This interview is about â€œcourageism.â€ Except this article is from the other side of the spectrum, the side that believes there is no such word a courageism and idea is false. I personally donâ€™t hold to that view at this time, but wanted to show both sides of the story, starting with the opposing side. So Iâ€™ve interviewed Daryl Cobranchi, a â€œchemist by training, a blogger by accident, and a curmudgeon by nature.â€ He answered a few questions about his views on the cartoon issue and courageism, and Iâ€™m certain youâ€™ll find his answers interesting. Have fun!
Agent Tim: Let’s start at the beginning of this whole story with the newspapers in Denmark. They publish 12 cartoons, some depicting Muhammad in a derogatory way. Now, I understand that this is offensive to Islam, but I’m looking at the response by the Islamic people. Take for example this
“Masked gunmen today took over an office used by the European Union to protest the publication of cartoons deemed insulting to Islam. About five gunmen stormed the building, closing the office down, while 10 other armed men stood watch outside. One of the militants said they were protesting the drawings, one of which depicted Islam’s Prophet Muhammad wearing a turban shaped as a bomb.”
Would you say the newspapers were asking for this type of response or did they make a brave statement by standing up to terrorists? And was the Muslim communities response by using violence correct?
Daryl: I wouldn’t say they were asking for it, but it was probably pretty predictable. The paper (singular) commissioned cartoonists to draw Mohammed, knowing full-well that the Danish Muslim minority would protest. That was the whole point. So, no, I don’t think it was brave or courageous to insult a minority. Would it be courageous to draw cartoons portraying Hitler as righteous and the Jews as deserving their fate?
That being said, I deplore the violence exhibited by the Muslim protesters.
The Danes did it right. When the cartoons were first published in September, 5,000 Danish Muslims marched peacefully in protest.
Agent Tim: Then how would define â€œcourage.â€?
Daryl: I’d define courage as doing “right” when one firmly believes that the consequences to one’s self will be unpleasant. Note that the “doing right” is judged externally. So the wacko who attempts a political assassination isn’t being courageous. There was no courage involved in the Danish paper’s decision to commission and publish these cartoons. They weren’t “doing right.” The other papers that followed up may have been standing up for what they perceived as freedom of the press, or they may have been merely piling on. Based on what I’ve read, I’d say it was some of each.
Agent Tim: Do you think the Muslim countries are showing hypocrisy by attacking freedom of the press in other countries, yet degrading other religions in their own countries.
Daryl: Freedom of the press is mostly a foreign concept in the Middle East.
The press IS the government, so anything published in Denmark is assumed to be with their blessing. Muslims don’t typically “degrade”
other religions (specifically Judaism). They protest Israeli policies.
In the West, we often confuse those two, but Judaism and Israel are two very different beasts.
Agent Tim: Is it wrong to promote freedom of the press because it’s “foreign” in the Middle East? Is it better for these countries to maintain tyranny or suppression of freedom?
Daryl: No, it’s not necessarily wrong to promote human freedoms. It is wrong to do it by force.
Agent Tim: Okay, now let’s move back to “courageism,” the opposite of “terrorism.” I would assume you believe that these newspapers are not showing courage, but rather stupidity in publishing the material. Is that correct? And why can’t they publish this material?
Daryl: Yes, that’s correct. They, of course, have the right to publish.
I just happen to think it was a stupid and cruel thing to do. What was the purpose in publishing these, other than to gin up a controversy and some cheap publicity?
Agent Tim: What do you think about the freedom of the press and standing up to terrorism?
Daryl: Freedom of the press is a long-cherished Western ideal. I don’t think the current controversy had anything to do with supporting the press in opposition to terrorism. How many Danes were coming out in favor of terrorism? My only post on this topic was titled “Whose Ox?”
because I think a lot of these proponents of the Danish paper are far from First Amendment purists. I’ve asked Scott Somerville how many Letters to the Editor he wrote in support of the Brooklyn Museum exhibiting “Piss Christ” and against the folks calling for Giuliani to shut it down. I haven’t received an answer back yet, but I’d be willing to grant long odds that it’s zero.
Agent Tim: Thanks Daryl. Hopefully weâ€™ll be able to secure an interview with Scott Somerville for next week, making this discussion even. Make sure you check out Mr. Cobranchi’s blog here.