Still Pissed Off About the Hawley-Smoot Tariff

Monday, January 30, 2006

Denmark Caves to Muslim Protestors

This is all over the blogosphere. A Danish newspaper carried several political cartoons depicting Muhammad in an unflattering light. Arabs went berserk and called for a boycott of all things Danish. The newspaper caved in. Dr. Rusty Shackleford has several posts on the subject (see here, here, here, here, here, and here; that first one has all of the offending pics).

Here's my take. I have nothing against a boycott, in principle. I disagree with the merits of this particular boycott, because I think Muslims need to suck it up, rather than focus their lives on living a hair-trigger away from murderous rage over the slightest offense. But regardless, I fully support their right to boycott.

What I do not support, and emphatically resist, is government squelching of free speech. And that's exactly what happened here. Muslims went to the UN for sanctions, attempting to use governmental (or rather, quasi-governmental) force to deny someone else's right to say something offensive. They're trying to get the Danish government to do the same thing.

Government is never an appropriate venue to squelch speech. If it is pernicious, then other options must be available, including boycotts, social outrage, and contrary speech.

What I find most ironic about this situation is that I'm willing to wager that the same Arabs who called for government intervention halting what they deemed offensive speech would be the first to take shelter under the First Amendment if they were in America, and someone told them to stop spreading a certain message.