Apoplexy is busting out all over in some parts of the world, it seems, over some cartoons published in Denmark. If you're wondering what the fuss is all about, you can see the cartoons here, as well as a discussion of how the matter continues to cause heartburn.
I at one point had posted a sample cartoon here, but then decided they are not worth reproducing. I was dubious about even linking to them.
To us Americans (and to most Westerners) this all seems a little overwrought. We see this kind of thing in the newspapers every day about presidents, politicians and other public figures, and although such cartoons invariably draw outrage, no one ends up rioting or demanding that an entire nation apologize. Viewed with the most charitable eye possible, the difference here seems to be that the cartoons' target is a religion - Islam - and its great prophet Mohammed. I must say that I could not even tell from the cartoons I saw whether Mohammed is even depicted in them; they seem to show stock Arabic/Muslim terrorists and one imam. (I've later learned that the cartoons do depict Mohammed. That makes them even more stupid and offensive, in my view.)
I don't like editorial cartoons that poke fun at religions; my own faith has been the subject of such commentary and it's hard to take. (Here's an example, by a blogger who notes the ironic difference in the Muslim response and the Mormon non-response. HT: commenter Bonjo of Sons of the Republic.)
Even so, it is clear to me that to lampoon vicious, brutal extremists within a particular faith is not to lampoon the entire religion. That seems to be what is going on here. The folks who are complaining should just calm down.
UPDATE: Hugh Hewitt has a different take. I think the difference between Hugh's view and mine is that I'm just more thick-skinned than many people (a lifetime of putting up with folks making jokes about my own religion may have hardened me). The question is, what does one do about a stupid, tasteless cartoon? Express outrage, attack the cartoon? Yes. Start threatening violence and hostage taking? No.
UPDATE II: Power Line has more, including photos illustrating the overreaction to the cartoons.
UPDATE: See what Bruised Orange has to say. The comments there are good, too.
To me, the cartoons are trash, but they illustrate the same principle as flag-burning: Free speech makes it easier to spot the idiots. An American who burns an American flag is behaving like an idiot, but he has the right to do so. The Danish cartoonists behaved idiotically, and everyone should tell them so. But death and kidnapping threats? I don't support the cartoons, but I certainly don't support the refusal of so many Muslims to accept civilized norms of behavior. It's time to get out of the ninth century, folks.