At first, the only news in reaction to the brutal terrorist attack on a satirical newspaper was horror and sadness. Ten journalists and two police officers lost their lives in the attack; others are wounded. But after the initial horror, prominent voices have begun saying the victims had it coming. It is disturbing, but not unexpected. Free speech is messy, and many “civilized people” don’t really like it. They would prefer you not be so crude, rude and uncouth, and certainly not anger anyone who might throw a violent tantrum.
But we only have freedom of speech if we can say things that offend or disturb or even anger. Free speech isn’t for kitten pictures; it’s for fighting words and revolting images. It’s for saying things that make “decent” people cringe a little and those in power gnash their teeth. It is especially for making those in power gnash their teeth. And whether that power is an elected official, universities, religious leaders, or the monsters rolling through the Middle East beheading people and selling women into slavery, the principle applies. As one of the dead journalists said, “I would rather die standing than live on my knees.”
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So, to honor the dead, here’s one small blogger’s middle finger to the censors, bullies, and thugs everywhere, borrowed from aptly named The Free Beacon. Because free speech means nothing if you keep your mouth shut.