Tolerance or Death!By Bruce Bawer:
Tolerance or Death!
For some Europeans in the expression business, government limits haven't been necessary: they've opted for self-censorship. After being "warned by Muslim friends" shortly after van Gogh's murder, Dutch movie director Albert Ter Heerdt decided to "postpone" a sequel to his "multicultural comedy" Shouf Shouf Habibi! And in January producer Gijs van de Westelaken canceled a screening of Submission at the Rotterdam Film Festival, whose theme was "censored films." (Instead, the audience saw two pictures sympathetic to suicide bombers.) Defenders of this many-fronted assault on free speech routinely tag critics of Islam as racists. Of course, Islam is not a race but a religion whose ideology should, in a democratic society, be entirely open to criticism—and, for that matter, to parody and mockery. Outraged by the House of Commons measure, comedian Rowan Atkinson (who plays the character Mr. Bean on television) commented: "For telling a good and incisive religious joke, you should be praised. For telling a bad one, you should be ridiculed and reviled. The idea that you could be prosecuted for the telling of either is quite fantastic." Atkinson was nearly alone among British authors, artists, and entertainers in his vocal criticism of the bill.