France Soir Upholds Free Expression

The French newspaper France Soir is reprinting the Danish cartoons depicting the prophet Mohammad. Along with the reprints is a new cartoon showing Mohammad with Buddha and Yahweh who explain “Don’t complain Muhammad, we’ve all been caricatured here.”

There is an argument that the Danish cartoons were rash and inflammatory. Then again, so is depicting a crucifix in a jar of urine. While I wouldn’t want my tax dollars going to either, the idea that the government should censor such examples of free expression, no matter how egregious, is incompatible with a free society. These cartoons do not advocate violence, but they do raise valuable points about free expression in a democratic society.

Muslims have every right to be offended – these drawings are inflammatory by purpose. They can call for boycotts if they wish. However, the fact is that people in a free society have a right to free expression, and demands for government censorship should go unheeded. Provocative speech is just as protected as any other form of speech or artistic expression, and a free society does not equate to a society in which everyone is free not to be offended.

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