Sunday, June 18, 2006

Bloggers and Danish Cartoons

There has been much discussion in the press and the blogosphere over whether there should be laws to limit the free speech of bloggers. I think what everyone is concerned about is whether there is possibly a right to offend others (aka the right of free speech), and what should we do when we ourselves are offended.

But I shall not talk about these directly. What I wish to talk about is how the issue is construed in the eyes of some. From there, I will offer my perspective on this matter.

The blogger issue has its parallels to the Danish Cartoon incident. What most interested me then was the opinion that the Muslims were somehow at fault for feeling offended at the cartoons. To the people holding this opinion, the religious sensibilities of the Muslims was something to be faulted for. In essense, this says "You are wrong for not being tolerant, or for not having a sense of humour".

If you punch me on the nose, do not expect me to laugh it off. We cannot, and must not, fault anyone for their sensibilities. We can mediate our emotional responses, but we cannot truly control it. I cannot think "Feel happy" and instantly feel happy.

Although I do not think we can blame anyone for feeling offended, this surely does not justify any reciprocal attacks (in any form) on the offending person. To use a cliche, two wrongs do not make a right. There must be other avenues to resolve these differences.

In essence, then, my views on this matter are consistent with my position as a classical liberal- that of freedom and non-intervention. In other words, everyone should not interfere with the affairs of others. We need only to define what affairs are whose's.

Of course, this way tends to sit on the fence, or expect too much out of flawed humans. But surely this is better than beating the crap out of your enemies(and then being beaten up yourself)?

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