Freedom of speech and Jihad Jane

U.S. media remains silent about a controversial cartoonist’s rights.

Rohit Singh

The arrest of Colleen LaRose, aka Jihad Jane, of Pennsylvania has once again brought to the forefront the tension between freedom of speech and religious radicalism. For those not in the know, LaRose was arrested in connection with plotting of the assassination of the artist Lars Vilks of Sweden. She has recently been charged with conspiring with Jihadists to avenge the depiction of the Prophet Mohammad with a dogâÄôs body by Vilks a few years ago. He claims that he drew the cartoon to make a point in favor of the freedom of speech and to uphold the principle of journalistic integrity. He says the 2006 uproar in radical Islamic countries caused by the infamous cartoon depicting the Prophet Mohammad with a bomb as his headgear prompted him to express his opinion on the matter. The Swedish government should be applauded for standing firmly by their citizen and supporting him in his fight for fundamental rights. The Swedish national press also expressed their support for Vilks by publishing the supposedly offending cartoon in national publications. I find it rather surprising that the media in our country âÄî which allows desecration of its national flag as an expression of free speech âÄî are not willing to take a similar stand. Sure, you can Google Lars VilksâÄô Prophet Mohammad cartoon to find out what offended Jihad Jane and her Algerian husband so much that they decided to try to kill Vilks. The question here is: Why should you have to use the anonymity veil of the Internet to be able to find it in this country? Is no news organization willing to stand up for our countryâÄôs founding principles and call out radicalism for what it is? How long will the only superpower in the world bow down to a few fundamentalists and keep giving away its freedoms? And for what purpose? So the oversensitive radical extremists do not get offended. Rohit Singh, University faculty