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Satire and the scientific method
Since the enlightenment, the scientific method has guided our acquisition of knowledge. We seek ways to challenge our ideas and assumptions in order to improve our understanding of the world and of ourselves. Likewise, satire became an essential tool in creating and maintaining our freedom and democracy. We have to be able to challenge the ideas that form our society, and challenge people and organisations in authority.

This does not necessarily mean a lack of respect. We can challenge things that we hold dear in order to confirm their importance to us. Every politician must expect to be mocked, but as a nation we believe in a parliamentary democracy. The royal family are fair game, but Britain is still broadly royalist. Public schoolboys, the upper classes, businessmen, accountants, Christians and George Bush are all mercilessly mocked in the British media.

If Muslims are to live in western society they must expect to have their religion, history and beliefs challenged. But if they are confident in themselves, they will shrug it off and get on with their lives, rather than burning flags, firing automatic weapons in the air and complaining about a lack of respect on Newsnight.

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I don't often agree with him but Jack Straw is right.

While I'm not sure how I feel about the whole mess overall, I would tend to concur that you give up your right to bitch about "respect" around the time you start burning people's flags and calling for their heads on plates.

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