A Canadian newsmagazine, Western Standard, has become the first large-circulation publication in the country to run the cartoons of Mohammed published back in September in a Danish newspaper that have caused protests and rioting throughout the Muslim world and in Europe. Their web site does not appear to be available. But the magazine’s publisher, Ezra Levant, has a blog and that’s still up (at least as of this writing):
Early this morning, 40,000 copies of the Western Standard magazine, of which I am publisher, rolled off the presses. The cover story is about government lobbyists and corruption.
But in the middle of the magazine, we have a two-page discussion about the Danish cartoons depicting the Muslim Prophet Muhammad. These are the cartoons that caused riots overseas.
In our magazine’s news judgment, you can’t properly report that story without showing the cartoons. So we’re publishing eight of the cartoons. As far as I am aware, that makes the Western Standard the first large-circulation publication in the country to reprint them.
As our readers will see, most of the cartoons are innocuous; several nothing more than stylized portraits, including quite a handsome one.
It seems absurd that such a banal journalistic act would be taboo. We’re not abnormal for printing the cartoons. Canada’s other publications and TV stations are the abnormal ones for avoiding the subject at the centre of the largest story of the week.
It’s not hard to understand. It’s a potential hassle, and publishers aren’t in the hassle business — publishers are in the money-making business.
Anything that could cause subscriptions to be cancelled or advertisers to be scared off is dangerous to the bottom line. And then there is the risk of violence. What publisher needs that? That’s fair. Freedom of the press can mean the right to ignore a story, too.
But I believe Canadian publishers and TV producers have not been fully candid about the choice they’ve all made. Not a single publisher, editor or reporter has admitted they have blocked the cartoons for fear of an economic backlash. Perhaps none of them thought about lost business when they made their decision. But if any did, they probably wouldn’t admit it — that would make them seem like callow, profit-driven commercial journalists, and that’s contrary to the careful image the media has cultivated as being somehow more noble or idealistic than other industries.
And none of them have admitted what we all know is true, at least a little bit: That these riots are scary.
They’re scarier than any letter-writing campaign or boycott or protest rally that has occurred in recent memory.
Journalists and other artists have been killed by Muslim radicals. Several of the Danish cartoonists are in hiding, for fear of assassination. This is really happening.
In fact, the official excuse has been that TV producers, publishers and editors don’t want to offend religious sensibilities. But this isn’t credible. Not a day goes by when the mainstream media doesn’t offend the religious sensibilities of religious Christians, Jews or others. The media doesn’t care about religious sensibilities — it is militantly secular. But it has made an exception for the sensibilities of one religion that is quick to riot and behead its critics.
The most laughable excuse — especially from the liberal, secular media like the CBC or CNN — is that they “respect” Islam too much. Really? They respect a religion opposed to feminism, gay rights and abortion?
The liberal media doesn’t respect radical Islam. It is afraid of radical Islam.
I’m afraid, too. A little bit at least. But courage isn’t the absence of fear. It’s not letting fear trump everything else — like character or duty or our own beliefs.
The Western Standard has no explaining to do. We’re a news magazine, and these cartoons are news. The publishers, editors and TV producers who are behaving as if they live under sharia law, not the Charter of Rights, have explaining to do — to their readers and viewers.
I’ve taken the liberty of quoting Mr. Levant’s comments on the publication in full for the simple reason that they might not be available tomorrow. I hope Mr. Levant will forgive me.
UPDATE: Ed Morrissey comments.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Has the web site of the Western Standard been hacked?