These Blasphemous Times

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.

Darrin Bell (via Twitter)

12 thoughts on “These Blasphemous Times

  1. human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear…

    It’s worth nothing that an alliance of Arab nations tried to amend this UN right to limit freedom of speech against religion. Had it passed (it didn’t) anything critical of religion would have automatically been considered “hate speech”.

    There are far too many groups who consider themselves above criticism while using their own free speech to attempt to limit that of others. The only intelligent response is to let them have their free speech within the boundaries of the law and then to show them and the world how ridiculous you believe their beliefs to be.

    1. Oh and the solemn marching of over 1 million people yesterday in Paris was very inspiring. For me, it shows you can make a stand without resorting to the tactics of certain hate groups.

    2. I forgot about that. Yeah, it’s okay to limit someone else’s speech, but not your own. It all comes with a price. I just wish the price would stop being people’s lives.

  2. I see attacks like this as an unwitting admission by the attackers that they already have lost the argument. (Hence the frustrated zeal that propels them.) Only the future will show what impact their deadly rage may have. However, I don’t believe they “took” the lives of the cartoonists. These brave individuals had already “given” their lives to a cause. No amount of bloodshed can wipe away that gift.

    1. I hadn’t thought of it that way. I guess, yes, they more than knew the risks they were taking (given previous attacks), but still…ug, it is just terrible. I suppose, given that they have paid, we should be even more grateful for the freedoms we have.

  3. Whenever i speak – on any and every thing i might add – i always remember something a journalism professor once drilled inside the heads of his stupidly naive class (yep, i actually when to class: once) “one man’s freedom of speech is another’s insulting remark” in a world run by the 24 hour news machine, you never know what bit of “nonsense” will be deemed insulting to some group or person of (seminal) relevance. Hence the bizarre descriptions and commentary on the president of the united states. hate speech? In some circles yes, in other circles, normal discourse, yet in spite of requests for ‘decency’ certain news outlets go on as usual, churning out hour upon hour of the same old song, until something else distracts their commercial interruptions. As the world remembers/mourns charlie hebdo, let us not forget the ‘horrific’ actions taken – on the SAME day – by Boko Haram, or in the “eyes” of the 24 hour news machine, do 2,000 Nigerian lives matter?

    1. Oh, my. Thanks for reminding me. I saw that yesterday and thought the same thing. I didn’t even know it happened until yesterday. They do matter, and we should be demanding justice.

      1. Justice (getting “religious” here; oh my!) is not ours to give, no, justice, for what it’s worth, is ours to receive! – no idea what that means, but I did stay at a holiday inn express last night (no kidding) –

      2. Ha! Staying at a Holiday Inn Express can rattle my brain, too. 😉

        And you are right that we should not *retaliate*, but I do believe those Nigerians deserve justice (within the bounds of law).

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