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Fire (Social)

Those cartoons, the SA blogosphere’s response, and the 2005 World Press Freedom Index

I’ve been pleased to see that many local bloggers have been writing about the Danish cartoons, and the recent court interdict.

Some blogs that have commented:

Of course the mainstream press is full of the story as well – journalism.co.za has a synopsis.

My take is simply that the cartoons are in bad taste, a publicity-seeking stunt by a Danish newspaper that worked beyond their wildest dreams. They offer little of newsworthy value (though they certainly made the news) and shouldn’t have been published. However, there should also not be any legal restrictions on their publication, as the consequences of the court precedent are fairly obvious, and rather dire. The radical Muslim response, which has dominated the news as always, in no way reflects the Muslim majority. The cartoons would anger most devout Muslims, but the over-the-top response from the minority is simply that of people who cannot control their anger, and don’t respond rationally (boycotting Danish goods, smashing things up in their own countries, etc). Managing the fallout will not be fun.

What’s concerning is the interdict in South Africa. South Africa’s world press freedom rating has been slipping these last few years, down from 3.33 in 2003 (0 is perfection), 5.00 in 2004, and now 6.5 in 2005. With 2006 beginning in this manner, it doesn’t look like there’ll be any improvement this year.

For interest, the erosion of press freedom in the US continues apace, with their ranking having sunk to a dire 9.5 this year. And at the top? Denmark, along with 8 other northern European countries. See the full 2005 World Press Freedom Index here.