Never, it seems, has the freedom to speak been under more attack than in these days following the tragic murders of the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists. “President Francois Hollande said there was no doubt it had been a terrorist attack “of exceptional barbarity”. Twelve people slaughtered in the name of terrorism, and their blood was not cool when people began the outcry against them. Attempts to shame the victims, to blame them for their own deaths, began while the world was still shuddering with the impact of their deaths.
In the wake of the initial event, someone said to me “Free speech… isn’t.”
No, it isn’t. It has been paid for in blood so many times. Over and over, the right to say what one thinks has been enforced with death, with cruelty, with shaming publicly.
A Saudi Blogger who supported the actions of the Charlie staff is being flogged 1000 times as a punishment for his free speech.
A German newspaper that reprinted some of the Muhammed cartoons was firebombed. “The paper had splashed three Charlie Hebdo cartoons on its front page after the Paris massacre, running the headline “This much freedom must be possible!”
A few outspoken journalists, pampered and protected beyond belief, are advocating that our nation’s fundamental rights be torn away from us, and replaced with this: “In some countries, people are automatically declared guilty of hate speech and other hate crimes unless they can absolutely prove their innocence beyond any reasonable doubt.” In fact, this person advocates strongly for re-education camps. “Merely sending bigots to ordinary prisons is not good enough – they need to be sent to special prisons for bigots, which will re-educate them.” (italics not mine).
I can only look at this, shake my head in pity, and wonder if this poor child has any idea what she is talking about. Sadly, until more of us speak up, refuse to be silenced by her ilk, and cry out for our freedom, it will continue to be eroded.
I offer Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s words to her, if she has ears to hear.
This is surely the main problem of the twentieth century: is it permissible merely to carry out orders and commit one’s conscience to someone else’s keeping? Can a man do without ideas of his own about good and evil, and merely derive them from the printed instructions and verbal orders of his superiors? Oaths! Those solemn pledges pronounced with a tremor in the voice and intended to defend the people against evildoers: see how easily they can be misdirected to the service of evildoers and against the people!
Part V, Katorga, Ch. 9 The Kids with Tommy Guns
What makes her think she would be special? That she would not end with her head rolling in the dust? She refuses to contemplate that in fighting for freedom, we speak for her, as well.
In the wake of the killings, the movement has been to make this about Charlie: about how evil they were, in how they mocked, and taunted, and teased, so they asked for their deaths. But if we cannot stand the words, the lines drawn on paper, then who next? Who next is labeled ‘extremist’and ‘hater’ and who will stand with a gun in their face, because they spoke?
I will not be silenced. You cannot make me afraid.