Journal of Political Risk, Vol. 3, No. 1, January 2015.
By Anders Corr, Ph.D
The January 7 terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo in Paris wasn’t just an attack on human beings, but also an attack on freedom of speech and democracy. The French people wish to live in a free system where journalists and cartoonists have rights, including the freedom to lampoon Muhammad, Jesus, the French President, or anyone else they wish to put in the spotlight. These freedoms are deeply rooted in the history and philosophy of all democracies, and will be defended at great cost in blood and treasure.
The terrorist attack resulted in 12 deaths, which included well-known cartoonists at the magazine and the magazine’s editor, Stephane Charbonnier. The act of killing journalists only strengthens the people’s resolve to protect their freedoms, especially freedom of speech. Indeed, the response to the Paris attacks should not be fear to publish images of Muhammad, but rather a resolution to do so in many more outlets in order to act as a movement, a school of fish, and thereby de-isolate and protect the freedoms of others to do the same. Equivocation in the name of cultural sensitivity, an acceptable response prior to these attacks, is no longer an option. Fear and equivocation are now indistinguishable and would set a horrible precedent for giving in to terrorism, and against freedom of speech and democracy.