Before this tragic happening in Paris this month, the big issue on free speech came from America. Or more precisely, from North Korea. As Sony had to pull out their film “The Interview” from theatres, there was this big discussion about how one government at the other side of the Pacific Ocean was pretty much dictating – and that is the word: dictating – what an American company should or should not publish. As the North Korean government is incapable of realizing freedom of speech, even because this is something far beyond their reach (maybe if they could, they would start controlling minds), “The Interview” was prejudiced at box-offices, and its name became involved in controversy and infamy. As things cooled down, however, a far more dramatic – and real – attack on freedom of speech took place at satiric paper Charlie Hebdo, as those two shooters – so convicted that they were making an act of “justice” – gunned down 12 people, in an attack that was later congratulated by terrorist groups and even protesters with the same mind-set of the murderers. So what is going on here?
The first thing that needs to be noticed is that freedom of speech is a basic right. People say that life is not fair, and that you are not entitled to anything. That is not true: you are entitled to say how you feel, and not be arrested for it. Not to be murdered for it. It’s the most basic of your rights. And unfortunately, several of these terrorists want to impose their ways over other people by the means of violence, just like in Charlie Hebdo. Their idea is the same from oppressive, dictatorial states, and their dreams are Orwellian nightmares: everybody thinking and saying the same, nobody thinking otherwise. Fascism is the base for the 21st Century terrorist mind-set, also true to Boko Haram, ISIS and Al-Qaeda. They have this idea that their ways are the best, and if somebody else doesn’t think alike, they should be punished. Punished for being different, or should I say, free. This mind-set is the typical “crime and punishment” in their minds: if somebody does something wrong, you punish this person, even if the rest of the world doesn't see this as wrong. And again: Charlie Hebdo does not incite violence, but parody. That's what those guys do, and you can't argue that they are somehow "crossing a line".
Oh, yes... the so famous line. Have you ever stopped to think about this line? Here it is, as I perceive it. If somebody stole your car, there needs to be some sort of punishment. That the person had the freedom to steal your car, that is incontestable. But this also goes to the helm of being “wrong”, according to the society. It’s not wrong to be free, but it’s wrong to steal a car. Going to speech, something similar happens: it’s not wrong to have your say, but it’s wrong when you use your say to promote violence, such as these terrorist websites, offering prizes for the heads of people with controversial opinions over their beliefs. Once again, you’re moving to the realm of what society perceives as “wrong”. It's not that it ceases of being freedom to become something else. No: you had freedom to steal that car, and they had freedom to use their right to free speech by encouraging explicitly acts of unjustified violence. Being wrong and right are both in the realm of Freedom, and as it is evident, not all freedom is good. Society creates barriers to maintain peace and welfare, while still trying to give as much freedom to its population as reasonable, like it should be. It may seem fair enough for you to be entitled at least to say what you feel in relation to your world, but in some places, just to have your opinion also goes to this helm. This is the mentality of those pulling the triggers: to punish someone for doing something their perceived as wrong. But the thing is that what they perceived to be wrong is not wrong to the rest of the world that dares to call itself civilized. The act was barbaric and with no real point.
But trying to discuss with this mind-set is like talking to a wall. You have to be harsh in trying to pass the message that this kind of retaliation for opinions shall not be tolerated. Violence for causes that are so pity for the rest of us. Look: I hate a lot of people in the media. I hate several dumbsh*t politicians that somehow got into power, maybe because their ideas hit a string with the population. But even as I perceive them to be wrong in their opinions, I don’t perceive them to be wrong in their rights. They do not really cross that line society created between “freedom” and “wrong”.
I think that the best thing we can do is just to ignore the other side. Just ignore the racists, the homophobes, and whatnot. Maybe get consume when they declare "let's do something": again, this would be the point that would cross the line between "basic freedoms" to "wrongness". Otherwise, if we give them attention, we are playing their game. It’s easy for me to ignore their non-sense, and they only become powerful in the sense they achieve popularity. This is what I said on controversy matters: some people want to become relevant by controversy. And this is the moment in which we have to apply a very important, and often underrated right: not to listen. What they say, we don’t have to listen. We don’t have to absolve what we don’t agree with. We don’t have to go on debates – completely waists of my precious time – over anything that is not purely essential to us as a species.
And in the day people start using this right – and I’m not sorry for this cliché –, our world will be a better place.