Cartoons, religion and TV
Several of my worlds collided last night when I finally sat down to watch one of my favorite television shows.
“The Good Wife,” starring Julianna Margulies (pictured) and Chris Noth, featured an episode about a newspaper being sued for negligence because it ran a cartoon image of the Prophet Mohammad. One of the newspapers editors was killed when someone threw a bomb in the newspaper building. A radical Islamic terrorist group claimed responsibility for the fatal bombing.
Now, the new episode aired on Tuesday, but I didn’t get to see it until Thursday because of my busy schedule. I sat there slack-jawed because I couldn’t believe that my effort to escape into a TV show had been tharted. It just goes to show that religion permeates every part of our society these days.
I was especially intrigued about the ethical questions that surrounded the whole issue of the cartoon. Should a newspaper or any media entity be held liable if it prints a cartoon of a religious figure and the cartoon incites violence?
Then, another question arose: Is it ethical for a newspaper or media outlet to print or air something solely for the shock value (and the resulting spike in circulation), even knowing that it might stir violence or put someone in serious jeapardy? Is there a sensitivity to religion and religious figures that should come in to play when these questions are being debated?
Some news folks would argue that those kinds of questions come up everyday and that there are many stories that wield that potential power and influence.
What is different in the case of cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammad is the threat of violence from radical Islamic extremists.
A prime example of this is what happened in mid-April when the Comedy Central TV show “South Park” aired an episode featuring the Prophet Mohammad.
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