Flemming Rose was born in Denmark and grew up in Copenhagen. He majored in Russian language and literature in the University of Copenhagen. Through his life he has worked as a correspondent and editor for Berlingske Tidende and Jyllands-Posten newspapers. Later he became an active advocate of free speech and published his own book “Tyranny of the Silence”, which concerns the worldwide free speech suppression issue.
Issues of Diversity
Rose states that the European Union is at crisis, for it cannot control excessive diversity in terms of modern globalization. The melting pot of cultural diversity creates a serious threat for freedom of speech. Certainly, in comparison with the 17th, 18th and even the beginning of 20th century the levels of free speech are higher. Yet if we compare current situation with the one which occurred 30 years ago, the status quo of free speech is in decline.
Some countries like Russia and China have rigid speech control, yet such tendencies are becoming increasingly popular in Western Europe. EU enforces policies which restrict the freedom of speech and label many statements as propaganda of hate. People who have different opinions that do not coincide with the “accepted” are instantly claimed as racist or xenophobic.
Many countries have criminalized criticism of:
- Holocaust (Germany)
- Armenian Genocide (Denmark)
- Criticism of Ukrainian freedom fighters (Ukraine)
- Criticism of the behavior of the Soviet Union during the World War 2 (Russia)
Flemming’s main point is that protecting historical memory through legislation is a truly authoritarian idea. The criminalization of the “glorification of terror” is in fact a euphemism, which in reality means criminalization of individual’s opinion. Label any critique or call for debate as an insult and punish the offenders is the kind of Soviet Union censorship style.
The Cartoon Scandal
Flemming has commissioned the publishing of the drawings by Prophet Muhammad in the Jylands-Posten newspaper. The reason for such action was that many creative artists refused to publish their cartoons because they feared Muslim violence, and they were right. Allah’s revelation through Prophet Muhammad can never be criticized; in fact any Islamic religious dogma can never be criticized.
The result was the outburst of violence from the Islamic fundamentalists, the Charlie Hebdo attack. The Cartoons and the Islamic bloodshed created a public uproar. Of course, the result was ongoing free speech suppression.
Flemming Rose is a defender of the liberal enlightenment values and an advocate of global tolerance. He argues that Catholics and Protestants slaughtered each other for many centuries, yet they learned to coexist in peace. It’s crucial to understand that tolerance is living alongside with something that you don’t like or don’t understand. It is the core value of liberty – to have the right to tell people what they do not want to hear. Today the governments of the EU and other countries in the world are both part of the problem, and part of the solution. Governments need to remove constraining “hate propaganda” policies and encourage freedom of speech in the entire world.