Americans, like citizens from other countries that have ‘absolute’ freedom of speech, do not quite understand that in France, things aren’t quite the same way.
For example, in France, Roger Garaudy, a historian, was sentenced to jail after writing a book. He was accused of ‘holocaust denial’ for his book “The Founding Myths of Israeli Politics.” Now I’ve read his book, and I can tell you this, he relied massively on Jewish sources, so much so that it felt to me like he had not so much written the book as ‘edited’ it.
Previous to this book, Garaudy had written a book about Islamic Fundamentalism and then about Christian Fundamentalism. In both cases, there was no state-sponsored backlash, no legal repercussions. It was when he wrote about Zionism that the hammer came down. Suddenly his ‘freedom of speech’ was seen as ‘holocaust denial,’ and he was on trial, and then he was sentenced to jail.
So when Americans or anybody else who’s used to thinking of ‘free speech’ as absolute consider what happened with Charlie Hebdo, they often don’t see the full picture.
France, in short, does NOT have absolute freedom of speech, yet clearly, it allowed racist anti-Islamic cartoons that can very well be considered ‘hate speech’ – and yet – did not allow Garaudy his book and sentenced him to jail for it.
Non-Muslims, and in this case, I refer particularly to Christians and Jews, usually also miss a particular nuance when it comes to this whole ‘free speech’ issue as it relates to insulting Islam’s Mohamed. The usual response from them to Muslims is somewhat along the lines of “What’s your problem? We have freedom of speech! We insult Mohamed, and you can insult Jesus or Moses!” as though that resolves the issue, but it does not…
Islam, by definition, reveres Jesus and Moses, it acknowledges them as prophets of God, equal to Mohamed, and therefore any ‘good’ Muslims would never allow themselves to insult either one of them. So, therefore, when you offer them the ‘license’ to insult your prophets as you insult theirs, their hands are tied; they CANNOT take you up on your offer because even though their prophet is not yours, your prophets are theirs. It’s simply not a ‘tit for tat’ situation, and it’s naive or disingenuous to treat it as such.
So yes, in allowing Charlie Hebdo to publish racist cartoons while Roger Garaudy was jailed for a book, France can certainly be seen as hypocritical when it comes to freedom of expression.
Free speech? Not quite.
NONE of which excuses the murder of cartoonists, whether or not they were racist assholes. The point, quite simply – is that there’s more nuance to the issue than you might first consider.
As for the murderers, my position is clear:
I am not a fan of any religion, and I much prefer mythology to religion, or to be more exact, I consider them all mythologies and have favorites. In any case, my bigger problem at this moment isn’t religion but the idiots that think they’re religious when they’re nothing but bloodthirsty cretins with what must be mosquito-sized penises who think that killing people will enlarge their cocks and give them access to a few dozen virgins. Had that ISIS wannabe fuckface in France read the Quran that he supposedly values so much, he would’ve found that it very clearly says how you’re supposed to react to people who mock your prophet or your religion, and it is this; you’re told not to sit with them. Yeah. That’s it. No big drama, no blood, no murder. You’re simply not supposed to ‘hang.’ It says nothing about hunting them down to their offices and murdering the fuck out of 12 of them because you didn’t like their jokes, regardless of whether or not their humor might be in bad taste. It simply tells you, and I cannot repeat this sufficiently; NOT TO HANG OUT WITH THEM. So basically, if he were half the Muslim he claims to be, he should either have left them the fuck alone or immigrated from France. God (whichever one you may delude yourself into believing in) save us from religion, but more so, save us from idiots.
The terrorists, in short, are not Muslims but criminals. Their crimes are no more “Islamic Terrorism” than the average school shooting in the USA can be referred to as “Christian Terrorism.” Finally, it is sad to see how many racists come screaming out of their closets when a murderer who commits a crime happens to be a Muslim or happens to cloak his crime in Islamic garb – You must condemn both; the idiot who thinks he’s murdering in the name of religion, and the racists who exploit his crime.