It is sad to learn about devout Muslims getting killed here and there on a daily basis protesting the cartoon depictions of the prophet Muhammad. It is also equally sad that there is violence and destruction being perpetrated by some Muslims in reaction to these cartoons.
Disrespect for religious beliefs as expressed in today's media had not yet reached the Muslim world before these cartoon depictions were somehow widely distributed outside Denmark. The distribution into the Muslim world needs to be investigated closely due to how it agitated and fomented rioting by the populace. Who gains from inciting these riots?
We, here in the West have had our religions insulted many times in the guise of "artistic expression". A couple of notable examples; the Madonna painted with elephant dung or the crucifix in a jar of urine by Maplethorpe. To make matters worse, the promotion of this "art" was paid for with our tax money. We have been gradually numbed and desensitized by these exhortations of "free speech" to such a point that the words "blasphemy" or "sacrilege" mean little to nothing. We have had our religious innocence gradually stripped away over the years. This process, however, is being exposed to the followers of Islam so quickly that they are reacting to this shock with anger and frustration. It's almost as if someone screamed "fire" in a crowded theatre and caused uncontrollable panic but in this case instead of panic it produced outrage and shock.
These cartoon depictions might not seem a worthy reason for rioting and violence to us here in the West but who are we to judge the religious fervor of devout Muslims? What could the world possibly expect after distributing such provocative images? Yes, I believe in free speech but the dissemination of these images outside of Denmark was irresponsible to the point of being criminal.