By J Dale Debber
We realize from responses that most of our readers and viewers prefer us to stay on the topics we cover for you on a regular basis: occupational heath and safety and workers compensation.
Today we must, because of our profession, bring you this representation of the cover of Charlie Hebdo, the French satirical magazine whose headquarters was attacked for exercising freedom of expression. This magazine in many ways is far from my personal beliefs; it is secular and far left. Today I stand – and I ask you to stand – with my brothers and sisters who have been brutally murdered for artistically expressing themselves.
There is one reason that we are able to provide you with the coverage we do. That reason is freedom of the press and equally as important, freedom of speech. That concept was so important to America's founders that it is embodied in the 1st Amendment to our foundational documents:
“Amendment I: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
It is a guarantee that you can express your thoughts in any form including speech.
That free speech not only applies to the press, which is supposed to keep our politicians and system honest, but to speech which includes artistic expression. It applies to books, drama, art, painting TV, movies, and to satire such as William Shattner’s satirical TV lawyer Denny Crane.
Today elements in the world are trying to control what you can think through threats, fear and murder. If you express something they don’t like in any way they want you to believe they will kill you. They act in order to scare us. The president of France called the murderous attack on Charlie Hebdo “an act of war.”
The president of the United States, through his spokesperson Josh Earnest, rightly said on the 12th “that the publication of any kind of material in no way justifies any act of violence.” That’s good. But then Earnest went on to encourage the media to use “responsibility” and to discourage media outlets from publishing the Charlie Hebdo cover or other materials that could create a dangerous reaction. Both CNN and MSNBC cowered in fear – whether of offending or of reprisal – rather than show this cover.
Understand that I have been a reporter for a long time and have kept the lid on things for the sake of instant safety, such as the specific location of the race riots I covered in the 60s. We protect the names of innocents such as kids or rape victims, and we certainly protect military information while events are transpiring. But the president stopping the free expression of ideas – in the art of satire or in any other fashion – is not in any way the same thing.
If you run from a bully the bully will pick on you more. This is a lesson many of us learned in elementary school before political correctness subsumed reality. Standing down in the face of a threat from the Middle East is interpreted by its mindset as weakness.
It assures in the enemy the kind of confidence that begets more violence.