By Scott Tibbs, Monday, February 20, 2006
The Daily Times in Pakistan reports on alleged comments by disgraced ex-President Bill Clinton, and World Net Daily has picked up this story as well.
|Former US president Bill Clinton on Friday condemned the publication of Prophet Muhammadís caricatures by European newspapers and urged countries concerned to convict the publishers.|
My first reaction to this story was this: "Bill Clinton hates freedom. How could a former President of the United States endorse criminal prosecution of free speech? It is frightening that this man was once the leader of the free world."
Well, as it turns out the story is probably a hoax. There are a lot of legitimate things for which we can criticize disgraced ex-President Clinton. As we review his failed Presidency, however, criticisms of Impeached Bill must be based in factual and truthful information. (Note that it is possible to say or write something that, while factually true, intentionally paints a false picture. See here and here for examples of a factually correct lie.)
As to the controversy itself, the riots, murders and mayhem that have resulted from the publication of "offensive" newspaper cartoons serves as an important reminder of who we are fighting in this War on Terror. We must stand in defense of free speech against totalitarian radicals who would stamp out all dissent by killing, maiming, or otherwise persecuting those who disagree with their radical views.
Too many on the Left here in America have condemned the publication of these cartoons. Even some of those who stand in defense of free speech have done so half-heartedly. The American civil Liberties Union offered a weak statement in defense of free speech on their web site:
|"While we certainly understand the sensitivities surrounding the publication of explosive and controversial content," said Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the ACLU. "It has been the long-standing belief of the ACLU that the best response to speech we find odious and noxious is more speech - not less."|
The ACLU of Massachusetts issued a stronger statement defending freedom of speech. Flemming Rose of the Jyllands-Posten explains why he published the "offensive" cartoons in an excellent editorial in the Washington Post. Here is a quote from that editorial:
|But what does respect mean? When I visit a mosque, I show my respect by taking off my shoes. I follow the customs, just as I do in a church, synagogue or other holy place. But if a believer demands that I, as a nonbeliever, observe his taboos in the public domain, he is not asking for my respect, but for my submission. And that is incompatible with a secular democracy.
This is exactly why Karl Popper, in his seminal work "The Open Society and Its Enemies," insisted that one should not be tolerant with the intolerant. Nowhere do so many religions coexist peacefully as in a democracy where freedom of expression is a fundamental right.
A final thought: some have placed blame for the riots, at least partially, on the publication of the "offensive" cartoons. Somehow, I doubt these same people would place blame on themselves when their child throws a temper tantrum because he did not get a new toy. There is one place, and one place only, where blame for the riots belongs: on the rioters themselves.