Saturday, February 04, 2006
The new radical fundamentalism: Freedom of Speech
In the latest controversy, some "westerners" criticize radical fundamental muslims*) for being fundamentalists, because being radical, they will walk over bodies to obtain their "sacred" goals. And I must put "sacred" in quotes, because the Free Speech activists claim that nothing is sacred, and do not understand what the big deal is. But these people do have one thing sacred; free speech. Indeed, they see it as a fundamental right, and they can be down right radical in protecting it. This makes certain Free Speech® activists radical fundamentalists.
This right to Free Speech® is, if we believe the actions of Free Speech activists, not for just anyone to use. Only Free Speech® activists and those who agree with them seem to be allowed to use it. For example, George W Bush may threaten another nation in order to change that country's domestic policy, because that's freedom of speech. But Kim Jong II may not threaten the USA in order to change US foreign policy, because that's just down right bad terrorist behaviour.
Similarly, Danish cartoonists are allowed to draw caricatures of Prophet Muhammed (sacred to Muslims, if anyone didn't already know), because that's just freedom of speech. But offended Muslims are not allowed to burn the Danish flag (sacred to Danes and Free Speech® activists, if anyone didn't already know), because that's just down right bad terrorist behaviour.
Then we come to threats. "They have no right to threaten with violence," say Norwegian and Danish activists. "The drawings were published in countries where this is legal, they can't push their laws on us, so they have no right to threaten with violence." It is the inability to see these geographic and political barriers that is the trademark of the dangerous Radical Fundamentalist, right?
To a certain extent, the Free Speech activists are correct in this statement. They have no rights to threaten with violence in Denmark or Norway. That being said, Palestine, Saudi-Arabia, Syria and Iran are not Danish or Norwegian territory, and thus Norwegian and Danish law is completely irrelevant. Exactly what the laws in these countries say about threatening citizens of other countries with violence, I have no idea. I trust that their local authorities will deal with people who break the laws of their respective countries. But I certainly do have the impression that threats of violence are much more common in the Middle East in general, and so I assume that this is an allowed forms of speech there, and therefore do not take these threats to seriously.**)
A Norwegian can not complain about a Syrian breaking Norwegian law whilst in Syria. If, however, that Syrian comes to Norway and breaks Norwegian law on Norwegian territory, that's a completely different matter. Until that happens, Norwegian and Danish laws are completely irrelevant to the debate of what a Syrian, Palestinian, Iranian or Saudi may or may not do in their own countries. This is, after all, the Free Speech activist's argument for being allowed to draw Muhammed in Denmark.
From this, we can see that the Free Speech activists in these matters are not able to see the geographic and political boundries of their own cause. And this inability to see their boundries is why I would label them as radical fundamentalists, even dangerously so. While they don't wish to admit it, by purposely provoking a people that was already on its toes, Free Speech activists have supplied the spark that are causing an international bush fire in which people are dying. Their defence? "It's allowed."
In reality, the world will never rest as long as we have fundamentalists. You could say I'm a fundamental anti-fundamentalist, which is an oxymoron. But my anti-fundamentalism is not completely fundamental, as I am a big follower of the fundamental striving for the goodness in all.
*) By the term "Radical fundamentalist muslims" I refer to the small group of people who claim to be muslims, and fundamentally so. They are not really muslims, as they break just about every principle that Islam stands for. Similarly, by the term "Radical fundamentalist Free Speech activist" I refer to the small group of people who claim to be fighting for free speech, but in reality use this as a cover to achieve some not-so-sincere goals.
**) Acts of violence, however, I do take seriously. While I don't know the local laws well enough to make any comment of the legality of the ongoing violence in these areas, I reserve the right to keep distance and trust that local authorities will deal with anyone who breaks local laws.
Update 6.2.2006 A good friend of mine was wonderful enough to shed more light on the issue of whether the caricatures are really covered by Free Speech®: The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) have two previous presedence-making rulings showing that Freedom of Expression does not cover defamation of religion.