Weekly Political Report: Je Suis Charlie–The Scandal on Freedom of Speech.
Each week I write a political issue that affects you and the world around you. This week’s political issue: Freedom of Speech
On January 7th, 2015, the city of Paris witnessed the horrific attack on freedom of speech, when a small band of Islamic extremists known as Al-Qaeda jihadists attacked the headquarters of a provocative French magazine called Charlie Hebdo. And in the wake of three attacks over three days, they have left 17 people dead including editor in chief Charb and four innocent Jews. Fortunately for France, the terrorists have been neutralized, but their actions were enough to raise France’s highest level of alert and send shock waves around the world. But instead of cowering in front of enemy lines, France took the world stage, in a moment of solidarity, the following Sunday, and rallied with world leaders (German Chancellor Angela Merkel, British Prime Minister David Cameron, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Palestinian President Mahoud Abbas) with the exception of US President Barack Obama to show that they are united against terrorism and that violence will never be tolerated. Yet, even after all of this, France has still left a permanent hole in the Jewish community; western nations are again at odds with securing terrorism in their own borders; and citizens across the world have heightened their consciousness on the repercussions of Freedom of Speech.
So what does this mean for freedom of speech across the world?
It means that freedom of speech will be always be endangered by the speech of death led by a minority of extremists who won’t rest till it is exterminated and the people who speak it.
But in order to save freedom of speech we must teach, to the masses and the younger generation, “what is freedom of speech?”, and that violence is never an excuse to attack it.
Freedom of speech is like a beautiful artwork really–particularly it is the art of The Critique.
Behind every great artwork there is a mark of intelligence inside the work–whether it be the Last Supper by Leonardo DaVinci or any mural of The Mexican Revolution by Diego Rivera. And even if it is humor, it is smart humor. Freedom of speech is meant to critique the failing politics of the old and open the eyes to injustice everywhere through symbolic language. A pen corking the might of a AK-14 gun (#JeSuisCharlie) that is freedom of speech, and the arms of the grand jury choking the life out of the justice system (#EricGarner), that is freedom of speech. Freedom of speech can be and should be about anything that a man or woman wishes to express to the world. But when it deviates from its true purpose, it’s true art form, (when it is used just to insult, to satire, or to make fun of) then they are just doodles on the wall.
Lastly we must teach everyone that violence should never be an excuse to attack freedom of speech especially over something trivial as cartoons. The massacre in Paris would have never happen if people in the world today understood that “cartoons are cartoons”–that they should never be fought over or killed over. It is time to teach everyone including our children that violence is never an excuse to attack freedom of speech. More importantly it is time for religious leaders especially of Islamic faith to reclaim their doctrine of peace. We cannot let the minority view of religion win over the majority view which is peace.
The deaths of four innocent civilians could have been averted if there was discourse. And all future innocent lives can be averted, if all people today understood that violence especially killing is never an excuse to attack freedom of speech, which brings me to another point on freedom of speech.
I and other fellow Americans treasure freedom of speech. But we also believe that you should not scream fire [or bomb] in a crowded theater. To deliberately provoke violence especially in an area where there is potential risk of violence (or terrorism) is never wise; for the sake and safety of others. Satirizing a particular group just for fun may appeal to one but innocent deaths of 10 people (or in this case 4 innocent Jews) resulting from that satire does not appeal to all. There should be a fine line between freedom of speech that provokes positive change and freedom of speech that provokes death.
To my freedom brothers and sisters in France, I mourn for your losses–and I too wish that President Obama was there in your time of solidarity. But remember that we were and still are the poster-children of democracy. Terrorism will never divide us and Liberty will always unite us. Viva La France! –Prince
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