Flemming Rose fights for freedom

As his Wikipedia entry states, he is cultural editor at the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten. He was principally responsible for the publishing of the cartoons that initiated the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy. The Boulder Objectivist Club sponsored his talk at the University of Colorado, and I was quite impressed by it. In short, Rose said did not anticipate a controversy when he published the cartoons, as they were not intended to offend. He was countering what he perceived as self-censorship in response to intimidation by what many call religious extremists (or what others might call consistent with scripture.)

What follows are some ideas Rose related. Since I am not too familiar with this issue, I may not be as precise and accurate as I’d like in paraphrasing them. One of his main points was the notion of “peaceful coexistence” of secular and religious states, proposed by some Muslims is disingenuous, as if some had their way, everyone would live under a theocracy. He also stressed the distinction between tolerance and respect for other people’s ideas and values: the former is essential to a free society, while requiring the latter, well, intolerant to say the least. Rose compares the situation of Muslims in Europe, that is, those who portray themselves as weak victims, to the play Mr. Biedermann and the Arsonists, where criminals use the trust and guilt of their victims against them.

Ari Armstrong has posted a good summary of the talk, as well as its complete audio. Rose’s article in the Washington Post, Why I Published Those Cartoons, is also worth reading. I admire Mr. Rose for his using his position as a journalist to further the the cause of individual freedom.

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