This is in direct respone to this on Jihad Watch. I quote: “The right to free speech is not absolute,” Rishi said. “It does not give a right to defame Prophet Muhammad or any other” religious figure.”
Over the last weeks I’ve heard the entire Danish Cartoons brouhaha being boiled down to a discussion over the limits of free speech way, wayyy too often.
This isn’t about the limits of free speech. I repeat: This isn’t about the limits of free speech. Even the staunchest suporter of Freedom of Speech will have to acknowledge that, yes, there are limits. Even in THE country where Freedom of Speech is interpreted as absolutely as possible (meaning the USA) yelling ‘Fire’ in a crowded theater trespasses on limits set by the law of the land.
And even if you think that is somehow a socialist plot to subject the world to absolute rule: How do you react when a Gilles de la Tourette patient involuntarily calls you a ‘f*cking dickhead’ for no reason at all? I doubt you’d be applauding him for excercising his freedom of speech, as much as it is a freedom for said patient anyways.
The day after the van Gogh murder, the Dutch minister of Justice, his excellency Piet-Hein Donner, suggested to re-activate an article in Dutch law prohibiting ‘grievous blasphemy’. Note that this particular law would have done nothing to fight against those like Bouyeri (van Goghs murderer), but instead would have made it impossible for a van Gogh to publish anything that would have provoked a Bouyeri’s violent reaction. It pretty much was a tacit admission van Gogh ‘had it coming’. If he had been lawfully prevented calling goatfuckers goatfuckers none of this would’ve happened. Or so Donner seemed to think.
I was in my car driving home from work when I heard that, and I remember yelling obscenities at the radio. If ever there was a backhanded, cowardly case of declaring victim perpetrator that was it.
But more to the point, it deflected the discussions about the meaning of the now infamous murder. All of a sudden the discussions didn’t deal with the sign o’ the times the van Gogh murder actually were, all of a sudden the discussions were about ‘should van Gogh have said what he said?’. The larger question, the elephant in the living room, was thus elegantly sidestepped. Difficult question, best not deal with it. The conclusions would have been too uncomfortable.
The same mechanism one sees (around the world) with regard to the Danish Cartoons. A number of MSM outlets, disappointing in its sheer size, wouldn’t publish the cartoons because they ‘trespassed’ the limits of decency, free speech, whatever. And the discussion is all about what would and would not be acceptable to publish.
Disregarding the fact that especially with regard to the MSM there is a huge assymmetry (one is tempted to use the word ‘hypocricy’) with regard to what to publish and what not, this discussion is ultimately about Jylland-Postens culpabilityin the Danish brouhaha. And with that, yet again, the victim has become the perpetrator. And yet again the largest question in this whole sad affair is comfortably evaded.
The latest body count as a result of the Cartoon brouhaha (by way of Atlas Shrugs) comes to around 64. In what shitty world is that a reasonable reaction to some very mild, actually very bland, cartoons published somewhere in the grey outskirts of Europe by a paper nobody outside of Denmark had ever heard about?
The question is not what the limits on free speech are. The question is to what extent the West will allow those limits to be imposed by outside parties. To what extent it’ll give in to violence and extortion. To what extent it is willing to sell out essential freedom for a little temporary security.
We’ve had van Gogh, we’ve had the Danish cartoons. Overviewing the general reaction in the world to both events, the answer to those questions is quite frightening.