The Danish public prosecutor Henning Fode is now investigating if Jyllands-Posten has infringed the blasphemy section by publishing the 12 Muhammed drawings. He will also have to decide if the so-called racism section [racisme paragraffen] has been violated. But he has a very difficult case, as there are as good as no precedence to relate to. The blasphemiy section was tried in 1971 when the Danish singer and women’s libber, Trille (alias Bodil Nielsen), was broadcasted singin a song about masturbation and conflict with the ubiquitous “Eye up high” (i.e. God’s judjing eye). The two responsible broadcast programme controllers were acquited on October 21 same year.
The Danish artist and agent provocateur Jens Jørgen Thorsen (1932-2000) also challenged the freedom of expression in 1984 by a (sexist) painting of Jesus with a hard-on on a wall of Birkerød train station. He wasn’t convicted either. And here comes the embarressing story:
Jyllandsposten, demanded the painting removed. The member of the Folketing [parliament] and minister of transport, Arne Melchior, desided to censor Thorsen’s painting from the wall’s of DSB (the Danish State Railroads). Asger N. Larsen then gave the following statement of support to the minister of transport [Politiken, October 23, 2005]:
“Melchior, som er politisk ansvarlig for DSB og banegrave, har vist både fornuft og mod til at forlange smøreriet fjernet, selv om han kan forvente nye råb om grundlov og censur.”
In English [my poor translation]:
“Melchior, being politically responsible for DSB […], has displayed both reason and courage by demanding the dawdling removed, even if he can expect new cries about fundamental law and censorship.”
Sic transit gloria mundi!
For here comes the twist: Today, Asgar N. Larsen is chairman of Jyllands Posten’s executive committee of funds – and today, he has the complete opposite opinion about the Muhammed-drawings issue.
The aim of JP was to make up with self-censorship and challenge the freedom of expression. As the editor Flemming Rose wrote along with the publication on September 30, 2005, the peoples in Denmark must “be ready to put up with scorn, mockery, and ridicule.”
The matter of the public prosecutor will probably be determined by JP‘s ability to convince the court that their object wasn’t to scorn Muslim’s faith – which it obviously was, I believe.