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Lars Vilks attacked during lecture on free speech

Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks was attacked yesterday at Sweden’s Uppsala University while giving a lecture to a classroom of 250 people on the topic of the limits of free speech. CNN international edition reports that soon after the lecture began five individuals started to protest, but were calmed by security. As Vilks continued into his audiovisual material 15-20 individuals attacked. Vilks was head-butted during the attack. Police used pepper spray and batons to fend off the attackers.

Here is video captured of the attack:

The 53 year-old artist was one of the infamous artists who depicted Mohammed in the Danish newspaper The Jyllands-Posten. He was also the target of an alleged murder plot by two american women, Colleen LaRose and Jamie Paulin-Ramirez, both of whom have pled not guilty.

Community Comments

#1 John Cole
May/12/2010
@ 9:17 am

I tried to access the video at youtube and got this:

“Lars Vilks Attacked at Uppsala University?

“This video or group may contain content that is inappropriate for some users, as flagged by YouTube’s user community.

“To view this video or group, please verify you are 18 or older by signing in or signing up.”

Seriously? Inappropriate to whom? Lovers of free speech?

#2 Mike Cope
May/12/2010
@ 9:27 am

What I find extremely unsettling about this video is the little girl in the background who is obviously scared and crying for her father (red t-shirt) to pick her up, but he’s too busy shouting with his fist in the air.

#3 Steve Skelton
May/12/2010
@ 10:28 am

Ah, the mythology of the “afterlife” and all that it promises continues to take our world into a tailspin. Many of the world’s religions require a conviction based in blind faith and it is this untiring mechanism, which as we can all witness, is mankind’s greatest downfall.

#4 Jeff Darcy
May/12/2010
@ 10:41 am

Headline news: Guy picks fight and gets punched. What would happen if a guy who intentionally drew cartoons mocking Jesus Christ for the sole purpose of pushing the buttons of Christians gave a lecture before a bunch of evangelicals?

It’s nice that the Pulitzer winners wrote a letter supporting the South Park creators. Would they write a letter to Danish Cartoonists urging respect and tolerance for others religious beliefs and customs?

I’ve never seen a flame thrower. But I’m guessing that somewhere on it may be a warning label that states that the operator risks getting burned.

Last year I had a group of middle eastern cartoonists in my office
it was interesting to hear their take on the Mohammed cartooning controversy compared with the Pulitzer winners view.

#5 Tom Wood
May/12/2010
@ 10:46 am

@Steve – Have you been following the recent work that Sam Harris is doing regarding a science of morality?

He starts here:

Moral confusion in the name of science

This set off a discussion in the science blogs, most notably by Sean Carroll and PZ Myers, which he links to in his latest here:

Toward a Science of Morality

The point being to take morality out of the realm of religion and place it in the realm of science.

#6 Keith Brown
May/12/2010
@ 12:01 pm

All religion is a business. Nothing more,nothing less. These idiots are just the most brand loyal.

#7 Jeff Darcy
May/12/2010
@ 12:21 pm

It’s ironic that Lars Vilks chose to draw Mohammed as a dog and in so doing seems to have depicted himself as nothing more than a publicity hound.

When we’ve got young men in this country and abroad being recruited by terrorist groups with the false propaganda that the West is engaged in a holy war against Muslims- all cartoonist like Vilks are doing is playing into the hands of terrorist propaganda machine further fueling a war that endangers the very free speech they claim to be the champion of. Lars Vilks and the Danish cartoonists are the last ones I want leading the fight to protect my free speech.

#8 Howard Cruse
May/12/2010
@ 12:58 pm

That scene will freeze the blood of any of us who may be moved to defend a controversial position in front of an audience.

Lars Vilks motives for drawing what he drew are irrelevant, and using suppositions about what they are suggests that the will to support genuine freedom of expression runs disturbingly shallow in some people.

#9 Jeffrey Lockman
May/12/2010
@ 4:17 pm

Congratulations to Lars Vilks for upholding free speech high.
Felicitations to those brave policemen who spared no force to scuttle the commotion. It will go a long way to pacify troubled souls
by considerably contributing to harmonious exchanges that Uppsala University aims to promote.

In February, 2006, alone, nearly 250 people were killed in anti-cartoon riots around the Muslim world. But that has been long forgotten. Hence there is some room to create a few ripples and stirrings here and there for the sparks sake.

#10 Shane Davis
May/12/2010
@ 4:31 pm

Jeffery
Yeah, hats off to those cops for no one getting hurt, but they should have jumped on those jerks quicker and flushed them out of the room. Standing around with your arms out calling for order isn’t the same as getting the troublemakers by the scruff and tossing them from the event.

I’ve seen what can happen when you try to ‘not offend’ folks at rallys and events like this. You give them any reason to think you’re not going to do anything forceful and they’ll see that as an opening. That scuffle on the floor at the end should never have happened. Every goon standing there yelling, egging it on should have been taken out of the room NOW.

Not trying to second guess those folks, they of course have different sustoms and laws than we do in Texas, but things can go from ugly to lethal in about 2 seconds.

Never give a thug an opening to make history.

#11 Tom Wood
May/12/2010
@ 9:22 pm

He wants to do the presentation again.

Comic Riffs

According to AP, the Stockholm university said it is “not very likely” that Vilks would be asked back.

#12 Kal Kallaugher
May/13/2010
@ 1:32 pm

It is my understanding that Lars Vilks is NOT one of the Danish cartoon contributors to the newspaper The Jyllands-Posten as described in the introduction.

He drew a controversial cartoon of Mohammed as a dog for an exhibtion in Sweden that appeared later in the newspaper Nerikes Allehanda.

#13 Mike Peterson
May/13/2010
@ 4:34 pm

So he doesn’t even have the excuse of not realizing how seriously it would be taken. I don’t want to blame the victim, but it’s hard not to think he knew what he was getting into.

#14 Tom Wood
May/13/2010
@ 5:14 pm

I think the clue would be all those policemen in the room. Of course he knew, that’s the whole point. It was a presentation on free speech.

#15 Ted Rall
May/17/2010
@ 9:16 am

No doubt, Mr. Vilks understood the risk he was taking with his “cartoon” (quotes because it’s not really a cartoon, but more of an art installation piece). But as Howard wrote, it’s irrelevant.

People have the right to get angry and offended. They do not have the right to resort to physical violence against the source of their anger. Period.

The possibility that an artist deliberately provoked a punch in the nose nevertheless makes him 0% responsible for getting punched in the nose. The nose-puncher always bears 100% responsibility.

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