I'm all for an inclusive society, think that multiculturism has a lot to offer us and I am not a racist. Also, I do try my best to be aware of any prejudices I have (who doesn't have them) and to be objective when looking at issues. I personally think that people should use the right of free speech responsibly and not deliberately offend others beliefs, cultures etc and think that the cartoons in question are in extremely bad taste and offensive to say the least.
However I have watched what was a furore over an offensive cartoon develop into riots, buildings being torched and even people dying. I understand that Muslims, are deeply offended by the cartoons, as they not only depict the Prophet Muhammad in a deeply disrespectful way but also as the very act of depiction itself is viewed as blasphemous within Islam, however, what the violence that has gone on is out of all proportion; that people should die over a cartoon is beyond ludicrous.
Whilst I don't condone cartoons that are disrespectful, blasphemous or offensive to any religion; Islam, Christianity, Judaism etc......I do believe in free speech and the associated rights of living in a democracy. The whole furore is beginning to turn into an argument against Free Speech. Indeed what has been going on in the Irish media generally with regard to the issue is cause for concern. The fact that we, as grown adults, are not being given the opporunity to view the cartoons (other than if you have access to the net) is a farce. Whilst acknowledging the deep offense that it may cause to the Muslim community here in Ireland I do feel it is important that the right to free speech is upheld. None of the Irish media has done so, as yet as they have not shown the offending cartoons to the nation.
I am not sure whether the Irish media is being extremely politically correct or whether they are afraid of the consequences of causing offense as witnessed across Europe in response to the publication of the cartoons. The extent of over-kill on political correctness is another issue which I may address in a future post. Either way, the right to free speech has not been upheld, which I feel it should have particularly when there are those (a violent minority of the Islamic community worldwide) who use violence and threats to stop the press in various countries doing so. On a point of principle, I am with John Watters on this one, the cartoons should be published for the simple reason that the Irish press or indeed the press anywhere in the world should not be told what they can and cannot print, particularly by people who don't even live in Ireland.