provocation versus informationIt seems to me we need to draw a distinction that I haven't seen anyone make -- not that anyone hasn't made it, I'm sure -- between the publication of the now-infamous Mohammed cartoons by the Jyllands-Posten and other newspapers (or websites, or television news programs, or whatever). The Jyllands-Posten has made it clear that they commissioned and published the cartoons merely to show that they could, and to provoke discussion about an objectionable taboo. They poked someone with a stick to show that they could poke someone with a stick; their entire purpose was to be provocative. This is, in a word, dumb.
But once those cartoons became the source of a significant public controversy, and prompted serious political violence, they became inescapably newsworthy. For newspapers in the United States (for the close-to-home example) to refuse to show their readers the topic of controversy amounts to a decision to withhold critical facts from the people they are supposed to serve and inform. Publish the fucking cartoons, folks. If people yell at you, and hold up angry and offensive signs, boo-fucking-hoo; if newspaper staff are threatened with violence, we have a collective obligation as communities and as a nation to protect them.
But the issues are not the same. The Jyllands-Posten wasn't trying to convey newsworthy information; other newspapers are deliberately withholding newsworthy information. Both are bad choices for newspapers to make.
I'd post the cartoons here, if I knew how to embed images in a blog. But you can see them here, at the website of the massively awful Michelle Malkin. Not good business for professional media to show their readers that asshole bloggers offer them information that they can't get from their local newspaper.