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Free Speech Wars: The Blasphemy Fashion Police
by Douglas Murray
Meet the latest victim of the "Cartoon Wars": Maajid Nawaz, head of the counter-extremism Quilliam Foundation and prospective parliamentary candidate for the Liberal Democrat party. He was on a BBC program discussing free speech and the right to offend, when two students from a London Atheists and Secular Society were present. They were wearing T-shirts with a cartoon strip on them called "Jesus and Mo." The wearing of such T-shirts has become a matter of principle for them since students manning the stall of the Atheists and Secularists society at the London School of Economics freshers' fair last October were asked either to cover their T-shirts up or be physically removed. No prizes for guessing who complained about the T-shirts, but it was not the LSE Christian Society.
This local infringement on freedom of speech caused some embarrassment for the LSE, and the debate over the dreaded T-shirts of hate rumbled on until December when the university authorities apologized for becoming the blasphemy fashion police.
But as everybody who remembers the Danish cartoons affair will remember, these things are never contained. Indeed so fevered is this debate that there are endless Hydra-headed spin-offs each time the cartoon wars crops up. Each time someone tries to chop its metaphorical head off, another cartoon affair pops up somewhere else.
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