On Charlie Hebdo and freedom

Thomas Richman writes: Re. “Rundle: Charlie Hebdo, terrorism and the distortion of popular memory” (Thursday). The Charlie Hebdo attack seems to beg the question of who has the most freedom of the press: journalists that can write (or draw) without restrictions, but where few pay attention to what they have to say; or those who may be heavily edited but enjoy a wide readership that pays attention to every word?

John Nicholson writes: I think Rundle’s comment on what happened in Paris is misguided, deluded and fundamentally most unfortunate — and did I mention arrogant? It would take a large volume to rebut his nonsense but let me simply observe that he ignored the fact that the two gunmen were French citizens, born in France.

Free speech no excuse for bad behaviour

Les Heimann writes: Re.”Razer: Je ne suis pas Charlie” (Friday). This is twisted thinking. I am not a Christian and I am offended when Jesus is denigrated. I am not a Muslim but I am offended when that religion is denigrated. I am not a pagan but I do not think it a good or clever thing to denigrate stone idols. I am a Jew and I know about anti-Semitism. Many people on this earth have faith in a supreme being, a future after death, whatever. Those who belittle this belief or faith — and that is what cartoon satire is — do so why? Do they think it’s clever or cheeky? Is it a case of “just because I can” or is it insecurity or hatred?

Whatever the reason please stop this prattle about the right to displease. It is not a “right” to hurt or offend someone; it is a “wrong” and defending the right to do wrong is indefensible. To kill someone because you are offended is not condoned. However, and yes there is cause to pause on this, some people, will take extreme offence and the Charlie killings result. By all means defend democracy, the right to free speech and assembly as practised in Australia (other than Queensland where you can and do get arrested for either). Don’t pretend that it is all right to offend because you are defending cowards, bigots and smart arses.

Abbott not the only free speech hypocrite

John Richardson writes: Re. “Crikey says: Abbott’s hypocrisy on free speech” (Friday). Whilst Tony Abbott may be in danger of becoming the latest and greatest sporting phenomena to hit the big-time down-under, it would be entirely dishonest to single-out the “lycra-lad” amongst our nation’s political elite for undermining this country’s long-standing but phony commitment to free speech. Whilst it might be fair to put him in the frame, it should be in the company of many others, as the truth is that the political enablers and protectors of the really big animals in the dark Australian forest are active on all sides of politics, with super-injunctions banning even a mention of offending matters by Australia’s press. On average one of these is granted every day in Victoria.

Australia has never enjoyed and will never enjoy “free speech”, regardless of the political hyperbole to the contrary. The numbnuts running around with placards screaming “Je Suis Charlie” succeed only in demonstrating their profound ignorance & stupidity. In the words of Noam Chomsky: “The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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