Je ne suis pas Charlie
Karen Rosenbaum
2

Je Suis Voltaire

Although he never actually said it, Voltaire is often attributed the belief “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

Sadly, his home nation has seem to have fallen under some sort of spell, in which that belief is more “I disapprove of what you say, and it makes people feel sad, so, time for jail for you.”

I respond to your points, Ms. Rosenbaum, in the order you offered them.

First of all, I find it incredibly problematic that your biggest concern regarding the Charlie Hebdo shooting was not that grown men were such pathetic and worthless people that they decided to shoot innocent individuals over cartoons. Would we approve of a child striking another child for a schoolyard insult?

The fact that Charlie Hebdo’s cartoon may have been racially or culturally intolerant is meaningless to free speech. Now, you are well within your right to think what they draw and argue is awful. I likely fall in agreement with you there. As a devout Roman Catholic, some of Hebdo’s cartoons are absolutely disgusting and insulting to me. They insult my faith, they basically call it idiocy, it is greatly offensive to me.

Yet, I allow it. Because I would much rather die in a nation where one can say and speak as they will than one where I am told to shut up because it’s for the common good.

The fact your home state would prosecute the cartoonists speaks very poorly of your home state. It means your home state has accepted totalitarianism as a way to change hearts and minds instead of letting the public simply decide on its own. It saddens me, as I had a much higher opinion of Australia before.

It seems that the West, save the United States, has gotten confused as to what exactly human rights cover. There is no human right to not be offended.

You say freedom of speech does have limits. You would be correct in that statement. It is certainly not absolute. But, your limits are ill-considered. It is true that incitation to violence and actual threat are not allowed. I agree with you there. But that is where we diverge, Ms. Rosenbaum.

But as for racial vilification? Disgusting, but, by all means, let it be said! The government should not prosecute people for slurs. Publically approving terrorism? So long as you do not command people to go out and commit horrible acts, yes, that is your right! The people that applauded the Charlie Hebdo shootings are awful people, but, they have the right to think such! That’s what free speech is! We don’t need freedom of speech for the happy, flowery nice talk. We need it for that expression which is revolting, disgusting, and crude. We need it for the Ku Klux Klan, for the Maoists, for the Islamophobes, for the far-left. We need it! Because it is that way we expose those fools for who they are. If you stifle speech, you don’t change the hearts of those people.

So, Amnesty International says they should be prosecuted? To hell with Amnesty International! To hell with international human rights law! You’re damn right Hebdo had the right to incite hatred against it!

I challenge you to insult me, Ms. Rosenbaum. I challenge you to insult me and everything I believe in. Insult my Catholic faith! Insult my American conservatism! Insult my body weight! Insult my ugly visage!

You will be, as you describe it, inciting hatred. I will likely be very offended, oh yes, but, guess what? I’m never going to come to your office and kill you! Crazy isn’t it? Unlike the terrorists, I can actually let things go!

You know what could incite someone to violence if they’re crazy enough? A picture of a kitten. Maybe that sets them off. Should we, therefore, ban pictures of kittens because of this? Of course not! Such is insanity!

I feel no more need to make my point, because, the rest of your writing, with all due respect, Ms. Rosenbaum, is utter nonsense. Freedom of speech does give us the right to insult and offend.

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