January 7, 2015 | Paris, France | 11:30 Local Time
Saïd and Chérif Kouachi force their way into the offices of satiricalweekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo, murdering in cold blood Stephane Charbonnier, Jean Cabut, Bernard Verlhac, Georges Wolinski, Bernard Maris, Philippe Honore, Michel Renaud, Elsa Cayat, Ahmed Merabet, Frédéric Boisseau, Franck Brinsolaro, & Mustapha Ourrad for no other reason than Charlie Hebdo’s publication of images of Muhammad.
photo courtesy ITVNews & itv.com
Yes, it is true these images were considered irreverent.
Irrelevant, as Islam prohibits all visual representation of the prophet.
Je suis Charlie
As the world learned of the attacks, the world rallied around Paris.
Americans exclaimed “Je suis Charlie!,”
proclaimed their devotion to the freedom of speech,
and changed their Facebook profile photos . . .
. . . until something else came along.
January 7, 2016 | 5:30 Local Time | 11:30 Paris Time
The date and time are no accident, because I have not forgotten. For the past 365 days I and others like me have made a conscientious effort to protect and promote not just freedom of speech, but all First Amendment rights.
One need only look at the State of the First Amendment to realize we have failed – a full 19% of those surveyed say the First Amendment goes too far.
Let’s get more specific, shall we?
The First Amendment Under Fire
Unsurprisingly, colleges and university made headlines
Some students demanded “safe spaces” from ideas and opinions they find uncomfortable, while others needed “trigger warnings” so they could shut their ears from the possibility of bad memories.
Professors were criticized for thinking critically about those “needs”, as well as gender, Halloween costumes, and cafeteria food.
Speakers were invited – or uninvited – based on the approval of the mob.
I’m going to call Mizzou out by name, where demonstrators against racism and bigotry attempted to restrict freedom of the press by only allowing access to those reporters 100% sympathetic to their cause.
Students are in school to learn how to deal with the real world.
The time for tantrums ended long ago.
From brick-and-mortar to server-and-cloud, we turn to the internet.
While proposals to proposals to the Internet to groups like ISIS might find widespread support, such discussions inevitably turn to banning all forms of “hate speech”, ambiguous a term if ever there was one.
Restricting access to beheading videos is one thing, but Google’s Eric Schmidt has more ambitious ideas.
[Schmidt voiced] the idea of an algorithm that would relentlessly prowl the corridors of the Web searching and eliminating hateful speech — an Orwellian concept of censorship-by-technology that went even further than “1984” author George Orwell imagined. *
And, lest we forget the Presidential candidates:
Donald Trump. Need I say more?
However, other Republican and Democratic candidates have voiced support for a so-called “Silicon Valley Solution”.
And then there’s Bernie Sanders, the Vermont socialist-cum-democrat who’s been most vociferous calling for an increased American democracy. Senator, America is a Democratic Republic, and democracy ends in mob rule. Based on your own logic, should you be elected President Facebook will be the new House, Twitter the new Senate, and BuzzFeed the Supreme Court. In which case, God help us all.
Nevertheless, better the devil you know than the devil you don’t.
American society in general fared no better.
Supporters of the Confederate Flag found themselves more ostracized than usual after Dylan Roof murdered nine people in Charleston, SC.
Colleges, cities, and even the state of South Carolina removed the flag (or versions thereof) from certain premises, and several online retailers took the perfectly acceptable action of discontinuing products featuring the flag.
However others would have the Federal Government restrict the right of American citizens to display the flag in any context.
If surveys are to be believed, 35% of Americans support a Federal statute banning the Confederate flag on license plates. No word on how many support a similar ban on Planned Parenthood tags.
At least President Obama didn’t issue an executive order declaring the flag illegal.
Other cities – like New Orleans – have begun to sanitize history by removing Confederate statues and memorials.
Since we’re on the topic of unpleasant history, here’s Rod Serling:
All the Dachaus must remain standing. The Dachaus, the Belsens, the Buchenwalds, the Auschwitzes – all of them. They must remain standing because they are a monument to a moment in time when some men decided to turn the Earth into a graveyard. Into it they shoveled all of their reason, their logic, their knowledge, but worst of all, their conscience. And the moment we forget this, the moment we cease to be haunted by its remembrance, then we become the gravediggers. Something to dwell on and to remember, not only in the Twilight Zone but wherever men walk God’s Earth.
Deaths-Head Revisited [emphasis mine]
Oh, and since I’ve mentioned God, let’s talk religion . . .
Opponents of same-sex marriage are *officially* on the naughty list for daring to take a stand against society-determined morality. I mean, if it’s the choice between religion and government, you should always go with the government, right? right?
Remember: it’s possible to dislike an action while still loving the person performing the action. Stop conflating tolerance with acceptance.
Anti-Abortion advocates found themselves censored when a temporary restraining order was issued against the Center for Medical Progress, the group responsible for leaking videotapes alleged to show PP profiting from the sale of aborted fetuses.
Note: While the linked article calls the videotapes “heavily edited to cast Planned Parenthood in an unflattering light”, the full videos were also available, and they didn’t improve PP’s image at all.
And, since many suffer from the delusion that religion and science are incompatible, let’s not forget there are still advocates for the arrest of climate-change deniers based on the awful decision of the Italian courts to convict six seismologists of manslaughter for failing to predict an earthquake.
Oh wait, it was really about the defendants giving “‘inexact, incomplete and contradictory information’ about whether small tremors prior to the April 6 quake should have constituted grounds for a warning”?
How is that different from predicting an earthquake?
All right, I know these articles are from 2014, but the trend is toward charging climate-change deniers with crimes against humanity.
Speaking of intellectual freedom, here’s a friendly reminder that governments in America still try to ban, restrict, and censor books.
I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it. – Evelyn Beatrice Hall [attr. to Voltaire]
The Real Danger to the First Amendment
The real danger to the First Amendment are those willing to suppress First Amendment freedoms in the name of public safety, namely Millennials.
There’s just one problem with that – the first amendment proffers no right to feel safe, no right to not be offended, and certainly no provision to punish people who make unpopular speech . . . In plain language, the first amendment does not give you the right not to be offended or not to be mocked, and the fact that these people are using the first amendment to, in essence, advocate censorship, is one of those perfect ironies that seldom comes along in this life.
– Daniel P. Malito
It’s obvious there’s more work to be done.
The right to express one’s political, religious, and even literary ideas are under constant attack, and we must remain ever vigilant in our defense of those rights.
Others may have forgotten, but I will not.
Je suis Charlie
Je reste Charlie
[I remain Charlie]
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