Happy Monday Readers,
Hopefully, you will wake this morning to a glorious day. They’ll be a sharp bite in the air, but the sun will be shining. Your coffee/tea/choice-of-beverage will be strong, and your commute into work will be short and pleasant. Everyone you encounter will have a smile on their face, and you will, too.
For today, you are all alive.
No one would have shot you because they took offensive at something you said or wrote or drew.
As writers, we know we’ve probably crossed the line of offensiveness a few times. We’ve written things that have come across as callous and disrespectful – probably because they were meant to be so.
We are extremely lucky to have crossed that line with little or no repercussions. At the most, we might get a comment or two from someone we’ve pissed off. We live in a society that values free speech, no matter how unpleasant. Folks can choose to ignore our offensive rants or they might even boycott our blogs or papers, but it is against the law to threaten anyone for something they have said or wrote.
We’ve lived so long under this right, hell, our first amendment gives us the right to free speech, I’m sure many of you, as I do, take it for granted.
But we shouldn’t.
And it would be wise to remember it is a (non-absolute) right given to us by the power of our government.
While I’m not fearful that our government will take that right away any time soon (though it may erode it), last week, we found out that it can be taken away by cowardly terrorists. (If you haven’t heard about the terrible attack on the French satiric paper called Charlie Hebdo, check out this (BBC), this (Daily Mail), and this (CNN) article.)
The United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights preamble includes this line:
…human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear…
Regardless of whether you agree with someone, we all have the right to express ourselves without fear of physical retaliation.
I don’t agree most things said on FOX News. I don’t agree with my state’s governor. I don’t agree with anything written in the Christian Bible or the Islam Koran. And I sure as hell do not always agree with my husband.
But I believe free speech is for everyone – including Saïd Kouachi and Chérif Kouachi. If only they had realized that at a young age, maybe they would not have ended up behind a gun, shooting a roomful of cartoonists.
If you are offended by something, ignore it. Better yet, try to understand it. Because when we understand the other side, we learn something about ourselves. And once we know ourselves, we can change the world.
Until next time, pick up your pens and pencils, and write with no fear.