A Tale of Extremism and Liberty

“It may sound pompous, but I’d rather die standing than live on my knees”
Stephane “Charb” Charbonnier

Religious beliefs could be argued to be as old as man on Earth. Throughout history, records abound of one form of religious activity or the other in various cultures and civilizations around the globe. As many individuals and societies embrace religion, others maintain a dislike or indifference for anything that is religious in nature.

In an ideal world, every person would be guaranteed freedom of opinion, and would be entitled to own personal views on any issue, and air such views; as long as such views do not lead to physical assault on another person—whether a supporter or an opponent of such a view. Religious thought (or the lack of it) should be one area where people are at liberty to choose without pressure, compulsion or intimidation.

The world is mourning, thanks to the sad incident in Paris. Twelve lives were cut short because some persons do not understand the meaning of free speech.

Charlie Hebdo, a French satirical magazine, has been in the news for quite a while. The magazine has used cartoons to poke at different politicians, governments and religions. During the time it ridiculed different targets, none responded violently. That is, until Charlie Hebdo had the effrontery to draw cartoons about Islam and Mohammad. Now, it has lost its editor and several collaborators.

Who is to blame for this massacre? Some individuals have cast the blame on Charlie Hebdo, saying that its staff’ actions were provocative. Obviously, in their estimation, you can say or draw anything, as long as it does not ridicule a religion. To me, those with this view do not understand the meaning of free speech.

For the record, I am a Christian. I must recognise that not every person shares the same religious views with me, and so, I must not enforce my beliefs on others. Persuasion, not compulsion, is the key. Anyone can write or draw anything about Jesus Christ, and it would not bother me. No person can draw the real image of Jesus, so why should I lose sleep over words or pictures, no matter how offensive they may seem? I likely would even laugh at the ignorance; not kill them nor threaten them. Last time I checked, God did not ask me to help Him punish mockers. He has got His own hands!

Many of the non-Moslems blaming Charlie Hebdo, are liberals who are against blaming a rape victim for the rape. If you would not blame a rape victim who dressed “provocatively” and walked into an arena of vile men, why then should you blame cartoonists for drawing “provocative” images? What constitutes “provocation” is relative to different people.

Instead of blaming those who exercise their right of free speech (no matter how crazily funny); blame the people with extremist views; who have no respect for human life. Extremists are straightforward dictators. It is either you believe their way or you die. There is no room for dissent. It is against them that the world should stand.

The doctrine of political correctness is surely helping to stifle free speech. Some person talks, writes or draws something, then, some foolish extremists kill that person. The extremists rejoice in their “revenge”, a big achievement for them, while the world says, “that person should have considered their feelings”. Rubbish!

If you say your religion is one of peace and love, it should show beyond mere words. For the sake of the peace you preach, you should be willing to accept insults, and respond in love, not with a gun, knife, or bomb. Love is patient, kind, not easily provoked, and does not seek evil. Love does not commit murder. If you must fight back, use words, or draw some cool pictures.

I read a tweet yesterday, while going through #JeSuisCharlie posts. It reads (paraphrased):

“If you feel you have to fight to defend your god, then you need to reconsider having him as one”

Extremism has no place in world of liberty.

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