Alas, that potential has moved into the actual. One nun possibly dead in result, several churches firebombed, and nutty Islamists sharpening their blades for some televised decapitations.
Before the first reports cycled in, I pondered the the role of the Western media in fanning the flames of Islamic rage. Did some Western editor think "let's you and him fight, that'll sell newspapers!"� and frame the story in such a way that would be sure to tick off the Islamic media? Did this story first get its wings in the Islamic world first, and then find outlets in Western news?
David Warren suggests this deadly circus was indeed first manufactured by Western journalists, specifically the BBC:
The BBC appears to have been quickest off the mark, to send around the world in many languages, including Arabic, Turkish, Farsi, Urdu, and Malay, word that the Pope had insulted the Prophet of Islam, during an address in Bavaria.
Pitiful. Prepping for export the most inflammatory spin on Pope Benedict's lecture, the BBC journalists were especially yellow. Here is the introductory paragraph to their story Muslim Anger Grows at Pope Speech:
Speaking in Germany, the Pope quoted a 14th Century Christian emperor who said the Prophet Muhammad had brought the world only "evil and inhuman" things.
Of course, the emperor only claimed what was *new* in Islam was evil and inhuman, but the BBC's actions show little regard for either the accuracy or the consequences of its tendentious framing of this speech. People have died, churches have burned, and the BBC seems awfully proud about itself.
There are some patently ridiculous apologies for the press coverage: Pope Benedict should have known he'd be misrepresented by the small-minded ink-stained wretched of the Earth. He should have also known that these falsehoods would then be used by mullahs around the world for the sake of provoking their followers into violence.
In summary, they believe Benedict should have spoken at the level of those with little ability and even less willingness to read with charity and critical engagement.
Here we see why only the blandest of platitudes are fit for public consumption: the distortions of philistine journalists prompt one's public words to remain vanilla for fear of misrepresentation, and the often-used blades of barbarians' knives encourage pedestrian remarks for fear of others' lives.
The public media and its readership demand submission to their simplistic creed of the One Liner. Their leveling of public discourse is among the greatest threats faced by a free people.