Tuesday, 13 January 2015

A gentle plea

This is a personal plea on something that is increasingly troubling me.

Nobody has a right not to be offended. Nobody has a right to kill over an insult. That is for sure. 

And, as a matter of free speech, journalists have every right to insult minorities— but that does not mean that they should. 

Tomorrow's massive, multilingual print run of Charlie Hebdo featuring a drawing of Mohammed on the cover is like someone running round the streets swearing at every Muslim he meets. Is that a noble and just use of one's right to free speech? Does it make the argument for free speech stronger, or does it not rather weaken it? 

Charlie Hebdo's response plays right into the hands of fundamentalists. By bullying a largely migrant minority with largely poor education and little mainstream political power, it will encourage further resentment and the radicalisation of now moderate Muslims. Last week's murderers will have won. 

My plea is this: exercise your freedom of expression by boycotting tomorrow's edition of Charlie Hebdo. Show that freedom of speech does not have to mean the victory of bullying and the propagation of hatred. 

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