February 7, 2006

To Print or Not to Print
Aljazeera.net noted that the Yemeni public prosecurtor ordered the arrest of Abd al-Karim, editor-in-chief of Al-Hurriya (Freedom), for publishing the cartoons of Muhammad, which appeared in a Danish newspaper this past September. Two Jordanian tabloid editors face trial for re-printing the cartoons. The Web site also notes that Iran’s largest selling newspaper, Hamshahri, will hold a contest for cartoons of the Holocaust. It’s a what’s good for the goose is good for the gander move. The web site quoted the paper’s graphics editor, Farid Mortazavi, as saying, “The Western papers printed these sacrilegious cartoons on the pretext of freedom of expression, so let’s see if they mean what they say and also print these Holocaust cartoons.” In some of the reports from the Middle East, there are hints that there’s a belief that Zionists are behind the publication of the pictures.

The language is sanguine, if not misleading. Most of the western media, such publications as The New York Times, the London Times, Los Angeles Times, and others, such as the Associated Press, have not deemed the cartoons themselves as newsworthy. At the same time, the inspiration came for the original cartoons only after death threats for doing so. In fact, Aljazeera.net reports that Muslim cleric Omar Bakri Mohammed as saying, “In Islam, God said, and the messenger Muhammad said, whoever isults a prophet, he must be punished and executed…This man [the cartoonist]should be put on trial and…executed” if proven guilty.

(Should you need a round-up of this story, Slate offers an excellent one with a link to the cartoons themselves.)

Not related to the cartoon controversy comes another freedom of expression issue. Chinese police reportedly beat Wu Xianghu, deputy editor of Taizhou Evening News, according to a report in The London Times.

Great Writers, Lousy Individuals
A Washington Post review of Written Lives quotes Spanish novelist and author of the book as writing, “The one thing that leaps out when you read about these authors [Rimbaud, Turgenev, Rilke, Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, Robert Louis Stevenson, and others] is that they were all fairly disastrous individuals.”

Harper Collins Goes Online
Publishers are attempting to stop Google from putting excerpts of copyrighted books online. Now “HarperCollins has started an advertiser-supported program that will offer a free look at the full text of selected works,” according to an AP report on Yahoo!News. “We hope this pilot will demonstrate a win-win for publishers, authors, and search engines. The new era does not need to be a zero sum game,” HarperCollins CEO Jane Friedman said.


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