03/20/2006 06:08 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

The Value of the Internet:

"Possibly the Most Newsworthy Cartoons in History", Greg Lukianoff (Foundation for Individual Rights in Education) correctly calls the twelve Danish Mohammed cartoons. Without seeing the cartoons, one can't really understand the controversy, partly because a good editorial cartoon is the sort of thing to which words don't really do justice. Fortunately, even though very few prominent American newspapers have printed the cartoons, interested Americans can pretty easily find them on the Internet.

But imagine what things would have been like if the Internet hadn't been invented, or hadn't become as pervasive. If you wanted to know just what people were finding so offensive, how would you be able to do that? I suppose some newspapers might have concluded that they had to run the cartoons precisely because the cartoons weren't available online — but would most have done that? And if you lived in a city in which the newspapers and TV stations chose not to run the cartoons, what could you do (since without the Internet, you couldn't even easily access most out-of-town newspapers, much less amateur media)?

This whole controversy makes me glad that we're no longer quite as captive to professional news judgment as we once were.