Free Speech Goes Global

Once again, I give you a link to an article in Der Spiegel. This time it’s about the current raging debate over a Danish paper’s decision to print a serious of cartoons deemed offensive to Muslims. Things are changing pretty fast – this story says that “the paper apologized for the Muhammad-critical cartoons and democratic values lost out to totalitarian ideology.” They did apologize, but free speech did not go down in flames. The Danish PM was on the news last night stating that their commitment to free speech was absolute. In the meantime, in an odd expression of solidarity, a number of other European papers have run the work that started the whole string of events.

In additon to the free speech debate, there’s a whole lot of nasty commentary kicking around about the Arab world’s reaction. There’s the “Boycott Danish” campaign that threatens to send the Saudis to the WTO and the “Buy Danish” campaign that is supposed to be a show of support to the Danes.

Globalization is crossing paths with free speech and there’s a firestorm at the nexus. And as an American, I can’t help but wonder: What if this battle was on our shores? What would George do? I’m thankful it’s not because frankly, while W never apologizes, I don’t trust him to uphold the first amendment.

Aside: Der Speigel’s English edition is outstanding reading for anyone who wants to get the view from the other side of the Atlantic. I read it every day.