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Free Speech Loophole Threatens American Writers
The apology by the Danish newspaper Politiken for publishing the "Mohammed cartoons" — 12 cartoons of a turban-wearing bearded man with a bomb which were released in 2005 — comes as no surprise. In 2006, a few months into radical Muslims' violent demonstrations the world over in reaction to the images, the paper's publishers visited me in New York City.
Discussing my own embroilment with an unjustified libel suit by a Saudi against me in London, the publishers opined that settling was the optimal approach to a potentially expensive suit. Four years later, Politiken seems to have taken its own advice, caving into Saudi pressure and apologizing for its exercise of free speech.
This sad but predictable incident illustrates the difference between the free speech protections afforded in Denmark and those guaranteed in the United States. With laws similar to the American legal and jurisprudential traditions of heightened speech protection backing its position, Politiken would have faced less of a threat in the Danish courts than it did.
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