Wednesday, February 07, 2007

More cartoon japes

The Cartoons kerfuffle rumbles on. Charlie Hebdo, a French satirical weekly, is on trial today in Paris accused of breaking anti-racism laws. They reprinted the 12 Danish cartoons last February and added a few of their own.

How do you tell the difference between attacks on ideas and attacks against people? If the ideas are essential elements of the way a person maintains their identity, then, for that person, there will be no distinction between the two types of attack. Thus, the Great Mosque of Paris and the Union of Islamic Organisations of France accuse Charlie Hebdo of

public insults against a group of people because they belong to a religion.
For them, it seems that you can't criticise the religion, or certain ideas within that religion, without slandering the people who follow that religion. This is obviously an impossible connection to maintain in a secular society and legal system, though if you have laws against Holocaust denial, you have already muddied the waters and set an unfortunate precedent. The real place for such 'rules' is in the realm of either scholarship or good manners and socially-useful hypocrisy.

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