Yesterday’s horrific attack at the offices of French satirical paper Charlie Hebdo which left twelve dead and a similar number injured has shocked the world and re-opened a debate about freedom of speech, the danger of religious extremism and elicited a lot of knee jerk responses from all sides of the fence.
The bizarre thing is, I was already going to be writing a piece about freedom of speech today, based on a far less serious but closer to home story.
In any case, the first thing that needs to be said is that my thoughts are with the families and friends of the victims and everyone with connections to the paper, Paris (a city close to my heart) and France in general in the wake of this tragedy.
My thoughts on this have been rambling and in many ways contradictory, full of caveats and tangents dealing with everything from the current rise of anti-Islamic sentiment in Europe as a whole, a less than wholly supportive critique of Charlie Hebdo’s editorial slant, the inviolability of freedom of speech and a note of caution against the inevitable use of this tragedy to legislate further state restriction/monitoring of that self same right.
Without wishing to add further fuel to an already widespread media furore, I shall simply state that words should never beget violence and leave with the quote often misattributed to Voltaire…
“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”