The Watcher Cat

The Watcher Cat

Sunday, January 11, 2015

No, I am Not Charlie, Nor Was Meant to Be...But I do support its Right to Free Speech

Today's rallies against terror in Paris are important, but. as Bernard Holtrop, a cartoonist from the staff of "Charlie Hebdo" points out, it doesn't help matters to identify with the magazine if it isn't something you really don't know:
The Dutch-born, Paris-based cartoonist explained that the shocking magazine has unexpected “new friends” following the Wednesday massacre that killed a third of its staff: the pope, Queen Elizabeth and Russian President Vladimir Putin have all praised the magazine.

“It really makes me laugh," Holtrop told the newspaper, according to a translation by AFP. "A few years ago, thousands of people took to the streets in Pakistan to demonstrate against Charlie Hebdo. They didn't know what it was. Now it's the opposite."

He added: “But if people are protesting to defend freedom of speech, naturally that's a good thing."
I don't know the content of Charlie Hebdo. Maybe I'd love it, maybe I'd hate it.

It doesn't matter.

Those who would silence speech with violence are the enemies of civilization.

A free press is the sine qua non for a real democratic-republican form of government. If criticism, even deeply unpleasant, angry, scalding criticism, can't be aired, then we are not free.

And that's when the government is doing the silencing. If self-appointed vigilantes are doing the silencing--the point is even more important. Because that means civil society is going, let alone democratic-republican society.

Standing up for free speech is critical--but it has to apply not just to speech we favor, but speech we abhor.

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