Taking Offense

It’s a couple of days old now, but it’s rare that I find an op-ed piece that I can so wholeheartedly agree with, so I urge everyone to look at Matthew Parris’s comment in The Times.

I realize that the whole Muslim-outrage-over-cartoon situation is more complicated than a matter of free speech versus fanaticism. Still, the whole “we must always respect religious beliefs” bit bothers me. My interest in free speech is largely academic, in the sense that I want everything, certainly including religion, to be open to criticism in an intellectual environment. But it’s hard to set aside places like universities and expect them to remain isolated from wider social pressures. My freedom to lecture and publish in a way that challenges religious sensibilities has a lot to do with the freedom to publish even tasteless cartoons and not fear for your life.

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