The Irony of Free Speech

Interesting that the UK police turned a blind eye (initially at least) to the protesters in the Danish cartoon “furies”, where those availing themselves of free speech had extremely explicit organised incitement to hatred, fear and murder (a million miles from any “technical” concept of blasphemy too, or religious disrespect or intolerance).

The initial turning of the blind eye, may prove to be a good move. The outrage in the mainstream press and the affront from moderate moslems voicing “not in my name”, means a sizeable public will have got the message – rather than the negative propaganda coup that might have followed if the police had gone in heavy handed and dragged “peaceful protestors” kicking and screaming off the streets.

Dangerous to assume that was the planned tactic, but well done the Met. (Seems it is normal operational procedure to contain and film, then allow considered response later. No doubt to cover them against mistakes.)

Give ’em enough rope, so much better than “zero tolerance”, “at all costs” knee-jerks. Delicate balance though, judging by the loss of control at the Beirut embassies.

And of course, the meta-right to satirical-humour in free-speech; the newspaper cartoon that ridicules the police action in ignoring the inciters to violence, whilst booking a motorist for a traffic violation. A healthy sign.

Forget imposed democracy, freedom is a matter of the right to poke fun. Which is where we came in.

Interesting listening to Hama Musa, the Moslem anger at free-speech supporting humourous “insults” against Islam. He accepts that laws (cultural and legislative) in different Islamic and non-Islamic countries have different severities of judging and punishing such “blasphemies”. The fact that in some Islamic countries such offence would be punishable with execution, does not give anyone rights to incite murder or take such actions into their own hands, in any country Islamic or otherwise. Angry reaction yes, free-speech protest yes, incitement to hatred or actual violence, no. So where is the problem ?

The real grievance is perceived double standards in the non-Islamic west, and the special treatment such issues as anti-semitism, anti-zionism and holocaust-denial receive in western legislation. A simple plea in fact; Islam is a “serious” religion of historical significance like Christianity or Judaism, let’s see even handed treatment he says. Same root problem everywhere we look.

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