Freedom of Speech in Denmark

Written by Harold McNeill on November 29th, 2012. Posted in Editorials


December 5, 2012 Photo from Web:  It was only when searching out photos of the Jyllands-Posten that I noticed the sign on the facade of the building (Photo below). Is that the Star of David in the upper right corner and are those crosses on the windows?  If they are, the printing of the caricatures of Mohammad takes on a whole new religious/political aspect that would not have been absent if the magazine was considered to be a secular organization.

A few comments made in the 21st Chromosome Leads to Enlightenment post, provoked some lively discussion regarding Freedom of Speech in a democracy. Did the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, overstep the bounds when it published those caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad? Most would agree they had the right, but the question – did they have an obligation – is at the core? I staked my position by stating the actions were “stupid, petty and mean spirited,” however they did have an absolute right.

Yet, how could a mainstream newspaper editor possibly think that publishing a caricature of the Prophet Mohammad with a bomb in his turban to be more acceptable than publishing a caricature of Jesus Christ holding a blood-covered sword while standing over the dead body of a homosexual? Both caricatures would have an aspect of truth, but, at best, they would be reprehensible vilification of an entire group of people and their chosen religion.

Do you think for a moment any news editor of a mainstream paper, in any country that was 80% Christian, would have permitted the latter caricature to be published? Doing so might not lead to riots, but it seems doubtful the newspaper would remain a mainstream supplier of news and editorials for very long.

In Denmark, the editor stated there was an obligation to publish as pushback against those seeking to limit freedom of speech through implicit (perhaps explicit) threats. A disingenuous defence at best! More likely the editor was scrambling to defend himself, his paper and his country after becoming embroiled in a controversy that rapidly spun out of control around the world.

The Danish Imams and others who carried that message to the Muslim world were equally as guilty. They used the publication to create dissent they knew full well would go beyond peaceful protest, as that is often the outcome of promoting hatred. In addition, both parties were well aware that large portions of the Middle East were a tinderbox as people continued their struggle to gain freedom from vicious dictators, theocrats and extremist Ayatollahs.

Neither is North America, Europe and other democracies free from intolerance, hatred, and violence. Right up to the present day, those caricatures of Mohammad might well be caricatures of any the other cultures or groups represented by the epithets listed in the Chromosome article. That was the point of that post.

Perhaps if the Danish newspaper had published a thoughtful series of editorials about aspects of Islamic intolerance as practiced by some who claim to be Muslims, just as discussing aspects of Christian intolerance as practiced by some who claim to be Christians, would have helped to move things forward in a more reasonable fashion. If that had been the case, open conflict and bloodshed might have been averted and, perhaps, the discussions would have lead to a greater understanding.

Instead, in Demark today, there is likely less freedom of speech (caused by the fear factor) than existed before the publication. Also, there will certainly be more distrust between Danish citizens in the Muslim minority (6%) and those in the Christian majority (80%), than existed before. One only needs to Google “Pictures of Freedom of Speech in Denmark” and scan the attached blogs to get a sense of the rot that festers just below the surface. It would be hard, perhaps impossible, to find any upsides of the decision to publish those caricatures.

Harold McNeill
Victoria, BC
Late November, 2012

Note:  This post begs for further discussion as to how religious intolerance, is responsible for a large portion of the conflict that exists in the world today. That will be the subject of a future post in what it appears will become a series.

Link: 21st Chromosome Leads to Enlightenment

Link: Culture of Peace Blog

Collage: November 16th, International Day of Tolerance
(Link Here)

(326)

(Visited 143 times, 1 visits today)

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Trackback from your site.

Leave a comment

 

Comments

  • Herb Craig

    December 14, 2021 |

    As always awesome job Harold. It seems whatever you do in life the end result is always the same professional, accurate, inclusive and entertaining. You have always been a class act and a great fellow policeman to work with. We had some awesome times together my friend. I will always hold you close as a true friend. Keep up the good work. Hope to see you this summer.
    Warm regards
    Herb Craig

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Hi Dorthy, So glad you found those stories and, yes, they hold many fond memories. Thanks to social media and the blog, I’ve been able to get in touch with many friends from back in the day. Cheers, Harold

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Well, well. Pleased to see your name pop up. I’m in regular contact via FB with many ‘kids’ from back in our HS days (Guy, Dawna, Shirley and others). Also, a lot of Cold Lake friends through FB. Cheers, Harold

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Oh, that is many years back and glad you found the story. I don’t have any recall of others in my class other than the Murphy sisters on whose farm my Dad and Mom worked.

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Pleased to hear from you Howie and trust all is going well. As with you, I have a couple of sad stories of times in my police career when I crossed paths with Ross Barrington Elworthy. Just haven’t had the time to write those stories.

  • Howie Siegel

    November 25, 2021 |

    My only fight at Pagliacci’s was a late Sunday night in 1980 (?) He ripped the towel machine off the bathroom wall which brought me running. He came after me, I grabbed a chair and cracked him on the head which split his skull and dropped him. I worried about the police finding him on the floor. I had just arrived from Lasqueti Island and wasn’t convinced the police were my friends. I dragged him out to Broad and Fort and left him on the sidewalk, called the cops. They picked him up and he never saw freedom again (as far as I know). I found out it was Ross Elworthy.

  • Herbert Plain

    November 24, 2021 |

    Just read you article on Pibroch excellent. My Dad was Searle Grain company agent we move there in 1942/3 live in town by the hall for 5 years than moved one mile east to the farm on the corner where the Pibroch road meets Hwy 44. Brother Don still lives there. I went to school with you and Louise.

  • Herbert Plain

    November 24, 2021 |

    Just read your life account of Pibroch excellent.
    My family mowed to Pibroch in 1942 Dad was grain buyer for Searle Grain Company lived in town for 5 years than mowed one mile East to the farm on the corner of the road from Pibroch and Hwy 44. Bro Don still lives there.I went to school with both you and Louise.

  • DOROTHY MARSHALL

    November 15, 2021 |

    These stories brought back some sweet memories for me. a wonderful trip down memory lane . the photos were great. It has made me miss those days.

  • DOROTHY MARSHALL

    November 15, 2021 |

    Enjoyed your story Harold Dorothy Hartman