Feb 3, 2006

Cartoons: A moderate response

Orac receives a letter from a Muslim blogger asking him to support an appeal to both the UN and western governments to repress such speech.
There is little doubt that the cartoons published by the Jyllands-Posten were a deliberate attempt to be provocative. Annoyance at such antics is the price we pay for freedom. The editors wanted a reaction from you, and you and your fellow Muslims sure delivered, in the process seemingly confirming the very stereotypes that some of the cartoons portrayed. Consider this: I personally am highly angered and offended by, for example, the recent anti-Semitic remarks and denial of the Holocaust by the President of Iran, one of your fellow Muslims, as well as his calling a conference to question the historicity of the Holocaust. I consider his speech every bit as hateful and ignorant as you no doubt consider the Jyllands-Posten cartoons. Even so, I would not support an effort to to suppress his speech through actions by governments and the U.N.. The same is true of noted Holocaust denier David Irving, whose trial for Holocaust denial I cannot support and whose imprisonment I view as wrong. Free speech means little if it doesn't mean freedom for people with offensive views to express them. Protest, yes. Counter the offending speech with speech of my own, yes. Try to have the govenrment or U.N. suppress that speech? Never! Threaten violence, as Palestinians did when they took over the E.U. office in Gaza the other day? Absolutely not!

Tolerating views that no one finds offensive is easy; tolerating views that deeply offend is not. Consequently, I strongly oppose your effort to impose your beliefs (that Mohammed should not be portayed in pictures or mocked) on those who do not share your religion. I also can't help but note a whiff of hypocrisy here. Unlike the media in Denmark, France, Germany, and Norway, the media in many Muslim nations in the Middle East are state controlled, and many of these state-controlled media outlets run vile and anti-Semitic programming, treating as true conspiracy-laden anti-Jewish propaganda, such as The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, Holocaust denial, and the Blood Libel (see also here and here). You do realize, do you not, that, if your fellow Muslims succeed in persuading the U.N. to ban misrepresentations, criticisms, and mockery of religions, certain Muslim countries would certainly be among the absolute worst offenders in that respect. They would either have to stop broadcasting such hate-filled anti-Jewish propaganda or be subject to sanctions.

Moderate, well-reasoned and hard to argue with. I would only add that if the UN were to take up this issue, as Orac's correspondent wishes, exceptions would quickly be made for Arab publications printing offensive cartoons about Jews, repeating the Blood Libel, etc.

All the more reason to oppose such a measure.

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