Letters to the Editor

Neil Stahl: Uncomfortable free speech

The Jan. 23 letter “ Poking the tiger” was well-intentioned but wrong on a critical point. The writer said, and I agree, we should not encourage hateful caricatures of ethnic minorities whether blacks, Jews, Asians or Arabs. But that’s different from caricatures about religions or radical movements or nations.

People have no control over their ethnicities, and people’s ethnicities per se don’t threaten anyone.

Radical fundamentalist followers of various religions do threaten us and must be fair game, even when ethnic characteristics are used for clarity. And nations threaten peace, whether it be Israel with its ongoing violence against Palestinians and theft of their land or Saudi Arabia, which uses its oil wealth to spread a vile version of Islam around the world.

It must be possible to use various means, including cartoons, to speak about these things. Free speech is not always comfortable, but it’s the most important right we have.

Neil Stahl

Chapel Hill