Friday, February 03, 2006

Invitation to posters

In order to fulfil the goal of this site - to present both sides of the argument I would like to extend an invitation to whoever feels that they have something to contribute to the discussion.

The fundamental question is, of course whether either of "Deference of religion" or "Freedom of speech" can be said to have any prevalence over the other.

My personal standpoint is that there is no clear answer. This has especially been illustrated by the variety and strength of responses to this debate.

It is, however important to recognize that there are no black or white answers to this issue.

It *is* important to recognize the individual's freedom to express their point of view - whether this is on religion, morals, sexuality or the actions of others - should be recognized to the widest degree possible.

This is supported by the utilitarian philosopher John Stuart Mill's famous essay On Liberty, the harm principle states in general terms that:

one's actions are only moral and just so long as their consequences do not harm others; conversely, actions can only be punished when they harm others. Moreover, it states that power can only be exercised over a "member of a civilized community" for the sole purpose of preventing harm to others.(

This establishes solid foundation for individual freedom and also establishes a set of constraints implicitly governing this freedom.

The fundamental question emerging from the current discussion then turns out to be a debate of whether the ridicule of other's religious or cultural belief or heritage can be said to be harmful to them.

In the current discussion, it is also important to keep in mind the specific background of the publication of the caricatures, namely the problem of finding illustrators to illustrate a radical book about the prophet. The issue at hand does not call for a discussion of the actual content of this book, but the reaction (in the form of publication of the drawings) and whether this can be justified as a strike against self-censorship based on fear of repercussions.

Please feel free to comment or email me


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The fundamental question is, of course whether either of "Deference of religion" or "Freedom of speech" can be said to have any prevalence over the other."

If you examine this question in the light of which value supports and actually promotes the most human freedom and happiness then there is no room for doubt.

Freedom of speech and conscience is absolutely vital to securing all the other freedoms we cherish.

Religion on the other hand promotes censorship, punishes dissent, and strangles free inquiry.

It is time for religion to cease enjoying a special status that places it above freedom from critical analysis and open public discussion. If we cave into Islamist thugs where will their demands end?

10:36 pm  

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