Freedom Of Expression And Speech Over Religion

Posted by Viktoria Michaelis on January 20, 2015 in News & Opinion |

Do people really appreciate, let alone understand, what it is that they are marching in favor of? Do those same people understand the massive difference between what is being claimed as a Right, as a Freedom, and the Rights and Freedoms of those people on the other side of the street?

The killing of so many people in France – the killing of so many thousands of people around the world – in the name of religion, regardless of which religion it may be, is clearly wrong. It was wrong in ancient times, it is wrong today. There can be no sane justification for taking a life in such a manner, no matter what has happened, what they have done. There can also be no justifiable religious reason for taking lives in such a manner – whether it be in France, in Syria or elsewhere – especially when all religions claim to be peace-loving.

Clearly what is happening in the Middle East at the moment, the advance of the Islamic State, has nothing to do with peaceful co-existence and, for the bulk of Muslims, nothing to do with religion either. The leaders of this movement should not, therefore, be placed on the same level as the ordinary Muslim who follows his or her religion according to a peaceful and socially acceptable interpretation.

Likewise the killing of a group of people in Paris, mainly connected to the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, should not be placed upon the shoulders of the vast majority of Muslims. It should, however, be looked upon in a different light. The periodical and its employees attacked the entire Muslim religion with their satirical articles and cartoons. They did not limit themselves to what is wrong, what is being taken out of context, what is being mis-used and abused in the name of religion. Their satirical works – or what we in the West might see as being satirical – attacked millions of people who have nothing to do with the violence or abuses of those taking their chosen – or inherited – religious beliefs as an invitation to kill and maim.

The various Freedoms and Rights we have won and earned over many years can just as easily be abused as they can be lost. To claim the Right to abuse an entire religion simply because of a few, to claim Freedom of the Press, of Expression, of Opinion to heap abuse and vilification on others is an abuse of that Right and Freedom just as much as to claim that religion allows the killing of others to further its ends.

There can be no justification for the murders in Paris, if those who take it upon themselves to commit such acts claim to be doing it in the name of their religion. At the same time, there can be no justification for the abuse of an entire religion, people, country, ethnic race, sexual orientation in the name of Freedom. The Right to practice any Freedom should be coupled with the intelligence, the commonsense to realize that this Freedom is limited, and that those being vilified, attacked, abused who have nothing to do with a violent interpretation of a religious passage, belief or similar are having their Rights and Freedoms abused too. To claim Freedom and Right whilst denying Freedom and Right through abuse of those same Freedoms and Rights should be no ones Right.

  • Viktoria Michaelis.

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  • Francois says:

    I have been explaining why this is a fallacy for two weeks now. What is one more time?

    Religions have no rights: they are things, semantic objects. No one has any right to have their fairy tales respected, even if they believe them. Religions are fictions and do not deserve any more respect than any other fiction. To quote Salman Rushdie after the massacre: Islam deserves disrespect (he is as expert as they come).

    This anti-blasphemy position is the result of the reborn church militant (of all faiths).

    Charlie Hebdo published caricatures of the self-appointed prophet of a non-existent deity. For this, 12 people were butchered. This is exactly the same as murdering people who poke fun at Mickey Mouse because some little kids love the rodent. To question the freedom of mocking a religion is the first step in justifying any repression.

    Charlie Hebdo never attacked Muslims qua Muslims, that lie comes from a media that easily confounds the map and the territory and knows next to nothing of the publication and the people who make it.

    • For me the problem is exactly that this event has been directed against all Muslims, regardless of their shade or level of belief and that, to me, is wrong. I respect the right of periodicals like CH to publish and to use their Rights and Freedoms to the fullest extent but, and there must always be a but, these Rights and Freedoms apply to other people too, and should not be used in such a way that their Rights and Freedom s are abused or their honor insulted.

      • Francois says:

        I don’t think anyone ever forced a Muslim to read Charlie. I also do not remember Muslims protesting Charlie’s exact same treatment of Judaism or Catholicism which is actually their favourite religious target as they see the Catholic church as one of the most regressive forces in French politics (and rightly so.)

        And that is what freedom is about: I must defend your right to express anything about me. No church, no faith, no religion ever promoted freedom of expression. And now they support each other in an oecumenism of censorship that is nothing if not political. Dangerous.

  • I appreciate the point you’re making here, but I absolutely disagree. In a truly free society, there is no inalienable right to not be made fun of, nor is there an inalienable right to not be offended by what others choose to write, see or do. If the cartoons in ‘Charlie Hebdo’ or whatever offend you, you don’t buy the magazine, pure & simple – if they really offend you, you might write the editor a nasty letter or two. What you don’t do is go out and shoot whoever’s upset you, because a)it’s an affront to all that’s decent, and b)whatever argument you might have had is automatically invalidated. I’ve never seen ‘Charlie Hebdo’, and for all I know it may be lame crap, but as of this moment it is demonstrably morally superior to Islam. If Islam – or any other religion – is so bloody fragile that it truly can’t take being mocked and satirised, then it is philosophically redundant, and doesn’t deserve anyone’s respect.

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