Europe and America – we will defend the right of free speech that lets Charlie Hebdo wind up low intelligence Muslims (and pseudo-Muslims) to the point that they become criminals and killers, but when scores and scores of non-violent people are imprisoned or fined for their “extremist” or “hate speech” utterances we don’t bat an eyelid – so what is going on?
In Europe and America when people are abusing Muslims in print (or other Abrahamic religions for that matter) pretty much anything goes, but anyone who tries to respond in kind had better beware of the limits to free speech that apply to people going against the sentiments of the ruling classes.
Too often free speech means that you are free to speak so long as you don’t say anything that the dominant tendency in the ruling class doesn’t find objectionable and that’s about as far as it goes – that is not free speech. We have the slogan of free speech, but not the reality. If you want to use free speech to to bash the religious on the head with then there is no problem, but if your targets for criticism are not Muslims, or indeed Christians, you had better be pretty careful.
- If you are an angry knee-jerk Muslim keep your mouth shut or you will fall into the hate speech lobster pot and you face the danger of being tossed into prison in several countries (unless you are an agent provocateur media darling – paid by those who want to whip up hatred of the Muslims and no more real than the bad guys in wrestling).
- If you are a traditional Christian beware of the fact that if you quote sections of the the Bible or say anything that can possibly (using the furthest reaches of the imagination) be seen as disapproval of the practitioners of sodomy, then you know it will likely be described as ‘anti-gay hate speech‘ even if it was no such thing.
- If you are a supporter of Palestine and a critic of Zionism zip your lips if you don’t want to be accused of anti-semitic hate speech.
- Likewise if you are an animal rightists who wants to express your true feelings about the vivisectionists who torment millions of animals each year – mostly for little or non good reason – then just shut up unless you want to be tarnished with the hate speech brush.
- If you are in one of several European countries and you are a revisionist historian who wishes to challenge elements of the “official history” of the holocaust then you had better be careful, because you will find that you are liable to getting fined or imprisoned for exercising your right to “free speech”.
- If you live in France don’t try to use your free speech to make fun of the Republic, or of Napoleon, or the President or his wife, because they will throw the book at you, – especially if you are ethnic, but also even if you are a pure blooded Frank who writes for Charlie Hebdo.
On the other hand xenophobic politicians, Fox TV commentators and other Islamophobes may turn their every third sentence into a hate speech without ever being held up as spouters of hate speech. Meanwhile secular fundamentalists may attack the religious people brutally and in the most insulting and harmfully inciteful ways day after day from platforms as varied as print media to the comedy stage. They can do this without any danger of their words ever being held up as what they truly are – hate speech.
You either have free speech or you don’t, and we don’t.
So why not introduce it or just stop pretending?