Danish freedom of speech author wins Friedmann prize

Flemming Rose, the Danish author of The Tyranny of Silence, has won the Milton Friedman Prize for Advancing Liberty. The prize is worth US$250,000.

From the sponsor, Cato Institute:

n 2005, Flemming Rose, an editor at the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Post, sparked worldwide controversy with a simple request to illustrators: he asked them to draw the prophet Muhammad.

The 12 cartoons that resulted were by turns funny, provocative, insightful, and maybe occasionally in poor taste. The reactions that they provoked, however, vastly outdid anything to be found in the cartoons themselves. Across the Islamic world, riots broke out, typically in front of Danish embassies. Scores of people were killed — none of whom appear to have had any direct connection to the cartoonists or the newspaper. Official international condemnations arrived from Muslim governments; these condemned the cartoons, but not the riots or the killings. A price was put on Rose’s head, and both he and the cartoonists who worked for him received numerous credible death threats, prompting them to go into hiding and secure permanent full-time bodyguards.

Recognizing the principles that were at stake, Rose refused to apologize or to back down. In the Washington Post he wrote, “I agree that the freedom to publish things doesn’t mean you publish everything. [But] I commissioned the cartoons in response to several incidents of self-censorship in Europe caused by widening fears and feelings of intimidation in dealing with issues related to Islam. And I still believe that this is a topic that we Europeans must confront.” More.

Reality check: May he live to do something useful with it. Do not open a good bottle of wine for anyone who subscribes to the Toronto Star or mouths its typical pieties.

See also: When “fiction-checking” gets dangerous …

Hat tip: Franklin Carter at the Book and Periodical Council’s Freedom of Expression Committee