Saturday, October 23, 2010

Russell Williams, Muslim Cartoons, and a question for the Star

Last week, the Toronto Star pasted a picture of Russell Williams, in female underwear, staring blankly back at readers. It was a picture as haunting as off-putting. The Star justifies its decision here. Whether you believe their arguments or not, it should at least be noted that they are hypocritical. 

In 2005, protests and violence flared up across the world in response to a series of 12 cartoons published in a Danish newspaper. As a result of their publication, embassies were burned, journalists and politicians had their lives threatened, the Danish economy was punished by boycotts of their exports, and more than 100 people were killed by police during protests in Muslim countries. This was no small matter. 

The Toronto Star was, like other major papers in Canada, unwilling to publish the cartoons that generated this controversy. This is the Star's prerogative, and whether it reflects cowardice or not is for that good paper's editors to consider. Readers can draw their own judgements. But it's clear that it's not an unshakeable principle of the Toronto Star to choose "the harder way for the right reasons."

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