[lg policy] Charlie Hebdo shows there’s always some speech that isn’t free

Baron, Dennis E debaron at illinois.edu
Sun Apr 5 22:07:35 UTC 2015


There’s a new post on the Web of Language: Charlie Hebdo shows there’s always some speech that isn’t free.


On January 7, 2015, terrorists attacked the offices of the satirical French magazine Charlie Hebdo, killing twelve, including the editor and several cartoonists. Much of the world denounced this brutal attack. French president François Hollande expressed outrage over the murder of Charlie Hebdo’s cartoonists, and millions of ordinary people rallied at the Place de la République in Paris, in the squares of other French cities, and in cities abroad as well, to reassert their commitment to free speech. Je suis Charlie became the chant of the day.

But Charlie fever proved all too brief. On January 11, the same world leaders who were chanting “Je suis Charlie” called for increased police powers to spy on the internet activities and mobile phones of terrorists, suspected terrorists, people who might one day become terrorists, and for good measure, just about everybody else on the planet, including cartoonists. There was little outrage that this surveillance, calculated to protect everyone’s speech, could actually wind up suppressing speech. And by the time the survivors of the Charlie Hebdo massacre published a new issue<https://www.scribd.com/doc/252607212/Charlie-Hebdo-1178-January-14-2015> on January 14, with a cover of Muhammad shedding a tear and holding a sign that says, “Je suis Charlie,” many of those who had condemned the murder of cartoonists now said, free speech is important, but insulting religion invites serious consequences.

Read the full post on the Web of Language: https://illinois.edu/blog/view/25

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