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Tags: charlie hebdo | attack | free speech

Five Years After Charlie Hebdo Attack, Speech Is Even Less Free

Five Years After Charlie Hebdo Attack, Speech Is Even Less Free

Former French President Francois Hollande and Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo lay a wreath on January 7, 2020, in Paris, in tribute to French police officer Ahmed Merabet who was killed by jihadist terrorists the same day of the attack of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo that killed 12 people, five years ago. (Francois Guillot/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Michael Dorstewitz By Wednesday, 08 January 2020 01:42 PM EST Current | Bio | Archive

If the Jan. 7, 2015, attack on the offices of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo by Islamic extremists should have taught the world anything, it’s that freedom of expression needs to be cherished and protected.

But instead it’s being curtailed even further by colleges and universities, social media platforms, and even by governments that purport to be free, open, and democratic societies.

The attackers swarmed the Paris offices of the weekly publication, and using pistols, rifles, a shotgun, and even a rocket-propelled grenade, murdered 12 and injured 11.

The magazine, which routinely lampoons government and religion, was targeted for its history of depicting cartoon images of the Muslim Prophet Mohammed.

The reign of terror continued for two additional days, including an incident where one of the terrorists held 19 people hostage at a Kosher supermarket and killed four of them.

In the days immediately following the assault, the phrase "Je suis Charlie" (I am Charlie) trended everywhere on social media.

And on January 11, a mere two days after the attacks ended, an estimated 3.7 million people, including 40 world leaders, marched through Paris in support of the magazine, against terrorism, and most importantly in support of freedom of expression.

The marchers included French President Francois Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, and British Prime Minister David Cameron.

Neither U.S. President Barack Obama nor Secretary of State John Kerry participated.

Three days after the march a new issue of Charlie Hebdo hit the newsstands, with another cartoon image of Mohammed on the cover, this time holding a sign saying "Je suis Charlie."

This wasn’t the first time the magazine was targeted. In 2011 its offices were firebombed for another cartoon image of Mohammed, and in 2006 then-French President Jacques Chirac claimed the magazine’s reprinting other Mohammed cartoons was an act of "overt provocation."

NBC News, whose slogan is "The news you want, when you want it," places apparent limits on what news viewers should want.

Fewer than 10 days after the Charlie Hebdo attack, the magazine’s new editor, Gerard Briard, unloaded on NBC News “Meet The Press” host Chuck Todd, for the network’s decision to blur out the publication’s cover that included Mohammed’s cartoon image.

“This cartoon is a symbol of freedom of religion, democracy, and secularism,” Briard told Todd. “It is this symbol that these newspapers refuse to publish. When they refuse to publish this cartoon, when they blur it out, when they decline to publish it, they blur out democracy, secularism, freedom of religion, and they insult the citizenship.”

And it’s become worse since them. Although Merkel was among the Paris marchers and is still the German chancellor, she obviously forgot the lessons of five years ago.

In November she essentially said that in order to keep society free, the government needs to limit free speech.

After declaring that “We have freedom of expression in our country,” she added, “but freedom of expression has its limits. Those limits begin where hatred is spread. They begin where the dignity of other people is violated. This house will and must oppose extreme speech. Otherwise, our society will no longer be the free society that it was.”

Colleges and universities have increasingly been accused of banning speech they deem hateful, which they define as any speech that others may disagree with.

Most recently social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter have come under fire for removing posts and even permanently blocking users — primarily those having conservative voices.

Although Facebook can be applauded for permitting political ads to run free of censorship, it’s also purged hundreds of accounts from its platform, including those of gay conservative Milo Yiannopoulos and former Project Veritas undercover journalist Laura Loomer, who’s now running for Florida’s 21st congressional district.

Among the users that Twitter banned was conservative actor James Woods, who was shut out of his account for a post saying, “If you try to kill the king, you better not miss. #HangThemAll”

Woods has been locked out of his account since April of last year.

On Tuesday, the 5th anniversary of the Charlie Hebdo attack, Charlie had a special issue dedicated to social media censorship.

Its cover depicts a giant smartphone crushing a man’s arms and tongue. The phone displays Twitter, Facebook, and Snapchat logos and is captioned, “nouvelles censures, nouvelles dictatures” (new censorship, new dictatorships).

Eighteen-plus years ago we promised we’d “never forget” the September 11 attack on our shores. Yet too many people have forgotten.

Five years ago we promised to cherish our freedoms and “never forget” the Charlie Hebdo attack, and, yet again, too many have forgotten.

Our pathetically short memory could be our ultimate undoing.

Michael Dorstewitz is a retired lawyer and has been a frequent contributor to BizPac Review and Liberty Unyielding. He is also a former U.S. Merchant Marine officer and an enthusiastic Second Amendment supporter, who can often be found honing his skills at the range. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.

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Our pathetically short memory could be our ultimate undoing.
charlie hebdo, attack, free speech
Wednesday, 08 January 2020 01:42 PM
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