The relevance of the Cartoons to NI…

As Gonzo mentioned earlier this morning, the Blanket is majoring on the Cartoons controversy, and going to some lengths to dig into the context for the international discussion that it seems is only now settling in Northern Ireland. From early discussion on Gonzo’s thread it seems the decision may unite some unusual allies in Northern Irish debate. However, arguably the best grounding of this controversial ball, is Mark Kerr (who often signs himself in as the Stray Taoist these days). In particular:

Allegiances by birth, unquestioned and unquestioning, never advance anyone’s causes. Unthinking adherence to one viewpoint your entire life seems insane to me. Unthinking opposition to themmuns on no other grounds than because it is themmuns is cowardly and, well, just plain unthinking. But it seems to be a common denominator in what we can euphemistically call trouble spots around the world. Herd mentality, backed by generations of reinforcement. Where intrinsic opposition to the perceived enemy is elevated to lifestyle. Where colours are appropriated for sectarian ends, where projection onto other struggles legitimises contact. Symbols and emblems to hide behind. Hatred fed with mother’s milk. Easy to see in the riots recently in Dublin to the AK-47 wielding protests in the Middle East.

Stop. Despite the differences in freedoms and outlooks, the cartoon reaction out there isn’t that an alien reaction, and us over here have been watching it in our own backyard for years, without even realising it. We have looked away from the denial of our own freedom of expression, and been aghast at the extreme reaction to some silly drawings from continental Europe. Offended? Me? You better believe it. Offended by the thought that people demand protection of their own sacred cows. Offended by those whose speak of freedom and repress their own. Offended that there is pandering to those who practice both. Offended that I even have to write this piece.

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty

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