No surrender to murder and intimidation: A Charlie Hebdo cartoon

The appalling attack on Charlie Hebdo’s Paris offices is, as almost everyone has noted, an attack on free speech and an attack on those of us who think that free speech is the most important of all our freedoms.

It is intended to intimidate people who take it for granted.

If we ever allow what we write or say to be affected by a mob, or by the threat of violence or murder we might as well stop writing and stop thinking. We will have been defeated.

It is quite absurd that even now, after ten of the editorial staff of Charlie Hebdo have been murdered and others critically wounded, most newspapers, including it seems The Guardian, are still not publishing the cartoons that led to their murder. The only explanation would seem to be cowardice.

All websites, from the largest to the smallest should now publish Charlie Hebdo cartoons.

Charlie-Hedbo

Liked it? Take a second to support Matthew on Patreon!

Author: Matthew

I have been a barrister for over 25 years, specialising in crime. You may also have come across some of my articles I have written on legal issues for The Times, Standpoint, Daily Telegraph or Criminal Law & Justice Weekly

12 thoughts on “No surrender to murder and intimidation: A Charlie Hebdo cartoon”

  1. Mr Scott do you honestly believe that “ten of the editorial staff of Charlie Hebdo have been murdered”?

    Granted I agree with your assertion that, “The appalling attack on Charlie Hebdo’s Paris offices is, as almost everyone has noted, an attack on free speech and an attack on those of us who think that free speech is the most important of all our freedoms. It is intended to intimidate people who take it for granted.”

    However, is not the real question who has carried out this “attack on free speech”?

  2. I understand they must be concerned about the safety of their staff – I would be content if they simply acknowledged, prominently, that they weren’t printing them because they were afraid someone might get killed. (It’s a little different for bloggers and tweeters who are only responsible for themselves, or a small group.) This suggestion that we at least admit our cowardice is made by Nick Cohen in ‘You Can’t Read This Book’.

  3. Absolutely disagree. To quote from Scott Long:

    “There’s a perfectly good reason not to republish the cartoons that has nothing to do with cowardice or caution. I refuse to post them because I think they’re racist and offensive. I can support your right to publish something, and still condemn what you publish. I can defend what you say, and still say it’s wrong.”

    It is inconsistent to defend free speech and then dictate what people/newspapers should say/print. Silence is neither cowardice nor terrorism.

    1. There was a perfectly good reason not to publish them before the killings. But for newspapers not to publish them after the killings was just absurd. They were the motives for the murders. How can you possibly give a full report of what happened without showing the cartoons? The only reason not to publish them then was cowardice, as some have frankly admitted.

      There is another reason why everyone should publish them. If only a few do then they are easy targets If every newspaper magazine and website did so everyone would be safer.

      And I’m not “dictating” what newspapers should say, even if I could.

      In fact I may have been a little hard on the Guardian which did publish one of the Mohammed cartoons, albeit tucked away on an inside page in a piece about how offensive they were.

      1. Make up your mind – what is the reason for publishing: ideology, safety of the crowd or news? All three! I hear you cry. But you claim the “only” reason for not publishing is cowardice, which is nonsense.

        How can you argue that not publishing pre-attack would have been fine, but not afterwards – are we suddenly not allowed to find them offensive anymore? Let’s imagine the cartoons were genuinely pornographic, rather than porn-esque. Most mainstream papers don’t publish porn – would you demand that they must, if, say, a porn actor was murdered by a mad zealot and they were reporting the story?

        And of course you can’t dictate what newspapers publish, no one but Mr Murdoch can (c.f. his disgusting tweet: https://twitter.com/rupertmurdoch/status/553734788881076225) but what you are suggesting is at odds with what you are preaching in theory, viz. freedom to say or publish or whatever you choose without external pressure, be that religious, political or social.

  4. Rumpole Remix

    Should we not be allowed to see them so that we can decide for ourselves as individuals whether (1) we think they are racist and (2) we find them offensive?

    I was offended when a Mr Khomeini said that I should not be allowed to form my own judgment about the Satanic Verses and had to accept his. I went and bought a copy so that I could form my own view. Do you think I should not have been allowed to do so?

    As a Muslim (whose name I did not catch) remarked on BBC1 this morning” Muslims who are offended by these cartoons must be very insecure in their faith.

  5. Andrew, there is a difference between allowing people to see the cartoons (or read the Satanic Verses) and demanding that every paper *must* publish them. I am not calling for censorship of the cartoons – look them up online, or buy a paper that has published them. I am arguing that it is wrong to accuse all papers that chose not publish them of cowardice, as Barrister Blogger has done.

    As for the question of whether offended Muslims are insecure in their faith or not, that is in some ways irrelevant – they have the right to be offended, they do not have the right to kill anyone for offending them. And papers should not be told what to print. It’s that simple.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *