Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Freedom of Speech, or Not

Given such intense debate on the cartoon row, we'll chime in with our two cents. We don't understand why there is so much confusion around the issue of Freedom of Speech (FOS). Here's how we make the distinction. We think:
  1. Jyllands-Posten has the FOS right to publish the cartoons.
  2. We exercise the same FOS in calling them idiots (or worse) for exercising bad judgment.
  3. Those offended have the FOS right to express verbal outrage or boycott goods.
  4. Burning embassies, rioting, issuing fatwas and demanding bans is not FOS, in fact the opposite.
  5. The Iranian newspaper has the FOS right to publish the Holocaust cartoons.
  6. The rest of us can exercise the same right and dismiss them as idiots, too.
Net, we see much confusion between the exercise of freedom of speech (which the Danish paper did) with the exercise of good judgment (which they didn't). Similarly, there is as much confusion about the verbal outrage (with is in line with FOS) with violent outrage (which is antithetical to FOS).

(Leaving aside high-minded issues like FOS and its limits, the cynical view is that some of the protest is being fueled by Iran and Syria who gain by changing the global agenda and accelerating the clash of civilizations. But that's material for another blog post).


Rezwan said...

Wikipedia defines FOS: Free speech is not a simple and absolute concept but a liberty that is justified by even deeper values. And wherefrom these values originate? From respecting other human beings and their cultures, other religions. Respect is an attitude of acknowledging the feelings and interests of another party in a relationship, and of treating as consequential for the self the helping or harming of the other.

When the respect and trust is absent, the intent of an FOS is questioned and all kinds of miscommunications happen. The opportunists (like the Muslim radicals) always chip in these circumstances and exploit the situations.

One can only learn from the events and the governments should try to prevent any such exploitations from a stupid FOS display.

I am not questioning the right of FOS but the intent and the lack of respect.

Primary Red said...

If true, the Imam should be tried for incitement -- perhaps even for murder (given people have lost lives as a consequence of this dustup).

None of this, however, negates the fundamental bigotry of the cartoons and, alas, of many Europeans who are taking cover of free speech to express their bigotry towards Islam.

Stratfor's George Friedman writes today:

The response from the West, and from Europe in particular, has been to frame the question as a matter of free speech. European newspapers, wishing to show solidarity with the Danes, have reprinted the cartoons, further infuriating the Muslims. European liberalism has a more complex profile than Islamic rage over insults. In many countries, it is illegal to incite racial hatred. It is difficult to imagine that the defenders of these cartoons would sit by quietly if a racially defamatory cartoon were published. Or, imagine the reception among liberal Europeans -- or on any American campus -- if a professor published a book purporting to prove that women were intellectually inferior to men. (The mere suggestion of such a thing, by the president of Harvard in a recent speech, led to calls for his resignation.)

So, CN, lets not confuse issues here. Bigotry is bigotry -- and merits condemnation. That's what this blog has done. We are not Muslims but are personally offended by the cartoons. Our protest was civil --through the pages of our blog. We haven't indulged in violence -- nor consider violence acceptable. So, please, lets not confuse our civil protest with these raging Jihadists (for whom we have no sympathy).

Tell us why we should look favorably at Europeans who fail to consider that we are deeply offended -- notwithstanding these tangential free speech arguments?

Best regards


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