In my mind, this has gone well beyond a issue of how offensive the cartoons are, or whether or not they should have been published. They were published, and I feel it is a right of the free press to publish such things if they see fit. The problem in my mind is the thuggish behavior on the part of many Muslims. It is one thing to have a peaceful protest, it is another to threaten to kill people over a damned cartoon. Allow me to remind you about other things that offend certain religions. Hindus consider cows to be sacred. Every time you eat at McDonald's you are offending them in the worst manner possible. The Roman Catholic Church is against any form of birth control, put down that condom! Many Protestants teach that drinking alcohol is immoral, etc, etc, etc... We can not live our lives by the rules of all religions and the idea that one religion can trample on our way of life through violent means is in my mind most offensive of all.
I believe a stand should be taken, we can't let these bullies tell us how we can live our lives. If the free press of the world can be silenced so easily (as of yet not a single paper in the US or UK has ran these cartoons), then what is next? Free speech and freedom of expression is being attacked. As I said, the artists are going into hiding, countries and newspapers are apologizing. They are bowing to intimidation and violence. For every new web site that posts the cartoons another one backs down and removes them. If you have any doubt as to the sentiments of these extremists see for yourself:
This is not a fight that we can afford to lose. If the extremists feel they have won this fight they will be encouraged to further tell us what we can and can not do. If they can so easily silence the press and they are aware of this fact they will only become more violent and make more threats in the future. I implore everyone to take a stand and not let this issue die, lest they view it as a victory. Take up protest in your own way. Whether it be making your own drawing, posting the cartoons in your blogs or making your own web pages. Let it be known that you are not going to be intimidated and that you value your right to express yourself as you see fit. To any Muslims² that are viewing this. You no doubt are offended, and you have a right to be. I beg you to stop being the silent majority. Stand up to the violent minority which disgrace your entire religion. Teach your brothers tolerance and to respect freedom of expression. The same freedoms afford you the right to practice your religion and your beliefs in our countries. This should not be a battle of East vs. West, but unfortunately that is how it is playing out. If I must take sides I choose the West.
Special thanks to bd for providing a few of the links and one of the images I used. Also, it goes without saying that I speak for myself and that my opinions and the like are not reflective of anyone other than myself.
Here are some select images that I would recommend. Two of them are ones originally published in Denmark, others were found on the internet.
² Mr. Bukhari of the Muslim Public Affairs Committee set a good example when he said Muslims were angry over satirical cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad published in European papers but it was "outrageous" for anyone to advocate extreme action or violence.