In FrontPage this morning I discuss the persistence of cartoon rage in the face of the latest attempted jihad attack against the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten:
[…] Ultimately, then, the cartoon controversy is a question of the freedom of speech, and of a realistic appraisal of the jihad threat – even if expressed wryly or satirically. The cartoon controversy indicates the gulf between the Islamic world and the post-Christian West in matters of freedom of speech and expression. And yet if the West responds to plots such as the latest one in Denmark by limiting the freedom of speech as the OIC and other Muslim entities are demanding, it may yet turn out that this homage to the idols of tolerance, multiculturalism, and pluralism will mean the end of the hard-won freedoms that made Western civilization great.
Freedom of speech encompasses precisely the freedom to annoy, to ridicule, to offend. If it doesn’t, it is hollow. The instant that any person or ideology is considered off-limits for critical examination and even ridicule, freedom of speech has been replaced by an ideological straitjacket. Westerners seem to grasp this easily when it comes to affronts to Christianity, even when they are as sharp-edged and offensive as Andres Serrano’s Piss Christ or Chris Ofili’s dung- and pornography-encrusted Holy Virgin Mary. But the same clarity of thought doesn’t seem to carry over to an Islamic context.
Yet that is where it is needed most today. The cartoon controversy, insignificant and even silly as it may be in its origins, is an increasingly serious challenge to Western notions of pluralism and freedom of speech. As such, those whom Islamic supremacists are targeting in cartoon jihads must be vigorously and unapologetically defended. To do less would mean death for a free society.