Predictably, the fervor for free-speech didn’t last past the march in Paris and the politicians are back to calling for less freedom and more snooping and certain elements of the press saying we’re all to blame, it had nothing to do with Islam, and worrying about a back lash from the “far right”. In all of the column inches written so far, few have touched on who really needs to apologise for the attacks – and apologies are called for. Sadly, the people who need to apologise for not standing up for free speech and allowing attacks like this to go unchallenged lest they be called on their own hypocrisy were far too busy faking a photo shoot:
— Borzou Daragahi (@borzou) January 12, 2015
Now, of course I’m sure they could quite reasonably claim that it was far too dangerous for them to actually appear together on the march, but, you know, why not just say so? Then there’s the press who are quite happy to call for this voice or that voice to be silenced and are quite happy to jump on the censorship band wagon when it plays to their prejudice. Then of course there’s the rest of us, who sign petitions and join tweet storms to drive people out of jobs, off the telly and into hiding for saying things we disagree with. If we want free speech, it must be for everyone and we need to objectionable arseholesobjectionable arseholes).
Maybe this time we really mean it and that free speech for everyone really matters, but I fear our glorious leaders and elements of the press aren’t so keen on the idea. More security, more snooping they cry, and already with the rewriting of history lest the unwashed masses rise up in some mindless far right backlash. I can’t help but think that the risk of any back lash would be far less if certain elements of the press didn’t keep saying “it’s nothing to do with Islam” but instead made a bigger deal in reporting the Muslim condemnations of the attacks. After all there isn’t a shortage of Muslims who can accept that they have no right not to be offended – something some papers and people on Twitter could do with getting the hang of. Some Muslims really have got the hang of how to condemn Muslim nutters, no equivocation that the nutters were Muslim, no blaming anyone else, just a robust straight forward condemnation of nutters that happen to share their religion.
Sharing views like this more widely would, I suspect, do far more to spread the message that, like Christians with the WestBoro Baptists, it’s a small bunch of nutters and they piss of their co-religionists as much as everyone else. If the press was really worried about a back lash and about social cohesion, then sharing responses like this and the widespread condemnation of the attacks would do far more good than trying to pretend that the terrorists were “activists”, that the cartoonists “asked for it” or that it had nothing at all to do with Islam.