This blog very rarely delves into important current events, which is perhaps a failing of the author. This is meant to be a blog about a writer, writing, but a woman who writes is still a woman living in the world.
I have to say something about free speech, because I feel that it’s such an important part of our culture and our lives that it bears defending at times like these, when it seems that we should be thinking about how to prevent a future tragedy like at Charlie Hebdo. We might be considering that perhaps we should be treading carefully in fear of offence, in case that offence happens to have extremist repercussions.
Stephane Charbonnier himself, late editor of Charlie Hebdo and a victim of the shooting, had said in an interview, “I’d rather die standing than live on my knees.” He had received death threats in the past, but he refused to bow to critics. (BBC News) This is the only mentality to have in defiance of such tragic and abhorrent events.
Free speech should never be curtailed out of fear. We are privileged to live in a country where we are given this right, so we mustn’t surrender it willingly. Offence may be given, but there is no right of a person to live a life free from offence. Offence is by nature subjective, and it is impossible (even if desirable) to eliminate anything which could possibly give offence.
A world without offence is a world with nothing in it at all.