The bedrock of liberal democracy, the free exchange of ideas and opinions, is once again under fire, literally and figuratively in the headlines lately.
Pamela Geller, a controversial free speech activist, held a 'draw Mohammed' art competition recently which came under assault from two jihadi gunmen. The obvious motive was to kill those who slander Islam and the prophet. For these men this is a mandate required of them under sharia law whereby blasphemers must be put to death.
If we capitulate we will basically be allowing extremist groups like ISIS to determine which speech is forbidden and permissible in western society—talk about influence. Whose jurisdiction do western nations operate under?
It is understandable Muslims are offended about caricatures of their prophet, but it does not warrant bloodshed and terror. Some in the media inevitably attempt to sympathise with the extremists in justifying and understanding their actions. They suggest the art competition was provocative and inflammatory—possibly true, but it deflects the blame from the terrorists and implies some sort of justified retribution transpired as a result of free speech.
When free speech activists criticise Islamit is often insinuated the activists instigated and provoked the terrorists with their "offensive" remarks, or exhibits in this case. This essentially deprives the terrorists of any personal responsibility for their actions. We should expect extremist Muslims to exercise restraint and self-control, as most Muslims and other religious people do in the face of insult and criticism. We should not deny fundamentalist Muslims responsibility for their actions.
Exercising free speech, inflammatory or not, is an individual human right. Those who take offence should exclude themselves from the conversation or modern life if need be.
The political threat against free speech
The threat against free speech doesn't merely arise from terror groups either. The leading Labour candidate for the next UK election has said if elected he will "outlaw islamophobia". We can infer this will eventually mean any criticism of Islam, based on fact or otherwise,which offends Muslims. This prospect is extremely disconcerting because of the legal precedent it creates and the fall toward the slippery slope of further censorship.
The upcoming UK election is a tight one and the Labour Party knows it needs to solicit votes from the significant Muslim demographic to have an advantage. Nothing is off the plate for these politicians even if it means trading the legacy and accomplishments of their forebears, who paid the price sacrificing their lives on the battlefield.
Those who died to defeat fascism during the Second World War would be turning in their graves at the prospect of their government controlling what people can and can't say.
Protest before it is too late
I can see this form of government censorship being extended to all Christians who publicly discuss their personal convictions regarding other politically incorrect or taboo subjects as well. Simply taking orthodox views or quoting scripture on certain subjects (hot button conservative views) will become unlawful and arrestable offences in the UK. This is in the hope conservative Christians will just stay silent. We must protest now before protesting is prohibited.
You can't easily predict what developments will happen over our lifetime, but if liberty isn't cherished and defended we will lose her and we will suddenly wake from our slumber, powerless.
Amos is an evangelical conservative, who cares about where the world is going, and seeks to understand why it is happening, especially in light of prophecy and the spiritual powers behind the scenes. Amos currently lives in Auckland New Zealand. Amos pursues salvation for the lost, and considers himself a defender of traditional Christian values, liberal democracy and the historically unprecedented freedom and liberty established and defended by our forebears – which unfortunately, is gradually being eroded.
Amos Sale's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/amos-sale.html