Charlie Hebdo: Freedom of Speech?


The terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo has taken a huge hit on citizens across the globe enacting fear, but also enacting camaraderie. The rallies taken place across the world stood in remembrance of the victims, but also to stand up for the one thing these terrorists were trying to suppress through violence, freedom of speech and freedom of the press.

The attack on Charlie Hebdo makes one wonder why we cannot live peacefully with the freedoms that we are entitled to. This has not been the first time that Charlie Hebdo has been attacked for their controversial publications, but this attack has many of us wondering about the future of the press and the freedoms associated. But how far is too far without invoking provocation and when are the lines crossed?  If you look at the vast amount of magazines that post political cartoons, religious cartoons or even the latest scandals, being able to have the freedom to publish and even draw are inalienable.

We live in an age were pretty much anything is left on the table to be poked at and extremists acts do nothing but anger the public.  Whatever happened to peaceful protests with a large number of citizens to stand up for something they believe in or disagree with? Why do individuals have to resort to violence? There is no one person who can answer that question but it enacts reflection on today’s culture and societal norms.

Many individuals who are religious hear or see comedic jokes on their beliefs, but most just brush it off and keep on with their daily lives. The main point is that, yes, there are going to be many things that you read in a newspaper or a magazine that are going to upset you, but the beauty of it is that human beings are given the freedom to express themselves through a pen and paper. Individuals should not be suppressed for expression. There is always going to be something that is going to offend someone out there.

After the attack, freedom of speech has been under scrutiny and many in France and around the world are questioning whether or not there should be limitations on what can be published. As we know, there are the obvious limitations for slander, libel, “hate speech” and so forth, these are a given, but religion is not as protected in some countries compared to others. Should there be limitations? To some degree, yes, but again where do we draw the line on free speech? There are just so many questions that many of are asking ourselves and one of those questions are how free are we really to express ourselves without having the fear to do so.

“The dead cartoonists, in the end, were right. If you can’t put pen to paper without risking death, you can’t do anything freely.” – Nicole Gelinas – “Blaming the Victim: Charlie Hebdo & free speech” – New York Post