Yesterday, it was a policewoman, killed in cold blood.
Today, a kosher market was invaded and people died. I just heard that the original terrorists were gunned down as they burst out of the building near the Charles de Gaulle airport, where they’d been holed up.
Jane and I were steps away from Charlie Hebdo a month ago. On the sixth of December, we explored the Marais District with a Discovery Tours guide called Lucie.
As we began the tour, a huge contingent of bicyclists went by, making a racket, attracting attention. Lucie explained that this was typical of the area – there was always some sort of protest going on there. She told us that the people of Paris value their right to free speech and their right to protest what they considered to be injustice. She talked about the storming of the Bastilles, that occurred right down the road from where we were standing. (Did you know that there were only 6 prisoners there, and they lived in relative comfort, due to the fact that they were aristocrats, and although imprisoned, they were still entitled to many luxuries?)
Certain Muslims are up in arms. They do not agree with “free speech” if it means Muhammad is mocked. Stéphane Charbonnier, editor and cartoonist at Charlie Hebdo, was among those killed on Wednesday. When the paper was hit with a firebomb in 2011, he stood defiantly among the debris and called the terrorists “idiots” who betrayed their own religion. He defended crude caricatures of Muhammad. "Muhammad isn't sacred to me," he said. "I don't blame Muslims for not laughing at our drawings. I live under French law. I don't live under Qur'anic law."
There’s a debate raging around the world. Are these attacks based on the cartoons, which are crude and designed to be funny, mocking Muhammad whom the Muslims consider to be their prophet? Some pundits and ordinary folk are furious that anyone would do such a thing. Don’t they value their life?
Charbonnier valued the freedom to write and draw what he wanted. "I don't have kids, no wife, no car, no credit," he told Le Monde. "Maybe it's a little pompous to say, but I'd rather die standing than live on my knees."
Others believe the attacks are designed to provoke retaliation against ordinary Muslims. There are millions of Muslims in France, and less than 2% are radicalized. That’s still a lot of angry people who believe they have a cause, and want to recruit others to join their jihad. Could it be that the cartoons are just an excuse, and that the real intention of the radicals is to heighten suspicion against all Muslims?
Quebec Newspapers Take a Stand
Yesterday, Canada's French-language newspapers published a cartoon of Muslim prophet Mohammed on Thursday in solidarity with Paris's Charlie Hebdo, which originally published the cartoon in 2006. The caption read: "Attacking someone simply for their ideas and opinions is an unacceptable obstacle to democracy."
Oppressors have always sought to gag those who disagree with them. In 399BC, Socrates told the jury, “If you offered to let me off this time on condition I am not any longer to speak my mind... I should say to you, "Men of Athens, I shall obey the Gods rather than you."
In 1215 Magna Carta, was signed. It is now regarded as the cornerstone of liberty in England, and had a great effect on the signers of the Declaration of Independence in the USA. Erasmus later wrote “ The Education of a Christian Prince,”and emphatically stated 'In a free state, tongues too should be free.'
Galileo fought for the right to claim the sun does not revolve around the earth. John Milton, the poet, argued against restrictions of the freedom of the press. “He who destroys a good book, kills reason itself.”
The French Have Fought Hard for Free Speech
In 1770 Voltaire wrote in a letter: 'Monsieur l'Abbé, I detest what you write, but I would give my life to make it possible for you to continue to write.' 'The Declaration of the Rights of Man', a fundamental document of the French Revolution written in 1789, provides for freedom of speech .
Freedom of speech means we tolerate those whose ideas we shun. For speech to truly be free, it must include things we disagree with.
In 1929 Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, of the US Supreme Court, outlined his belief in free speech: 'The principle of free thought is not free thought for those who agree with us but freedom for the thought we hate.'
Goebbels was in favour of free speech for views he liked. So was Stalin. Go ahead, say anything you want, as long as you agree with me.
That is not free speech. That is not freedom of expression. In a free society, people must be granted the right to say what THEY think.
Having said all that, I have to say this: for the Christian, there is no Free Speech.
Whatsoever you do, in word or deed, do all to the glory of God. That’s the subject of another post.
Meanwhile, I admire the Quebecers who stood in solidarity with Charlie Hebdo. I admire the courage of Sun News and Ezra Levant and Brian Lilley, who are willing to stand up and be counted as men who shun terrorism and defend the right of anyone to express their own opinion.
I also admire the gumption of those who survived the deadly attack at Charlie Hebdo. They’re planning on publishing another newspaper next Wednesday. They posted this on their website:
PARCE QUE LE CRAYON SERA TOUJOURS AU DESSUS DE LA BARBARIE…
PARCE QUE LA LIBERTÉ EST UN DROIT UNIVERSEL…
PARCE QUE VOUS NOUS SOUTENEZ…
Because the pencil will always be mightier than the sword…
Because liberty is a universal right…
Because you support us…