Defending free speech consistently · Curiosity is bliss

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Defending free speech consistently

 

There has been a lot of justified outrage and emotions regarding the recent terrorist acts in Paris, which I share. My heart goes to the victims and their families.
At the same time, my head is stuck on a cognitive dissonance which nags me and I want to bring up.
I know this is never a good time, but here goes...

[Trigger warning: parallel drawn between bloody acts of terrorism and wildly accepted policies]


Killing, kidnapping, assaulting, robbing, destroying property, or threatening with any of the above. Such actions involve different levels of violence, but none can be justified to stop to the exchange of objects or the diffusion of ideas that are considered offensive or unfriendly.
Reacting with violence to something that is "only" offensive is escalation, not civilized response, not peaceful counterargument and not legitimate self-defense.

That includes anti-religious satirical cartoons by journalists.
But if we apply the principle consistently, that should also include many other nasty but non-violent content (and regardless of profession).

Yet, in France, various levels of force (including imprisonment) will be exercised against you:
(1) if you make pro-Nazi, anti-Semitic or homophobic statements (for some reason, pro-Communism is allowed),
(2) if you sell some of the censored books (luckily not many in France, but the power of censorship is there),
(3) if you make defamatory statements,
(4) or for various other reasons (broadcasting too much foreign-produced cultural content).
Similar things are done in other countries to various degrees.

I take it this means many people actually do support using some forms of violence in response to printing satirical cartoons, broadcasting calumnious words or selling offensive objects.
To me, this does not make sense and is disturbing.

Don't take me wrong. The murder of innocent people is savage. And imprisonment and fines are less severe forms of violence than killing. But those too are unjustified escalations and violations of individual liberty, which we should also consistently oppose.
Please withdraw your support for such violent actions.

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