In the wake of the Paris attacks, a furious debate has arisen over the rights and responsibilities of the press — specifically, whether the world’s newspapers had a right, if not a responsibility, to print the offending Charlie Hebdo cartoons, or whether they had a responsibility, if not a right, to decline to do so.
Inevitably, this became entangled in other issues. For example, sharp-eyed observers in the Quebec media were quick to spot an apparent linguistic divide: for while the French media generally (with exceptions) chose to print the cartoons, the English media generally (with exceptions) did not, at least at first. Charlie Hebdo’s dead, it seems, did not die in vain: they served up an opportunity to rehearse, yet again, the theme of the apologetic, uptight squareheads versus the fearless, free-thinking French.
Reading this, I was transported back to an earlier controversy, involving another offensive image. Perhaps…
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