Free Speech, at a Price
Regarding Danish editor Flemming Rose's Feb. 19 Outlook piece, "Why I Published Those Cartoons":
The Muhammad cartoons were a bad choice for making a point about freedom of speech. They said nothing new, exposed no unknown bad actors, suggested no constructive solutions. In short, they had none of the qualities of speech worth defending.
Freedom of speech comes at a price; along with truly valuable speech we're forced to permit speech most of us would rather forbid. The only way to justify the price is by pointing to valuable ideas we would have lost if not for freedom of speech. What valuable ideas that were not already out there did the cartoons convey?
The cartoons have set back freedom of speech in the Muslim world by giving this Western value a bad name. To many Muslims, "freedom of speech" now represents not the great Western advances but gratuitous insults. The cartoons vividly illustrated the costs of the freedom of speech without illustrating any of its benefits.
The Danish editor's "defense" of freedom of speech was as counterproductive and irresponsible as Muslim rioters' "defense" of their prophet.