Saturday, 13 October 2012

A short editorial on Free Speech

Freedom of speech is an integral part of Canadian society.  It has been for many, many years, and it should remain that way.  Freedom of speech allows us the right to criticize our government and our leaders without the fear of being imprisoned.  There are a multitude of countries around the globe in which if you were to do the same thing you would quickly find yourself in prison, or worse, dead.  With freedom of speech, for better or worse, also comes the freedom to practice hate speech.

Now, do I think this is right?  Legally, yes.  Morally, not so much.  And in some situation, I don't even think it's smart.  I don't think that we should censor ourselves based on how some fringe group of people might react.  With freedom of speech comes the freedom to disagree.  I can disagree publically and as loud as I like when someone insults (or worse than insults) the Prophet Muhammad.  I do not have the legal right to harm someone for doing so, nor should I.  Nor should I have the right to call for the person to be imprisoned for using their freedom of speech.  They have the right to their beliefs, as I have the right to mine.  To refuse others the rights of freedom of speech would, in the end, mean that I would just be taking away my own right to free speech.  My right to say that I do not agree with certain other religious beliefs and possibly insult them, even if that were not my direct intention.  Even if the person insulting my Prophet was intending to insult my faith and our beliefs, they have the right to do so.  Legally, their right to free speech ends only where the line has been crossed that incites violence from whomever they are talking to.  Inciting violence from the group they are insulting is not crossing that line.

The only people responsible for the actions that are taken by those that are "insulted" are the people taking those actions, therefore, the only people that should be punished are the people that are breaking the law.  Making a movie, standing on a stage, insulting any prophet (and any Muslim worth their salt will say that it is not just the Prophet Muhammad that we find insulting to slander but any prophet, including Jesus) is well within the realm of free speech.  So find it distasteful, find it insulting, state your beliefs on this, but calling for imprisonment or issuing a "fatwah" calling for someone's death is what is illegal, not the words that have been previously spoken by someone who is trying to make us look like a violent and uncivilized people.  So please, before you act, think. If it's the supposed movie maker, if it's the Quran burning so-called pastor (one of the least Christian like men I've ever heard speak) or it's some uneducated person trying to make  himself look big, think, because they have the right to free speech, but no one has the right to cause harm to people or property.  

1 comment: