The cost of free speech

Thomas Planera

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Earlier this month, satirical cartoonists were killed by radical Islamists in Paris. The cartoonists had offended Muslims by portraying a caricature of Muhammad, and 12 people died in total.

Charlie Hebdo, the anti-religious weekly French magazine, has been in trouble with these things in the past.

Legal cases have been brought up against the magazine, accusing them of hate speech which violates French law.

France has what is called The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen which works in the same way as our First Amendment does.

Charlie Hebdo does not break any laws by publishing what they do, and they didn’t when they were attacked for it.

As immature and foolish as the cartoonists and writers are, they are exercising their right of free speech and have the privilege to publish what they please as long as it follows the laws.

How can anybody defend the attackers? If the magazine wants to publish offensive material, they can. So why are we forced to tolerate the intolerable?

This hot air has made it all the way to the head of the Catholic Church. Pope Francis recently made a statement saying, “Freedom of speech is a right and a duty that must be displayed without offending.”

This is the exact opposite of free speech.

Days after the terrorist act, there were these waves of people proclaiming “Je suis Charlie” or “I am Charlie” in defense of the victims who were senselessly killed. Some of the world’s most prominent leaders also showed up at a conference in Paris on the 11th supporting the victims.

It shouldn’t take an attack like this for people to start defending the right to free speech. When people criticized the Charlie Hebdo for being racist years or even months ago, “Je suis Charlie” was nowhere to be seen or heard. In reality, the critics probably ended up being the “Je suis Charlie” people too.

It’s also wrong to justify murder by incorporating it in your religion, however this act of terrorism shouldn’t be an excuse to hate all Muslims.

Charlie Hebdo will continue to make a living by doing what they do best, and that’s selling offensive, scornful cartoons.