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Thursday, January 8, 2015

Are the CBC politically correct wimps?

Once more we are facing the aftermath of yet another premeditated, senseless attack by armed terrorists on defenceless civilians. Twelve people working at or around a satirical magazine in France were killed in this latest incident, all, apparently, to the greater glory of God—or Allah in this case.

Wednesday’s terrorist attack on the Charlie Hebdo  magazine’s Paris office came after repeated satirical criticism, mainly in cartoon form, of various religions. Now we find it has stirred a debate about how media organizations should balance freedom of expression with freedom of religion and whether they should publish images of Muhammad.

I agree there needs to be a balance between tolerance of religious beliefs and free expression. I do not concur, however, with a wide-held belief that all major religions must be respected equally. Respect is something that needs to be earned and needs not be given just because others demand their belief in the supernatural deserves respect.

The right to free speech/expression is one of the fundamental democratic freedoms. And practice of this right encourages diversity of opinion as well as criticism of political and religious institutions and their leadership—all of which are in the public interest. We are all entitled to our own opinions and should be free to express them regardless of how gratuitous or offensive others may find them. Of course, opinions that preach outright hatred or violence need have limits placed on them for, after all, like most freedoms in a modern society, freedom of expression is not absolute, nor should it be.

As an act of solidarity with the staff of Charlie Hebdo, journalists around the world are being encouraged to publish, uncensored, the offending cartoons of that magazine. And many news sources have chosen to do just that. Notable, however, is the CBC’s decision not to “knowingly show images of the prophet Muhammad.”

I disagree with the CBC. While many Muslims may be offended by the depiction of the prophet Muhammad, to tens of millions of other Canadians he was merely a man of significant historical importance who had a profound impact on world affairs. His image need not be treated any differently than that of any other mortal. After all, we Canadians are supposed to live in a secular country and should not cater to minority religious or other supernatural beliefs as though they were an integral part of our mainstream culture.

Even among Muslims there is disagreement regarding depictions of Muhammad. As I understand the issue, the Quran does not explicitly forbid images of Muhammad; it is in a few hadith (supplemental teachings) that have explicitly prohibited Muslims from creating such visual depictions. In Shia Islam, there seems to be a more relaxed attitude, while among Sunni Muslims there is the belief visual depictions of the prophet should be prohibited.

So let Muslims follow their their own practices and leave our secular world and our secular publications to follow our own traditions, which do not prohibit the depictions of anyone.

The CBC is wrong on this one. It’s a canard to claim the decision is based on a philosophy of respect towards the Muslim faith. The decision seems more to be either political correctness or cowardice—take your pick.

6 comments — This is a moderated blog and comments will appear when approved. Please don’t resubmit if your comment doesn’t appear immediately, and please do not post material that is obscene, harassing, defamatory, or otherwise objectionable.

  1. I would say cowardice.Nothing politically correct about killing 12 people .

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  2. Their stance is what I would expect from the communication arm of the liberal party.

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  3. Gavin McInnes, Canadian co-founder of Vice magazine, summed this up pretty succinctly:

    "I get why journalists are scared of offending Muslims. I just don't get why they're journalists."

    CBC showed quite a few covers from Charlie Hebdo, except the ones that showed Muhammed - you know, the causal ones.
    Very frustrating that as a news org they self-censor.

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  4. oldwhiteguy says, Islamic jihad will have to be suppressed with the same means the jihadis are using. force.

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  5. If I am not mistaken, I believe Radio-Canada did show the cartoons, it was only CBC English that didn't. I am guessing perhaps cultural attitudes but it seemed most Quebec media outlets showed the cartoons while most in English Canada didn't. In Quebec they put the idea of secularism and equal rights above multiculturalism and freedom of religion thus religious types who are hostile to those values are ridiculed rather than out of political correctness and fear staying quiet.

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  6. If a christian would create a cartoon that would be offensive to Jews, the world would be in an uproar. If a white man created a cartoon of a black man he would be called a racist. I don't condone the murders, but people need to think of what may not be offensive to some is offensive to others. All our religions were created on the same principals. Look at history and you will see how Christians slaughtered in the name of religion. The Jews and Palestinians are murdering one another. Who's right and who's wrong. We need to respect one another. We need to hear both sides and we need to stop listening to media outlets and journalists only interested in fueling the fire to get their side of the story out. I use to hold CBC New in high regard for their report. They are no better than the American idiots like CNN!

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