The context of this thread is that a man who drew some cartoons is in fear for his life and was nearly killed.
In this context, the question of protected free speech in free societies becomes starkly personal and binary, the moral question becomes an existential one:
1.) Either this man is hunted and hounded by people who want him dead until he is dead from natural causes, or stress-induced causes, or is actually murdered by his assailants.
2.) He is left alone on the grounds that he should be able to criticize religion in the ordinary course of the free exercise of his human right to speak his mind.
The test is this: Even if you are enraged by his cartoons, will you still stand up for his right to life and liberty? Or... the only other option that I can see is that you believe matters should "take their own course", up to, and including, the possibility of his murder.
I don't see how one can equivocate here. Either the man lives free or is hunted until he is killed or dies.
(I suppose a third option might be to lock him up or deport him, both of which criminalize criticism of religion. Which, to my mind, is fascism.)
Some quick notes on other arguments:
The point about Christians and "pooping on the pope" is a different example as it is a direct physical attack on a revered figure. More exact comparisons to the Danish Cartoons incident are the following well-known cases involving performance or art:
Sinead O'Connor (ripped up a picture of the pope on tv): No attempts on her life due to that incident that I can find. Much hand-wringing.
Andres Serrano (Piss Christ photo): No attempts on his life. Outcry that public funds were used. Picture was physically attacked.
Renee Cox (Yo Mama's Last Supper - photos): No attempts on her life. Picture not attacked. Hand wringing.
Chris Ofili (Holy Virgin Mary with porn and dung): No attempts on his life. Picture not attacked. Hand wringing.
Given the subdued reaction to these high-profile, comparable, and recent examples of anti-christian expression, I think the comparison made by Jovian M fails.
Randis, can you give me an example of speech critical of a religion, that will not be considered hate speech by fundamentalist members of that religion? Please use radical Islam as your example.
Anyway, I'm glad to see that this discussion is an actual discussion. Let's all try to keep it that way if we can.