Feb 01

Freedom of Expression: Justified or Offensive?

In Brief—Readers can weigh in with their views on why the Charlie Hebdo actions and subsequent killings were or were not warranted. In a second hypothetical case, readers are free to express their views on whether actions or statements can be considered beyond the pale or not. There is no right or wrong response, just your honest views and your reasons in a Comment on the blog or privately.

———————————————————————————————————————————

NOTE: If you are not familiar with computers, you may have noticed highlighted words or phrases in the writer’s main message. In this blog, the highlighted areas are in light blue. These indicate links to other sources that are related or may interest you. All you need to do is place your cursor on the highlighted words or phrases and click. You will be whisked to the relevant material. After this, you need only wipe across the material and you will be taken back to the main message. Rest assured, your computer will not blow up. Go ahead, try it.

——————————————————————————————————————————–

Attacks for Depicting Mohammed—

On January 7, 2015, two militant Islamic terrorists attacked and murdered twelve employees, including the editor and several cartoonists, at the Parisian weekly Charlie Hebdo because the weekly paper published satiric cartoons depicting Mohammed. At about the same time, an alleged associate of the two terrorists attacked and murdered four people at a kosher supermarket in another part of Paris. All three terrorists were subsequently killed by French police.

On January 14, 2015, one week after the murders, Charlie Hebdo published its paper with a front page featuring a tearful Mohammed caricature under a banner displaying the words, “I am Charlie” and holding a sign saying, “All is forgiven.” The image was intended to mean that the terrorist murderers were to be forgiven for their deed.

Repercussions, both positive and negative, have followed nationally and internationally. Al Queda has stated that they are responsible.

Questions for Readers—

1— Should Charlie Hebdo Have…a) Depicted a cartoon Mohammed At Any Time or…b) Depicted the Prophet On Their Front Page After the Terrorist Attack?

You, the readers, are encouraged to express your views on the actual case regarding whether Charlie Hebdo should have risked offending believing Muslims at any time in the past and whether they risked further reprisal attacks by militant believers in Islam for blaspheming Mohammed through cartoon depictions. It should be noted that France has strong hate-speech laws, and this may or may not be taken into consideration. Give your reason(s) for your view and why you have that view.

Hypothetical on Offensive Speech/Actions—

2— In a hypothetical second case, “Bull” Shyzza, a notorious anti-Semite, racist and homophobe, publicly announces that he will be delivering a speech for the first time at the traditional Speakers Square in town. Following the conclusion of the municipality’s annual 4th of July parade, he expects to lead a large group of like-minded citizens carrying American flags and placards containing various offensive slogans and caricatures. The Shyzza group parade plans to follow the same route.

Please give your views on Shyzza’s speech and march plan and why you have those views. As part of your response, you may want to consider what, if anything, the municipality can do and what, if anything, the onlookers or community may do or say to the press. This is optional.

A Forceful Admonition—

I strongly urge you to read Kenan Malik’s views on freedom of expression. If these don’t set you to thinking then you are not paying attention to one of the paramount issues of our time, a discussion that may affect our future.

There are no right or wrong views, just your honest opinions. If you are concerned about commenting publicly on DeBaytable.com, feel free to contact me privately at don.bay@comhem.se. I promise that your privacy will in no way be compromised.

Despite the title of this blog, there will be no debate since I am looking only for reader response to the questions above. Please state your views and the reason(s) why you have those views. I will state some observations, but I will not dispute the views that are submitted. You are free to agree or disagree with the observations I make.

This is not a test. I hope it will foster thought on the subject of free expression.

6 comments

Skip to comment form

  1. freedom of expression ends where my nose begins.

      • Don Bay on February 2, 2015 at 16:50
        Author

      Thanks for your comment, Shelley. However, my promise to accept all comments without discussion, and stating my own views generally means that my explanation in the Comment section would be so long that most readers will not see where I stand on the issue. As a result, I am writing a regular piece that will be posted for all to read in about two weeks. Please stay tuned and feel free to disagree if you believe I’ve gone too far.

  2. Let’s forget for a moment that much of the world is lumping Muslim and terrorist together as if one were always the other. Let’s take terrorism out of the equation for a minute. Would Charlie Hebdo have been satirizing Mohamed? Not having been a follower of Charlie Hebdo, I don’t really know what it’s motivation was or if it’s cartoons were designed to provoke thought by it’s readers or anger by Muslims.
    I have no issue with free speech, none at all. With the old exception of screaming ‘Fire’ in a theater, I’m not sure that there needs to be legal limits. However there is the issue of good taste. In no way do I condone the response that was exacted on Charlie Hebdo’s office, but I can understand Muslim dissatisfaction.
    Let’s look at another recent news story….the movie, ‘The Invitation’. It’s easy, in that case, to say, well, it’s just a comedy, no big deal. But let’s suppose that it was a movie about the Queen of England being raped. Would the British have been pissed off? Most definitely. We like the Queen, so no such movie would be considered. We don’t like the Koreans, so it’s open season on them.
    It seems to me that attempting to understand others goes much farther than making fun of them. But, I suppose that’s true only in the perfect world that I imagine.

      • Don Bay on February 2, 2015 at 16:54
        Author

      Thanks for your comment, Dave. However, as I have said to everybody who has submitted a comment, my promise to accept all comments without discussion, and stating my own views generally means that my explanation in the Comment section would be so long that most readers will not see where I stand on the issue. As a result, I am writing a regular piece that will be posted for all to read in about two weeks. Please stay tuned and feel free to disagree if you believe I’ve gone too far.

  3. Clearly this issue is difficult, if not impossible, to define for everyone. Shelley’s comment may or may not be appropriate for each of us, because our noses are of different sizes and sensitivities. If my nose prohibits you from commenting then we are in trouble. If your free speech breaks my nose and renders me incapable of living my life then we also are in trouble.

    Charlie Hebdo had every right to do what they did, but given radical fundamentalist Muslims CH also may have invited the outcome. The same could be said for radical fundamentalists of all kinds. I do not at all condone the outcome, but perhaps CH should have anticipated that at some point they were being reckless.

    So the right to speak your truth must be protected. And the requirement that you must be accountable for speaking that truth must also be recognized. I abhor violence of any kind. And violence exists nevertheless.

    So, going to Bull Shyzza, I would hope his people would be allowed to march. Similarly, my beliefs in gay rights, racial equality, gender equality, freedom of worship and other human rights issues should allow my group to march. And history tells us that Bull’s group may be inclined to commit violence on my group and my group is unlikely to commit violence on his group. Will the state and it’s police equally protect all of us from violence from the other side? I doubt it.

    So for me it all comes down to what the outcome of our free speech happens to be. If a person says “I hate Jews” it may be their right to say so. If they follow it up with “so let’s kill them all” it certainly isn’t their right to say that. When does it become hate speech? That’s the crux of the question. And it has to be applied equally to everyone.

      • Don Bay on February 2, 2015 at 16:56
        Author

      Thanks for your comment, Jim. However, as I have said to everybody who has submitted a comment, my promise to accept all comments without discussion, and stating my own views generally means that my explanation in the Comment section would be so long that most readers will not see where I stand on the issue. As a result, I am writing a regular piece that will be posted for all to read in about two weeks. Please stay tuned and feel free to disagree if you believe I’ve gone too far.

Comments have been disabled.