This week the headlines have been griped by the terrible attack on the Charlie Hebdo Magazine in Paris – an atrocity which, followed by a wave of other attacks, was done simply because of the human right to express yourself in a free society. I decided to write this week’s blog on this subject as I feel we all have the right to freedom of speech and no one should be punish for this.
As I writer I use words to express what I feel and see, what is in my head and in my heart. When I write, I always think twice about what I want to say or mention and the art of editing your work is very important to make sure you are happy with what you publish. I have several times thought twice about publishing something, mainly because I think of the consequences and what it may lead onto, and if I don’t publish something is not because I am scared to, but because I don’t feel it’s important enough to do it and the adverse effects are greater than the rewards of the piece.
The events this week in Paris shows the consequences of what can happen when people exercise their human right of expressing their views, especially with a controversial publication such as Charlie Hebdo; you can upset people. But that basic right to freedom of speech in our societies should not be oppressed by anyone and there is no logical explanation for any individuals to take another’s persons lives for expressing what they think. The publishers, writers and cartoonist at the Charlie Hebdo Magazine believed in what they did; they believed that through their art and satire they were expressing the views and opinions of many, particularly those who subscribed to their publication. The barbarian act of terrorism that took place should not be allowed and we need to demonstrate to the world that people can still express themselves freely without fear of being intimidated or harmed by those who cannot accept criticism and opinions of others.
And if we bring this closer to our lives, we don’t need to be writers or cartoonist in a controversial publication to be the victims of oppression in our lives. We are all subject to people’s radical mentalities and when we attempt to express ourselves freely with an opposing view or argument, we may find holding back for fear of retaliation. Or if we do speak our minds, we may become the victims of an attack. Let me share with you some examples that may illustrate what I mean:
If you have a relationship with someone who has a particularly stronger character than yours it becomes harder to express your opinion or ideas without them pushing their views onto you or getting upset at the thought or suggestion of something they don’t agree with. Or it may be the opposite, you are the dominant side and no one dares to say anything in front of you because you fly off the handle! Here we have killed freedom of speech; people are frightened to express what they think because of the way someone may react.
How often do we hold back our views and opinions in a conversation to avoid offending someone? Or we don’t hold back and then pay the consequences? I understand there is a place and a time for everything and there is no room for offensive remarks or racist/sexist comments, but there are so many controversial and taboo subjects we don’t talk about just because people can react wrongly, so we avoid them. If we genuinely have an opinion about something, we should have the right to express this opinion. People don’t have to like it or agree, but it is our opinion and we should be able to share it. And when we hold back on those views or opinions it may be because we feel it’s not worth it and we drop the subject. However if you feel passionate about something, you should be able to speak freely without fear of how someone may react.
I may not be the most controversial writer in the world and often my work is expressing feelings and ideas that don’t offend people. I sometimes write scripts that are thought provoking and blogs that may make you think, I try to be politically correct and aware of what I say. But no one, no matter how controversial it may be, should ever be stopped from expressing what he or she believes because someone feels they have the power to silence you. If someone disagrees with something someone said, or they feel they have offended them, as rational human beings we have the power that animals don’t have; “choice”! You have two choices, you can choose to ignore their views and move on or you can choose to talk to them and debate the subject allowing both of you to express yourselves in a civilised manner. Debate is not about reaching agreement; it’s about allowing people that basic right to be heard, the right to freedom of speech.
I want to live in a world where we can all have freedom, and not just physical freedom, but be free to think and express ourselves. If I were not allowed to put on paper my thoughts and feelings, my head would explode!