“J’appelle à ne pas verser de l’huile sur le feu,” a dit Dalil Boubakeur, recteur de la grand mosquee de Paris.
In other words, don’t add fuel to the fire, especially when it is already particularly incendary, flaming out of control. But once again, French magazine Charlie Hebdo, he of the infamous cover cartoon of Mohammed that earned the bombing of the magazine’s headquarters, has decided to go against all possible rational and thrown caution to the wind.
I love freedom of speech. Freedom, and the ability to express one’s own thoughts, are two of my most crucial beliefs, hence my writing this blog. But in this case, I feel that Charlie Hebdo’s satirists did wrong. They only set themselves up for catastrophy. We already have ample proof that mocking Mohammed can have disastrous results thanks to extremists (not normal Muslims); the deaths at the Libyan embassy are an unfortunate example. Had the extremists in Paris been able to successfully bomb Charlie’s office, it would have been a much-more noted disaster.
Last time Charlie’s cover revealed the Prophet saying something bad. This time, it’s the Prophet being pushed in a wheelchair by an Orthodox Jewish man, both of them saying “Faut-pas se moquer!” or “Do not mock us.” I want to smirk at the cartoon; after all, it does kind of have a point, as we’ve seen the consequences of mocking, but at the same time, I’m kind of thinking that Charlie Hebdo isn’t taking it’s own joke.
“In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad.”
So reads the proposed (advertisement? public service announcement? hate banner?) slogan that, thanks to one probably biased judge, will be plastered around 10 MTA subway stations this week in New York City. The American Freedom Defense Initiative, a hate-mongering anti-Islam group, has definitely taken it’s “initiative” and is behind the disgusting ads, which are adorned with Stars of David. As loathsome as the banner is, it brings us back to the freedom of speech: in America, we pride ourselves on this amendment. But when do we draw the line for free speech?
Think of it this way: if the Klu Klux Klan lobbied to put ads saying “Be American, stop the Blacks and Immigrans” or some equally asinine phrase, would the courts allow them to be plastered for the public to see every day as they go to work? I dont’t think so. So why is it OK to hate on Muslims, especially when most Muslims don’t beleive in the extremist jihad? Furthermore, Muslims aren’t limited to the outside world; they freaking live in New York City! If I was a Muslim American, I would feel downright insulted at being called a “savage;” and I would have every right to be. Who is this Judge Paul A. Engelmayer and why is he basically allowing this bigoted, ignorant hate group to spread ignorant and hateful words (not to mention it’s publicly calling for a call to arms, basically, which should definitely have gotten it barred) in such a public forum?
Freedom of speech is important, but so is tolerance. To the American Freedom Defense Initiative I say, learn not to define a group by a couple of individual’s actions. And keep your bigoted ideas to yourself. Because if I see one of these posters in the subway, I might just take my pen to it. After all, I have freedom of speech, too.