Almost all the news that's fit to print

Ethel C. Fenig
The New York Times, the paper of record with all the news that's fit to print (their taglines), which has no problem publishing top secret government information such as the Pentagon Papers 40 years ago or information on wiretapping of suspected terrorists during the presidency of George W. Bush (R), does have a problem publishing material which might offend the sensibilities of Muslims.

Four years ago it refused to publish the cartoon by the Danish artist who portrayed Muhammad with the top of his head swathed in a turban shaped like a bomb with a lit fuse, a Muslim expression inscribed on the front. Muslims around the world rioted, Muslim countries broke off trade with Denmark and to this day the artist lives with security, his life constantly threatened. Other papers published the cartoon but not freedom-of-the-press-most-of-the-time-advocate New York Times.

Today New York Times writer Robert Mackey wrote about another cartoonist, Lars Vilk of Sweden, who sketched Muhammad's head on the body of a dog. Dogs are disgusting in Islam.

In response, Swedish Muslims protested and a shadowy Iraqi militant, Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, reportedly put a $100,000 bounty on the artist's head. Even a successful assassin might have difficulty collecting that reward though, since, as my colleague Campbell Robertson explained last year, Abu Omar is so shadowy that he might not actually exist.On Tuesday, Mr. Vilks, who is 63, seemed remarkably casual about the threat to his life, telling a Swedish news agency, "I'm not shaking with fear, exactly." He also made what seemed to be a somewhat lighthearted reference to an ax-wielding Somali man's attempt to kill a Danish cartoonist in January, telling The Irish Times, "I've got myself an ax in case anybody breaks in through the window." On Wednesday, Reuters reported that Mr. Vilks "continues to live at his home in southern Sweden and has no bodyguards."

A reader privately wrote a note asking Mackey to publish Vilk's cartoon. In response Mackey wrote he decided not to but referred the reader to Wikipedia or suggested following links in his article.


The New York Times, the paper of record with all the news that's fit to print (their taglines), which has no problem publishing top secret government information such as the Pentagon Papers 40 years ago or information on wiretapping of suspected terrorists during the presidency of George W. Bush (R), does have a problem publishing material which might offend the sensibilities of Muslims.

Four years ago it refused to publish the cartoon by the Danish artist who portrayed Muhammad with the top of his head swathed in a turban shaped like a bomb with a lit fuse, a Muslim expression inscribed on the front. Muslims around the world rioted, Muslim countries broke off trade with Denmark and to this day the artist lives with security, his life constantly threatened. Other papers published the cartoon but not freedom-of-the-press-most-of-the-time-advocate New York Times.

Today New York Times writer Robert Mackey wrote about another cartoonist, Lars Vilk of Sweden, who sketched Muhammad's head on the body of a dog. Dogs are disgusting in Islam.

In response, Swedish Muslims protested and a shadowy Iraqi militant, Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, reportedly put a $100,000 bounty on the artist's head. Even a successful assassin might have difficulty collecting that reward though, since, as my colleague Campbell Robertson explained last year, Abu Omar is so shadowy that he might not actually exist.

On Tuesday, Mr. Vilks, who is 63, seemed remarkably casual about the threat to his life, telling a Swedish news agency, "I'm not shaking with fear, exactly." He also made what seemed to be a somewhat lighthearted reference to an ax-wielding Somali man's attempt to kill a Danish cartoonist in January, telling The Irish Times, "I've got myself an ax in case anybody breaks in through the window." On Wednesday, Reuters reported that Mr. Vilks "continues to live at his home in southern Sweden and has no bodyguards."

A reader privately wrote a note asking Mackey to publish Vilk's cartoon. In response Mackey wrote he decided not to but referred the reader to Wikipedia or suggested following links in his article.