Webb Keane – Secularism and press freedom

The affair with the cartoons of the prophet Muhammad published by the Jylland Posten is probably familiar to you. I haven’t read a lot of interesting analysis about this affair, but now on the Immanent Frame (where else?) there is a very interesting and thought-provoking analysis by Webb Keane:
The Immanent Frame » Secularism and press freedom

What I am interested in is how the European response to Muslim anger reveals some of the aporia of a semiotic ideology closely tied to secular and liberal thought. I want to ask what it was about the Danish denials that may have made them seem so persuasive to other observers across a fairly wide political spectrum. This means asking what the resulting debates about freedom and blasphemy might reveal about certain moral claims of the press, and the underlying assumptions those claims presuppose. I want to suggest that these claims involve semiotic ideologies whose genealogies reach back much earlier, and extend far wider, than the current politics of immigration, identity, and the current geo-political strife.

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