Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Censorship as a signal

After the attack on a Mohammed Drawing contest in Garland, Texas, the DailyMail.co.uk decided to post a photo of two policemen with a drawing of Mohammed but you'll have to take their word for it because they've covered the paper or canvas or whatever it might be drawn on with a large black rectangle. 

The caption reads "Controversial:Two heavily armed police officers can be seen securing art work following the shooting. The art competition for the best caricature of the Prophet Muhammad had been condemned by critics"

I'll note that USAToday did publish a similar photo with having to break out the censorship.
USAToday photo : a policeman in front of Mohammed cartoons 

In 2006, at the during the Danish Cartoon kerfuffle, the New York Times chose not to publish the Danish Cartoons (and still haven't) and instead illustrated the article about the controversy with a controversial Virgin Mary painting that included elephant dung and cut outs from porno magazines that led to a threat to cut public funding to a museum. (although it seems it no longer illustrates the online article)
Virgin Mary by Chris Ofili is NYTimes fit to print offensiveness 

CNN also censored the Danish Cartoons in 2006. They showed the cartoons but pixelated the face of Mohammed. It seemed pretty ridiculous at the time.
Pixelation : it isn't just for genitalia anymore!
(Or CNN thinks Mo looked like genitalia.)

One might ask why would the Daily Mail bother using the photo if you are going to censor the central element (in both the sense that it is in the middle of the composition and in the sense that it is central to the news story)? The NYTimes can at least try to claim there is only so much room on a page and editorial discretion simply led to a different image. The Daily Mail and CNN, on the other hand, are simply trying to signal that they are compliant. 

No comments: