When a crucifix is put in a jar of urine and called art, I am offended. When the Pope was depicted as a Nazi in a cartoon on Rabble, I was offended. When Warren Kinsella (and many others since) mocked evangelical Christians for their faith, I was offended. Media in the Middle East still perpetuate the blood libel, and that offends me.
I'm not Roman Catholic, I'm not an Evangelical Christian, I'm not Jewish -- but I understand the anger and frustration at being ridiculed and having something sacred to me, portrayed with contempt and scorn.
How then, could I not be offended by cartoons that are hurtful and insulting to Muslims?
The violent 'response' to the cartoons in question is unjustifiable. The cartoons aren't the cause of the rioting - -they are simply an excuse to shed blood by people who need very little incitement to become violent.
That said, I agree completely with Peter MacKay's statement condemning the violence, but praising Canadian media for choosing not to print the cartoons.
Freedom of speech and independence of the press are essential in a democratic society. The governments where the cartoons have been printed, are absolutely correct not to apologise on behalf of newspapers over which they have no control -- and the government of Canada is right to praise the media for exercising their right not to print what might offend some Canadians.
There has been no governmental direction of Canadian media - editorial boards have decided independently not to publish the cartoons. The cartoons have been described, and are readily available online for anyone who wants to see what they're all about.
Fellow bloggers have posted or linked to these cartoons to demonstrate their freedom of expression and I respect their right to do so. I think most have posted them out of a sense of principle, and not to insult Muslims who have no part in the rioting and mayhem happening abroad.
Newspapers that don't publish the cartoons are not 'cowards'. They are exercising choice. Freedom of expression also means not being forced to print something you find objectionable. If the government was trying to impose a ban on the printing of the cartoons, then printing them to protest the ban would be laudable. As it stands, doing so in the MSM would simply be gratuitously hurtful to Muslim Canadians.
Canadian Muslims have had a measured, tempered response to cartoons that offend their faith. MacKay is right that this is the brand of Islam that needs to be promoted around the world. Why shouldn't we support that? It's in all of our interest that adherents to Islam overseas emulate their Canadian cousins, isn't it?
My choice not to post the cartoons and not to link to them, doesn't mean I endorse violence. It doesn't imply that I understand or condone the radical response to the cartoons. It doesn't suggest that I'm an apologist for Islam and it doesn't mean I don't believe in free speech.
My religion says I should do unto others as I would have them do unto me. I resent it when Christianity and Christians are mocked for a laugh, or in the name of art, or in an attempt at satire. I won't deliberately offend Muslims for no other reason than 'because I can.'