Charlie Hebdo – Freedom of Expression

The debate of the definition of freedom of expression has been ongoing for some time now. This is probably because of how vague the restrictions are and because of how thin the line between hate speech and freedom of speech is. This leads to problems such as the Charlie Hebdo 2015 terror attack in France.

Charlie Hebdos comics have always been controversial and for a long time people defended it because of freedom of  speech but after the terrorist attack, people began to debate more wether the comics were hate speech or not. The pope, siding with religious groups, stated that there should be limitations to freedom of expression especially towards faith. “One cannot provoke, one cannot insult other people’s faith, one cannot make fun of faith.” (Toynbee)

Although many groups are offended, since they are comics and cause no real harm in the laws eyes it should not be seen as hate speech – “… being offensive is not a criminal offense and just because someone… might find a cartoon to be in bad taste, that doesn’t mean the cartoonist should be imprisoned.”(Chapman) Charlie Hebdo has repeatedly been prosecuted by mostly religious groups and yet has never been imprisoned because of this opinion. If things such as comics with strong opinions were labelled as hate speech and got censored, the freedom of expression would become very limited.

Toynbee, Polly. “On Charlie Hebdo Pope Francis Is Using the Wife-beater’s Defence | Polly Toynbee.” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 16 Jan. 2015. Web. 28 May 2017. (Toynbee)

Chapman, Zoë, Jay Shooster, Ryan Goodman and Alex Moorehead, Julian Sanchez, Eugene R. Fidell, Kate Brannen, Peter NoorlanderTuesday, September 22, 2015 at 1:55 PM, Just SecuritySaturday, May 27, 2017 at 9:00 AM, and Zoë ChapmanThursday, February 23, 2017 at 8:00 AM. “Charlie Hebdo and Hate Speech: Don’t Prosecute the Messenger.”Just Security. N.p., 22 Sept. 2015. Web. 28 May 2017. (Chapman)

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