Sunday, February 19, 2006
Free Speech and those Cartoons- a further comment
I posted about those cartoons a short time ago and thought I had decided on my own balanced viewpoint: free speech was of supreme importance but should be applied with the recognition that it was not an absolute value and that there is no purpose in upsetting volatile people unnecessarily. At the same time Muslims should realise how important it is to western culture and avoid giving offence themselves. Very balanced, I thought and about right for this Guardian reader.
Then I read Andrew Anthony in the Observer last week who asserted how vital it was to defend free speech and I read Norm's blog where he argued this was a universal human right which could not be compromised, and I began to wonder if I had not been a bit too wimpishly liberal. Then I read a letter to the Observer Review today which reminded me I was right after all.
This was from Leofranc Holford-Stevens and it pointed out that if he went into certain pubs in Belfast and banged on about how excellent was the Union with Great Britain he would provoke the same violent response as if he decamped to certain other pubs in a different part of the same city and banged on equally about the merits of a unified Ireland. 'Would those' he concludes, 'who rush to support the Mohammad cartoons call me a martyr to free speech for expressing either of these perfectly legitimate points of view or an idiot who ought to have known better?' as Hercule Poirot might have said: 'Precisement mon cher monsieur Leofranc'.
Links to this post: