Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Freedom to Say Anything?

A writer writes!

The attack on the office of the French satirical newspaper.  I wondered why would the newspaper create the images of Muhammad knowing what repercussions they could face?  Apparently the reason fell under the umbrella of "freedom of speech".  The newspaper apparently felt it had the right to create and publish the material regardless of who was offended by the newspaper's display of "freedom".  In this instance that freedom of speech had deadly consequences to the staff of the newspaper, their families, and a ripple effect worldwide.

Even though the newspaper understood that creating the images was offensive to a segment of the Muslim community, the staff made a conscious decision to create and publish them.  Did the newspaper then take the necessary steps to protect the safety and security of the newspaper staff?  The events of the past weeks say they did not.  Was the newspaper relying on the police and the government to protect them from any repercussions of their right to free speech?

The umbrella of free speech seems to allow for a range of behaviors and beliefs.  Unfortunately not all of the expression of free speech brings about actions that could be considered positive.  The umbrella of freedom allows for expression of a wide range of opinions/beliefs.  Unfortunately these opinions/beliefs can be hateful and disrespectful of others.  Free speech opinions can promote conflict.  Somewhere throughout our history as human beings, we've come to the conclusion that we can say whatever we want no matter who may be offended by our statements and beliefs.  This seems to be a theory of "the freedom to create conflict, confusion, and hatred".  We express opinions simply because we can.

Maybe it is best to not always say what we want or to express an opinion?  In the case of the Paris newspaper, they knew that a segment of the population felt it was sacrilegious to draw images of the prophet Muhammad in a cartoon.  But for some reason they felt obliged to do so and accept the consequences of their actions.  What benefit did the newspaper create by drawing the images of Muhammad?  What was improved?  What was the point of drawing the images? How was the world made better by drawing the images?

You often hear about people who have their buttons pushed.  That means to provoke a reaction a person knows what to say and what to do to someone else.  Well, if someone asks you not to do something, and you do it anyway why be surprised at what happens when you ignore their request?  Not everyone is going to react peacefully to a confrontation of beliefs.  Throughout history are many examples of where violence has resulted due to a clash of beliefs.  Some people will react violently to how someone else exercises freedom of speech.

We can't hide behind the free speech banner to justify all of our actions.  At times we need to pause and think.  Yes, we have the freedom to say what we want.  But, if we do express opinions without thinking of the repercussions, accept the consequences.

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