In light of the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris, the issue of freedom of speech has arisen; whether or not there should be guidelines, especially in regards to religion - the question is: Should our freedom of speech ever be restricted?
BBC's Question Time once again created a stir on Twitter during the programme after the delightfully polite David Starkey, stated that everyone should have the freedom to insult whomever they wish, whether it be an insult to their religion or anything else for that matter. Voltaire was quoted by another panelist, stating that he - Voltaire - might not agree with what someone is saying but he would fight to the death for their right to say it. This was by far the statement of the evening and hit the nail on the head. This is the idea, the fundamental idea of freedom of speech. Whether you are offended by what is being said, or 'portrayed' or not, the people portraying it, have the right to do so, within the law of course. A particularly reasonable law.
Whether a Muslim is offended or not by the prophet Mohammed being depicted, is their right, but it's also the right of the French magazine to publish these depictions. Similarly, when the magazine has shown cartoons that make a mockery of Christianity or Judaism; people have the freedom to be offended but also the freedom to draw these cartoons.
The backlash of the attack was just as concerning as the attack itself, with narrow minded bigots such as Rupert Murdoch, putting his foot firmly in it once again by somehow claiming that all Muslims should feel the need to apologise for these terror attacks. The part I seem unable to grasp is the initial link between Islam and these terrorists. Whether you're a Muslim yourself or not, whether you agree with things like Sharia law and the attire of female Muslims, you simply can not tarnish the name of a group of perfectly innocent people with the same brush as these criminals simply because these men acted upon - allegedly and wrongfully - the 'teachings of Islam.' I have not read the Qur'an, but I'm sure that if terror was taught through this Holy book, Islam wouldn't be the religion it is today? The Islam that I have encountered has always been kind, respectful and in no way responsible for or in any way encouraging of acts of terror. This statement from Murdoch was far, far more insulting in my opinion than the cartoons in the magazine in the first place. '@rupertmurdoch: Maybe most Moslems peaceful, but until they recognize and destroy their growing jihadist cancer they must be held responsible.' No, Murdoch, no.
The Pope has been quoted saying 'If you mock Islam, prepare to be punched.' Yes, I appreciate this, a punch - as much as I'm definitely not condoning any violence - when someone has offended you, is a much more acceptable way of lashing out than committing a mass murder. Shooting and killing twelve people however, isn't. The Pope should never have said this. His statement has almost cheapened and dismissed the lives lost in France by trivialising the act of 'retaliation' by these terrorists. That being said, even the Pope has the right to his freedom of speech. The Pope has also been quoted saying 'You can not make fun of the faith of others.' Well I'm sorry Popey, but yes you can! The clue is in your own words, 'make fun' nobody is killed whilst fun is being made, there had been no lives lost.
Aside from the insulting nature of the magazine, which people may argue has been interpreted by some people as a direct insult, isn't it obvious that Charlie Hebdo is satirical? If we don't have satire, we're not a democracy, if you don't want to live in a democracy, don't. If you don't want to see your religion or beliefs insulted, then don't read these magazines, don't engage in the conversation. If you don't agree with what someone is saying or doing, argue by all means, shout, be offended and voice your outrage - as your freedom of speech allows you to do. Blasphemy can not be credible as a crime or anything more than just an insult, when everyone in the world considers blasphemy in very different ways.