|By G. Michael Dobbs|
I received a letter from Edward J. Spellacy Jr., of East Longmeadow this week and wanted to share it with you.
"I'm writing to say that, as a member of the media in a free society, you have a RESPONSIBILITY to publish the controversial cartoons on Islamofascism.
"I can understand the indignation of having your religion, and your religious leaders, portrayed in unflattering, even blasphemous, ways by secularists in the mainstream media. It happens to Christians ALL THE TIME in America and Europe.
"But indignation is NEVER an excuse for violence. And threats of violence need to be resisted in free nations. And the best form of resistance to Islamofascist threats here? PUBLISH THE CARTOONS.
"As freedom-loving people, we need to resist the Islamofascists on ALL fronts. In solidarity with the people of free Europe and in support of the concept of freedom of the press, you need to PUBLISH the Danish cartoons.
While I appreciate Mr. Spellacy's concerns, I'm not going to reproduce the cartoons here and these are my reasons:
I don't believe that sacred religious figures such as the Prophet Muhammad should be the subjects of such type of criticism. That includes Jesus, Buddha, the Hindu gods, etc.
Now, contemporary human beings acting in the name of faith is completely fair game for cartoons. Ministers, priests, and rabbis who are in the news are fodder for the opinion mill.
I believe the Danish newspapers were irresponsible in publishing something any decent newspaper person would have understood had a good chance of inciting violence. If news reports are correct there has been one death associated with the violence the cartoons caused. That is a tragedy. The message of the cartoons could have been portrayed in a different but less offensive way.
The audience for our four weeklies includes American Muslims who are not in support of the terrorists who kill in the name of religion. There is no reason to publish the cartoons locally. They provide no relevant commentary. They would only insult good and loyal citizens and there is no reason to do that.
I support freedom of speech, but I also support common sense.
I had the pleasure of attending the Outlook 2006 event sponsored by the Affiliated Chambers of Commerce of Greater Springfield (ACCGS) last week.
This annual luncheon provides a snapshot of how our region is doing business-wise and where the ACCGS want it to go.
Northampton Mayor Mary Claire Higgins spoke on the region's challenges and needs and Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey addressed much of what Higgins said.
Congressman Richard Neal also brought a federal perspective and introduced the main speaker for the event Howard Fineman, the chief political correspondent for Newsweek magazine.
I've heard Fineman before on various talk shows and I think the guy is bright, articulate, funny and informed. He proved to be all that during his time at the luncheon.
Although all of what he said interested me, I was pretty transfixed at what he said about the presidential aspiration of Governor Mitt Romney.
My opinion of Romney was at a new look last week as I witnessed first-hand how he hid from a dozen protesters at a press conference in Springfield.
Fineman, though, offered a different perspective. He said that Romney is seen as a true up-and-comer in other parts of the nation.
The fact that under his administration there has been a turnaround from a deficit to a surplus in the state budget is something that impresses people.
Romney's status as " a little bit of blue in a red state," said Fineman, also counts in his favor.
His Mormon faith, which some political observers once viewed as a hindrance, carries with it many of the same conservative social stands that appeal to non-Mormon conservative voters.
Romney also has in his favor the fact that governors, instead of senators, tend to win nominations and presidencies.
Romney and his wife have become an effective and seasoned political team, Fineman added.
I have to admit that I was shocked that Fineman saw this haircut and empty suit we call a governor as actually having a shot to be president.
It just goes to show how things look different from the outside.
This column represents the opinions of its author and no one else.
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