So this means there are boundaries and limits to free speech. And the government and/or society define these boundaries of free speech. And you are not allowed to cross this boundary or limit or else you will be condemned and/or punished. NO HOLDS BARRED Raja Petra Kamarudin
The Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris has triggered a debate in the UK, France, Germany, and so on, regarding freedom of speech. Sky and BBC have called the Paris massacre an attack on free speech.
While the majority interviewed by Sky and BBC condemned the attacks as an example of Muslims being too sensitive and of not respecting or tolerating free speech, there are others who feel that the boundaries of free speech need to be defined.
As to whether the journalists and cartoonists of Charlie Hebdo crossed the line of free speech or not is a separate debate. As to the way they were punished is probably more of concern. Even if they did cross the line the punishment is way in excess of the ‘crime’.
In our modern, and hence we can also assume civilised society, violence can never be the response to however you may feel you have been hurt or insulted. Therefore the Paris massacre can never be justified however hurt or insulted you may feel.
The issue is: how far can we go in upholding free speech? Are there any limits or boundaries to free speech? Is the sky the limit to how far we are allowed to express what we feel?
In the outrage against the Paris massacre we will certainly focus on the violence and ignore the other and also important issue: where do we draw the line of free speech. Without trying to sound as if I support or am trying to justify the attacks — which I do not — we must not lose track of the fact that free speech does have its limits, even in Europe.
For example, I cannot wear a Nazi Swastika on my arm and say that I am just exercising my right of expressing my support of the Holocaust. I cannot even dispute the Holocaust and say that I doubt it happened and even if it did it is not possible that six million Jews were killed.
If I say this is sheer propaganda and a story fabricated with no evidence, I would be arrested in some countries and heavily condemned in others. Free speech does not extend to disputing the Holocaust or showing support for the Nazis.
Even if I use the anti-Islam or Prophet Muhammad cartoons as my justification to express my opinion regarding the Holocaust and the Nazis, this can never be accepted. I cannot argue that if you have the freedom to insult Islam then I, too, have the freedom to say what I want regarding the Holocaust and the Nazis.
So, Europe, too, sets a limit as to what you can and cannot say in expressing your opinion and in your exercising of free speech.
The question here is who defines these boundaries or limits? You set the boundaries and limits. I have no say in that decision. And I have to conduct myself according to those boundaries and limits that you have set and which I played no part in and never agreed to.
I can fly an Israeli flag outside my house. That is not a crime. But if I fly a banner that says ‘Israel is a terrorist state’ I would most likely get into trouble.
I will also get into trouble if I fly an IS (Islamic State) flag outside my house. But if I fly a banner that says ‘IS is a terrorist organisation and they should all be put to death’ that is not a problem.
Hence support for Israel is kosher. However, support for the enemies of Israel is haram. Do I have the freedom to express my opinion? Definitely not! You have to do the politically correct thing.
In Malaysia it is also the same. I can say that the Malays should not call the non-Malays pendatang because the Malays, too, migrated to Malaya from what is now called Indonesia. But if I say that if the Chinese and Indians are not happy then they can go back to China or India I would be condemned.
Who decided this boundary or limit? Why is it okay to whack the Malays but not the others? Who made the decision that it is kosher to whack the Malays but if you whack the others you are a racist?
The Muslims are allowed to say that the Bible is a fake and that the Christian doctrine, especially Catholicism, is heresy. Malaysian Muslims are allowed to call the Shias deviants who are not really Muslims. But if you say that the Qur’an is a fake and that Islam is actually a violent religion and not a religion of peace (and that is the reason for the Paris attacks) you will get arrested.
Kassim Ahmad has an opinion regarding the Hadith. And when he was asked his opinion and he gave it, they arrested him and put him on trial. So, Kassim Ahmad must go to jail because he has an opinion and because he expressed his opinion. Hence there is no freedom of opinion and freedom of speech after all.
So this means there are boundaries and limits to free speech. And the government and/or society define these boundaries of free speech. And you are not allowed to cross this boundary or limit or else you will be condemned and/or punished.
Hence the Paris attacks should be condemned. But they should be condemned because of the violence and deaths. These attacks, however, should not be treated as an attack on free speech because one man’s free speech is another man’s crime. To condemn the attacks as an attack on free speech is giving the impression that anything goes in the interest of free speech, and this is definitely not the case even in Europe.
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