Now personally I don't think those are particularly good cartoons, but that's really beside the point. If we're to exist in an international community of nations freedom of speech must be sacrosanct. It's a non-negotiable. As bad as it is for Muslim countries to restrict free speech within their boundaries, it is a hundred times worse for them to try to impose their taboos on other nations. The west cannot capitulate.
The Islamic fanatics want to make this about respect for religion. It's not. There's no such thing as respect for someone else's religion, only tolerance. If you are religious then you believe everyone else is wrong, and sometimes borderline retarded. "What you don't believe in Christ? Dumb dumb dumb dumbo!" It's not about religion at all, it's about power. They want the power to restrict what we say and do. They very clearly want to restrict our freedom.
It can't happen.
The French newspaper that fired it's editor over these cartoons is guilty of cowardice and capitulation. Those who believe that the Muslims have some sort of point here are guilty of stupidity and ludicrously overblown relativism. Today it is that we allow our newspapers to display sacrilegious cartoons, tomorrow it will be that our women are allowed to work or that we don't pray to Mecca 5 times a day. Meanwhile they are free to print anti-semitic cartoons by the boatload and to make all sorts of bizarre comments about Judaism. It's the worst kind of double standard, the kind that doesn't even acknowledge that equality is a possibility. To these people insulting Islam is insulting the truth. Insulting Judaism is insulting evil.
We can't see it that way.
There's not a heck of a lot to be done about this, but I've thought at least one potential answer. I created the community mohammedsucks as a place for people to post politically incorrect statements about Islam in solidarity for free speech. I'm actually a little nervous about this idea because I think it could quickly slip into bigotry, which is not the point. The point is to support the right of people to say controversial things. There's a big difference. That being said, it's a form of action we can all take in counter protest to the Muslim protests against the cartoons. Perhaps it can eventually build into a dialog where people can discuss these things without setting fires or breaking into embassies and smashing them up. Perhaps not.