The furor over the Muhammad cartoons (I debated not linking to them at all) has been fascinating and horrible to watch. For the record, I think the cartoons were highly inappropriate and offensive and should not have been printed. But I think it is right that it was legal for them to be printed.
Can a non-Muslim violate Islamic law? No, no more than I have to worry about the laws in Turkmenistan. Was it blasphemous to publish the cartoons? No. Unquestionably there are things that should not be printed. There is no value in them being printed. These cartoons fit that category. But it's not worth anyone's death.
My biggest concern is the reaction to the articles. It is incredibly foolish for these Muslims who are protesting to be violent. Absolutely foolish. It will only confirm in many people's minds the sentiments expressed in the articles.
Education and reasonable protests would be far more effective. Many people in the West might not understand why these cartoons were so offensive on so many levels. Really, I can't think of anything worse that could have been published. But people are shocked by the violent response- and that's what they'll remember. Not why the cartoons were so bad, and not that most Muslims aren't violently protesting this. For example, I've not heard a peep about this in Kyrgyzstan, which is over 80 percent Muslim.
Another strong argument that the Muslims have that I've seen in several different places is that there are things you cannot print about Jews- for example, anything questioning the official version of the Holocaust. Nazi propaganda is not allowed either because of the risk to the Jews. However, the risk is usually greater for those whom the negative articles or cartoons are aimed, and not, as in this case, the people of Denmark.
It has been interesting to read of Denmark's efforts to try to convince the Muslim world, certainly no bastion of press freedom, that the Danish government does not control what is published in Denmark. Government control press over the entire Muslim world (I honestly can't think of one Muslim country with a truly free press; correct me if I'm wrong) is so common and accepted that it is understandably hard to believe that Denmark doesn't control its press in some way.
So where does the responsibility come in, as in the quote from the title? The Iranians said that when they recalled their ambassador to Denmark. Is it irresponsible for the Danish government to allow these kinds of cartoons? Would it be irresponsible to allow horrible insulting cartoons about Mormons, who are classed as dangerous cults in some parts of Europe? Where does irresponsibility begin? I'd hate to be the one who decides that.
Can free speech be taken too far? Probably. But I'm not ready to say that it has been.