I was interested to hear on the BBC Radio 4 program - Start of the Week - of 9 February 2009 - that the cartoonist, Martin Rowson, said that atheists are among the groups that send him hate e-mails for his cartoons, along with Muslims, Zionists, Catholics, American Neo-Cons etc, etc.

You can listen to the program at http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/factual/starttheweek.shtml - start listening at about 20 minutes into the program if you don't want to listen to the entire thing.

He mentioned a particular incident where atheists were outraged by his cartoon of Richard Dawkins which apparently was published on the front of New Humanist magazine.

I hope atheists are not going to become yet another intolerant and humourless pressure group.

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It was apparently alleged that the cartoon was a grossly homophobic image - they pointed to the depiction of Dawkins' wrists. In the opinion of the cartoonist, they simply didn't like the way that the cartoon depicted their hero, and the homophobic allegation was merely a convenient excuse.

The cartoonist was of the view that this a clever political tactic that is being used by an increasing number of groups i.e. to assert that what is being said is something unspeakable, therefore it should be unsayable, therefore you must shut-up, therefore I've won the argument. He thought that Muslims had picked up the tactic from the Zionists, who he said had been using this tactic for a long time. Apparently, every time he had drawn a cartoon critical of an Israeli politician he would be inundated with hate-mail saying how grossly anti-semitic his cartoon was.

The program also includes various other perspectives on the topic of freedom of speech and its limits.


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