Reza Aslan: Press Freedoms Are Not Absolute

NPR: All Things Considered – February 3rd, 2006

[…] Robert Seigel: Well, this is a very personal question. You’re an American of Iranian extraction and a Muslim. You’re also an academic and you’re I think a person who lives a secular life, no? Reza?

Reza Aslan: That’s right

Robert Seigel: You see a satiric, insulting image of The Prophet. Does your blood boil or do you say “those crazy Danes.”

Reza Aslan: Well, my blood boils, not because I’m offended by the image. My blood boils because I feel as though that the purpose of publishing these depictions was to deliberately provoke Muslim societies in Europe. So, I’m angry that there wasn’t more care and concern about trying to maintain a sense of reconciliation and unity, not so much about the pictures themselves.

Robert Seigel: It’s the motive you infer from the publication that ah…

Reza Aslan: Absolutely. […]

Listen to the entire interview to get a full picture of Aslan’s perspective. But be warned; it’s not a sexy, free speech position.

Aslan doesn’t spend much time analyzing the ills of the various cartoons. Instead, he takes the same position that I’ve been pushing for the last few days. Understanding that there is a small, but fanatical sub-section of Islam within the delicate balance of religious co-existence in Europe, it is irresponsible to provoke Muslim society by republishing these depictions.

At least the European newspapers that republished the depictions have skin in the game; their readership and neighbors represent a vocal community of Muslims. The European balance of Islam and Christian faith will be tested once again, but like I said, they’re already engaged. What baffles me is this apparent need for the right blogosphere in the US to jump in and support wholesale “free speech.” Without skin in the game, it’s beyond irresponsible; it’s reprehensible.

Chickenhawkish, actually.