There was a very worrying incident in London recently. But on scratching the surface, it displays an even more worrying trend…
Three people were arrested under the Terrorism Act for fire-bombing a publishing house (Gibson Square). Gibson Square should be applauded for protecting the Freedom of Expression. Gibson House decided that they would publish a novel by Sherry Jones, called "The Jewel of Medina", which is about Mohammed's wife, Aisha. A much larger publishing house (Random House) had previously decided to cave in, and not publish the novel, as they were concerned about repercussions from publishing it.
2008 is the 60th anniversary of the UN declaration of Human Rights, it also happens to be the 20th Anniversary since the Satanic Verses by (the now, Sir) Salman Rushdie was published.
I do think that the view of Random House that "the publication of this book might be offensive to some in the Muslim community’ and that ‘it could incite acts of violence by a small, radical segment’" is morally wrong. This is allowing the terrorist to dictate terms, and is a slippery slope. There are many things that I read ,hear & see that I find offensive. Each time, I have a choice - I can ignore it, or I can challenge it. But I do not have the right to threaten violence to whoever is putting out the offensive material. Almost anything that may be acceptable to one group of people may be offensive to another group. But we cannot allow terrorist and religious radical nutcases to act as our censors.
The owners & managers of Gibson Square have exercised the Freedom of Expression many times before, and have published books that I am sure that I would find offensive. But I admire them, and will now go out of my way to try and purchase books that they have published to support them.
I do feel that the "Free World" has an obligation to not only protect the freedom of expression, but at times to protect it. If all publishing houses felt as strongly about this then there would be no chance for the nutcases to target specific companies. Take the infamous "Danish cartoons" which created such a furore recently. I think that one answer to the threats that emanated from the terrorists, would have been for every newspaper in the free world to publish the cartoons, as a stand against these sorts of threats.
"I disapprove of what you say, but will defend to the death your right to say it " Voltaire