Recently the Salem Statesman Journal newspaper wimped out on taking part in the worldwide fight for freedom of expression, "Je suis Charlie," that followed the despicable murders of satirists at the Charlie Hebdo magazine offices by Islamic fundamentalists.
Yes, a few days ago the Statesman Journal published some Charlie Hebdo cartoons on its opinion page.
But I couldn't help noticing that none of them showed an image of the Prophet Mohammed, the Islamic no-no that outrages dogmatic adherents of that religion.
Editorial page editor Dick Hughes gave an unconvincing reason why in his column, "Will we offend you? Yes, for the right reasons."
Download Will we offend you? Yes, for the right reasons
You are unlikely to see caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad on the Opinion pages of the Statesman Journal, even though you may see political cartoons depicting God, Jesus or other religious figures.
You are unlikely to see a cartoon portraying a Roman Catholic priest having sex with a child, even though cartoonists have drawn such images.
It’s also doubtful that you would see a cartoon of police officers sitting around eating donuts, an outdated stereotype employed by some cartoonists.
Those cartoon choices are not censorship. They are editing... in the Mid-Valley, at least, there is nothing to be gained by needlessly offending — that is, offending merely for the sake of offense, rather than making a deft point.
This struck me as a journalistic wimp-out because Hughes assumed that every cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad would offend "merely for the sake of offense, rather than making a deft point."
Well, the cover of the upcoming issue of Charlie Hebdo does make a deft point. The caption translates as "All is forgiven." Mohammed has a tear rolling down his cheek. The Prophet has joined the Je suis Charlie movement.
In today's section of the Statesman Journal that comes directly from USA Today (the SJ is part of the Gannett chain, which owns USA Today), a story shows the Charlie Hebdo cover.
USA TODAY traditionally does not show images of Mohammed to avoid offending Muslim readers. But the magazine cover has enough news value to warrant its publication in this case.
Another wimp-out reason that helps explain why Dick Hughes said what he did.
Statesman Journal editors apparently follow this corporate commandment: Thou shalt not offend thy bosses by exercising free speech that goes against what Gannett executives have decreed.
I'm looking forward to the Statesman Journal standing up for free speech by prominently publishing this Charlie Hebdo cover on its locally produced opinion page. Stand up for yourselves and journalistic freedom, Statesman Journal editors!
Show your independence from your Gannett overlords. Prove to us here in Salem that you aren't taking marching orders from Gannett central when it comes to publishing cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. If Muslims are offended, so be it.
Members of every religion need to learn to laugh at themselves. After all, religious belief is, by nature, based on faith. There's no good reason for believing. Which is funny!