Politics 12 April 2013 Whatever happened to the Telegraph defending the right to offend? Thatcherites of the world, be reasonable. Print HTML The Telegraph's front page today leaves little doubt as to what they think the BBC should do on Sunday when the Radio One Chart Show ends up having to play Ding Dong the Witch is Dead: It may not be a leader column, but any editor worth their salt knows the power a slanted headline can have. It's fair to guess that the Telegraph's headline if the BBC had banned the song wouldn't be standing up for the right to offend. Which is odd, since that's exactly what they wrote in 2006, when someone other than Thatcher was being slandered: Why we will defend the right to offend The furore in Europe and around the world over the publication of cartoons depicting Mohammed, and which ridicule other aspects of Islam, is but the latest example of an increasingly dangerous cultural clash… The editor of France Soir was sacked for publishing the cartoons, which first appeared in Denmark, even though he was seeking to uphold freedom of speech. Other papers have followed suit. Adhering to the prevailing disregard of freedom of speech in his own party, EU trade commissioner Peter Mandelson has criticised the publication as provocative. It certainly was: but does appeasement of forces hostile to Western values not perpetrate a far greater wrong? …The right to offend within the law remains crucial to our free speech. Muslims who choose to live in the West must accept that we, too, have a right to our values, and to live according to them. Muslims must accept the predominant mores of their adopted culture: and most do. One of these is the lack of censorship and the ready availability of material that some people find deeply offensive: anyone who wishes to see the cartoons can find them within a few clicks on the internet. Those Muslims who cannot tolerate the openness and robustness of intellectual debate in the West have perhaps chosen to live in the wrong culture. We cannot put it better than the editorial in an Arab paper in which the cartoons briefly appeared yesterday (before all copies were suddenly withdrawn): "Muslims of the world, be reasonable." Thatcherites of the world, be reasonable. › Ding Dong: a puerile joke has been turned into an act of defiance Alex Hern is a technology reporter for the Guardian. He was formerly staff writer at the New Statesman. You should follow Alex on Twitter. Subscribe More Related articles What it’s like to fall victim to the Mail Online’s aggregation machine Nigel Farage forgets which side he’s on in the EU debate Which paper couldn’t find room for Hillsborough on its front page?