It would be funny if it weren’t true, but a publication of yet another cartoon depicting the prophet Muhammad in a mocking manner is stirring international protest. This time it’s a cartoon from a French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. Here’s the NY Time story on it: French Magazine Runs Cartoons That Mock Muhammad.
The cartoon (on the cover) shown on the left has a Muslim man and an Orthodox Jew saying: “You must not mock us!”
I have grown increasingly aware of the fear that many people in the media have of showing such cartoons. I personally think that the cartoons are distasteful and their importance lies solely in the violent protests they arouse.
I think this has to be used as an opportunity to say again, over and over, Evelyn Hall’s eloquent description of the principle of freedom of speech: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”
As the following debate states: “Free speech is the grievance procedure of the democratic process”.
Freedom of speech is arguably the most fundamental right on which civilized society can evolve, improve, and flourish. But it’s not just the legal declaration of the right that’s important. What’s most important is that we, as Americans, must stand behind this principle in the face of violent opposition.
So, don’t draw Muhammad, but speak up in defense of the right of any individual or publication to do so. If any freedom is worth fighting for, this one is at the top of the list.
Fortunately, freedom of expression has the world’s most brilliant writers and thinkers behind it. Here’s an example from 2006 with Christopher Hitchens: