Doug Marlette: ‘We don’t apologize for opinions’

Doug Marlette, the soon to be editorial cartoonist for the Tulsa World, was interviewed for his reaction to the firestorm in Europe over the Dutch cartoons of Mohammad.

“This is a war of two cultures, it’s really a war, and it’s really important that in the West we stand up for these hard-won freedoms and that we stand up to bullying and intimidation in the name of sensitivity,” Marlette said. “No one is more intolerant than people demanding tolerance, that’s been my experience.”

In 2002, Marlette was inundated by complaints from Muslims for his depiction of Muhammad driving a Ryder rental truck like the one used by convicted Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh. It ran under the headline, “What would Muhammad drive?”

He received 15,000 emails, shutting down his website. The Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations and the Muslim World League demanded an apology from his syndicator, Tribune Media Services, and from the Tallahassee Democrat newspaper, which briefly posted the cartoon on its website. He was front-page news in Saudi Arabia. He received threats. His family was terrified.

He never apologized.

“In America we don’t apologize for opinions, that’s why we have a first amendment,” Marlette said. “If we can’t discuss even controversial opinions in the pages of our newspapers, where are we going to do it?”