Editor's note

By Acton Gorton

Posted: 2/9/06 Section: Opinions
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To the right you'll see a series of cartoons about the Islamic prophet Muhammad that have

fueled a firestorm of debate all over the world.

These cartoons are bigoted and insensitive to the Islamic faith because they are depictions of the prophet Muhammad. In much of the Muslim faith, there is an absolute ban on drawing or portraying religious figures. I agree they are bigoted and insensitive, as do many others.

However, this serious controversy has not been addressed by the press. By refusing to run the cartoons, Americans have no idea how "offensive" they are. The ensuing death threats, riots, murders and laying siege to embassies, leave most of us confused and appalled.

Recently, the U.S. State Department criticized the editorial cartoons, originally published in the Danish Jyllands-Posten. A student newspaper in Wales had all of their papers confiscated after they published the cartoons. Editors have resigned from the New York Press after the cartoons were pulled from the press at the 11th hour. Only one of the major newspapers in this country has run an example of the cartoons.

All across this nation, editors are gripped in fear of printing ... for fear of the reaction. As a journalist, this flies in the face of everything I hold dear. By refusing to print these editorial cartoons, we are preventing an important issue from being debated openly by the public.

If anything, journalists all over this country should be letting the public decide for themselves what to think of these cartoons.

As an editor of a college newspaper, I cannot claim to be a champion for free speech and at the same time restrict it from running its course. My gut has been turning for days questioning how to address this issue. It is only proper that you, the public, are allowed to think for yourselves.

Within the coming days, I hope to promote a dialogue on the campus and in the community as to how people feel about this issue. I encourage everyone to write a letter to the editor and let us know what you think.

Exercise your First Amendment right and don't be afraid to say something unpopular. As citizens, we have a right to use that freedom.

Acton H. Gorton is a senior in Communications and the editor in chief of The Daily Illini.
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