Yesterday, five men were arrested for plotting a terrorist assassination of Kurt Westergaard. Mr. Westergaard penned the above cartoon in 2005. The jihadists believe that the cartoons are an offence to their religion and have called for the deaths of those who drew them. Michelle Malkin has called for “sammenhold”: a show of solidarity around Mr. Westergaard, by reprinting the cartoon.
While the cartoons are not particularly amusing, and, but for the threats of violence or death following them, would have received little attention, they are an exercise of free speech and merit no punishment, state or social. Free speech, especially political speech, ought to have the most sacred ground in our society: it is one right by which all others are secured. Distasteful speech may be punished through the mechanisms of polite society – shunning the speaker, ignoring the speech, or engaging in responsive speech – but not by the police nor death threats. Our lives are not hostages in a political battle, the ransom of which is the abdication of our fundamental liberties.
Ironically, jihadists themselves believe in offensive, politically-motivated speech.
Hat tip: Stubborn Facts.