Hey, CNN: Cowardice is Not Tolerance – Nous Sommes Charlie

All is Forgiven...

All is Forgiven…

Guest post by Dr. Marty Klein

The first issue published by Charlie Hebdo after a dozen staff members were assassinated is out. Instead of the typical print run of 50,000, they printed (and sold) three million copies.

Newsworthy? Of course.

Was the cover apologetic, conciliatory, or “balanced”? Hell, no.

Newsworthy? Of course.

But when CNN reported that the magazine had resumed publishing, it was unwilling to show the cover. The cover breaks no American laws, is not “obscene,” and features neither nudity nor violence nor libel.

So why the CNN blackout of this historic event? An anchorwoman explained: “It is our policy not to show potentially offensive images of the prophet.”

Read that again: “potentially offensive.”

CNN refuses to say why they have institutionalized this self-censorship. They’re suggesting it’s because they care about the sensitivities of those who would be upset. It’s especially interesting, given that most of those upset people aren’t even in their audience.

CNN didn’t create this policy because CNN executives are deeply caring people. It’s because they don’t want to get assassinated. They don’t want to pay tens of millions of dollars in additional security to protect their people around the world.

This isn’t tolerance, it’s cowardice. It isn’t anything as grand as empathy or a sincere change of viewpoint: it’s simply bowing to pressure. People who are willing to kill those by whom they are offended now have the ultimate heckler’s veto. If you can intimidate CNN, you’ve really accomplished something.

And what have these violent, deluded hecklers accomplished?

They haven’t protected muhammed, because he’s dead. They haven’t done a pious deed, because there’s no heaven. They haven’t honored Islam, because they’ve simply proven once again that many Muslims are so insecure they can’t tolerate anything that doesn’t come out of their own self-referential mouths.

But they have gotten CNN to pretend they care about Muslim sensitivities. And in that CNN are cowards twice over: once for refusing to broadcast legal, legitimately newsworthy images, and again for being unwilling to give the honest explanation.

If one of the largest communication companies in the history of the human race were willing to say “A group of violent Muslims now influences our corporate policies because we’re afraid that they’re going to hurt some of our staff” that would be honest, even brave. It would be powerful.

The pretend-tolerance is not honest, not brave, and not powerful.

It’s disgusting. And it’s newsworthy.

And since CNN won’t show you a picture that certain special people might not like, we’ll do it. “All is forgiven,” it brutally says.

5 Responses to Hey, CNN: Cowardice is Not Tolerance – Nous Sommes Charlie

  1. azteclady says:

    People who are willing to kill those by whom they are offended now have the ultimate heckler’s veto.

    This is what so many refuse to see.

  2. Jay Wolman says:

    As I’ve previously stated, reporting on potentially offensive material need not reproduce that material. Where were the outcries against the journalists who reported that Mt. Holyoke will not perform The Vagina Monologues for failing to include videos such as this in their reports and transcripts thereof: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AUC675a4us0 ?

    It may be cowardice. But it is more likely simple commercial interest. Editorial policies that won’t alienate viewers, in order to charge more for commercials. Or simply the etiquette of the editorial staff. For a more in depth argument, see Glenn Greenwald: https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2015/01/09/solidarity-charlie-hebdo-cartoons/

  3. Why is free speech such an unpopular concept in American culture? I gave a seminar on the 1st Am to a group of high school students a year ago, and was terrified to hear so many unblinkingly say, “Of course the government should be allowed to arrest people for saying something they shouldn’t say.”

    Cowardice is surely part of it. Maybe some intellectual laziness. There’s also a tendency to revert back to the hive-mind, “That outspoken person is triggering my cognitive dissonance, DESTROY THEM.” What else could it be?

  4. […] week, I called CNN’s management cowards for refusing to show Charlie’s first post-massacre cover (it was […]

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