As Parisians gobble up copies of Charlie Hebdo's first post-massacre edition by the millions, many Western news organizations are censoring the cover art out of "sensitivity" to Muslim readers and viewers. This exceptionally newsworthy image is too hot to handle, evidently:
That would be a weeping Prophet Mohammad, holding an "I am Charlie" placard, with the words "all is forgiven" appearing over his head. The drawing has been condemned by an influential Sunni cleric, denounced by Iran, and banned by a court in Turkey (where some journalists have received death threats). A large number of media organizations in supposedly freedom loving societies didn't need a court order to kill the cover; they've done so voluntarily. As we've been reminded recently, many in the press apparently consider themselves in the "don't offend certain people" business. And by "certain people," they mean "Muslims who might get violent," of course, though they lack the integrity to admit as much. We mustn't be honest about that issue, either. Sensibilities must be protected. And so after days of covering the French people's "inspiring" defiance and unity -- while plastering "Je Suis Charlie" slogans all over their front pages and airwaves -- many in the media remain sufficiently terrorized as to doggedly shield their audiences from seeing relevant content. The content that people were literally murdered for defending. Which brings us to the following pitiful display from Britain's Sky News. It has, depressingly enough, come to this:
What a stomach-turning spectacle. Here we have a grieving colleague of the slain Charlie Hebdo victims courageously standing up for the principle of free expression, knowing full well that she's putting her personal safety on the line by extending a proverbial middle finger to those who seek to police "provocative" speech via vigilante death squads. Her reward? A major news station in the UK silences her by quickly panning away mid-interview and abruptly cutting to a scandalized anchor, who chides her guest and apologizes profusely to the audience. As if they'd just been accidentally subjected to grisly video of a beheading or a rape. Noah nails it:
We are deeply sorry and ashamed that we allowed that courageous writer, whose work we are praising, to show it. http://t.co/8ID0vjm9bf— Noah Rothman (@NoahCRothman) January 14, 2015
They want to applaud and exploit her bravery for ratings, but they also want to ensure the barbarians know that they shouldn't be targeted for any future free speech-related reprisals. All dressed up as "editorial guidelines." I linked it above, but click through to Buzzfeed's useful list of who is, and isn't, censoring the new cover (condensed version: NPR, NBC, CNN, NYT -- no; USA Today, Wall Street Journal, CBS, Fox News, WaPo -- yes). Those outlets embracing censorship are wrapping themselves in the cloak of propriety and sensitivity, but in reality, they're capitulating to the zealots and succumbing to abject fear. It's not complicated, really. And it's the very form of fear they'd likely righteously condemn as 'Islamophobia' if articulated by others. Instead, they're living it. Pathetic.