Freedom of expression and true courage

14 Jan

Many of you know that Marc Randazza is representing Jane Litte and Dear Author in the vexatious defamation lawsuit filed by Ellora’s Cave against them.

Many of you also know that Ken White over at Popehat has lauded Marc Randazza as a First Amendment badass–and backed up the assertion.

Until Mr Randazza became Jane Litte’s/Dear Author’s lawyer, I had not read much of his blog, or followed his twitter account. That changed, somewhat, in late September 2014, because I wanted to know more about the man behind the First Amendment badass label.

In the intervening months, I have disagreed with many of the things Marc Randazza has to say about feminism and rape culture, so I don’t read The Legal Satyricon all that often.

However, this post brought me to tears.

I do not use the term “hero” loosely. But, Charlie Hebdo has been bombed before. Those who worked there knew the risks. They accepted them. And today, 12 of them died because they believed in something far more important than any fairy tale.

They believed in freedom of expression.

“Hero” is the right word.

We are only the sum of our thoughts. If the powerful or the fanatical can stop us from expressing them through coercion or violence, we are less human. We all achieve less for being here for the brief time that we get to exist on this rock.

When we got attacked on 9/11, we responded by changing who we were. We responded by curtailing our own liberties, all in the false name of “security.”

But there are worse things than being killed by a terrorist.

Charlie Hebdo’s editor-in-chief, Stephane Charbonnier once said: “I would prefer to die standing than to live on my knees.” Today, he died standing.

He died standing for something.

He died standing for freedom of expression.

I very much doubt that these lowlives’ friends will follow up and come for us. But, as every slave stood and said “I am Spartacus,” we now stand and say “Nous Sommes Charlie.”

The correct reaction to terrorism is to do exactly the opposite of what the terrorists want you to do.

It takes real courage to stand by your convictions this way–with your name and your address out there for all to see.

I am humbled by Mr Randazza’s and his colleagues’ commitment to freedom of expression.

Thank you, sir.

And because Fasolt is right:

Je suis Charlie - Tu est pardonné

If you’re a free speech advocate, you can’t just support the speech you like. You have to take the good with the bad. In the case of undesirable speech (racist, sexist, etc), you do what should be done. Criticize it, ridicule it, mock it, ignore it, debate it, or whatever. What you don’t do is kill people for it. No matter how disgusting, vile, horrifying, misguided, misinformed, or whatever it is, you don’t kill people for it. There is no rational justification to kill another human being because they publish cartoon images you don’t like. None.

There is no rational, humane justification to kill another human being because they publish cartoon images (or say/repeat words) that offend you.


4 Responses to “Freedom of expression and true courage”

  1. Lori 15/01/2015 at 2:01 AM #

    When someone tries to silence one person, many must speak.

    • azteclady 15/01/2015 at 1:47 PM #

      There are many discussions all over blogs I follow about whether it was necessary to offend peaceful, devout Muslims by posting any of the Charlie Hebdo cartoons when talking about the massacre.

      Personally, I try not to go out of my way to offend anyone gratuitously, so under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t have posted that image.

      But these are not normal circumstances at all, and while I do apologize to those same peaceful and devout Muslims for the offense my posting that image causes them, it’s not aimed at them.

      It’s aimed at the killers who use religion–any religion–as an excuse for violence. It’s aimed at the power hungry assholes of the world who use religion to cement and increase their power.

  2. Rowena 15/01/2015 at 1:53 PM #

    Wow, what a powerful post. Thanks for sharing it.

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