Thursday, October 13, 2011

Offense vs. Freedom of Speech vs. Physical Assault

Okay, in this story we have three key situations. First, there is an atheist mocking the Islam prophet Muhammad. Next, we have the mocker saying he has the right to freedom of speech and expression. Third, we have the Muslim who physically attacks the man. Is there a solution? Who is right? Is there one higher right?

In an ideal world: No one would mock anyone or anything that is dear to another person.
In an ideal world: All freedom of speech would be used to speak good and truth only.
In an ideal world: No one will take it upon themselves to physically assault someone who has misused their freedom of speech and mocked someone or something dear to the person who is considering physically assaulting the mocker.

But this is not an ideal world (or did you miss that?). Given that, then we need to put a hierarchy on these three aspects of the story. What trumps what?

Let me suggest the following chain:
-- physical assault is at the bottom; no one has the right in a civil democratic society to take the law into their own hands unless another individual is physically endangering their own person, regardless of what the other person is doing.
-- mocking is next or in the middle; no one should mock something or someone that is dear to another person
-- freedom of speech is at the top; if someone insists in mocking, freedom of speech with its legal limitations, should trump the mocking; under no conditions, should one's freedom of speech be trumped by one's right to physically assault anyone.


If we don't accept that hierarchy, then our laws mean nothing and we might as well move right into a state of anarchy.  At least that's how I see it.   You can read the story that takes place in America in the link below, and then tell us what you think.

Zombie Muhammad? Atheist attacked by Muslim during Halloween parade - National Humanist | Examiner.com

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