March for Free Expression

The next phase

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Potted Herrings

A recent comment on this site reminded us of a couple of red herrings that are often raised in connection with this issue, so we'd like to give our take on them:
  • The cartoons were published in a right wing newspaper
The political stance of this newspaper is not an issue; we advocate freedom of speech even for people with whom we disagree.
  • The newspaper refused to publish cartoons about Christianity
We are not trying to dictate anyone's editorial policy.
  • There is no unrestricted right to free speech. Holocaust denial is a crime in many countries
Better comparisons are to be found in images offensive to Christians ("Piss Christ", Gilbert and George's current exhibition, etc) or satirical cartoons of George Bush as a chimp sodomising a camel (The Guardian), Ariel Sharon eating the head of a Palestinian baby (The Independent), or the abundance of extraordinarily anti-semitic cartoons published in the Islamic world. None of these have been banned, and none of the authors are living in safe houses in fear of their lives.

We hope to advocate a society in which people are free to express their opinions, artistically, satirically, tactlessly or otherwise, to agree, argue, disagree and enjoy freedom of intellect and conscience without having death threats made against them.

This is why we call on our elected representatives to defend this position. A lot of people struggled and gave their lives to give us the freedoms we enjoy. We are stewards for those freedoms and we have the responsibility of passing them on undamaged so that future generations do not find themselves having to repeat the struggles of the past.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

For all those who complain about JP being right wing (why should it matter?), or having refused cartoons mocking Christianity (was it really so?), why not simply read what they want to say about this whole mess???

The link to what the now famous JP culture editor Flemming Rose wrote with the title Why I Published Those Cartoons is here: .

That one explains a lot and tells the background far better than almost any articles on the conflict published anywhere.

5:59 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well said. I'm often ridiculed for my political beliefs, even in some instances, for being a vegetarian, and despite the fact I'm an aetheist, the local Christians are always sticking leaflets through my door telling me I'm going to hell cos I don't believe in the stuff that they do, yet I tolerate all this because I believe in freedom of expression. Why should religions have any special right to be immune from such ridicule, satire, or criticism? My view is that it is because these creeds are all faith based, with no real evidence to back them up, and so are built on shaky foundations which cannot tolerate any kind of hard scrutiny or criticism lest the ridiculous, irrational conceits they are come tumbling down. Hence the demand for silence and respect in their presence. Imagine how absurd it would sound if Darwin had said, 'this is my theory, but don't anyone dare criticise or mock it, because it will offend me and it should just be believed and respected instead'. The truth can stand on its own feet. It's impervious to what people think or say about it. The exchange and (often heated) debate of ideas is the lifeblood of Western culture, what moves humanity onwards, and any legislation or repression of that is to try and umprison the human soul in a box.

Michael, Manchester

11:13 am  
Blogger CarnackiUK said...

Voltaire, may I suggest that you contact UK newspapers and TV stations and tell them that those which haven't run the Danish cartoons (i.e. all of them) will not be welcome at the demo because of their cowardly appeasement.

Bet that brings them out in force.

1:37 pm  
Blogger Voltaire said...

Reverse psychology, eh, CarnackiUK? We'll bear that in mind.

10:54 pm  
Blogger Alison said...

If everyone carries the cartoon images they wont be able to publish the news item anyway, what a conundrum for them lol! The march needs to be big tho to put that in such a situation. .Working on getting lots of support for you

4:27 pm  

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