What price freedom of speech?

…As the consequences of the publication of the Danish cartoons making fun of Islam escalate from day to day, we ask what is at issue here? We believe in free speech. We are glad that Tony Blair failed to vote for the government’s Bill on incitement of religious hatred. Is it not ironic that in the same week we find ourselves asking where are its limits? After all sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me. Yet if you give a dog a bad name, what then? What about mobbing? We have every right to say what we like and express our point of view. But do we have the right to offend another person’s deeply held beliefs, no matter how much we disagree with them. In the case of Salman Rushdie and the “Satanic Verses” we were for free speech. A serious issue was at stake and no free society can give in to or tolerate death threats made against its citizens. However the cartoons published by Jyllands-Posten are another matter. They are cheap, in bad taste and make no serious point. They simply insult Islam. I am not a Muslim. Devi is Sanskrit and means goddess. My mother was a Hindu, my father Welsh and I was born in Wales and am a pagan who studied biology. I buy my tea and biscuits from shops owned and run by either Hindus or Muslims, five minutes walk from Cardiff’s Chinatown. We have a Sikh temple around the corner. I grew up to respect the beliefs of others. As I am writing this, news is coming in that the latest Danish Embassy to be torched is in Beirut. What would the midnight’s children who lost their lives after the birth of the Republic of India make of all this? Has not enough blood been spilt already? Is all this hatred worth it? The boycott of Danish products is a great idea. Let them pay for their folly. But please Muslim brothers and sisters, shed no blood over Flemming Rose, the editor of Jyllands-Posten. The idiot is not worth it. That man is not worth an innocent life, and when passions are high, shit happens. Flemming Rose should now do the decent thing and resign. If Anders Lund Madsen, the Danish Prime Minister, is tired of seeing his embassies torched then he is sadly naive. What does he expect in the context of today’s Middle East. How many Muslims have lost their lives in Iraq. Only yesterday Israel killed three more Palestinians in stupid reprisals. Eye for an eye! Big deal. Calm down everybody. Give Islam the respect it deserves. Were it not for Arab civilization there would be no modern Europe. And now these pictures are on Flickr, run by Yahoo! on an American server for the whole world to download and use. They are part of America’s public domain. Wikipedia also has the cartoons. Freedom of speech comes at a price. Peace and respect also matter. Let’s put this nonsense in its proper context. The prophet Muhammad was one of the world’s great religious leaders, as was Buddha and Jesus Christ. Ordinary Muslims deserve better than these insults.
Pickled Politics


About Leighton Cooke

The Original Cookiemouse
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