Monday, February 20, 2006 - U of T paper defends publication of cartoon: "A student newspaper at the University of Toronto will not be pressured into pulling a cartoon from their website of the Prophet Muhammad and Jesus kissing despite demands from the Students' Administrative Council and the Muslim Students' Association, its editor says.
'The cartoon is a sort of Canadian statement on religious tolerance,' said Nick Ragaz, managing editor of The Strand, the student newspaper of Victoria University at U of T. 'This is not an act of hate,' he said. 'It's controversial, yes, but it's no attack,' said Ragaz.

'We will not be pulling the issues from the stands or withdrawing the cartoon from our website,' said Ragaz, who has received a demand from the Students' Administrative Council (SAC) to do so. 'We hope, and this is our intention in publishing the cartoon, to provoke reasoned considerate debate and dialogue about these issues both on campus and, I guess now, off campus,' said Ragaz

Let me make clear that Mr. Ragaz and The Strand have the right to publish what they did. What their cartoon depicted, however offensive it might be to Muslims and Christians, was not hateful, violent or anything of the sort, save egregiously offensive and hurtful, and intentionally so. There exist no laws against offending others, and in my opinion, there should not. However, it is perplexing at best and an outright lie on the part of The Strand to claim any edifying attribute to these cartoons. The honest answer, I'm sure, is that Mr. Ragaz felt like being an irreverent cock, aiming to flip the proverbial bird to the orthodoxy in publishing the cartoon. In a liberal democracy, that is his prerogative and it should remain so. Others are free to, at best, protest as loudly as they can. Nontheless, it is an outright lie to claim that the cartoons serve any instrumental purpose other than as an exercise in liberty.

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