Free Boundaries Of Free Speech In Charlie Hebdo Essay Sample
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Boundaries of Free Speech in Charlie-Hebdo
Early in January 2015, the offices of the French based satirical magazine Charlie-Hebdo were attacked, resulting in the killings of 12 members of staff who included its high profile cartoonists, editors and managers. It has been noted that this attack was not the first one to be witnessed by the Charlie-Hebdo organization. In the year 2011, its offices were bombed by Islamic extremists for lampooning Prophet Muhammad. Although of terroristic nature, these continued attacks, have continued to raise concerns about the boundaries of free speech, especially on the Press. There have been opposing views about if the magazine might have retreated from the doctrine of free speech when it published some magazines that go beyond certain boundaries to infringe other people’s rights and cause public outcry or unrest. Therefore, this paper will explore, interpret and evaluate both relativist and absolutists’ claims about boundaries of free speech to come up with ample conclusions on what should be the boundaries of free speech in the Charlie-Hebdo issue (Charlie Hebdo Nothing Sacred, 2015).
Description of the Charlie-Hebdo Attacks
Charlie Hebdo, is French satirical magazine that features reports, jokes, polemics and cartoons on a weekly basis. The publication is stridently non-conformist and irreverent in tone, and it is strongly anti-religious, secularist and left wing. In this regard, it has been publishing articles that mock Islam, Judaism and Catholicism and other groups, as the local and world news evolve. Most notably, the Charlie-Hebdo is popular with higher affinity to attract controversies. In 2006, although Islamic organizations had tried to sue it for hate speech, the media house went to republish the cartoons of Prophet Muhammad. In 2011, the magazine published another cartoon of prophet Muhammad, leading to its offices being fired bombed and website being hacked. In 2012, it published the Muhammad’s caricatures in nude styles prompting fresh protests. The growing hatred of its publications for the years culminated in the 2015 attacks where 12 members of its staff were killed. Although the blasphemy laws in France ceased to exist after the emancipation of the Republic from Catholicism, Muslims consider any imagery of the Prophet as blasphemous (Charlie Hebdo Nothing Sacred, 2015).
Interpretations of the Charlie-Hebdo’s Case
Firstly, the French government should consider that its demographical escarpment is not the same as it was in 1900s. It seems that many children of Arab or Muslim immigrants are not feeling at ease to be assimilated to the French Republican laws of secularism. In its treatment of the Islam- Charlie Hebdo cases of free speech it is eminent that government is not considering, fairness among parties, considering protected speeches, promoting proper government motives and enhancing transparency in its judicial making (Coenen, 2012). Moreover, the government has not recognized the fact that the Press or media’s speech is not like an individual’s speech. The Press would obviously affect many people, especially in a society characterized by complexities in social values. The principle of separating the religion from the state is illusionary (Richardson, 2015). What the government has to do is to accommodate all religions to ensure peaceful plurality. In fact in a world of where there is a mixture of cultural values, free speech without restraint can be used to lampoon individuals of other religions and races for prejudice (Bhagwat, 2015; Keskinen, 2012). What France should do is to accommodate values of all religions without favoring any of them in its constitution so that children of immigrants who now form a substantial portion of its population can live peacefully (Berg, 2012).
Since separation of religion and the state is illusionary, the French government should put some restraints to the members of Press, so that lampooning of innocent people or religions is stopped. Moreover, the restraints will ensure that no racially charged sentiments are issued against some people by members of the press. However, for those calling for religious freedom, they should also realize that lampooning someone who is innocently practicing his religion is also is also a form denying him his freedom of worship. Otherwise the French government should find ways of accommodating religious values in the constitution without accommodating or favoring any religion to ensure plural existence in country for peaceful co-existence.
Bhagwat, A.A.(2015). Posner, Blackstone, and prior restraints on speech. UC Davis Legal Studies Research Paper, (417).
The paper discusses how freedom of the media should come with prior restraints. This should take into consideration any historical and social cultural development within a nation. However, he also illustrates that one should not confuse between individual freedom of expression and freedom of the Press, as the latter has more repercussions.
Berg, T.C.(2012). "Secular purpose," accommodations, and why religion is special (enough). Hein Online, 79 U Chi L Rev 1351.
Coenen, M.(2012).Of speech and sanctions: toward a penalty- sensitive approach to the first amendment. Columbia Law Review, 112(5).
The Coenen’s article explores current situation about speech and sanctions towards the penalty sanctions as regards free speech rights. The article is important under this study in that it illustrates cases in which a court decides whether certain packet of expression can be termed as protected or unprotected.
Keskinen, S.(2012).Limits to Speech? The Racialised politics of gendered violence in Denmark and Finland. Journal of Intercultural Studies, 33(3).
In a world where there is acute multicultural crises, Keskinen(2012) has noted that liberal arguments, especially those that emphasizes on Freedom of Speech could be used with some people to promote racial and nationalist agendas. Although there have been tendencies in some Nordic countries to achieve social equality, the media and political debates cannot guarantee collectivist welfare states. The paper has therefore explored empirical studies in how violence in Muslim families is being racialised due to the freedom of speech.
Laborde, C. (2011).Political liberalism and religion: on separation and establishment. Journal of Political Philosophy, 21(1), pp.67-86.
The Labored’s paper discusses the question of religion in a modern politically liberal state. In this regard, it discusses refereeing to the Rawl’s Philosophy in the Theory of Justice where it is noted that religion is one of the basic freedoms that a human being should have. Rawl had expounded that, in a truly sincere religion, one would obviously find that it has basics of basic liberties, something that political liberals disagree with. Basing on French perspective, the Laborde paper argues by contrasting this view when it notes that in truly citizenship-centre republicanisms, religions and their symbols would not be respected.
Richardson, J.T. (2015).Managing religion and the judicialization of religious freedom. Journal for the Scientifics Study of Religion, 54(1), pp.1-19.
The article explores how religious freedom is increasingly being discussed at all quotas of liberal nations. In fact many landmark treaties that try to separate the religion from the state have done so with a view to stopping interreligious wars and violence, so that pluralistic compromises in the society can be attained. He concluded that implementing a constitution of absolute religious freedom is impossible in the current world with complexities of religious values.
Berg, T.C.(2012). "Secular purpose," accommodations, and why religion is special (enough).
Hein Online, 79 U Chi L Rev 1351.
Bhagwat, A.A.(2015). Posner, Blackstone, and prior restraints on speech. UC Davis Legal
Studies Research Paper, (417).
Charlie Hebdo Nothing Sacred. (2015). Youtube.com. Retrieved on 1 April 2015 from
Coenen, M.(2012).Of speech and sanctions: toward a penalty- sensitive approach to the first
Keskinen, S.(2012).Limits to Speech? The Racialised politics of gendered violence in Denmark
and Finland. Journal of Intercultural Studies, 33(3).
Laborde, C. (2011).Political liberalism and religion: on separation and establishment. Journal of
Political Philosophy, 21(1), pp.67-86.
Richardson, J.T. (2015).Managing religion and the judicialization of religious freedom. Journal
for the Scientifics Study of Religion, 54(1), pp.1-19.
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