Answer: completely free, even when it’s infantile.
Should the religious be protected from being offended? Or, why should the religious be protected from being offended?
Should atheists be protected from being offended?
Last year a controversial Polish editor was fined for insulting John Paul II. The law suit was not brought by the pontiff, of course, but by the religiously offended.
A play in Britain was closed down because Sikhs got offended by its content.
A Dutch director was shot two years ago because he dared to offend the religious in Holland.
Now we have a set of cartoons, published by the Danish Jyllands-Posten newspaper, depicting Muhammad with a bomb in his turban, and much more.
Two of the cartoonists have gone into hiding following death threats. Libya has closed its Embassy in Denmark in protest. A large consumer boycott has been organized in Saudi Arabia.
And now the Head of the United Nations has waded in. Stephane Dujarric, the UN's chief spokesman, said on Thursday: "He (Kofi Annan) believes that the freedom of the press should always be exercised in a way that fully respects the religious beliefs and tenets of all religions."
Personally, I think these types of ‘satirical’ cartoons are not funny and therefore are not necessary. But we must stand for the right of journalists, cartoonists, anyone – even if they are infantile cartoonists – to ‘publish and be damned’.
I thought twice before putting, even a small version, of the cartoons on the blog - and I notice that many blogs are discussing them but only giving links. And it is a matter of taste, I suppose. But, in the end, if you are talking about something like this then you have to show it - just giving a link could appear to be a cop-out. I'm sorry some people feel offended, but they'll get over it.
Are people so easily threatened, with so little confidence in their beliefs, that they have to be protected from having them being insulted? Are we becoming like children who have to be protected from pain and distress?
The Danish prime minister has said, "The government refuses to apologies because the government does not control the media or a newspaper outlet; that would be in violation of the freedom of speech". And he is right. But maybe governments in Europe should look at how they have had a hand in producing this type of special pleading by various ‘identity groups’.
But it is not, and should not, be a crime to offend someone.
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