Charlie Hebdo has gone too far

Kurt Lykke Lindved Ph.D Culture and Development - UN Lecturer and Writer Honored Dutch Counsel Former CEO in EAC Entertainer and Event Management

Kurt Lykke Lindved Ph.D
Culture and Development – UN
Lecturer and Writer
Honored Dutch Counsel
Former CEO in EAC
Entertainer and Event Management

In its first publication following the Jan. 7 attack on its Paris office, in which two Muslim gunmen massacred 12 people, the once little-known French satirical news weekly crossed the line that separates free speech from toxic talk.

Charlie Hebdo’s latest depiction of the prophet Mohammed — a repeat of the very action that is thought to have sparked the murderous attack on its office — predictably has given rise to widespread violence in nations with large Muslim populations. Its irreverence of Mohammed once moved the French tabloid to portray him naked in a pornographic pose. In another caricature, it showed Mohammed being beheaded by a member of the Islamic State.

While free speech is one of democracy’s most important pillars, it has its limits. H.L. Mencken, the fabled columnist who described himself as “an extreme libertarian,” said that he believed in free speech”up to the last limits of the endurable.”

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French President Francois Hollande, apparently, disagrees. He defendsCharlie Hebdo’s latest depiction of Mohammed by saying that protesters in other countries don’t understand France’s embrace of free speech.

FRANCE-ATTACKS-CHARLIE-HEBDO-POLICEBut even as Hollande defends Charlie Hebdo’s right to publish images of Mohammed that many Muslims consider sacrilegious and hateful, his government has imprisoned dozens of people who have condemned the magazine with talk the French won’t tolerate. Those arrested are accused of speaking in support of the attack on the magazine, and a separate assault on a kosher store in Paris by a lone Muslim gunman with links to the men who attacked Charlie Hebdo.

While the Obama administration condemned these deadly attacks, it probably wasn’t surprised. Two years ago, then-press secretary Jay Carney questioned the judgment of Charlie Hebdo’s editors when they published an offensive depiction of Mohammed. That came a year after the newspaper’s office was firebombed when it tauntingly named Mohammed its guest editor. That portrayal came with a caption that read: “100 lashes if you don’t die laughing.”

The most current issue of Charlie Hebdo again has Mohammed on its cover. This time, he appears crying under a headline that reads: “All is forgiven.” Well, apparently not. Ten people have been killed during protests in Niger, a former French colony. Other anti-French riots have erupted from North Africa to Asia. In reaction to all of this, Pope Francis has said of the magazine, “You cannot make fun of the faith of others.”

MariannedeTheodoreDoriot

The French, of course, are no more bound to accept the findings of the bishop of Rome than they are to be guided by the Supreme Court’s rulings on our Constitution’s free speech guarantee. But given the possible ripple effects of Charlie Hebdo’s mistreatment of Islam’s most sacred religious figure, at least people in this country should understand the limits America’s highest court has placed on free speech.

In 1919, the Supreme Court ruled speech that presents a “clear and present danger” is not protected by the First Amendment. Crying “fire” in a quiet, uninhabited place is one thing, the court said. But “the most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theater and causing a panic.”

Twenty-two years later, the Supreme Court ruled that forms of expression that “inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace” are fighting words that are not protected by the First Amendment.

If Charlie Hebdo’s irreverent portrayal of Mohammed before the Jan. 7 attack wasn’t thought to constitute fighting words, or a clear and present danger, there should be no doubt now that the newspaper’s continued mocking of the Islamic prophet incites violence. And it pushes Charlie Hebdo’s free speech claim beyond the limits of the endurable.

@KLL/-

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About lindvedpress

Professional – Career * Qualified as a Charter Agent in the East Asiatic Company - Became a State Authorized Shipping Broker in 1969 * Captain in The Sirius Patrol – Greenland at Thule Air Base, 1969-1971 * Postings in New York, New Orleans, Toronto, Rio de Janeiro, Lagos and London as Charter Agent and Manager 1972 – 1983 working for The East Asiatic Company Ltd. – Copenhagen * 24 years with The East Asiatic Company Ltd and subsidiary companies as Charter Agent, Marketing and Development Manager; and General Manager * Supplementary courses and examinations in Maritime and Commercial Law Management. * Founder and Owner of Sonata Production, Art and Music International Inc. – France & Denmark 1995 – present - Entertainment, Lectures, Concerts, Exhibition Events, CD, DVD and Video Recordings. Professional – Freelance * Qualified as trumpet player at Aarhus Music School – Denmark * Professional musician with several orchestras and bands – including the Matadors, Saratoga Jazz Band, Rice Wood Jokers and Aarhus Brass Band. * Leader of ”Show and Entertainment Group 28 Carat” and the Evening & Theatre School 28 Carat * Self-taught Artist (painter) Lecturer and Writer * Responsible for several large Theatre and Exhibition Events Worldwide Awards * Dutch Consul, Denmark * Goodwill Ambassador – Various Non-Profit Organizations
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2 Responses to Charlie Hebdo has gone too far

  1. lindvedpress says:

    Dear Janet,
    Thank you so much for your comments Janet. I can not understand these cartoonist’s lack the ability to assess the impact it may have when they “enter” on something that is so sensitive – A look back 10 years ago when the Danish cartoonist Joergen Vestergaard drew Mohammed with a bomb on his head – Hell and high water levels were the result – the cartoonist has since had two guards around him 24 hours every day and many Danish companies with exports to the Arab countries lost trillion over a considerable period.

    Yes, Greece is still waiting – The house here in France is not sold yet, although we have had visits by some American citizens who would enjoy their third age here. But for “pensioners”, it is perhaps too much with 5 floors without elevator …:-) I am also excited how the elections in Greece ends and which epilogue it will mean for the Greek economy. If we do not get sold the house in the near future, I conceived of renting it out and start renting a house or apartment in Greece.

    Well, let’s see – the European Central Bank has now started the money printing company with quite a large sum to get the wheels spinning again.

    All the best Janet and thank you for your observations.
    Kurt

  2. Janet says:

    Dear Kurt,

    I have read your article with complete agreement. If you call a black person, in American, a ‘nigger,’ you are liable for a court case for slander. If you write in a public newspaper, calling a Jew, a Kike, you are racist and also could face charges of slander.

    I don’t see how the Hebdo paper was allowed to print such vicious and slanderous articles, without expecting a backlash. Unfortunately, who could have foreseen the International backlash and the consequences that have since occurred?

    I agree, wholeheartedly with your article. Free Speech is one thing, but there is a limit when the words and pictured depicted result in public retribution and death!

    Thank you for your newsletters, Kurt. They are among the very ‘few’ emails that I open and read!

    Are you coming to Greece? Be sure to get in touch with me if and when you do!

    Warm regards,

    Janet Hellis

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