A matter of free expression

Since last week’s terrorist attack on the offices of Charlie Hebdo, the world has been watching as our belief in freedom of expression is being tested further than before. Those whose sympathies and respects lie with the slain Charlie Hebdo cartoonists have unified under the mantra “Je Suis Charlie”, which has since become a new rallying cry for freedom of speech.

je suis charlie

A week later, Charlie Hebdo struck back with their “Survivors’ issue”, which has drawn controversy because of its depictions of the prophet Muhammed. Some people support Charlie Hebdo for defiantly opposing terrorist intimidation. Others, however, are under the persuasion that Charlie Hebdo are wrong for offending Muslims (due to the fact that the dominant interpretation of Koranic law forbids Muslims from seeing or making an image of Muhammed).

I think I should make one thing perfectly clear. I support Charlie Hebdo because I think it’s about time we stopped letting terrorism get the better of us. When I was a kid, all the news talked about was terrorism and murder, especially after terrorism began to hit UK shores. As the war on terror carried on, I got tired of the fact that this was all I was hearing about, and I also felt that we as a society were still allowing ourselves to be intimidated by the threat of terrorism, which meant that certain freedoms had to be curtailed.

The biggest reason why I think Charlie Hebdo should keep going is because of my strong belief in freedom of speech. To me, freedom of speech overrides all other sensibilities, because you can’t have freedom of speech without offending anyone. It’s a fundamental paradox of the modern world, but sadly, a lot of us have been conned by wishy-washy liberal guilt. In my opinion, anyone who says that Charlie Hebdo are automatically wrong may as well be pardoning terrorist reaction at best, and discouraging the progress of mankind at worst.

The fact of the matter is that we as a people must be resolute in our stand against terrorist bullying. If mankind is to progress, we must not be intimidated by terrorist threats. After all, the ultimate goal of a terrorist is to use fear to force people into capitulating to his or her will. If we really want to stop the terrorists, we have to let them know that their attempts to scare us into submission are completely and utterly useless.

I believe that our belief in freedom of speech is being tested once again, and that in the end, it all comes down to one question. Do we really believe in freedom of speech, or do we just take it for granted?

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4 thoughts on “A matter of free expression

  1. Their cartoons were/are crude & pathetic. Nonetheless, it is their freedom of speech to do as they please so long as they are not doing things like calling for the deaths of innocent people, something in which I consider the revoking of such a thing as necessary.

    As Voltaire once said: “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.”

    • You can’t revoke freedom of speech, no matter how nasty a thing someone says or to whom. It’s not words that are meant to be punished by the law or the hammer of justice. You can only punish evil actions (i.e. the actual killing of innocents), not evil speech. As harsh as it may sound, to revoke the freedom of speech of even hostile individuals is an affront to the essential liberty of all. Either you allow all things to be said or nothing to be said. If we do not preserve the freedom of all speech under the law, we don’t actually have freedom of speech now do we?

      • You make a good point. I was just thinking in the sense that hate speech is where a line should be drawn since it would undoubtedly inspire nutjobs, regardless of how little they may be, to actually take what they say to heart. Still, you are right when you say malicious actions should be punished & not speech of that nature which is also kinda hypocritical of myself as I wrote in a prior blog post in how I feel censorship is unnecessary but rather education on why certain things are good or bad is the right thing to do, no?

      • On what you said about nutjobs: there’s always gonna be nutjobs, fanatics, psychopaths, in general individuals who are crazy, deranged, or just don’t have a moral compass or care for one. We can never avoid inspiring them, or having to deal with them. So we will always have to fight them. But on your point about education: yes you’re right in a way. The less stupid people in general are, the better.

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