A question about Charlie Hebdo verdict

Oliver Kamm has a question about yesterday’s Charlie Hebdo acquittal which is worth examining:

Note, however, one aspect of the judgement, according to the BBC report, that troubles me: ‘The cartoons were covered by freedom of expression laws and were not an attack on Islam, but fundamentalists, it said.’ Do freedom of expression laws not cover an attack on Islam? It is essential that they should. There is nothing wrong with an attack on Islam (or any other sacred belief). There is nothing wrong with giving offence to religious groups. The judgement appears implicitly to reject these principles. Defenders of a free society must assert them militantly.

Quite so. It is a pity that the judge did not make that more clear.

David Thompson takes the point further:

Religious freedom is presumed to entail sparing believers any hint that others do not share their beliefs, and indeed may find them ludicrous. There is, apparently, no corresponding obligation for believers to embrace ideas that are not clearly risible, monstrous or disgusting. When given a moment’s thought, this protectionist claim is decidedly fascistic in its practical implications. If believers wish to be insulated from any differing opinion, and even statements of fact, they would have to create a closed religious order, somewhere atop a mountain where reality can to some extent be avoided.

Having said all that, there is still cause to celebrate the fact that the French court delivered a very important, and in most aspects correct, verdict.

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