Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Je Suis Charlie

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Je Suis Charlie

Article excerpt

Editorial Exchange: Je suis Charlie


An editorial from the Prince George Citizen, published Jan. 8:

The death of 12 people in Wednesday's terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo, a satirical weekly newpaper in Paris, is a horrible crime but it is also a difficult reminder that freedom of speech, like all freedoms, is neither free nor absolute.

?No matter what a journalist or magazine has to say, even if it is not what the majority of people think, they still have the right to say it without feeling in danger, which is the case today,? a London student originally from Paris told an Associated Press reporter.

The student then held up a sign with the oft-quoted phrase "?I do not agree with what you have to say, but I will defend to death your right to say it.?

These are noble thoughts that have no place in the real world, particularly in the wake of such a tragedy.

Journalists do not have the right to write and print what they want, nor should they.

In Canada, there are laws of libel and slander that punish those who would print (libel) or say (slander) things that are both untrue and deeply damaging to a person, their livelihood or their reputation. Under the law in Canada, truth is always fair and it's the first defence.

There are also laws regarding hate speech, words broadcast or printed that are designed to incite hatred against a specific group, be it gender, race, culture or religion.

Defending to the death the right to say things ignores the fact that some words are worth more than others, some are worth saving and others are not. The words of Christ, Buddha, Confucius, and Mohammed helps us live with one another and lead meaningful lives. Their words of wisdom are, literally, worth living for. The words of hateful fanatics, along with their names, have no place among us, in life or in death. To shout "Allahu akbar" ("God is great") while murdering God's children is madness, a faith only in a lack of faith, a lack of decency, a lack of compassion.

Defending to the death the right to say things also ignores the fact some words are truth, others are false, some words are good, others are not, some words heal, others harm. …

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