I have been in doubt about doing this, not because of self-censorship, but because the subject of my blog is far, far removed from the battlegrounds of free speech, and this post is definitely off-topic for this blog. My apologies.
However, as an author, and as a citizen felling very strongly about the value of free speech and of tolerance (even if both cannot be unlimited), I have decided to adapt the header of this blog, and use my podium in support of those who defend free speech, such as the people from Charlie Hebdo, the French magazine that was brutally attacked on Jan 7, 2015.
Sadly, I think, the biggest threat for our free societies is not the terrorist attack. These terrorists are humans with fringe ideas and accompanying behaviour. Such behaviour is unacceptable, even when it is also fuelled by many injustices that exist in the world. Wrongs, such as terrorist attacks, are incapable of making a right.
No, the biggest threat is that we will build a secular unfree society to prevent a religious one.
I heard of many people who feel uncomfortable about supporting Charlie Hebdo, because these people feel Charlie Hebdo misuses free speech to hurt others. They feel, they cannot support Charlie Hebdo because the cartoons of Charlie Hebdo go too far. They do not want to support Charlie Hebdo’s content. (Actually, these were Christians, not Muslims).
In fact, there are two issues here. One is free speech. The other is the rule of law, with democratically set laws and an independent judiciary, in fact a corner stone of a free civilisation.
Supporting Charlie Hebdo in this is not the same as supporting Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons. Above all, it is supporting their right not to be shot by anyone with a grudge. If someone holds a grudge, they should not shoot, they should take Charlie Hebdo to court. It is that right that is fundamental here, and that right Charlie Hebdo (and everyone in free societies) has. It is that right that allows us to call our society a civilisation. It is what being ‘civilised’ means. These attacks are not just an attack on certain content or on free speech. It is an attack against the rule of law in a free society. It is an attack on our foundations.