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Theodore Dalrymple on free speech

Two very good articles from Theodore Dalrymple on the cartoon controversy.

In the first, he contrasts the spineless response of the British and Americans to the courageous and robust stance of the French:

The French have emerged in this crisis as far stauncher and more fearless and unapologetic defenders of freedom than the Americans or the British. In this instance, they have stuck to an important principle without calculation of immediate interest or even short-term consequences. They find the equivocations of the Anglo-Saxons strange, spineless, and reprehensible, and in this instance they are absolutely right.

True. It has been argued that there are concerns for British and American troops in Iraq. Still, they were spineless. According to a poll in The Sunday Times, '86% of people think the protests were “a gross overreaction”. By 56% to 29% respondents said it was right to publish the cartoons in Denmark and republish them elsewhere.' So why do our leaders not reflect the wishes of the British public?

The second article argues that appeasement of Muslim extremists means surrendering Western liberties. Furthermore, it achieves nothing:

The supposition that the kind of people who call publicly for beheadings, or tell Europe to prepare itself for the real holocaust (the connection between Muslim extremism and Holocaust denial being a very strong one), will feel placated by a few expressions of sympathy for their supposedly offended feelings is psychologically preposterous and demonstrably false empirically. It is the reductio ad absurdum of the Clintonian propensity to feel other people’s pain as a substitute for a policy.