Patterico's Pontifications

1/13/2015

Charlie Hebdo Is Back! Plus, Ken White Has Questions for the New York Times

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:58 pm



And this is the cover:

Screen Shot 2015-01-13 at 6.18.41 PM

Speaking of depictions of Muhammed, Ken White at Popehat has some pointed questions for New York Times editor Dean Baquet. The questions are hilarious because they faux-innocently assume that the folks in charge at the New York Times have thought through the various issues in a responsible manner that recognizes the inherent difficulties of self-censoring speech due to concern over offending one’s audience. They also faux-innocently assume consistency. (There has to be a Greek word for this rhetorical device of pretending to assign a level of seriousness to your opponent that everyone knows you don’t actually assign.) All this leads to just the hilarity you would expect. For example:

6. Do you consider whether claims to offense may be politically motivated? For instance, if some American group (say, religious conservatives) asserted loudly that use of terms like “Happy Holidays” was gratuitously offensive, would you accept that, or would you ignore it on the basis that it was part of a “culture war?” If Americans claimed that the Flying Spaghetti Monster is gratuitously offensive because it is calculated to mock religion, how would you evaluate that claim?

. . . .

13. Do you have a plan for what to do if a group expands its assertions about what is offensive? For instance, suppose that some Muslims begin to assert — vociferously — that depictions of all those it counts as prophets (including Jesus) are offensive and must be avoided, how would you evaluate that claim?

14. There are, as you know, different groups within Islam. What if a reform group began encouraging depictions of Muhammad as a signifier of reform, asserting that the contrary interpretation is false, and that those who attack depictions are wrong about Islam? How would you decide which faction to avoid offending?

Of course, we already know (and Ken White knows) that Dean Baquet’s thought process was hardly so comprehensive and thoughtful:

Mr. Baquet told me that he started out the day Wednesday convinced that The Times should publish the images, both because of their newsworthiness and out of a sense of solidarity with the slain journalists and the right of free expression.

He said he had spent “about half of my day” on the question, seeking out the views of senior editors and reaching out to reporters and editors in some of The Times’s international bureaus. They told him they would not feel endangered if The Times reproduced the images, he told me, but he remained concerned about staff safety.

“I sought out a lot of views, and I changed my mind twice,” he said. “It had to be my decision alone.”

Ultimately, he decided against it, he said, because he had to consider foremost the sensibilities of Times readers, especially its Muslim readers.

And that’s where Ken White comes in. Oh, let’s just have one more of those questions, for the fun of it:

15. Let’s say some blogger starts a trend of using this emoticon: @[–<. It is widely understood that the emoticon is meant by its users to depict Muhammad, in an effort to illustrate that bans on depictions are unprincipled and can easily be made ridiculous. Would you run the emoticon? Or would you just describe it? How would you decide?

We know how he would decide. He would walk around asking a bunch of people their opinions and changing his mind back and forth all day, and then come to whatever conclusion seemed the most politically correct and safe.

Dean Baquet calls Ken White “asshole” in 3 . . . 2 . . . 1 . . .

27 Responses to “Charlie Hebdo Is Back! Plus, Ken White Has Questions for the New York Times”

  1. Ding.

    Patterico (9c670f)

  2. Sounds like Baquet is on the sauce, wandering around the building, bothering people.

    papertiger (c2d6da)

  3. Might be looking for his huevos.

    Gazzer (c44509)

  4. Nothin’ from nothin’ but teh “Flying Spaghetti Monster” is the name of an ass-kicking Fiat X1/9 that raced at Lemons for several races…

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  5. Satire.

    nk (dbc370)

  6. It’s more than satire, though.

    Patterico (9c670f)

  7. I wish I could think of a cause of action against the NY Times; I would use these as my first set of interrogatories!

    Patricia (5fc097)

  8. Then it has to be irony, from eiron, feigned ignorance/dissembling. https://www.google.com/#q=irony+etymology

    nk (dbc370)

  9. Laughter is a good cleanser.

    Brooks (8d79e4)

  10. It would be interesting to see how the NY Times would answer those questions.

    JD (86a5eb)

  11. The problem is the New York Times is entirely inimical to the right of free expression.
    It’s against their business model.

    papertiger (c2d6da)

  12. Meanwhile, Islam still has not gotten the message.
    http://www.timesofisrael.com/top-muslim-body-warns-new-muhammad-cartoons-will-stir-hatred/
    Note the Times of Israel, not being the NYT, publishes an actual photo of the cover (and back page, if you can make it out).

    kishnevi (749a65)

  13. The New York Times doesn’t have epiphanies. It has Sister Souljah moments. WTF is a sister souljah moment?

    The wikipedia says is comes from Bill Clinton responding to a song titled “The Final Solution: Slavery’s back in Effect” (“If there are any good white people, I haven’t met them”) saying “If you took the words ‘white’ and ‘black,’ and you reversed them, you might think David Duke was giving that speech.”

    So Clinton was pointing out racism authored by (and supported by Jesse Jackson of all people) blacks.

    Personally I find the NYT’s popularizing and promotion of a term born of black on white racism, as a replacement for a term born from our universal Christian cultural heritage deeply offensive.

    papertiger (c2d6da)

  14. I find the term “Sister Souljah momentgratuitously sacrilegious.

    papertiger (c2d6da)

  15. Can Dean Baquet do simple arithmetic? If he “started out the day Wednesday convinced that The Times should publish the images”, and ended up deciding not to publish them, he can’t have “changed [his] mind twice”. He must have changed his mind once, or thrice, or five times.

    Dr. Weevil (814be6)

  16. The New York Times has run numerous photos and articles featuring Andres Serrano, the photographer who created the Piss Christ exhibit. I’d bet that Dean Baquet didn’t spend half a day on any of those decisions.

    carlitos (c24ed5)

  17. Can Dean Baquet do simple arithmetic? If he “started out the day Wednesday convinced that The Times should publish the images”, and ended up deciding not to publish them, he can’t have “changed [his] mind twice”. He must have changed his mind once, or thrice, or five times.

    Dr. Weevil (814be6) — 1/14/2015 @ 5:00 am

    Sometimes he’s believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.

    carlitos (c24ed5)

  18. 12. Meanwhile, Islam still has not gotten the message.
    http://www.timesofisrael.com/top-muslim-body-warns-new-muhammad-cartoons-will-stir-hatred/
    Note the Times of Israel, not being the NYT, publishes an actual photo of the cover (and back page, if you can make it out).
    kishnevi (749a65) — 1/13/2015 @ 8:55 pm

    I’d say they’ve gotten exactly the message.

    Steve57 (be0b5f)

  19. #7, Patrica, fraud, people pay for the news which the NYT claims to deliver for a price, but instead conceals the news and delivers disinformation. It’s actionable.

    ropelight (14147b)

  20. Heh, ropelight. :)

    Patricia (5fc097)

  21. Turn the magazine cover upside-down and play “find the dicks.”

    carlitos (c24ed5)

  22. 19. I don’t think they give out a warranty on it, even though it says on the front page:

    “All the News
    That’s Fit to Print”

    Quotation marks in the original, which I think means they are not actually making the claim, but quoting something somebody else said.

    They actually live up to the second part of that quote, although there may be too much they think is not fit to print. The first part nobody ever could really.

    Sammy Finkelman (be6791)

  23. I have heard one argument not to publish pictures of the prophet that I find compelling.

    A major news organization that has reporters in areas controlled by, or contested by, Muslim extremists puts those reporters in danger if they’re seen as ‘taking sides’. In order to provide independent reporting from those regions it is necessary to appease violent extremists. Basically they need to balance that need, with the news value to printing the picture.

    time123@gmail.com (5250bd)

  24. Time – that is similar to the “logic” that CNN used to justify their being a mouthpiece for Saddam.

    JD (86a5eb)

  25. The juxtaposition of this cowardly decision and their gleeful PR for Serrano’s “Piss Christ” highlights their mendacity

    JD (86a5eb)

  26. He started out convinced they should not publish, changed his mind once, then twice; so as he he originally thought, did not publish. He just lied about thinking they should be published the first time. It’s the details that trip you up.

    htom (4ca1fa)

  27. JD, it is very similar, and I’m not saying it’s always correct. But i think it’s a concern worth taking seriously.

    time123@gmail.com (5250bd)


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