It’s pretty obvious that recent attacks (although they aren’t in fact THAT recent anymore. I’m a slow writer) in Paris and Copenhagen have targeted freedom of speech. It is understandable that many people react to this by trying to limit freedom of speech; avoiding anything that might trigger a new attack; blaming the victims of the attacks for insulting Islam. It’s appalling that those people have so many sympathizers.
First and foremost, I think it’s wrong to blame the authors, cartoonists and artists that were attacked. It’s like telling a rape victim she (because it’s always a she) shouldn’t have worn this and that. Dress may perhaps, possibly, maybe, have triggered the rapist but NOTHING can excuse such crimes. The fault, by definition, can’t be with the person who was raped – and no problem will be solved if she starts to wear full-coverage clothes.
Likewise, we won’t destroy any potential threat by limiting freedom of speech. Temporarily, perhaps – terrorists tend to have a target and if the target is gone the risk of an attack is diminished. If nobody insults islam, nobody will be punished for insulting Islam. But prohibiting blasphemy won’t help. Not in the long run. Because freedom of speech is also freedom of thought; people (and I think especially young, vulnerable and disillusioned people) are susceptible to propaganda. By prohibiting anything that questions Islam, militant islamists and their supporters are given playing room. If there’s nothing to question IS’s propaganda, said information will appear like definitive truth.
In the long run, we don’t want to give up our freedom of speech. Because there will always be problems, in one form or the other, and we must be able to discuss their causes and solutions. And right now, religion is a problem we have to discuss.
I’m well aware that Islam has inspired wonderful acts of generosity, kindness and peace. One of my greatest idols, Malala Yousafzai, is a dedicated muslim. However, awful crimes are committed in Islam’s name. And I think that as long as a book is believed to be the word of God, there is a risk that someone will interpret it for the worse, then use God as a way to excuse or motivate their crimes.
I would never try to force atheism into someone – showing the secular alternative is far better. The Christian story of creation was proved to be wrong when the theory of evolution was proved to be true, which also proved that the Bible isn’t necessarily entirely true. In the long run, fanatic fundamentalism is the problem and education the solution.