4 years ago5,000+ Views
After reading so much about the attacks in Paris, the responding Je Suis Charlie movements, and other incidents that have occurred since that time, I can't help but begin to wonder what people are really fighting for. Namely, I wonder what the news, journalists and other writers in the public eye believe they are really fighting for. I just read a thread of leaked emails from Al Jazeera. The discussion basically began when Al Jazeera English editor and executive producer Salah-Aldeen Khadr sent out a staff-wide e-mail which (depending on how you interpret it) seemed to nudge the staff to consider that Charlie might have been in the wrong, and that this is an extremist disagreement between two fringes. Other journalists respond and, in the end, it seemed there was a root disagreement between the journalists there....but that's not going to be my point. If you want to read the leaked emails, click the link above. However, what this made me realize is that while Al Jazeera, while obviously their goal is publication and sharing their ideas, has differences within their own group of journalists as to whether there is an issue of someone not being allowed to use their right to free speech, or if it was Charlie Hebdo's mistake for publishing something offensive and wrong. No one should have died, regardless, but it is interesting to ask the question: what are we really fighting for? When it comes down to it, I've found that most people who claim to support free speech are hypocrites. I've seen case after case of people liking and celebrating racism when it is turned against "the right race" such as Muslims. On the other hand, when we see racism against other groups such as African-Americans or Jewish people, we see it as offensive, wrong and worthy of reprimanding. Now, I am only using that as an example to show how many people only support something when it's offensive to someone else, not themselves. Is it really, truly free speech that we want to support? Or is it the freedom to say anything--as long as it isn't absolutely abhorrent? To me, it seems that even those who support free speech in theory do not. They would rather see offensive speech be silenced (whether that speech is silenced through bullets, online bans or by making it illegal depends on the person and the country), and that's hypocritical of them. What do you think? Is it free speech, or the illusion of it, that people really want to see?
Tough question or not, I am for free speech. Always. Even when free speech is in place, we can still tell people we disagree with their opiniond and work towards educated speech. But we can't get there logically without the freedom to speak.
@amog32 I agree that it's not easy to be OK with people saying things you don't agree with, but it's something we should strive for if we really want to champion free speech.
I don't think we are, but like @greggr said I think the ideal would be that everyone can speak, but everyone can also be educated (not forced, but shared and taught and communicated with). However, I don't see people turning their idea of free speech away from "everything I am ok with hearing" to "everything" anytime soon.
It's a tough question to think about, isn't it? Of course we think we want totally free speech, but do you want people to be totally free to say horrible things? You might think yes....but like you @nehapatel I question if people would be willing to defend someone who wants the freedom to say horrible, racist things about them....