Published in Honolulu Weekly February 15, 2006
Media Watch
by John Pritchett

By now, everyone knows about the “cartoon controversy” where some Muslims have resorted to violence in protest of a few published cartoons they find offensive. As you can imagine, this affair has special meaning to me, a cartoonist, particularly as it relates to matters of free speech.

With this in mind, KHON, Channel 2 News, Executive Producer Wally Zimmermann called me last Wednesday and asked me if I would come on live TV to discuss the issue. I told him I would be delighted as long as we could show at least one of the cartoons that sparked the controversy.

After all, how can viewers understand what the heck is going on if they can’t see what we’re talking about! I suggested we use the cartoon you see here. It is all over the Web and is being published in more newspapers around the world every day. This is something Wally had to clear with higher-ups.

Following suit with all the other mainstream, chicken-shit, media outlets, I was told that KHON News Director Lori Silva wouldn’t allow it. I suppose I could have done the interview anyway but not without acknowledging that

Channel 2 News was among those, who in my opinion, are undermining the First Amendment by kowtowing to a handful of Islamic extremists. That probably wouldn’t have gone over too well.

Had the interview occurred, I would have been asked what editorial cartoonists can and cannot draw. I can’t speak for others, but as editorial cartoonist for Honolulu Weekly for the past 12 years, I can tell you that I have always had complete editorial freedom. That’s not to say that I don’t consult with editors or consider matters of taste and culture. I do. But, if I don’t piss somebody off with my cartoons once in a while, I figure I’m not doing a very good job.

The violence perpetrated by radical Muslims because of these cartoons is inexcusable but not unexpected. I am reminded of similar Islamic outrage back in the 1980s over the publication of Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses. What is remarkable about the present episode, however, is the cowardice of so much of the mainstream media. Surely, the great editorial cartoonist Thomas Nast is rolling over in his grave.

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