I think that every pundit and opinionista is missing the point entirely about the "rights" of the cartoonists (and newspapers for that matter) that are in question. Andrew Sullivan (nice conservative) and Michelle Malkin (mean conservative) in particular keep asserting that the cartoonists made a valid point that was not meant to provoke this violent outrage. I say that in a free country, you have to be able to deal non-violently with the fact that there will be people who say "You have a dirty, irrational, stupid, murderous cult of a religion." People have and continue to say this about Christianity. Christianity has had it's "holy symbols" put in jars of urine and covered in feces and the people who created those things and called them "works of art" had every right to do that.
So it is a moot point what the paper and its cartoonists meant to encourage. You have to respond to such things with your own free speech, not by taking it away from people who offend you even if they are offending you on purpose. You have to deal with a twisted image of Santa cutting off heads by saying you don't like it, not by murdering the man who did it. Protest all you want. You have that right. But you do not have the right to be violent about it. Not in America, at least, where the FIRST THING put down as the Law of this Land was that you can say any fucking thing you want to say and the Government can't keep you from saying it. (Yes I realize there hasn't been violence over this in the U.S. and that the massive protest at the Danish embassy today) was peaceful, but I'm just sayin). I know this is not always what happens, that there is in fact censorship, both subtle and overt. But it is the theory and we should strive for the total practice of that theory. I feel very strongly about the First Ammendment and that there should be very, very little room for restrictions on the absolute freedom of speech. Lines are notorious for being drawn in the wrong place.
I realize that I may have some kind of bias, however, against "religious" outrage as opposed to say, racial. My logic seems to work out differently when it comes to the Toledo riots, for example.