It wasn’t new territory for him. After the violence over the 2005 Danish Mohammed cartoons broke out, Trudeau, disappointingly, pronounced his solidarity with, or at least his patient understanding of, the rioters. He rejected cartoons that are critical of Islam, he explained at the time, because he saw making a statement about freedom of speech by drawing even the mildest representation of Islam’s prophet as a useless, empty gesture.
“What exactly would that statement be?” he rhetorically asked an interviewer of the Santa Barbara Independent.
That we can say whatever we want in the West? Everyone already knows that. So then the question becomes, should we say whatever we want? That, to me, is the crux. Do you hurt people just because you can? Because you feel they shouldn’t be deeply hurt, does that mean they aren’t? Should the New York Times run vicious caricatures of blacks and Jews just to show the First Amendment in action? At some point, common sense and sensitivity have to be brought to bear.
Huh. We can “say whatever we want” in Western democracies, Trudeau claims; “Everyone already knows that.” I guess that excludes Theo van Gogh and Lars Vilks and Salman Rushdie and Stéphane Charbonnier, among other artists. After all, their right to speak their minds has been partially or entirely abrogated either by their actual murders (van Gogh and Charbonnier), or by ongoing attempts on their lives (Rushdie, Vilks).