We’re all talking about free speech, since the #CharlieHebdo massacre this week. It’s a good time to review just what that is.
Arthur Chu thinks it likely doesn’t extend to trollish behavior, which is how he characterizes the satirical magazine. Thankfully, though, there are more reasonable voices out there. Rich Lowry stated that the Charlie Hebdo staff were on the cutting edge of free speech, the dangerous edge; the edge where there are few defenders. David Brooks points out that universities here have silenced much less radical views on a regular basis. And Maggie Gallagher walked through her own sobering thoughts in ‘I Am Not Charlie’.
Freedom of speech tends to be a Western Civilization value. Here’s how it works: I can say people are being assholes and still defend their right to say asshole things. That goes for people I like, and people I don’t. That goes for Alec Baldwin as much as it does for Phil Robertson.
And if someone values their own feelings over another human life, and sees causing offense as a crime punishable by death, there is no place for them in civilized society. It’s amazing that we have to explain this to the apologists, but put it to them this way: If a ‘BUT’ is anywhere in your condemnation of terrorists murdering the Charlie Hebdo staff, you’re part of the problem.
To be very clear, THIS is free speech.
And so is this.
And this as well.
And this, too.
Bottom line, the neat thing about really standing for free speech?
You don’t have to decide which speech for which to stand.
Trolls or no, it wasn’t the content#CharlieHebdo creaters were standing for, nor is content what the supporters are defending. It was the right to say anything. ANYTHING. One may not have liked how they did it, but that, not the content, is the ultimate issue.
It was that – the bleeding edge of free speech – that the Charlie Hebdo staff died for.
I hope we don’t let them down.