Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

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Cartoon forum hostile, unproductive

I attended the "Free Speech, Civility and the Impact in Campus Climate" forum last night, thinking I would leave Bascom Hall with a much deeper sympathy for the students on this campus and others worldwide who have been affected by the Danish cartoons. Unfortunately, this did not happen. Instead, I witnessed countless members from the audience attack Mr. VerStandig and The Badger Herald. The purpose of this forum was to have an open discussion, one that would hear and respect any opinions. Members from the audience not only criticized Mr. VerStandig for publishing the cartoon, but they also believed his decision increased hatred toward Muslims worldwide.

I ask the people who attacked him last night this: is there a better way to promote your cause, if that cause is to impose change on a larger scale? You failed in gaining my support, as well as others I spoke with after the event. I truly feel that the printing of this cartoon and the ensuing debate created an opportunity to have a positive impact on increasing tolerance toward the religion of Islam.

But by making the focus on Mr. VerStandig and the practice of First Amendment rights, the wrongdoing has not been placed on the right individual. I believe that the majority of people — worldwide — do not support the ideas behind the cartoons. Therefore, the message behind the cartoons or of the people who created them will not win out in the marketplace of ideas. It is truly unfortunate that attendees of the forum were not presented a discussion that had a better impact to alter their views.

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Jonathan J. Kuether

UW sophomore

People afraid to criticize Muslims

What I learned at the UW's 2/21 forum on Islam and cartoons is that it's sacrilegious hate speech to criticize Islam. So no one dared bring up the fact that Islam currently has a violence problem (the most apparent intended message of the cartoon). Most recent "suicide bombers" were Muslims, renamed "heroic martyrs" by their imams. Not to mention the way conservative Muslim sects currently treat women. Will change occur if murderous fatwas, violent protests and hate speech codes silence anyone who might express concern about such practices?

I expect some disapproval when criticizing Christians (Popes regularly offer up opportunities to be criticized). But misguided apologists for Muslim violence take things to a whole new level with their complicity in efforts to suppress legitimate criticism. Aren't Muslims outraged over violence perpetrated in the name of Islam? Such is the "prestige" of the suicide bomber among Palestinians that no one dares raise a voice against the practice. This silence is letting "martyrs" get away with murder. And it seems to me such silence sanctions the perversion of the peaceful teachings of the Prophet Muhammad.

David Raitt, '96

Madison, WI

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