Je suis Charlie.

My deepest sympathies to the friends, families and colleagues of the Charlie Hebdo journalists who were murdered by religious fanatics.

Freedom of speech includes the right to peacefully express views others may find offensive. Mere causation of offence should not be a crime, let alone used as an excuse for murder, riots, violence or intimidation.

If we let the risk of causing offence silence us, we allow those who would react violently to anything they dislike to dictate what we say, and freedom of speech thus dies.

It seems to me that the murdered journalists at Charlie Hebdo bravely understood this and sadly paid with their lives. Let us hope the perpetrators are caught.

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Mohammed Cartoons controversy still making headlines

[HatTip: LimbicNutrition]

B92 reports:

DUBLIN — Irish police arrested seven Muslims for planning to kill a Swedish cartoonist who drew a caricature of the Prophet Muhammad with a dog’s body.

In response, several Swedish papers reprinted the cartoons on Wednesday.

Several Swedish newspapers on Wednesday reprinted a controversial caricature of the Prophet Mohammed as a dog, the day after an alleged plot to murder the cartoonist was disclosed.

Stockholm tabloid Expressen said it decided to reprint the caricature “in support of freedom of speech.”

An editorial in the Dagens Nyheter daily said a “threat against (the cartoonist) is ultimately a threat against all Swedes.”

Irish police on Tuesday arrested four men and three women who they say planned to kill Lars Vilks. The Swedish cartoonist in 2007 drew a caricature of Prophet Muhammad’s head attached to the body of a dog to illustrate a newspaper editorial about freedom of expression and religion.

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Stoking up Islamophobia

[Hat tip: A commenter at Samizdata]

That’s what these people are doing, far more effectively than Geert Wilders could ever manage.

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Some freedom of speech related stories

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:

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.

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Cartoon Wars roundup (2)

Some more links related to the Danish cartoon affair:

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If Islam is a religion of peace…

…then:

  • those who send death threats to the cartoonists of Jyllends-Posten are betraying Islam.
  • those who are torching embassies in the middle east are betraying Islam.
  • those who marched in London calling for those who depicted Mohammed to be exterminated, annihilated or beheaded are betraying Islam.
  • those who murdered Theo Van Gogh and drove Dutch MPs Geert Wilders and Ayaan Hirsi Ali into hiding are betraying Islam.
  • those who called for the death of Salman Rushdie, including issuing the famous fatwa, are betraying Islam.
  • those who carried out 9/11, 7/7, the Madrid bombings and the Bali bombings are betraying Islam.
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Some questions

If the Labour party said that cartoons caricaturing or mocking their MPs and leaders deeply offended them, should the media stop producing such cartoons?

If the Royal family said they found cartoons that mock the Royals offensive and hurtful, should the media stop producing those?

If the leaders of Christian, Jewish, Sikh or Hindu institutions or communities said they found cartoons mocking their prophets or leaders insulting, should the media obey?

If representatives of the USA said the Americans found cartoons caricaturing them or their president or their army or their people deeply offensive, should the media stop producing such cartoons to mollify their feelings?

If this line of reasoning doesn’t convince you that the media should stop producing cartoons caricaturing (members of) the above groups should they claim to feel that way, why should it convince you in the case of Muslims?

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