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Bombing in Denmark:

Danish journalist Jakob Illeborg writes:

Around 11am today a bomb exploded in a solarium in Copenhagen. The suntan shop was situated just by the national football stadium in Oesterbro, a peaceful and affluent part of the Danish capital. The explosion completely destroyed the shop and the surrounding flats were also damaged. The police are putting the fact that no one was hurt down to sheer luck; two other bags were found in the area and have been destroyed. Two young men between the ages of 15 and 25 were seen running away from the crime scene; they were described as "foreign-looking" and are now wanted by the police.

The explosion is a drastic escalation of the week-long riots on the streets Denmark where young Muslim men have vented their anger and frustration towards Danish society by setting fire to cars and burning bonfires in the streets. The rioters claim that their action is a protest against the reprinting of the prophet cartoons, which took place last Wednesday when a unified Danish press decided to print/reprint the cartoon depicting the prophet Muhammad with a bomb in his turban. The decision to reprint was taken when the Danish security service (PET) notified the public that three men had been arrested on suspicion of plotting the murder of the cartoonist, Kurt Westergaard.

However, it is debatable whether the reprinting of the cartoons was the real reason behind the rioting. The night before they were published the air on Oesterbro was thick with the smoke of bonfires and burning rubber, carried by the wind from neighbouring Noerrebro, where much of the rioting has taken place. The cartoons no doubt had an explosive effect on matters, but the fire was already burning....

Illeborg writes more — the entire post is much worth reading — but the conclusion strikes me as very troubling:

[I]t is naive to believe that we can arrest or deport our way out of the problem. The Danes will have to adopt a political culture that is more accepting of people who don't think and behave like us. Of course there must be limits to what we will accept, but so far neither our society nor our way of life is under threat. Maybe the lesson is to keep our powder dry for when it really matters. The prophet cartoon crisis was not worth it first time around and we could certainly do without an encore.

I would think that standing up for the right to speak — even when the speech offends other religions — is something that does "really matter[]."

See also Abe Greenwald's comments in Commentary, which take the same view that I do. Thanks to Michael Totten (guest-blogging at InstaPundit) for the pointer. For more on the cartoons, see my post from two years ago.

Fran (mail) (www):
Beware saying 'Happy Holidays'. You might be considered anti-christian.
2.20.2008 6:46pm
Glenn W. Bowen (mail):

[I]t is naive to believe that we can arrest or deport our way out of the problem. The Danes will have to adopt a political culture that is more accepting of people who don't think and behave like us. Of course there must be limits to what we will accept, but so far neither our society nor our way of life is under threat


The Danes do live in a society that is more accepting of people who don't think and behave like
the Danes do- and it's being extorted away from them one piece at a time. The limits will increase, the acceptance will be ignored for its source, eventaully.
2.20.2008 7:01pm
H. Tuttle:
Can these be the same people who produced the Vikings and their long ships that struck fear into much of Europe for 300 long years? The English in the 8th century had a prayer that went, "Deliver us, O Lord, from the fury of the Norsemen. They ravage our lands, they kill our women and children!" 8th Century English prayer.

Today they can't even crack down properly on a bunch of thugs and hoodlums. Amazing. And sad.
2.20.2008 7:02pm
MLS (www):
I think what he meant to say was "the Danes will have to adopt a political culture that is less accepting of people who think and behave like us."
2.20.2008 7:05pm
Richard Gould-Saltman (mail):
What I'm half-expecting is for for some of the more strident anti-immigrant groups in Denmark to go on the offensive (and that's exactly the word I want here); printing up some REALLY noxious anti-Muslim cartoons (not like the relatively innoucuous "bomb/turban" catoon that's in question here, but more like the winners of the Iranian "Anti-Zionist" cartoon contest, or like South Park, ) as leaflets, and blanketing the a couple of cities with'em anonymously.
2.20.2008 7:09pm
Elliot123 (mail):
That's probably a good idea. But I would include all religions. Perhaps we could institute Laughing Day as an annual celebration? Everybody would insult and mock religion. Hollywood could make movies showing excactly what various religions taught. Talking snakes, elephant headed gods, flying horses...all kinds of great material.
2.20.2008 7:41pm
Smokey:
[I]t is naive to believe that we can arrest or deport our way out of the problem...
You'll never know until you give it a try.
2.20.2008 7:51pm
Cornellian (mail):
The explosion is a drastic escalation of the week-long riots on the streets Denmark where young Muslim men have vented their anger and frustration towards Danish society

Is something preventing them from leaving Denmark?
2.20.2008 8:05pm
sbron:
After initial collaboration during WWII, the Danes decided to not accept German occupation and German values. Their resistance and in particular rescue of the Danish Jews was heroic and has been justifiably honored. It is pathetic that a nation once willing to stand up to the German terror apparatus is now reluctant to expel a small number of theocratic thugs.
2.20.2008 8:30pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
“[I]t is naive to believe that we can arrest or deport our way out of the problem.”

Why not? If Denmark decides that Muslims are a threat to them they have every right to curtail further immigration and deport anyone who they decide poses a danger. This is nothing but surrender talk.
2.20.2008 9:22pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
60 Minutes is wondering if they can take back that story they did just last Sunday about how happy and carefree everyone is in Denmark.
2.20.2008 9:25pm
DCP:
On a sidenote: you have to look long and hard to find an unattractive woman in Denmark - it would be a great travesty for any these lovely specimens to find themselves on the business end of a suicide bomber.

On another sidenote: movie theatres in Denmark have assigned seating, which I discovered when an older Danish woman (one of the few ugly ones) gave me a harsh togue-lashing (saying God knows what) for sitting in her assigned seat, eventhough she arrived thirty minutes into the movie and we were the only two people in the entire theatre!
2.20.2008 9:51pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Interesting point one of the commenters made:
You can't go to certain places in your own town, but you want to wait to do something until your society and culture are under threat?
Ostrich much?
2.20.2008 10:37pm
Randy R. (mail):
IF, and this is a big if, we could be sure that the cartoons caused these riots and that if publication of them ceased, then there would be no more riots at all, or even disturbances, then I believe that newspapers suffer little by refraining from publishing them.

Look, before everyon jumps on my, I am a total freedom of speech advocate. I believe the best answer to bad speech is more speech. However, publishing cartoons that you KNOW will inflame a group of people, especially on a religious topic, well, what't the point? To prove that you can push the buttons of certain people?

Yes, I know, that's the point of political cartoons. i will even back track a bit and say that I'm not sure that something else won't cause these people to riot. If there isa whole laundry list of things that will cause them to riot, then I say ef'em, and print what you like.

However, if it is just one thing, and we could be sure of that, that I really don't see the problem. Free speech? Sure. But even Eugene would agree you can't yell fire in a crowded theater. And, as is often pointed out here at VC, if you do something that you KNOW will antagonize someone, don't be surprised by their reaction.

So go ahead -- print the cartoons. Stand up for what you believe in. But then at least have the guts to admit that you deliberately provoked a riot. It's called taking responsibility for your actions.

(And YES, of course, the rioters must take responsbility for their actions as well. I'm not letting anyone off the hook on this one. I'm just saying, when you hit someone in the nose, don't be all surprised and act superior when they hit you back.)
2.20.2008 11:16pm
Jmaie (mail):
I'm sure that something else will cause them to riot.

There are other manifestations as well - think airport taxi drivers in MN refusing to carry passengers who either have dogs, or are either carrying alcohol, or have imbibed.
2.20.2008 11:29pm
Ted S. (mail) (www):

So go ahead -- print the cartoons. Stand up for what you believe in. But then at least have the guts to admit that you deliberately provoked a riot. It's called taking responsibility for your actions.


Do you really think anybody would be making such silly comments if, say, the Catholic League had rioted over the "Virgin Mary with elephant dung" artwork from several years ago?

Hell, if you want a more recent example, one could argue the Muslim immigrants provoked a riot in Cronulla. And look at how the establishment reported that
2.20.2008 11:30pm
Randy R. (mail):
Just to be clear, I'm not defending the rioters. I think violence is always a bad response to most anything, particularly something as silly as religion or politics, and this is both.

What I am saying is a pox on both houses. The papers could and should have a good case for running the original cartoons. But a second time? Even that's fine, but they should contribute to a fund to help the people victimized by the riots.

Sometimes -- just sometimes -- with rights come responsbilities. We are all so hung up on our rights, we often forget that there are responsibilities as well. I cherish my rights, but I would not want to give a government an excuse to come in an curtail my rights because I abused them or used them irresponsibly. And right or wrong, that happens.

It's very easy for us to sit here and be all high minded and all, but the average citizen is really like Denmark. They just want to live their lives peacefully, without people throwing bricks in their windows, and many will gladly give up certain rights in order to do so. Just look at our country -- we have a whole segment of our population willing to jettison whole parts of our constitution just to feel a little safer. And look how eagerly our President is willing to accomodate them. After this incident, how many Danes will be grateful for a law that says no religious cartoons of any sort may be printed?

Rights are precious and should be treated as such, as they are much more fragile than you think.
2.20.2008 11:32pm
Randy R. (mail):
Ted: "Do you really think anybody would be making such silly comments if, say, the Catholic League had rioted over the "Virgin Mary with elephant dung" artwork from several years ago? "

Excellent point. And the answer is very few, at least in this country.

However, the difference is that if create a piece of artwork, and it's shown in a gallery, the number of viewers is rather small, and so my expectation of people who would be offended is likewise small. If, however, I printed in an ad for a major circulation paper showing this artwork, should I be surprised that I receive death threats? Or mail containing who knows what? Should I be surprised that if I recieve public funds for this art, that some pol may threaten to withhold any more money?

The answer is no.

And trust me, even in your scenario, there would be plenty of Americans who would think that such riots are justified.
2.20.2008 11:37pm
Randy R. (mail):
Jm: "I'm sure that something else will cause them to riot."

That, of course, is my worst fear. If true, then I would say so ahead and do what you want and expose them for the bastards that they are.
2.20.2008 11:39pm
Elmer:

[I]t is naive to believe that we can arrest or deport our way out of the problem...

You'll never know until you give it a try.


No sane country would. Retaliation, in the form of disapproving editorials in the NYT and others, would be swift and devastating.
2.20.2008 11:47pm
TRex (mail):
Refer back to the Feb. 6, 2006 Jim Lindgren post herein. It may just be a matter of time before radicals try their own non-judicial tactics to try to get the sculpture of Mohammad removed from the Supreme Court.
2.20.2008 11:53pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Randy R.

“However, publishing cartoons that you KNOW will inflame a group of people, especially on a religious topic, well, what't the point?”

I think you are conflating two issues with this statement. First we have the original publication of the cartoons, which was done to make an editorial statement about Islam. That caused riots and one can argue that it was bad judgment to have published something so inflammatory. But following that, the cartoons became a news event. As such, the media both, print and electronic needed to publish the cartoons to provide informative coverage of a major piece of news. How can the readers judge the inflammatory nature of the cartoons without seeing them? Not printing the cartoons amounts to self-censorship by the press. That’s a problem for a free society. A press free of government regulation and free from private intimidation is worth fighting for.
2.21.2008 12:14am
Elliot123 (mail):
"However, publishing cartoons that you KNOW will inflame a group of people, especially on a religious topic, well, what't the point? To prove that you can push the buttons of certain people?"

Would you recommend suppressing cartoons and criticism of virulent anti-gay groups because we know it will inflame them? Let's say these people are very flammable, and highly sensitive to any criticism of their anti-gay positions. Let's say they believe gays are cursed spawn of hell and an insult to god, and it is our duty to rid society of their filth.
2.21.2008 12:40am
donaldk2 (mail):
Simple choice: (1) refrain from annoying them; (2) shoot rioters. There is no middle way.
2.21.2008 3:49am
Ben P (mail):

Can these be the same people who produced the Vikings and their long ships that struck fear into much of Europe for 300 long years? The English in the 8th century had a prayer that went, "Deliver us, O Lord, from the fury of the Norsemen. They ravage our lands, they kill our women and children!" 8th Century English prayer.


I think they're more the people that were conquered by the true vikings. As someone of partially Norwegian heritage I will insist that the only *true* vikings come from Norway.
2.21.2008 9:49am
Glenn W. Bowen (mail):

The leftist Socialist People's party leader gives the extremist group Hizh ut-Tahrir, a piece of his mind

In an uncharacteristic move, Villy Søvndal, leader of the Socialist People's Party, responded to the Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir's demonstration last Friday, by severely criticising them in his blog.

He stated in his blog that the group was to 'seek other pastures' and that their 'undertakings had no perspective, nor future, in Denmark'.

In an interview with Jyllands-Posten newspaper, he continued to lash out at the extremist group whose demonstration had delivered a direct threat towards Danish society, telling them to 'go to hell'.

'If they want to live in a religious dictatorship so badly, they can go to those countries in the Middle East where such dictatorships exist,' he said.



http://jp.dk/uknews/politics/article1272569.ece
2.21.2008 9:51am
The Unbeliever (mail):

Look, before everyon jumps on my, I am a total freedom of speech advocate.

Not to be overly snarky, but I'm afraid your previous paragraph completely belies the word "total" in your disclaimer.

then I believe that newspapers suffer little by refraining from publishing them.

Silly conspiracy theories aside, newspapers are not centrally controlled entities; if you wanted to prevent them from printing something, you would need a law to that effect. Of course you used the voluntary term "refrains", which indicates you believe there should be some moral constraint in operation here, not necessarily a legal one. But that is, to be blunt, wishful thinking; you won't get every newspaper to agree to the same exact standards. And as it was pointed out later in the thread, once one paper prints it becomes a newsworthy item that entails duplication.

publishing cartoons that you KNOW will inflame a group of people, especially on a religious topic, well, what't the point? To prove that you can push the buttons of certain people?

Slippery slope alert! Who judges exactly how insulting a comic can be? South Park did an excellent parody on this exact subject: what if the depictions were entirely benign? (The case in point was an absurdist non-sequitir joke written for Family Guy, where Mohommed simply knocked on Peter's door and handed him a fish. Ironically, South Park's cable channel, Comedy Central, refused to show even this 3 second image on TV and censored it!)

Do you think all cartoons about Islam should be submitted to a panel of imams to determine how inflammatory it is? Should we develop a unit of measurement to rate these comics and ban the printing of anything above, say, 50 milli-mohommeds? How many milli-mohommeds are needed to create one standard metric rioter? What's the likely ratio of kilo-rioters to bombings, and should we allow a few centi-rioters in the interest of nominal freedom of expression?
2.21.2008 11:11am
H. Tuttle:
>>However, if it is just one thing, and we could be sure of that, that I really don't see the problem. Free speech? Sure. But even Eugene would agree you can't yell fire in a crowded theater.<<

Your string of postings strike me as truly confused on the issue. The issue isn't whether Party A is either "provoking" Party B or conducting the equivalent of shouting fire in a crowded theater for sport; rather the issue is whether Party B's unjustified reactions to the exercise of Party A's free speech rights should be countenanced and accommodated by western society. The mellifluous smooth can't we all just along bottomline you posit is utterly wrong.
2.21.2008 12:03pm
A.C.:
Randy R. -

The cartoons in question only existed because of certain issues within Islam. Take the bomb-turban one. I never saw this as saying that all Muslims were bombers, but I did see it as a comment on how Islam has been turned into a weapon in some cases. I've also read that the face was in fact the face of a radical cleric in Denmark, which (if true) would add a level of very conventional political satire to the piece. (Does anyone happen to know if it is true?)

I go by the principle that the people behaving badly in the real world always carry more responsibility than the person who merely comments on their bad behavior. I also think that street violence in the name of radical Islam is always wrong, both because street violence is usually wrong and because radical Islam is ALWAYS wrong. That kind of behavior is so bad that it leaves very little responsibility left for the cartoonists. The trouble comes when people try to put some of the blame for the badness on the cartoonists instead of where it belongs. That sends the message you can only comment on things that really aren't that bad anyway, which is not a productive approach.

Another problem is that lots of people are willing to apologize for street violence in general, citing various "root causes" arguments for putting the real responsibility on someone other than the people making the trouble. Others are unwilling to confront radical Islam head-on as a very bad idea, but I would settle for having them say that it isn't a good enough idea to justify violence. (Very few things do, but I wouldn't go so far as to say that nothing ever justifies a citizen uprising. Some things might, but not many... and not this.) It's not surprising that it's a bad idea, though. If it were good, wouldn't its proponents be having an easier time marketing it? If you have to resort to beheading people, maybe something is wrong with the product.
2.21.2008 12:14pm
Randy R. (mail):
I plead totally guilty to all the issues you guys raise. yes, I'm confused, no, I don't have the answers, yes, there is a slippery slope involved in my argument.

AC: " I would settle for having them say that it isn't a good enough idea to justify violence" Which is exactly what I said. Happy with that?

But....

Newspapers self censor all the time. They refrain from printing facts about certain crimes so as to not provoke copycat killers, or to protect the innocent. Actually, there are tons of reasons that they self-censor. So I don't the arguement that self-censorship is itself always bad. If they knew that this would lead to riots, and how could they not know?, then they could have applied the same reasoning.

The bottomline is that many of you argue that 1st amendment trumps absoluetly everything, and that you have a right to say or do anything at all, no matter the consequences. I'm saying, be aware of the consequences first.

I can spit on my neighbors sidewalk every day, gossip about everything I hear from his house, and generally treat him as badly as lawfully possible. It's my right, dammit! But then I shouldn't really be too surprised if he turns the tables on me and then does the same thing. Or maybe he punches me in the face.

I wouldn't do that, but some people do. It's wrong, and I don't condone it. But it happens.

What you guys fail to understand is that I am on your side. I WANT 1st amendment freedoms. But here's the problem:
I can pretty much predict that some legislator in Denmark will submit a bill that would prohibit newspapers from printing images of Mohammad, or religious cartoons, or something similar. I imagine that such a bill would at this point garner a lot of support from the people, who really don't see the point of deliberately provoking certain fanatics, and really are more concerned about civility.

don't think it can happen here? Think again. We almost had a flag burning amendment that would prevent us from burning a US flag. It was a close vote by SCOTUS to over turn it, and it was a very close vote, having passed the House, and missed the Senate by ONE vote. And if you didn't support it, you weren't patriotic. You hated our troops. Remember?

I am totally against flag burning, and I am totally against banning flag burning. Is that inconsistent? perhaps. Confused? Maybe. Nonsensical? Probably. But it is nonetheless what I believe, and a lot of people do too.

I'll say it again, in case you didn't catch it the first time. With rights comes responsibilities. That is something our Founding Fathers made very clear, but we always seem to forget the responsibilties part because it doesn't have the force of law. You want to say they are nuts? Fine, then they are nuts. But then don't keep selectively quoting them.

And more: Our rights are very fragile and are easily taken away. And they are taken away more often not by tyrants, but by majorities who just want some peace and quiet.

I'm not saying there are easy answers. I'm saying, the issue is much more complex than just smugly saying free expression trumps everything. That's easy for us to say when we aren't the ones having to nurse wounds or clean up the broken glass.

What we have done in our society is teach that everyone has a total free right to expression. We can insult people as much as we want to, and they just have to take it. Oh, they can insult right back, that's their right, after all! But all this yelling, insulting, and bad behavior sometimes -- just sometimes -- leads to violence, which, in case you didn't get it, I will repeat the the tenth time I DO NOT CONDONE VIOLENCE AT ALL. But you can hardly be surprised when some hot heads resort to violence as a response to your insults. And the reaction to the violence is sometimes to put restrictions upon the freedoms for all.

So -- perhaps we should instead teach people that there is aplace for civility and accomodation in our society. Why can't we all just get a long? Great for a humorous putdown, but also a pretty good prescription for any society. And what better lesson to teach our children?
2.21.2008 1:12pm
The Unbeliever (mail):
I am totally against flag burning, and I am totally against banning flag burning.

Coincidentally this is my position as well, but I think it has less to do with the Islamic cartoon case than you realize. Banning flag burning is a matter of laws and Constitutional issues. Refraining from speech because someone, irrationally to your mind, will take it as incentive to violence is another matter with a different standard.

Look, no one is arguing that free speech should be free of responsibility. My own take on it is that the manner of free speech the Founding Fathers envisioned was meant to go hand-in-hand with a self-regulated society, and that modern society--say the last 40 years or so--has largely moved away from the kind of self-regulation that makes it work as an optimal solution. This is not an argument against free speech, though it can be taken as justification for communities setting up local decency standards (and you don't want to get me started on the merits of classical federalism).

Certainly the Muslim youth in question are not adequately self-regulating their reaction to speech, and I would argue this is a defect in the youth, not in the practice of free speech. Or, to sum up: "with rights comes responsibilities" indeed, but you've yet to show why persons engaging in a fairly old form of free speech should take responsibility for the violent reaction of a (notably volatile) minority.

The classic example of yelling "Fire!" in a theatre is accepted as a limit to speech because the intent of speaker was explicitly intended to provoke a harmful response in a set of rational people. The point of political cartoons is to make a political statement, usually through a visual analogy or an ironic juxtaposition of concepts. Broad generalization alert: if someone is to take offense and react violently because of a political statement, would you call that person strictly rational? Should any given commentator be held responsible for the actions of irrational persons?

If you want to add political statements to the list of "Things We Won't Accept As Free Speech", you've got a pretty big case to make. I respectfully submit you can't logically make it and remain true to the traditional American concept of free speech. (I confess plenty of ignorance about the Danish concept of free speech, perhaps that would be the easier case to make?)
2.21.2008 2:17pm
The Unbeliever (mail):
So -- perhaps we should instead teach people that there is aplace for civility and accomodation in our society. Why can't we all just get a long? Great for a humorous putdown, but also a pretty good prescription for any society.

If you'll pardon a bit more well-intentioned snark... I think you're aiming this good advice at the wrong side here. Where is the "civility and accomodation" on the side of the rioters? Why can't they just all get along?
And what better lesson to teach our children?

QFT. Please forwarding this to some Danish madrassas and let us know the response.
2.21.2008 2:32pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
IMO, the second printing was in part a demonstration to the Muslims that they don't get a heckler's veto.
They get to deal the way the rest of us do.
2.21.2008 3:04pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

Beware saying 'Happy Holidays'. You might be considered anti-christian.
Yup! And Christians will express their disappointment with you. The won't set off bombs, burn buildings, or threaten to behead you.

And Randy R.--if the response of Christians to gay pride parades was rioting in San Francisco, would you be so willing to say that homosexuals need to not go out of their way to offend? I thought not.

"Something is rotten in the State of Denmark."
2.21.2008 3:17pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
Randy R. writes:

What you guys fail to understand is that I am on your side. I WANT 1st amendment freedoms. But here's the problem:
I can pretty much predict that some legislator in Denmark will submit a bill that would prohibit newspapers from printing images of Mohammad, or religious cartoons, or something similar. I imagine that such a bill would at this point garner a lot of support from the people, who really don't see the point of deliberately provoking certain fanatics, and really are more concerned about civility.
How about a bill stripping immigrants of Danish citizenship citizenship upon conviction of rioting and other serious crimes, followed by explusion to their home country?

Not surprisingly, your solution is to make the Islamofascists--who would, if they had a chance, have you executed for being homosexual--happy. Not those who support free speech.
2.21.2008 3:24pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
Randy R. writes:

But all this yelling, insulting, and bad behavior sometimes -- just sometimes -- leads to violence, which, in case you didn't get it, I will repeat the the tenth time I DO NOT CONDONE VIOLENCE AT ALL. But you can hardly be surprised when some hot heads resort to violence as a response to your insults.
Tell me if you would find the following offensive or even vaguely totalitarian:

"But all this insistence on homosexuals making a big deal of their behavior sometimes -- just sometimes -- leads to violence, which, in case you didn't get it, I will repeat the the tenth time I DO NOT CONDONE VIOLENCE AT ALL. But you can hardly be surprised when some hot heads resort to violence as a response to your depravity."

I'm hardly surprised by what the Muslim Danish hotheads are doing. But the solution is to teach them that "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me." But rioting--that should be a one-way ticket to their home country (if immigrants) or hard labor in a Danish prison (if native born).
2.21.2008 3:44pm