Univ Montana Objectivist Club Defends Free Speech

The Daily Missoulian provides a reasonably balanced account — “Secular, pro-individualist group holds solidarity event for magazine sued over publishing Muhammad cartoons” — of an event sponsored by the University of Montana Objectivist Club.
Atlasphere member Andrew Bissell is president of this club.
From the article:

The University of Montana Objectivist Club on Friday stood behind — literally — the right to publish a cartoon of the Muslim prophet Muhammad wearing a bomb-shaped turban.
As a show of solidarity with a Calgary news magazine that’s been sued over the matter, members of the student club pasted the cartoon and others — which are offensive to most Muslims — on a tri-folded placard in the University Center, then stood ready to defend it.
â??If no one has the guts to show these cartoons, it’s allowing the violence and the worst common denominator to dictate their terms to us,â? insisted Andrew Bissell, president of the Objectivist Club, which promotes the secular, pro-individualist philosophy of novelist-philosopher Ayn Rand.


â??Even the moderate factions of Islam take this very seriously,â? said ASUM presidential candidate Andrea Helling, challenging Bissell and the club’s judgment. â??I don’t think the fear of Muslim violence should stop you from doing this, but there are other ways around it, like describing the cartoons. … It’s a respect thing.â?
Bissell said that respect has nothing to do with it. The West has been â??cowingâ? to the violent fringe of Islam and to multicultural sensitivities, he said, offering as proof Comedy Central’s stopping the irreverent â??South Parkâ? television show from showing an image of Muhammad in a spoof of the cartoon issue. It’s the policy of most U.S. newspapers (including the Missoulian), he noted, to refrain from publishing them.
Showing the cartoons is not only a defiant and bold defense of free speech, it’s the most effective way to get the point across, Bissell said.
â??We’re challenging the assumption that there’s a right not to be offended,â? he said. â??You can’t do that with gumdrop smiles and rainbows. I believe we have the right to criticize religion, and that extends to all religions.â?
At least one person was offended enough to tear off one of the cartoons and throw it away, Bissell said.

Our congratulations to Andrew and the rest of his club on their commendable efforts, and on the publicity they have succeeded in generating on behalf of free speech.
See the full article for more.