Tag Archive: Charlie Hebdo


A few days ago i wrote a piece on ‘Freedom of Speech’ and the fact that i feel like i may be the only person in the world who doesn’t think it’s such a great idea.

To be honest, i was expecting a bit of a backlash, but no-one seemed particularly interested – in commenting either way.

Then i read a really great piece by Megan Butler on a friend’s blog, titled  ‘We need to talk about Charlie’ in which she reminded us of the November achievement of landing a spacecraft on a comet hurtling through space, which didn’t seem to get quite as much attention as the scantily-clad gun-toting women who featured on the shirt of Dr Matt Taylor, who gave a press conference about the event.

Megan basically shouted out a call for consistency in the things we do and don’t allow, if we are calling for freedom. She ended off her piece with these words:

“I need to point out that I think both Taylor’s shirt and the Charlie Hebdo cartoons are awful. But freedom means that people are free to choose well as well as to choose badly. I’m Catholic and have very limited experience in the headscarf-wearing department. However, for me, supporting free speech and freedom of expression means supporting more than the right to publish drawings; it means supporting the right for people to wear what they choose even if it isn’t what I would choose.

So, while “Je suis Charlie” is the campaign gathering the media attention, we need to be able to say “Je suis Susan” or “Je suis Matt” with as much conviction.”

i still wasn’t completely sold on the idea of free speech, but the idea of being consistent if we’re calling for it resonated strongly. And then i read this comment by Shingai Tichatonga Ngara on a Facebook share of Megan’s post:

My only question/caveat is that freedom of speech does not imply freedom from consequence. The power of being able to speak freely comes hand in hand with the responsibility to deal with the outcomes of that free speech.

And i really liked that. The idea that freedom of speech allows you to say stupid, mean or even hurtful things. But that it doesn’t condone the saying of those things or mean that you will be free of consequence. So yes, you can post that racist statement on Twitter, but also you just lost your job because your company doesn’t have to hire a racist. Or something like that.

i don’t think this pulls me completely across to the ‘Fight for everyone to have Freedom of Speech’ crowd, but i do think that it paints a broader picture that is helpful.

What about you? Do you think everyone should be able to say whatever they want to say all the time? Or should there be some systems or controls?

[To see the rest of Megan’s article, head across to Swart Donkey over here]

Boko Haram…

Charlie Hebdo…

Pupils in a Gauteng school re-enacting dog-fights…

Sometimes, far too regularly, it seems like the world has gone mad. What are we to do?

i was encouraged by this excerpt from a Dutch friend of mine who sent this as part of his end of year newsletter:

One thing has become clearer to me than ever before: Jesus Christ is the only hope for man and mankind. Especially studying the chapters 5-7 of Mathew’s gospel where we find the so called Sermon on the Mount, convinced me afresh of the incomparable life, mission and words of Jesus. Too easily the spiritual life is seen and interpreted as disconnected and separated from the world. Jesus however teaches how to live our lives well in a hostile world: there truly is hope! His mission was to restore the link between God and man, and between humans. It all starts with the restora-tion of the relationship between God and the individual. That restoration delivers man from his insatiable hunger for entitlement, power, money, and to be right. Being set free from all of these self-destructive attitudes and behaviors man is able to give himself to the other, no matter how strange, or impossible the other seems to be. [Jan Den Ouden]

This inspired me to spend some time reading Matthew 5-7. As in the whole thing. For the next couple of days. Too often we read through a passage and think some things and then move quickly on to the next one. i have learnt that it can be super helpful and enlightening to take a passage [or a book like i did with Philippians reading the whole thing every day for a month a few years ago] and immerse yourself in it. Once you get past the normal things you have taken from it before, you often have your eyes opened to other things God might be saying in there.

Too many people who call themselves ‘christian’ in the world seem to think the whole thing is about what they believe. Whereas with Jesus it was always about how you live. Life now, not a focus on heaven one day. How do you ‘Love God and Love people’ [including your neighbour and your enemy] in practical ways that improve the state of their lives and make the world a better place, right here and right now. How do you look beyond yourself to the needs of those around you.



i should probably disable comments on this one, but i generally want to understand.

Let me just jump in and say it, although i do feel like i am the only person in the world that feels like this, given the fuss people generally put up about this sort of thing, altho i don’t know that i’ve had many direct conversations about it specifically, but here it is:

I don’t know that i believe that Freedom of Speech should be a right.

There, i said it. [Hides behind couch]


For so many people [and it feels like everyone, feel free to let me know if there is anyone else out there who actually, gasp, thinks the same as me on this, and i am also open to the possibility that i could be wrong in my opinion] it feels like this is no-questions-asked a right that each and every person in the world should have.

You know, ‘smart’ slogans like this:


I call Bullshit.

Maybe it’s just because i have a blog with a comments section where people have come and told me i hate animals or i hate people who work with animals, or where in the past week a group of trolling trolls have set up camp to spew their racist rants [some of which i have published as i try give space for most comments, but a fair amount which i actually just could not bring myself to share with anyone else cos of their complete lack of compassion or human decency]…

Maybe it’s because i have spent any time in a comments section where a person has written about religion or LGBT rights or race or rape culture or the fair treatment of women…

Maybe it’s because of sitting in a waiting room yesterday listening to the kind of pure-offensive-hate-speech rap music that was blared out on the streets of Kensington almost daily when we lived there and you know what, mister misogynic anti-woman rapper guy, i DON’T believe you should have freedom of speech if you are going to use it that way. I really just don’t.

Maybe it’s simply because sometimes [often!] people say some really stupid and really mean and really unnecessary stuff. And i just do not quite understand why we need to fight or die or rally or anything to allow that.

Having said all that:

[1] How would you police it if it weren’t so? Probably impossible, because one person’s “clever satirical barb” is another’s “mouth instrument of satan!” – it is a subjective thing and so would clearly be quite difficult to figure out what is okay and what is not.

[2] i saw a cartoon by the Charlie Hebdo people that i found incredibly offensive in terms of mocking the Trinity involved in a three way sex act. So i would say that that kind of ‘Freedom of Speech’ is not something i’m super happy to fight for, because it is hurtful by mocking something that is the most important thing in my life. However, even with this picture in mind, that NEVER makes it okay for them to be killed. God is definitely big enough to defend Himself and they will stand before Him one day. So while i am opposed to ‘Freedom of Speech’ being the entitled mantra of so many, i do not think that killing someone for misusing it is ever okay.

So that’s me on this, but i am genuinely curious as to why others [and seemingly everyone else in the world?] seems to think that freedom of speech should be a given. Please take a moment and let me know your thoughts…

[For my follow-up piece on the Debris that can accompany Freedom of Speech, click here] 

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