Cartoon Outrage: the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad Cartoons Controversy

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The controversy in question is simply a series of cartoons which were first published in a Danish newspaper (Jyllands-Posten) in 2006. This controversy has recently been stirred by a reprinting of the article in many European newspapers in a stand of solidarity for freedom of speech. The original (and subsequent) publication(s) led to a public outcry, and sparked violent protests in the Islamic world. Danish Muslim organizations staged protests, while the cartoons were being reprinted in more than 50 other countries. Critics of the cartoons call them “culturally insulting,” “xenophobic,” and even so far as “blasphemous.” Supporters claim that the cartoons simply illustrate an issue important to current events, and the publications of such cartoons simply an exercise in the worldwide right of free speech. When trying to formulate a response to such a controversy, one could ask themselves if they are more of a relativist, or an objectivist. Relativism is a ethical position which can be defined as a belief that a stance on moral dilemmas do not reflect universal moral truths, simply that they make a claim relative to the social, political, cultural, or personal beliefs of the person. Objectivism is an ethical position which states that certain acts can be objectively right or wrong. As you can see, there are incredible problems with both of these stances, when faced with an ethical dilemma such as the publishing of a cartoon depicting Mohammed. On the one hand, with relativism, it can be said that each party is right in their own way, that the publisher could show these cartoons without fear of repercussion, for it is his right as a human to do so, according to the western world’s democratic ideals. In all true democracies, freedom of speech is protected, and the editor who was “blamed” for this controversy, Flemming Rose, claims that it was not bigotry, but religious “integration”, which inspired him to publish those cartoons: We have a tradition of satire when...
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