Sorry for the lack of posting recently, I didn’t have as much time to post over the last week or two.
Anyway, the furore over the Danish cartoons has finally subsided, at least in terms of riots and embassy torchings. However the issue hasn’t died, and other events are also highlighting the issues related to freedom of speech:
- A march for freedom of expression is being organised for the 25th March in Trafalgar Square in London, which already boasts support from several organisations and a Lib Dem MP. There is also a petition to sign for those who can’t make it.
- George Galloway, the Respect MP, has apparently claimed that the publication of the cartoons was a worse act than 9/11 and the 7/7 bombings, thus equating publishing 12 rather innocuous cartoons with actions that, combined, cost roughly 3000 lives.
- A “Proclamation of Global Civility” has been launched by some British Muslims, calling for the press complaints commission code of contact to be modified to prevent publication “insulting” references (including pictures) to anyone’s creed or conscience.
- On a more highly publicised note, David Irving has been jailed in Austria for denying the Holocaust, in an act that many regard as an attack on freedom of speech. A dissenting view, arguing that what happened with Irving was not about freedom of speech but about public lying, can be found here.
- A group of writers and journalists, including Salman Rushdie and Ayaan Hirsi Ali, have launched a manifesto against “the new totalitarianism” of “Islamism”, citing the reaction to the Danish cartoons and the need to defend freedom and secular values against religious totalitarianism.
- The British National Party published a leaflet with one of the cartoons juxtapositioned with a picture of the London protestors who called for those who insult Islam to be beheaded, asking which images the reader finds more offensive.
- Michelle Malkin cites the case of a school in the US which is trying to reconcile its art classes with the taboo some Muslims have against drawing people.
- The hacking of Danish websites and other sites supportive of the Danes over the cartoon protests continues.
- On a different topic, a protest in support of experimenting upon animals was organised in Oxford, in defiance of anti-vivisectionists who have been engaging in threats and intimidation against anyone associated with the University, over the building of its new animal laboratories.
Clearly the issue of freedom of speech, and where any limits should be drawn, has become a live topic since the publication of the cartoons and the subsequent furore, spurred on by other contemporary events such as the jailing of Irving, the acquittal of Nick Griffin of the BNP on charges of inciting racial hatred, the ongoing clash between anti-vivisectionists and those who support animal experimentation, and the watering down of the British governments Incitement to Religious Hatred bill. This is against a backdrop of continual erosion of civil rights by the British government, including the right to peaceful protest and freedom of speech itself.
Freedom of speech is clearly a value that is under assault. Nevertheless, it has its defenders.