Another cartoon issue

Wednesday, July 12, 2006 at 19:38 | Posted in ethics, Finland, Freedom of speech, internet | 1 Comment

As I wrote back in February about the famous Mohammed cartoons published by Jyllands-Posten, I was asking if a strong religion can be offended by something as innocent as cartoons. I was asked back in one of the comments added to that post how christians would feel about similar cartoons featuring Jesus or the pope. I had no idea which is why I was trying to find out by publishing a cartoon about christians.

I still do not know if I managed to offend any christians but somebody else certainly has. As the Finnish daily Helsingin Sanomat writes, the Finnish atheists’ web site is under a police investigation for having published some cartoons that can be sent through the site as a webmail card. The cartoons have been on line since 1997 but they were only recently reported to the police who are now investigating them as blasphemy or incitement.

I would agree that sending some of those cards to a person who I knew to be a believing christian would be offensive. But that is exactly what the web site warns their visitors against doing. Some of the cartoons are actually sort of funny, so I might consider sending one of them to somebody whom I know as an atheist.

More to the point, I have hard time agreeing that publishing those cartoons on a web site that is explicitely atheistic could be regarded as blasphemy or incitement. Anybody entering the site would by default be warned that they could find some offensive material there. The very idea that the police are investigating the cartoons as a crime which could carry a jail penalty is bizarre.

Even more to the point, this is another of those sad examples how utterly wrong it is to regulate the freedom of speech in the web. The contents of the Internet can never be universally acceptable. There will always be something for everybody and everything will never satisfy all.

Live and let live is a good old approach. Which is why I would never send one of those cards to a religious person. But if they are not allowed to be accessed by like minded people, the Internet as we know it will no longer exist.

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  1. […] The atheists do not deny that their accusation is absurd. It is a counter action against some cartoons in the atheist web site being investigated as blasphemy or incitement. […]


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