As a Canadian citizen I have the legal right to cheat on my wife as long as it is with another consenting adult, but that doesn’t mean I should, especially if I truly love and respect her, which I do. That doesn’t mean that I believe we should enact laws making adultery a crime either.
Here in the West we have the legal right as people in the media to poke fun at people, including Mohammed, but that doesn’t mean we should. Most Muslims are upset and angry over the mocking of their Prophet and their faith. As a devout Christian I can understand and sympathise with how Muslims feel as people mock and poke fun at my Savior all the time, including Charlie Hebdo, and worse, they use his name as a swear word. So as a writer I will not turn around and mock or otherwise show disrespect to Muslims and people of other faiths, including atheism, as I want them to respect my faith.
As for the argument that defiantly putting a cartoon of Mohammed on the cover with the caption “Je suis Charlie” is an act of defending freedom of speech and freedom of the press, I strongly disagree. It is an act of unnecessary disrespect and provocation.
However, as strongly as I may feel about someone mocking and showing what I consider to be disrespect to my faith, that does not give me the right to murder them or their families and friends or total strangers because I feel they might someone be associated with those who offend me. Nor does it give me the right to threaten them or destroy their property. I don’t think making such behavior illegal is the solution either. Education and changing attitudes is. Just look at say the term “nigger”, which was once commonly used. Blacks educated people about it and gradually the term disappeared from public use without the use of laws.
However, the biggest concern I have with a legal approach to this issue is where would it end? People of all faiths could probably agree on some basics, but beyond that there would likely be major disputes. We’d also start crossing the line between respecting the faith of others and imposing a particular faith’s values on everyone else and on suppressing freedom of the press.
Bottom line is the press needs to be very mindful of the ethical implications of what we do.