Where do you stand?

I’m curious.

With the Sudanese Teddy Bear Crisis (say that with a straight face) now at an end and Ms. Gibbons safely returned to England, I find my own sense of justice befuddled and confused.  There can be no doubt that many in the western world saw her arrest as an overreaction, but this is just part of a larger issue that goes beyond one case of cultural ignorance.  Just as with the Danish cartoons several months back that brought death threats found around the Islamic world or a recent news story from India where protests have pressed for a ban on books carrying the Prophet’s picture, (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/south_asia/7126217.stm) this is a case of where exactly should freedom of speech end and respect for religion begin?

In this county few religions are spared intentional torturous insult.  The religion of my family, Catholicism, is a magnet for jibes ad ridicule.  Judaism, Hinduism, Wiccan, they all have a myriad of jokes and insults that have developed in our culture.  True believers of these faiths do not enjoy being belittled, yet through out the world no religion is quite as taboo as Islam.  Why does Islam deserve more consideration than any other religion?

Conversely, I am sympathetic to cultural understanding and respect.  Ms. Gibbons’ offense may not have been criminal, but it was a mistake made out of ignorance.  Additionally, state sovereignty, that is, the fact that this world is no longer colonial, means that an individual country should be free to make law that follows the political will of its people.  If the majority of a population is Islamic and religiously sensitive, it would behoove a government to enforce policies that protect and respect the faith of their people as their people believe it should be respected.

What is your opinion on this matter?  In this globalized world, is freedom of speech, or global respect for a cultural morals and values more important?