Images of the Muslim prophet Muhammad may be offensive to believers, but they do not constitute hate speech, Daniel Pipes points out in a column this week.
In the wake of violent protests tied to an online video depicting Muhammad in unflattering ways, Pipes proposed a daily tide of images depicting Muhammad until Islamists grow callous to the whole concept. "Freedom of speech means the freedom to insult and be obnoxious," he wrote. "So long as it does not include incitement or information that urges criminal action, nastiness is an essential part of our heritage."
Criticism and satire have long targeted other faiths, he notes, so the onus is on angry Muslims need to accept modern realities rather than demand the rest of the world conform to ancient mores.
This drew a retort calling Pipes' idea "irresponsible" because "hate speech" won't make anything better.
Words and phrases can lose meaning over time, and Pipes argues that by definition, hate speech involves inciting hatred against a defined group of people. In the wake of a string of perceived offenses against Islam and Muhammad, however, there are no instances in which non-Muslims rampaged against Muslims.
Rather, rage and hatred stemming from those cases were limited to Islamists expressing their fury about cartoons and an online video.
"When attacks on Muslims take place," he writes, "they occur in response to terrorism by Muslims; that's no excuse, to be sure, but it does indicate that violence against Muslims has no connection with lampooning Muhammad or desecrating Korans. Muslims need to grow thick skins like everyone else; this is one of the by-products of globalization. The insulation of old is gone for good."
Read the full column here.