Sunday, January 18, 2015

Press-urgh

Repeat "Press-urgh," rapidly like a tongue twister, and the tongue defaults to the familiar word "pressure." Either way, this little gimmick holds within it a metaphor for a trend hotly debated in the media.

Many news outlets have refused to air the new cover of  Charlie Hedbo, which depicts the Prophet Mohammed holding a sign that says, "Je suis Charlie," and a phrase above his head, "All is forgiven." The inclusion of this phrase is remarkable under the circumstances and the consciousness of the cartoonists who created it should be lauded.

Alas, there was pressure from within the ranks of CNN, MSNBC, Al Jezeera and other international media outlets not to show this new cover for fear of more reprisals from the true infidels (the terrorists).

There is some truth to both sides of the argument:

1) Insane fanatics can't take a joke, so why provoke more acts of gratuitous violence (which have already occurred in some parts of the world)? Would you deliberately stick your hand in a hornets' nest?

2) Respecting the wishes of madmen can only lead to more madness. For example, the appeasement of Hitler at the onset of his incursion into Europe was blunder of colossal proportions.

It is easy to pass an armchair judgement, but one detail is undeniable. Defenders of human rights and freedom of speech often become martyrs for the cause, but because of their heroic and fearless stand, pave the way for the rest of us.

Not every person has the courage to demonstrate when the consequences could be life-threatening (as is the case in many parts of the world today) but thank the All-That-Is for those people.

Fearlessness and discriminating wisdom are the two sides of the coin. Which one is the winner in this coin toss?

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