Before I continue let me make my stance abundantly clear. This atrocious act can only be classified as despicable without any mitigating factors. Nothing people say even if it is profane or blasphemous can EVER justify the taking of another person’s life. Given that most religions’ mantra is that their religion is one of peace, understanding and respect for human rights makes it even more abhorrent and indefensible.
Surely if Islam was a religion of peace then senior members of the faith would gather their members and condemn this action in no uncertain and forthright terms. Instead one hears of isolated incidents of condemnation. What is required as an alternative is for the Muslims to unequivocally rebuke fellow Muslims who perform such heinous crimes.
Main picture: Charlie Hebdo is an equal opportunity blasphemor as all religions are rebuked by this satirical magazine
In this regard, it is not only Islam which is remiss in this regard. One just has to cast one’s mind back to the “Troubles” in Northern Ireland barely a generation ago. Remember the boorish unchristian comments of the surly Reverend Ian Paisley who would create an abiding fear of Catholicism, and the Pope in particular, through demonising their motives and behaviour.
How is it possible that a man of religion like the Reverend Paisley could adopt such an obtuse attitude to fellow human beings astounds me? Inasmuch as he was – he is now deceased – supposedly a Christian, he should have embraced the Catholics in Ireland with open arms. Of far greater significance for me than the behaviour of a churlish mean-spirited bigot, is why other fellow Christian denominations did not castigate his attitude as being singularly offensive. Furthermore the effect of this behaviour cast a slur over all Christians of whatever denomination that they were affiliated to.
Another exemplar of this hypocritical attitude was the Ku Klux Klan’s abuse of Christian iconography such as the cross to impose their racist Unchristian views on American Society. Conflating Christianity with such odious antics was intolerable yet mainstream churches did little to condemn such actions.
Not to put too fine a point on it, I am of the belief that the French are also being a tad hypocritical as regards what they consider the limits of Free Speech. Having given birth to the Enlightenment and the birthplace of such notable scholars such as Voltaire, this concept is sacrosanct to the French Nation. However after their experience during the Second World War they have enacted various anti anti-Semitic laws. Like most laws the intent may be gratifying but the unintended consequences are not. The thrust of the laws imposes censorship on anti-Jewish publications.
While never condoning anti-Semitic behaviour as it is antithetical to my very being, are not such laws in violation of the cherished French Free Speech beliefs?
I think so.
Similarly the propagation of Nazi ideology in some European Countries such as Germany and Austria constitutes a statutory offence. Whilst personally finding such views abhorrent and reprehensible, surely they violate the ethos of the free discourse on ideas albeit being odious for most enlightened individuals.
In my book, they should be accorded that right to do so subject to the caveat that it does not constitute hate speech.
Generally in matters of religion, society has allowed the Churches to determine the parameters of acceptable speech. It is akin to complying with the Politically Correct Speech Code of Conduct where one is unable to vent one’s deep-rooted opinions without being deemed to be politically incorrect. If one has the temerity to do so, one is subjected to acerbic derision before an unelected Court of PC Judges who always impugn one’s motives and thereby besmirch one’s reputation without applying due process or even recognising or applying the tenet of Free Speech.
Hence before one impugns the motives of all Muslims in the world for the unjustified massacre at Charlie Hebdo, bear this in mind.
Should the powers-that-be within the Muslim community not grasp this nettle and castigate vigorously those responsible, they will surely reap the whirlwind. A backlash in the form of an anti-Muslim mindset will eventuate. The first stirrings of that attitude are prevalent in the increasing number of anti-Muslim jokes in circulation.
Much like the majority of Americans before 9/11 who I would classify as pacifist and non-interventionist in outlook, they rapidly veered towards active military engagement and radical solutions.
In a like manner, the West’s tolerant manner will evaporate to be substituted by an intransigent obdurate approach. Even though this attitude will undermine the hard-won freedoms, public opinion will, like that of the anti-Semitic laws after WW2, ignore the hypocrisy of their decisions.
Before Western Civilisation adopts a morally superior attitude towards Muslim extremism and terrorism, they should first remove the mote from their eyes.
Vigorous defence of Charlie Hebdo’s rights to print blasphemous material should instead become a crusade to remove all forms of limitations to Free Speech – subtle or as a result of the unintended consequence variety – including those on non-gratuitous hate speech as regards all religions and political ideologies.
Such is the way to an equitable non-partisan approach to all religions and political beliefs. Whatever the beliefs of the members of such organisations, no God or Fuhrer / Great Leader is superior to another. Not to do so affords the extremist elements within those religions or movements the excuse to impose their will upon non-like minded people. Such absolutist views on religion or politics is the path to Extremist Solutions with its attendant bloodshed.
In conclusion we should never abrogate our rights to espouse our viewpoints whatever the impediments and the views of extremists – religious, legal or through the backdoor of Political Correctness.