Tuesday, November 08, 2005

The Islamist Answer to Free Speech

The latest example of radical Islamists' willingness to suppress free expression comes from Denmark. The November 4th Daily Telegraph provides the details:

A Danish experiment in testing "the limits of freedom of speech" has backfired - or succeeded spectacularly - after newspaper cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed provoked an outcry.

Thousands of Muslims have taken to the streets in protest at the caricatures, the newspaper that published them has received death threats and two of its cartoonists have been forced into hiding.

The newspaper's editor, Carsten Juste, was motivated to run the cartoons as an act of free expression:

Juste commissioned the cartoons after learning of the difficulties a children's writer, Kare Bluitgen, had in finding an illustrator for his book on the Koran and the Prophet's life. Bluitgen said all the artists he approached feared the wrath of Muslims if they drew images of Mohammed.

Many cited the murder of the Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh by an Islamist as a reason for refusal.

Juste said he wanted to counter growing "self censorship" and see how many cartoonists would be "bold enough" to draw the Prophet.

Unfortunately, the record shows that death threats emanating from Islamists are not to be taken lightly. I have previously examined the efforts of Islamists to threaten and even kill those who express views that offend them. In a terrific post at The Counterterrorism Blog, Daveed Gartenstein-Ross goes into even greater detail on this subject. His post is a must-read, and I agree wholeheartedly with his conclusion:

Unfortunately, we in the West haven't always been vigilant about standing behind speech rights. In many of the above cases, many Westerners bent over backwards to make excuses for the Islamists who threatened free speech with death. I've also written recently about the spread of religious vilification laws in the West, which send the wrong message to Islamists by telling them that the slander of a religion can be punishable by law. Standing up for free speech in the face of religious fanaticism should be a no-brainer for anybody who understands the classical liberal principles that Western society was built upon. It seems that many Westerners either fail to understand these principles, or else fail to grasp the reality of the threat.


Anonymous Ed Merwin, Jr. said...

Intimidation can be a TERRIBLY effective, and affective, tool. We, as free speech orientated citizens, must fight this negative tool at every turn.

9:07 AM  

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