Aspiring Wise Fool

Free Speech in the Age of Charlie Hebdo

Here is the Prezi of a speech I prepared for Seekers’ Chapel.  I haven’t written out my comments so some of the Prezi slides may not make as much sense as others.  The main point of the speech was…”even though we live in a country that values free speech, there is a point where free speech–even religious speech–can transition to hate speech and persecution.  In my opinion, believers are called to participate in a higher standard of public speech–that does not resort to threats, denigration, or violence–even though these things may be accepted by the culture and be perfectly legal to say.

I note a progression of violence that begins with a legitimate (though sometimes trumped-up) societal problem or ill:

  • Blame assigned to some group–usually one that is poor and without the resources to defend itself,
  • Speeches are given which assigns blame to the group,
  • Hate Speech begins to crop up among groups in the society,
  • Marginalization of people and groups begin to occur, leading to
  • Civil Rights violations as police and societal groups pass implicit and explicit laws targeting profile groups,
  • Persecution of the more vocal and visible groups via defamation, public shaming and blaming, and targeted legal actions,
  • Violence, killing, and justified harm against the “so-called” perpetrators of the societal ill,
  • Genocide

I conclude with Karen Armstrong’s “Charter for Compassion