In Which a Lover of Liberty Attempts to Grapple with the Terrible Tragedy in France, and its Implications for Freedom of Speech


This is not the first time that I’ve been outraged by the senseless death of innocent people at the hands of deranged savages.  Far from it.  Whenever there has a been a mass shooting at a school, or a terrorist attack in another city, I have sat by my television and watched the wall-to-wall coverage of slowly emerging facts, I have sat at my browser hitting refresh as investigations were underway.

I have nodded considerately at the dominant narratives to emerge, spun out by those in the media paid to think about these matters.  When they said it happened because of poor gun laws, I was pro-gun control. When they said it was untreated mental illness, I was pro-pill.  And when they said it was because of the terrorists, I was pro-war.

George W. Bush said that they hate us for our freedom.  I never believed him.  He was an untrustworthy man, I’ve been told.  Did you hear he might of lied about something during the last Iraq war?

Clearly, history has vindicated Bush the Second, with the horrific events in France earlier today when men in balaclavas murdered the staff at Charlie Hebdo, a satirical magazine which fearlessly mocked everyone, including the Prophet Muhammad, despite the fact that they very well knew that something like this could have happened. For what else could this be, but a blatant attack on free speech?

Read the news, everyone agrees.

Granted, I was ready and willing to surrender my rights to due process and my freedom from search and seizure without cause in service to the War on Terror.  But those freedoms were an easy offering.  Nobody like me, nobody who looks like me actually felt the loss of those rights, nobody I know was detained at airports, renditioned or tortured.  I’ve never had law enforcement investigate my friends, my family, my fellow mosque-goers, as ‘persons of interest’.  I don’t even go to a mosque.  Besides, it’s only temporary.  Once the wise men who run our government win this war on a concept, an amorphous and semantically ambiguous foe, things will return to normal.  Just like income taxes will go away when we no longer have to fear the Germans (almost there).

I was ready to accept living in  a world where government monitored, or had the ability to monitor, all of my communications and online activity without a warrant.  After all, I haven’t done anything wrong,  so what would I have to worry about?

But my freedom of speech, especially my freedom to make fun of other people’s religion, this is something I hold sacred.

And even if the government tells me some day down the line that I need to, for a little while, give up my freedom of speech for the cause (I know, it can never happen here), I will gladly hand over that right to defeat an enemy who would rather take it away from me by force.

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