The right to criticize religious tenets held by a minority has again been aggressively challenged in public debate, following the attack on “Charlie Hebdo” in Paris. Jens-Martin Eriksen and Frederik Stjernfelt take issue with the argument that free speech is meant to be used against “those in power”, not against minorities.
(b.1957) Professor at the Centre for Semiotics at the University of Aarhus and the editor of the periodical KRITIK. His books include: The Power of Thought. The History of Western Ideas I-III (with Hans Siggaard and Ole Knudsen); The Significance of Form; The Heavens of Rationality; and his doctoral dissertation Diagrammatology. Together with Jens-Martin Eriksen he has written The Anatomy of Hate and The Scenography of War, about Bosnia and Serbia, and, in 2008, The Politics of Segregation. Multiculturalism – Ideology and Reality.
What if the attempt earlier this year on the life of a Danish Islam critic proves to be yet another instance of a concentrated assault on free expression by fundamentalist believers? Frederik Stjernfelt slams the critics of Enlightenment values for their complacency.
The controversy on multiculturalism has changed the political fronts. The Left defends respect for minority cultures while the Right stands guard over the national culture. But these two fronts merely constitute two variants of a culturalist ideology, argue Jens-Martin Eriksen and Frederik Stjernfelt.