What He Said…
.My most devoted reader, Mickey Kaus, calls my defense of freedom of speech, including the right to offend others’ religions, “close to unhinged.” Then there’s the perspective of someone just returning from Europe. By the way, I do not believe that a single one of the cartoons is objectively offensive, given the criteria applied to other cartoons in the West. Muhammad with a bomb as a turban is the only close call. But when mass-murderers specifically cite Muhammad as the inspiration for their terror, are cartoonists the actual blasphemers for depicting that connection - or the murderers they are criticizing? If Islamists blaspheme their own faith on a daily basis, then the West has every right to illustrate that fact. With no apology needed. What we’re seeing here is the emergence of a special dispensation for Islam in the West - to be free from the kind of rough treatment accorded every other faith. The only rational justification for such a double standard is that Islam is somehow more sacred than Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, and the like. But, of course, the actual justification for the double-standard is merely fear. The intimidation is working and has worked..
The Swedish government got a website pulled down for posting an image that wasn’t even Mohammed, but some whackos might read as Mohammed. Hezbollah’s Sheik Hassan Nasrallah is calling for the EU and all member states to enact laws that restrict press freedoms and ban insulting their prophet. The EU has indicated that it may do just that.
So this is, at the end of the day, all about freedom of expression—including the freedom to offend.