Think I'm being unfair? Well it's true that Leunig dresses up his argument in much moral finery of expression. Even so, it's not hard to recognise the primal emotions bubbling away underneath: an uncritical adulation of the outsider and a vilification of his own society.
But here is Leunig in his own words:
Some very vile and vicious things are done in the name of freedom. Mischief and bad motivation attach themselves, surreptitiously and parasitically to noble ideas. We've seen a lot of that lately ...
I am also suspicious of the motivation behind the commissioning of the famous Danish cartoons. I suspect that hatred may lie at the heart of the matter, even though hatred is a condition the West increasingly disowns.
The anti-cartoon riot story, as ugly as it is, must surely be the consequence not only of a handful of dull cartoon cliches, but of the accumulated anger resulting from the humiliation, persecution and suffering inflicted on Islam by the West. [See it's all our fault.] The cartoons are taunts, probably deliberate, to an aggrieved and traumatised spiritual community who feel at the mercy of the West's contempt, ignorance and ruthless military might. [It's all our fault, just in case we didn't get the message the first time.]
Any cartoonist with a heart or conscience (from whence good cartoons come) would not mock or taunt such a group in this formally transgressive way. [I almost fell of my seat laughing at this point: a liberal complaining about transgression? Liberals transgress as readily as they breathe. The cultural history of the West during my own lifetime has been one of transgression.] I like Manning Clarke's advice here: look with the eye of pity, which implies mercy and respect, the qualities which redeem a society more than the quality of raw freedom. [Manning Clarke was a fellow traveller who couldn't quite make his mind up about communist Russia.]
Any Australian who has lingered in an indigenous community learns of the traditional sacred protocols and chooses to respect them or not. To publish a photograph of a recently deceased Aborigine is something a white photographer might be asked to avoid. It is a matter of respect and character whether a photographer complies. [Note: Aborigines get respect.]
Public cartoon ridicule is properly dumped on the slick and the mighty, the officially powerful, on our own smug mob, on the triumphant ones protected by helicopter gunships and offices of state. [Note: Aborigines are not "smug", Muslims are not "smug", but we are, so we don't get respect.]
Cartooning is psychoanalytic and it is best when it discomforts us, not them ...
And on it goes. The underlying assumption is that morality works as follows: if you are strong you are morally bad, if you are weak you are morally good.
As a consequence it pays in a Leunigian world to be weak. You get to be morally justified. The strong, in comparison, get a guilt which no amount of mea culpas is going to wash away.
It is all very unhealthy. It requires the adoption of moral double standards. It justifies a most basic disloyalty to your own community. And it irrationally makes strength a vice and weakness a virtue.
Leunig makes considerable use of the phraseology of traditional morality to make it all sound more palatable, but no amount of rhetorical gloss will ever make his arguments sound.