UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon reaffirmed his predecessor's line on cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad on Wednesday, saying free speech should respect religious sensitivities.
"The Secretary-General strongly believes that freedom of expression should be exercised responsibly and in a way that respects all religious beliefs," his spokeswoman Marie Okabe told reporters.
The cartoon issue has returned to prominence after Denmark's five major daily newspapers last week republished one of 12 drawings of the Prophet that angered Muslims around the world in 2006.
They did so as a protest against a plot to murder one of the cartoonists who originally published the drawings in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten.
Most Muslims consider depictions of the Prophet offensive.___________________________________________
This is madness. If I have a basic right to x my exercise of x is rightly constrained only when such constraint is necessary to preserve another's basic rights. No one has a right not to be offended. (Offense is different from harm.) No one has a right to have their beliefs respected. No one has a right not to be angered. So my basic right to free speech is not properly constrained by such considerations.
Moreover, the injunction to speak in a way that "respects all religious beliefs" is impossible to satisfy, since many forms of religious belief deny that other forms are properly religious at all (they're falsely religious or idolatrous) and thus deny that those other forms deserve respect. That is, for some forms of religious belief, even recognizing that there are other forms of religious belief is a form of blasphemy. Indeed, the very claim that "freedom of expression should be exercised responsibly and in a way that respects all religious beliefs," will be interpreted by some religious believers (say, Plantinga-style religious exclusivists) as itself offensive. So Ban Ki-moon's position is worse than false; it is incoherent.
A newspaper published drawings that some find offensive. In response, some of the offended rioted and plotted murder. To claim that the position of the offended is one deserving respect and toleration to such an extent as to constrain our basic rights is utter madness.