Friday, 9 January 2015

Freedom of Speech

Everyone has a right to speak their mind. Sometimes, like Anjem Choudary after the Charlie Hebdo murders, people will say things I profoundly disagree with. But in a free society they have a right to say things even if I loathe their words and thoughts and find them deeply offensive. Even a man like Anjem Choudary who preaches the worst kinds of bigotry and hatred has the right to speak out.

However much I disagree with some people's sentiments, I do not have the right to shoot anyone for speaking their mind. Nigel Farage is equally offensive to me, but he too has a right to speak. We must not let that right to freedom of speech be taken from us by cowards and murderers. Yes, sometimes free speech will offend people. I can sympathise with Muslims who found these cartoons offensive. Equally, though, there are Muslims - or people like Anjem Choudary who claim to be Muslims - who say things I think are offensive, too. But freedom of speech means just that.

Charlie Hebdo may well have insulted Muslims. They also insulted Catholics, Jews, politicians of all complexions, environmentalists, right wing extremists, financiers, Baptists, journalists, homosexuals, heterosexuals, people of a confused disposition and cartoonists. I'm not particularly a fan of Charlie Hebdo - but it has every right to exist. We will not let freedom of speech be lost. If you feel insulted by someone, respond in kind - a cartoon for a cartoon. But bullets will not stop us speaking freely.

Je suis Charlie.

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