Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Harry Siegel: Protector of the Free Press


Such a courageous stand by such a principled newspaper man.

From The Politicker blog at the New York Observer:

The editorial staff of the alternative weekly New York Press walked out today, en masse, after the paper's publishers backed down from printing the Danish cartoons that have become the center of a global free-speech fight.

Editor-in-Chief Harry Siegel emails, on behalf of the editorial staff:

New York Press, like so many other publications, has suborned its own professed principles. For all the talk of freedom of speech, only the New York Sun locally and two other papers nationally have mustered the minimal courage needed to print simple and not especially offensive editorial cartoons that have been used as a pretext for great and greatly menacing violence directed against journalists, cartoonists, humanitarian aid workers, diplomats and others who represent the basic values and obligations of Western civilization. Having been ordered at the 11th hour to pull the now-infamous Danish cartoons from an issue dedicated to them, the editorial group—consisting of myself, managing editor Tim Marchman, arts editorJonathan Leaf and one-man city hall bureau Azi Paybarah, chose instead to resign our positions.

What a brave and principled stand by Harry Siegel: Protector of the free press!

More from Harry:

We have no illusions about the power of the Press (NY Press, we mean), but even on the far margins of the world-historical stage, we are not willing to side with the enemies of the values we hold dear, a free press not least among them.

Courageous Harry resigned because his paper wouldn't publish cartoons that millions and millions of people have already memorized the last few weeks since they've been linked by about a million different blogs on the Internet.

Harry also believes that a cartoon which depicts Mohammed with a bomb in his turban is "minimally offensive."

But does Harry Seigel really believe in a free press?

Maybe. Just as long as the free press is in America and not in Iraq.

This is Harry Siegel in March of 2004 at the blog, Oh, That Liberal Media, which he contributes to:

We know newspapers like to look out for each other, but the New York Times has carried this principle too far. Perhaps its ambivalence about America's military success is once again showing.

Today's lead editorial takes the American-run Iraqi interim administration's decision to shut down for 60 days Al Hawsa, an Iraqi newspaper that (among other such incitements) called on Iraqis to murder "all spies and those who cooperate with the U.S." But Times's ignores such inflammatory rhetoric, instead offering this strawman for the Bremmer administration's reasons for closing down the paper: "One of the dispatches that led to the closing of Al Hawza was a February report claiming that an American missile, not a terrorist car bomb, had caused an explosion that killed more than 50 Iraqi police recruits," and proposes that "it is possible to condemn such malicious rumor-mongering without endorsing the paper's shutdown" without any suggestion as to how this would be done.


Harry Siegel is perfectly okay with a newspaper being shut down by the government for printing "inflammatory rhetoric" but damns those infidels who prevent the press from printing their "mildly offensive" cartoons - cartoons which have no news value since they've been circulated wider than a year's worth of Doonesbury.


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