KCBS Anchor Stan Bunger offers this commentary on the artwork that led to Tuesday’s terrorist killings at the Charlie Hebdo publication headquarters in Paris.
The Paris massacre forces us all to confront an uncomfortable truth: Western society has a serious conflict when it comes to matters of free expression.READ MORE: Flash Flood Watches Issued As Storm Aims at Fire-Scarred Northern California
Many of us have been quick to not only condemn the obvious brutality of the murders, but also to defend the right of a publication like Charlie Hebdo to freely express its opinions. “Free speech” sounds like a great concept in the abstract, but things get sticky when it hits the real world.
I’ve spent some time looking at Charlie Hebdo’s body of work, and I have to say this: they’re pretty much equal-opportunity offenders. Muslims have complained about the way Charlie Hebdo’s cartoonists portray them, but Catholics and other Christians as well as Jews could rightly express outrage as well. Take a look at some of the work.
Here’s where it gets tricky. What some would call “sensitivity” and others might deride as “political correctness” would find much of what appears in Charlie Hebdo unacceptable–at the very least, NSFW.READ MORE: Amid the Capitol Riot, Facebook Faced Its Own Insurrection
And there’s where we face the challenge. A quick review of most employee manuals would reveal that the kind of raw material put out by Charlie Hebdo could get you fired from your job or tossed out of your school if you said it, wrote it, or passed it along.
There has even been a push for so-called “hate speech” laws that could criminalize stuff like this.
Where, exactly, do we draw the line? If what I say offends you, is it up to me to stop saying it? Is it up to our boss to make it stop? Can your sense of outrage land me in jail or facing a financial penalty?MORE NEWS: US Rowing Accepts Resignation of Longtime Men's Coach Mike Teti
Tricky stuff. We can probably agree that murder isn’t the answer, but short of that, what is?