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Seattle Times letters to the editor

January 14, 2015 at 11:56 AM

Charlie Hebdo cover cartoon: Should newspapers publish it?

The Seattle Times made a reasonable call in deciding not to print the cartoon in question [“French paper puts Muhammad on cover, provoking a new storm,” Nation & World, Jan. 13]. There is no point in offending anyone.

I would have made a different call and printed the cartoon, but that doesn’t make my choice any more reasonable than The Times’. Having to walk a fine line and make decisions like this are a burden of Editor Kathy Best’s position. I’m glad she expressed the thought that the story can be covered adequately without printing the cartoon, and that The Times avoided inserting the stock self-serving cliches about diversity. If, for whatever reason, the story could not have been adequately covered without the cartoon and The Times chose not to print it, then the newspaper would then lack integrity. Being offended is an unavoidable and unpleasant part of living, and ignoring the offender is part of being an adult.

I trust that in printing stories that involve other symbols that are equally offensive to certain groups — symbols such as confederate flags, swastikas and others, that The Times exercises the same consideration about adequately covering the story and the same measure of respect as it extends to those who would be offended by the cartoon in Charlie Hebdo.

James B. Paden, Blaine

Editor Kathy Best’s explanation why the Seattle Times did not print the new Charlie Hebdo cover cartoon relies upon the notion that we should not “deliberately offend our neighbors.”

I had hoped that every major newspaper in the Western world would print this complex and humane cartoon on its front page. The alternative is to be cowed into submission by intolerance. Some Muslim leaders are denouncing the new cartoon, expressing, in essence, “Haven’t you had enough?” But if the vast and complex world of Islamic believers is to live comfortably in Western societies, they must find a way to accept the most fundamental values of liberal and tolerant society.

There is no place in the modern liberal West for absolute intolerance. Satire always risks offending those who are skewered — those who take themselves too seriously, those who would oppress or threaten or resort to force, those who fail to grasp the central role of the freedom to speak freely. Cowering against overt threats or veiled threats only encourages the mindset of intolerance and violence.

Delton W. Young, Seattle

I am extremely offended and insulted that The Times does not have the courage to publish the Charlie Hebdo cover and I find its explanation to be weak and cowardly. The Times should be ashamed of itself for allowing this to happen and perhaps should show more courage (like The Washington Post did) before it decides to censor the readers of the newspaper.

The tragedies last week were carried out by extremists who have no sense of reality and clearly represent a small minority of people who happen to be Islamic. The magazine not only satirizes Muslims but also other religious groups and influential world leaders. Is The Times planning to censor each story moving forward for fear of offending that particular group it  chooses to highlight?

We in the Western world need to stand up to anyone who threatens our livelihood and our right to free speech. We do not run from terror, nor do we hide. The Times’ decision to censor this cartoon makes our region of the world look weak and scared, and it defeats the whole purpose of defending free speech. Isn’t that what The Seattle Times should be advocating and supporting for all instead of tiptoeing around offending a few?

On behalf of the millions of people in France and around the world standing up for their rights and freedom, from George Clooney’s Golden Globe acceptance speech, to me enjoying my morning coffee and paper, shame on you!

Grant Warner, Seattle

Comments | More in First Amendment, Islam | Topics: cartoons, Charlie Hebdo, Delton W. Young

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The opinions expressed in reader comments are those of the author only, and do not reflect the opinions of The Seattle Times.


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