A cringe-free statement from Charlie Klendjian, Secretary of the Lawyers’ Secular Society:
The Lawyers’ Secular Society condemns unequivocally the attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo which has left at least twelve people dead.
But that is the easy part. Equally unequivocally, we affirm the right to free speech even – indeed especially – where this mocks, offends and ridicules religious sensibilities.
The first word we should hear after the statement “free speech is important” is“therefore”. It is not “but”.
Precisely. I’ve been hearing way too many “buts” about Charlie Hebdo. Way too many “but it’s not ok to mock anyone’s sacred figures.” Nonsense. If it’s not ok to mock the sacred, then we’re all stuck in the groveling child role. “Sacred figures” are a scam to coerce money or deference or obedience or submission or all of those out of people who are seen as inferiors to the sacred figure. Satire tells us there are no sacred figures, there are only people.
We are appalled that so many news outlets, in reporting this massacre, have again chosen to self-censor. Their calls for “solidarity” seem hollow at best.
Religious ideas are not immune from scrutiny, criticism or ridicule. The more they seek to be, the more they present a compelling reason why they should not be.
Free speech without the right to mock, offend or ridicule is not free speech. Without free speech there is no freedom.
What we have seen in France is the application of de facto sharia law, for the “crime” of blasphemy. Blasphemy codes, whether informal or formal, have no place whatsoever in a civilised society. The best way to defeat them is to breach them: repeatedly, proudly, defiantly and unapologetically.
Freedom is in grave peril and we must defend it with all our might.
We have to cling hard to the right to blaspheme.