In a move of rare bravery for a British political figure, former UKIP leader Lord Pearson has asked the Government if it will support a competition to draw Muhammad, less than a month after Muslim gunmen opened fire at a similar event in the US.
Pearson clearly understands the need to stand up for freedom of speech in the face of violent fascist intimidation, but it is obvious that the government is not going to answer his question in the affirmative. Even UKIP itself, which is by far the bravest and most common-sensical party in the country at the current time, has demonstrated the almost universal lack of interest in defending freedom of expression, distancing itself from Pearson's statements.
And let's face it, we all know why this is the case. Simply put, all of those who refuse to publish or exhibit cartoons of Muhammad - from the left-wing media to so-called "right-wing" media like the Daily Mail and Fox News - know that if they were to do so, lives would be in danger. They know that Islam is the only religion where this is the case, but are reluctant to join the dots, and apparently even more reluctant to affirm the importance of freedom of speech in a civilised society, and articulate the message that if we allow ourselves to be silenced by a certain group with threats of violence, then we allow that group to control public discourse and place certain subjects off-limits for discussion, critique and even satire. In short, we invite totalitarianism.
This is evident in the hypocrisy of the New York Times, which recently re-published images of Chris Ofili's dung-encrusted "artwork" depicting the Virgin Mary - highly offensive to many Christians - while steadfastly refusing to publish Muhammad cartoons out of "respect" for Muslims. They know that Muslims will try to kill them, while Christians won't - and they are apparently fine with that.
I, however, am not fine with it. Therefore please see below the winning cartoon - by former Muslim Bosch Fawstin - from the Texan cartoon conference, which powerfully expresses the point of the entire conference, and why all those who refuse to publish or exhibit it are dead wrong, cowardly and immoral.