Thursday, February 02, 2006

Stupid things I read on Crooked Timber: its flabbergasting how a philosophy professor could write something like this on the subject of the Danish Muhammad cartoons,

I’m puzzled by some of the reaction to the Jyllands-Posten affair. In free speech debates over the last few years I’ve often encountered so-called libertarians who argue that speech ought to be absolutely protected from state interference but that private individuals may legitimately do what they like when it comes to sacking people whose views they disagree with or boycotting products. That isn’t the way I see things, but it is hard to see how someone running that line can object to a private company sacking an editor for reprinting the cartoons or to Muslims boycotting Danish goods in protest.
Umm, lets me try to spell this out really, really slowly. No one would object if Muslims boycotted the newspapers which published these cartoons. However, thats not whats going on; many Muslims have responded with fury at Denmark, boycotting Danish products across the board. This is obviously a large number of people not getting what free speech is all about: the move to boycott Denmark is an attempt to read the Danes allowing a certain kind of speech as being equivalent to the Danes endorsing that speech.

I hope I've made it a bit easier for Prof. Bertram to see how someone running the libertarian line can object to this.


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