One of many things wrong with the Charlie Hebdo attack was the fact that it was an attempt, by terrorists, to impose censorship on a free press. Of course, that’s not surprising. You’d almost expect terrorists to be opposed to freedom of speech. If you’re not a cynic, though, you might not expect this:
French comedian Dieudonne was arrested on Wednesday for being an “apologist for terrorism” after writing a Facebook comment suggesting he sympathised with one of the Paris attacks gunmen, a judicial source said.
Which is worse than pursuing the same goals as the terrorists, right?Look, I get it: “they” attacked “us,” and so now we’re going to retaliate against anyone who might be sympathetic to “them.” That’s why we invaded Iraq, despite knowing that they had absolutely nothing to do with 9/11. Saddam Hussein was cheering for the hijackers, so never mind what it costs or what the final death toll is among civilians and US military personnel, we’re going to kick his ass.
This is why it’s so hard to defend human rights. You say all these nice flowery things about “freedom of speech” and “freedom of the press,” but as soon as you get ticked off, bang, out the window. It’s all, “I say what I like and you STFU.”
Maybe Dieudonne is anti-semitic. Maybe Charlie Hebdo is racist. That’s not the issue. Dieudonne never said that Charlie Hebdo deserved to be attacked, or that anyone deserved to die, but he should have the right to say that if he wants to. It would be a stupid and evil thing to say, and if he did say anything like that he should be roundly denounced by everyone else exercising their freedom of speech. Because that’s what freedom of speech means.
The French government, by arresting Dieudonne, is agreeing with the terrorists that there are some things you cannot be allowed to say, and that you deserve punishment if you say them. That is the type of “sympathizing with the attackers” that we ought to be concerned about. Freedom of speech, once lost, is very difficult to regain.