Some thoughts on Charlie Hebdo:
1. I believe that freedom of speech is an absolute right.
2. Having that right doesn’t mean you must choose to exercise it oppressively, irresponsibly and without due regard and respect for others.
3. Nevertheless, freedom of speech as an absolute right must include the freedom to offend.
4. Ergo, religion is not, cannot and should not be exempt from scrutiny, challenge, satire and even ridicule, regardless of how much this may upset believers.
5. Having said that, freedom of speech as an absolute right must also include the freedom to be offended and express outrage.
6. Therefore, Muslims have an absolute right to be offended by Charlie Hebdo and should not have to apologise for that.
7. I (not a Muslim) also agree the publications were grossly offensive.
8. What I, or anyone else for that matter, DO NOT have the right to do is murder those who offend me. Murder is not a right. The murderous attack on Charlie Hebdo was WRONG and cannot be justified.
9. The “I am not Charlie” campaigners who are basing their argument solely on the offensiveness of the publications are missing the point. “Je Suis Charlie” has become bigger than that – it is a statement in support of free speech, not one specifically in support of the magazine.
10. Yes, there will always be hypocrites who jump on the bandwagon – such as some of the politicians in Sunday’s solidarity march in Paris, or those on the far right who wish to use the events of January 7 to promote their own brands of hatred and oppression.
11. Nevertheless… “I do not agree with what you say, but I will defend your right to say it.” (Voltaire)
12. I am a journalist, writer and comedian. I believe in responsibility; I oppose censorship. The latter is a slippery and dangerous slope.
13. I believe that freedom of speech is an absolute right.