For John, BLUF: Free speech is a muscle and if we don't exercise it it will atrophy. Nothing to see here; just move along.
This discussion is by Mr Patrick West of Spiked, a British on-line publication with Libertarian leanings.
The question being posed is very important for a free society. For me the first indication of this slow implosion was when the Yale University Press refused to include the Danish Cartoon sketches when it published its book on that sad episode (The Cartoons That Shook the World).
Here are the first two paragraphs of the article:
In 1989, the Western world got its first real taste of Islamic extremism when the Indian-born British writer Salman Rushdie was sentenced to death. It was the Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran who issued the fatwa ordering Muslims to kill Rushdie on account of his book, The Satanic Verses. Most people were horrified, not merely because of the effrontery of the Ayatollah, but because it seemed so anachronistic. Here we were, still in the midst of the Cold War, and up had popped some religious throwback exhorting murder on account of what someone had written. The concept of death for blasphemy, we assumed, belonged to different times.The world seems to be full of people who would shun you, or censor you, or put you in jail, or execute you, for holding an opinion they disagree with. We see this in the Middle East, in Russia and even here in the United States. The point is, you have a right to be stupid or ignorant or just plain contrarian. Those who would wreck havoc over your comments, ideas or thoughts are the ones who need to be in jail.
Three decades on, furious rage at the behest of the religiously righteous and the easily offended is all too commonplace. Were The Satanic Verses published today, we wouldn’t be surprised at the outrage it would generate. Not in the slightest. Rather, we’d be astonished that anyone would dare write it at all, or that any publisher would release it. In our post-Charlie Hebdo times, every publishing house and editorial office is haunted by the spectre of aggrieved fanatics bursting through the doors with machine guns.
Hat tip to the InstaPundit.
Regards — Cliff