Je suis Voltaire
It should go without saying, but let’s say it anyway: I join the rest of the world in condemning the terrorist attack on the French magazine Charlie Hebdo.
I’m not familiar with the publication, and all I know is what’s been reported in the media coverage of the attack. I’m sure they’ve published offensive things, no doubt often for very good reasons. Maybe sometimes also gratuitously so, which would be indefensible unless with an apology for poor judgement. But even if they were completely wrong, nothing justifies gunning them down!
Here in Blighty we were treated to a clip of our beloved Prime Minister expressing sentiments with which we can all agree. Alas, some of his fine words sit uneasily with his government’s less-than-fine actions. What I found utterly jarring and what prompts me to comment were his words: “… and we stand squarely for free speech …“.
No you don’t: you have demonstrated that you stand squarely against free speech. On your government’s watch, people have been imprisoned for having the wrong book, or for being an arse on twitter (the latter looks like a close analogy to the very Free Speech you claim to defend). Your government shows no signs of rolling back Blair’s police state, but rather looks to extend it, and our culture has moved so far into totalitarianism that a supposedly-serious documentary programme this week on the BBC can be outraged by free speech where it exists elsewhere in the world!
OK, dragging some poor sod through our courts isn’t the same as gunning them down. That more genteel and sophisticated option isn’t available to private individuals, so while the difference is real, it isn’t a simple case of civilisation vs barbarity.
What a hypocrite!
p.s. There’s another case been in the news recently. Some footballer who’s been to prison, and whose attempts to return to work have been thwarted by a successful campaign of terror. That is, real terror: it seems prospective employers have been scared off by credible threats of extreme violence. Now that situation (of credible threats) is precisely where the State should have a legitimate interest in taking action against the culprit(s). Will they?