Turmoil in Europe continues over the publication of the caricatures of the Prophet Mohamed. This had led to great debate over many issues. So, should these have been published? Is it hate speech? Should hate speech be allowed?
I think it is unfortunate that these cartoons were published. Free speech is always a hot topic, and easily seen for slippery slope arguments. Much can be done short of stifling free speech to keep respect for others cultures and beliefs. Here are my problems with these caricatures being published-
1. While we hold true to the right of free speech, in America we also recognize the strides we have made in breaking cultural and racial barriers in the last 100 years. Part of this is having respect to reject things that fall in the category of hate speech or the like. Just think how much Americans collectively shudder when it hears racial, anti-Semitic, homophobic, or other derogatory comments aimed at racial or religious minorities or other groups? I am not advocating that we make these topics/statements illegal, but rather that we have a responsibility to respect other cultures and beliefs. Europe has even gone further in some areas, as to actually outlaw speech that defamed state religion such as the Anglican Church in England, and has outlawed speech denying the Holocaust, (which makes me really mad since everyone knows that is just a made up story), and the Armenian genocide. I want to clarify, however, that I am not advocating government sensorship, just stating that we respect each other. No newspaper I know of in America would publish racist pictures of african-americans, sexist pictures of women or the like. Government sensorship is a scary thought....to number 2
2. If these caricatures are argued in any way as a way to teach Muslims about the freedom of press by offending them, it may be having the opposite effect. Arab rulers are using this as an opportunity to turn the citizens anger away from them, and get them to believe that freedom of expression is equal to the freedom to defile religous symbols. Many countries, like Saudia Arabia and Libya who were the first to hold sanctioned protests and boycotts, are the countries known for repression and tyranny. While they have the subjects emotions high, they are then feeding them the idea that if they wish to hold to their religious values, then you must reject the idea of freedom of expression.
3. It has led to more violence, furthering stereotypes that unfairly get passed to good faith muslims. What, Good Faith Muslims? A recent statement from Al-Iman Center in Iowa City: "We do not believe in or endorse violent demonstrations, nor do we find any precendent for such actions in the biography of our beloved Prophet, and his companions." If only all muslims practiced with ideas like that. I am repeatedly astonished at the disregard Islam radicals have for life. It makes me sick. It seems easy to jump to the idea that the whole religion is a cult of murdering evildoers. But their actions also make many muslims saddened as well. I recently spoke with a muslim acquaintance who believes all muslims who practice in good faith reject the violent ways of those we see nightly on the world news. He also pointed out that while some muslims are offended by any depiction of any Prophet, many like himself, are not offended by the simple depiction of The Prophet, but rather the idea that ALL muslims are inherently violent. There are 1.25 billion muslims, and the faith is unfortunately represented by a small few who use the religion as a impetus for ulterior motives.
...Let me know what you think. Do you think the cartoons should be allowed? Should it be legal, but responsibly witheld? And why were they not republished in the US media? Was it because we cowered under the pressure of widespread protest, or that we simply respect others beleifes and simply upheld a standard of integrity and professionalism?