Ernest Cassara

The current turmoil in many Muslim countries over the objectionable representation of the prophet Mohammad in cartoons in Denmark - then reprinted in several other western European nations - has been defended as an example of the exercise of press freedom. I am an absolutist on the First Amendment. I would offer one question, however, for us to ponder. Were Jesus to be represented in an objectionable manner in cartoons, can you imagine the uproar that would occur among Christians in the U.S.? (Mohammad, by the way, in one cartoon is represented as wearing a turban with a bomb in it!)

Not in the same category, but, still an example to consider. NBC, I hear, is cancelling The Book of Daniel, the drama of the trials and tribulations of an Episcopal minister, because Jesus appears to Daniel (and Daniel only), providing solace when he is confronting both parish and family problems. Ah!  Right-wing Christian groups will not stand for it!

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Having expressed sadness recently that CNN replaced our favorite Aaron Brown and Newsnight at 10 each night, with a young whippersnapper, it was good to read an article about a speech by Brown in the Palm Beach Daily News. Among the things, he said: "Truth no longer matters in the context of politics and, sadly, in the context of cable news."

He gave several examples. I quote the newspaper article: "Important issues, such as the prosecution of the war in Iraq at home and abroad, are being clouded over by 'mud-wrestling' that skirts substance, he said. Consider what he called 'the swift-boating of John Murtha,' the Democratic congressman whose war record was smeared when he called for an exit strategy in Iraq. 'Cable didn't search for the truth, but engaged in mock debates pitting those making the charges against Murtha's defenders,' he said."

Brown added that listeners have a responsibility as well: "It's not enough to say you want serious news.  You have to watch it. It isn't enough to say you want serious debate. You have to engage in it."

To which, I  respond, "Amen!"

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