Tuesday, 13 January 2015

"Nevertheless I will defend to the death his right to say someone should stab me to death."

Finally! I'd been trying to make the massacre at the Paris offices of "Charlie Hebdo" somehow about me for days, and then I remembered John Finnemore's Voltaire sketch:


Of course it's a disaster when this question becomes anything but hypothetical, even if it's not the only disaster. My own take on all this? Hang on, let me check twitter...
That's right: "Extremists are gangsters. There's money in it. Take that away and you'll see how small a part ideology actually plays." And, regarding the #jesuischarlie hashtag: "It's possible to support free speech as a principle without supporting everything ever said. So I'm not Charlie. And surely that's fine... confuses something that should be very simple. I'm defending your right to be not me."
Having said that... it was a remarkably nuanced campaign of solidarity as these things go on twitter, and even if the later #jesuisahmed seemed a slight dig at #jesuischarlie ("Charlie ridiculed my faith and I died defending his right to do so"), without it I doubt I would have known about Ahmed at all, and I'm glad I know about Ahmed. So "You're not Ahmed. You're not Groot. Free speech allows us to do far more than taking sides will." But also, well done the internet. #iamgroot was Keeps' idea, by the way.
I also enjoyed the clarity of Jon Taylor's summary: "Shot dead. Drawings." and Frankie Boyle's "Glad everyone's celebrating free speech in Trafalgar Square, and not in Parliament Square where they'd be arrested." Yeah, imagine if we'd done that.
And by "we" of course I mean "not me".

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