‘Individual rights’

The Satanic Verses has received a harsh attack over the past few weeks. I have heard Salman Rushdie, the author, condemed for blasphemy, blamed for riots and pointed to as the quintessential devil in the controversial events that have been taking place.

I have heard many persons discussing the type of punishment that should be given to him, without first asking if he should be punished. The punishments rank from the very extreme to the very light. But the general attitude is that the book should be removed or the author should receive some form of discipline.

The book has been viewed from every scope, but the one receiving the least attention is the one that is the most important: the issue of individual rights. It is Salman Rushdie’s right to print as he pleases. No one, no group, no religion, and no country, can remove that right.

But, it is also the right of those who are offended by the material to take no part in what has been printed or said. The Muslims, or anyone else who is insulted, are free to close their ears or boycott the book if they so choose. The effort to ban or to restrain the author in any way is an act of thought control. If the freedom of expression falls under the censorship of any group or religion, then the principles of individual rights will start on a steady decline.

Brian Johnson


Bishop McNamara High School