There are a lot of issues for debate that have come out of Wednesday’s terrible attacks on Charlie Hebdo, and no doubt these will continue to be discussed in the coming weeks. What’s come out of it for me is first, the realisation that some of these cartoons are indeed quite horribly offensive. But the irony is that without the attacks I would probably never have seen them: like all banned records which subsequently went to No: 1, Charlie Hebdo’s sales will probably go through the roof and millions of people who would never otherwise have seen the cartoons will now be looking at them.
I can’t find a link to the actual cartoons because everthing on Google takes me to the news story, but here are some brilliant drawings responding to the attack:
Is it OK to be so offensive about other people’s faith? We have laws against racism, sexism and homophobia, so why should these cartoons be considered acceptable? What are the limits on free speech? I guess you could say that hate speech is directed against people rather than beliefs; you could also say that there’s a difference between poking fun and inciting hatred. Muslims may well be forbidden to attack, portray or poke fun at the Prophet – the rest of us are not, and to say that we are is equivalent to forced conversion. It’s about how you respond to these ‘offences’: I’d respond to, say, dodgy jokes about women by poking fun at the (usually) overweight and ugly comedian who is making the jokes. I wouldn’t storm their offices and gun them down in cold blood. In the end it all comes back to the old standby about disagreeing with what you say but defending to the death your right to say it:
In many ways I am in sympathy with a secular society. Religious freedom must be protected but in a multicultural society it may well be more appropriate to have a secular constitution with equal rights for all religions under the law. What do you think?