A letter to the editor submitted January 2015
Bernie Smith’s view, that we should expect retaliation from the Muslin world, is shared by some eminent people. Even Pope Francis claims a punch in the nose is warranted for a stinging insult. Clearly, many of our ‘intellectual’ leaders see a beheading knife as an inevitable response to a person drawing a cartoon of Mohammad.
It wasn’t always that way.
There was a time when speech was protected from death threats, when physical force was the only way an individual’s rights could be violated; when as children, we were taught, ‘Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never harm me.’
In the book “Tyranny of Silence” by Flemming Rose, the editor who published the controversial Danish cartoons, writes about the history of free speech. He describes some of the atrocities committed when religion had full control of our lives. And when finally, in the 16th century, the English enlightenment provided us with the legal framework for freedom of speech, showing there is a vast difference between force and words.
Most of the Islamic lead atrocities have occurred since Iran’s religious leader called for the death of ‘Satanic Verses’ author Salman Rushdie. They fear our free speech, not our retaliatory defence. If the Muslin world valued life they would stop brutalizing and killing their own people. Hence, brutality does not bother them, only our criticism is intolerable.
So are we to ignore the stoning to death for adultery , the hanging of gays, the murders of apostates, converts from their medieval religion? Can we criticize when ISIS callously, publicly beheads 21 people guilty of …….being Christian? Also, can we no longer expect any protection from our own government against the wrath of an evil, barbaric society? In England a number of people have been sent to jail for retaliating by dropping a pig’s head on a mosque parking lot in retaliation for the brutal murder of an unarmed soldier.
From Soviet dissident Natan Sharansky, “A society is free if people have a right to express their views without fear of arrest, imprisonment of physical harm.”
Today we’re losing freedom because of self-censorship, partly due to political correctness, but also because of laws that prosecutions us for offending someone’s feelings. Our governments punish rather than protect free speech.
Today insulting the wrong people can get you a fine, or land you in jail or even get your throat cut……..while some leaders in our society just say, ‘you asked for it’.
The fact that our governments appeases those who advocate Sharia Law and while failing to provide protection for those who criticize free speech is at the root of the rot. The few rational voices in the Muslim world are stifled by the brutality the see dealt out to other vocal critics, both in Islamic countries and the so called free west. Until a Salman Rushdie or Ayaan Hirsi Ali can live safely in our society without bodyguards we will continue to see terrorist atrocities due to the lack of clear opposition from our governments.