Comment, Comics and the Contrary.
The editor of France Soir was sacked after republishing the Danish cartoons. And what is wrong with that? Why should the owner of a media outlet not determine who it is that works at it? And here we arrive at the crux of the problem; speech is free but access to an audience is expensive.
These cartoons have NOT been censored. They are quite possibly the most seen cartoons in living history. They have been reprinted in newspaper after newspaper, in country after country, reaching an audience far beyond that which might be expected for such crude cartoons.
This is not about freedom of speech. Where were the campaigns to defend George Michael’s single ‘Shoot the Dog’? This single was not released in the US because it was controversially critical of US and UK foreign policy. Where were the right-wingers defending the right of George Michael to an audience, despite their opposition to what he had to say? Where were the demands that radio stations played the Dixie Chicks? Where were the websites that, to offer an analogous argument to that used by those who claim that they are not racist yet aid in the circulation of these cartoons, swore that they supported Bush but demanded that people listen to these records? If capital has the right to shape speech in these ways, then there is a far more pressing problem for freedom of speech then the actions of an angry, largely powerless minority.
But it is clear. An owner only has the right to determine the content of his or her media outlet if he or she is not a Muslim. The only expression worth circulating as if it were a liberatory samizdat are crudely racist cartoons. This is about demonising Muslims, but the racists have got a clever strategy. By presenting this issue as one of freedom of speech, which it is either demonstrably not, or is simply a minor episode in comparison to the much more restrictive interests of capital, they recruit stupid liberals by pressing their hot button, directing liberal ire at a demonised minority group. It is an attempt to recruit the tolerant to march with the racists.