Wednesday, February 08, 2006

NY Press editorial staff resign over Muhammed cartoons

The editorial staff of the alternative weekly New York Press walked out today after the publisher balked at running the Muhammed cartoons.

From an email by editor in chief Harry Siegel:

New York Press, like so many other publications, has suborned its own professed principles. For all the talk of freedom of speech, only the New York Sun locally and two other papers nationally have mustered the minimal courage needed to print simple and not especially offensive editorial cartoons... Having been ordered at the 11th hour to pull the now-infamous Danish cartoons from an issue dedicated to them, the editorial group—consisting of myself, managing editor Tim Marchman, arts editor Jonathan Leaf and one-man city hall bureau Azi Paybarah, chose instead to resign our positions.

We have no desire to be free speech martyrs, but it would have been nakedly hypocritical to avoid the same cartoons we'd criticized others for not running... We have no illusions about the power of the Press (NY Press, we mean), but even on the far margins of the world-historical stage, we are not willing to side with the enemies of the values we hold dear, a free press not least among them.

I believe that the papers that have printed the cartoons, and the people of Denmark and Norway, deserve solidarity. And the issue of free speech as a universal value, not a subjective one, needs to be pushed. But is running the Muhammed cartoons, which are beyond the point of having any value in and of themselves as material, a smart way to do this?