Monday, February 06, 2006

Free Speech

With news from my parents that Danish products have been taken of the shelves in Dubai, where they live, I thought it was timely to wade in to the free speech debate. A lot's been said, however so I'll keep it brief.

1. It was wrong to publish those cartoons if the Danish paper had any sensitivity towards a major religion.
2. Muslims are quite right to be offended. Calls for them to 'chill out', such as those heard on this week's 'Any Answers', don't appreciate the bigotry conveyed by said cartoons. That said some reactions have been a little extreme - see right.
3. Such material should not be made illegal.

The beauty of free speech is that society is able to openly censure material it finds wrong or offensive, without driving it underground. Issues have been highlighted that many would not have otherwise encountered. People who thought the cartoons funny or clever have had their views openly challenged, rather than allowing bigotry to foment in the shadows.

With regards to point 3, the words of Rowan Atkinson, uttered over a year ago, should not be forgotten(via):
"In my view the right to offend is far more important than any right not to be offended.

3 comments:

Mark Lowes said...

Yup, the Danish press could have shown a higher degree of common sense, however it's been months since they were published. I do suspect that someone (not sure who / why) has pushed this right back up the politicial agenda for some reason.

I happily accept that Muslims are offended, however the calls for the deaths of various people are not acceptable. It is time for the religious nutters (of all flavours) to learn that the icons of their faith are important to them and them only, I personally could care less about any of them (again regardless of which faith we're talking about).

Religion, like masterbation, should be a private matter.

Also it seems that there's a major misunderstanding coming from the middle-east demanding that governments exercise control over the media, they do need to learn that we don't have state controlled media (ok we can argue the details there but broadly speaking it's "free") and therefore will publish things which are not necessarily the views of the government or even of the population of the country.

Bottom line for Muslims in this country, some of the more extreme elements need to accept that this is not a state running under islamic law and if that is a problem move to a part of the world where the government more fits their worldview.

My fist of flounce said...

Philip Hensher makes an excellent comment in a recent book on the freedom of speech about the responsibility of speech. Why, he asks, should we ban comments of religious hatred when so many religious comments cause such real damage to the world? He's quite right - it's an idea that makes me want to shove an Aids infested cock up the Pope's arse. Is that too offensive?

Rory said...

David Irving for dinner darling?

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