The BBC claimed there was no 'artistic argument' for publication. The Guardian justified not printing the cartoons by claiming they were 'too offensive' and anyway victimised a Muslim minority. But these cartoons are not the same as the Nazi cartoons against the Jews. They are mocking ideas not a people.
Armando Iannucci is of course far closer to the truth.
"That's why it's with pride I present perhaps the most dangerous joke I have ever done, in the form of the illustration that you see now in the middle of this column. It's a cartoon depicting Mohammed, Moses and Christ engaged in a disgusting act on the roof of a Hindu temple.[in fact it's a picture of Chantelle from big brother]
I believe there have been long debates in The Observer offices as to whether this cartoon should be censored in some way, or even replaced with some abstract illustration of other parts of the column, and I am glad that, as of my last phone conversation with them at 10 o'clock yesterday evening, the editorial team have put thoughts of their own and their families' safety to one side in order to publish my brave joke.
I know this brilliant cartoon may cause offence to about four billion believers, but I'm sure all of them will eventually see both my point and the funny side. Even if they don't, I will defend to the probable death of an Observer receptionist my right to make this sort of necessary satirical observation (she knew the risks when she took the job on).
I only hope that those of you out there who do not believe in the God-given right satirists have had from the dawn of civilisation to take a pop at stuff are thoroughly ashamed of yourselves. Your views are beneath contempt, though I will defend your right to hold them, unless they're racist, in which case I don't, unless the government is trying to stop you having them, in which case I do."
I don't blame the media for being scared, but lets not dress this up in pretty language. They are scared, they are not taking the moral highground. Trying to argue that they are is dangerous.
Nobody has the right not to be offended. I am offended at being told I can't ridicule someone's absurd beliefs. They are after all just ideas. Mockery, ridicule and satire are essential ways of criticising and highlighting absurdities.
It is the bravery of previous generations that challenged the taboos of Christianity, now it is Islam's turn. The more we shirk from this, the more religion will infringe on our democracy. The choice is ours. The British media have been cowardly. All the media should be as one on this. Even the fascist Daily Mail and Sun have used similar excuses to the BBC and Guardian to avoid publication. Rather than praising them as Jack Straw has done, we should condemn their cowardice. If all the media and public who oppose this restriction on free speech were as one, it would strengthen our democracy. They can't kill us all. By leaving it to a few brave newspapers in Europe, we intensify the pressure on those who fight for our freedom. We should be ashamed of ourselves for letting the religious bullies win. Eventually bullies have to be stood up to, the longer you leave it, the worse it gets.