I’ve just read that UCL Student Union is putting pressure on the university’s Atheist, Secularist & Humanist Society to remove a Jesus and Mo cartoon from its Facebook page because it has offended some students. As the petition against this move – which I’m sure many of you will want to sign – quite rightly asserts:
This is a gross infringement on its representatives’ right to freedom of expression taken by members of the first secular university in England. All people are free to be offended by any image they view. This does not give them the right to impose their beliefs on others by censoring such images.
I can imagine other cases where I would also have signed the petition, to uphold freedom of speech, but a little more reluctantly. I don’t like it when people do, say or draw things which seem purely driven by a wish to upset others, although I don’t want them banned from doing so. But this seems an easy case. The Jesus and Mo cartoons are not (I don’t think) in any way driven by a wish to offend – they are quite witty, not crude or aggressive – and the ASHS might quite reasonably have assumed that those likely to be offended wouldn’t be hanging out on their Facebook page in any case.
Hat Tip: Butterflies and Wheels