, couldn't we have somehow avoided this confrontation?

Right into this fray, for some reason, steps the Honolulu Weekly, with an original twist: a new offensive cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad as a smiley face, penned by John Pritchett, was published in their February 8 issue. Looking at it, I simply wondered "why?" They can't possibly be having trouble in the free speech department, so what purpose might it serve to gratuitiously offend people?

The weekly published three letters in the next paper questioning their decision, one of which was mine. I asked if they could tell us why they chose to publish that cartoon.

In response, the Weekly gave John a good hunk of their scarce editorial real estate in which he explained first that he turned down KHON (which he referred to as one of the "mainstream chicken-shit, media outlets") for an interview because they would not allow him to display the controversial cartoon responsible for igniting the opposition and riots in the Mid-East. He chastised KHON as "among those, who in my opinion, are undermining the First Amendment by kowtowing to a handful of Islamic extremists."

Never mind that one needn't be an Islamic extremist to be offended by either the controversial cartoon or John's smirky image. In fact, one needn't be a follower of that religion at all to find them offensive.

Oh... of course, John and the Weekly had to print the Danish cartoon just to make some point. Which point or what point I am not sure, but I guess the Weekly editor and publisher think differently than the usual "chicken-shit" media. So there it is, the cartoon that they knew to be offensive, displayed again to make one cartoonist happy.

Kudos to KHON. Shame on the Weekly.

John's remark about the First Amendment is also off-base and escaped editorial attention. Here is the text of the amendment:
Bill of Rights
Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
Note that the First Amendment prevents the government from interfereing with the press, and has nothing whatsoever to do with whether a TV station or newspaper exercises discretion over what it publishes.

The Weekly is sadly short of discretion. Whatever point they are trying to make, it's too bad that they had to offend many of their readers to make it.

I would cancel my subscription, except that the paper is free.


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