Freedom of expression has its limits, after all

By Michael Ngigi

“The depiction of Muhammad by Charlie Hebdo is ignorant, provoking and in bad taste. If freedom means trashing the beliefs of others then we don’t need it. Don’t drag muslims [or any other faith] into your sick risky games. After all what’s the difference between you and a terrorist?” – Michael Ngigi


First of all I condemn democracy and free speech in the strongest terms possible. In my opinion, these two are always the excuses made by losers and war mongers; the likes of Charlie Hebdo, Sony and the rest of those who hide under the shadow of the right to self expression.

I nearly choked when I saw leaders marching in Paris and I found it very odd to see social media awash with messages of solidarity from all over the world. If history serves me correctly, a similar march was held in Washington in 1963 on civil rights. The only difference is, martin Luther’s March was held for equality which is a good cause. I am still wondering why people would stage a march in solidarity with an entity that not long ago depicted France’s black minister of justice as a monkey. Who are we kidding? This whole thing is one sided!

I condemn violence in any form and I am saddened by the Charlie Hebdo killings but I also condemn the attack of people’s faith under the cover of free speech.

We want to be granted the right to do and say everything we want yet we lack responsibility for our actions. We want to be mean to each other’s beliefs and expect tolerance in return. Life doesn’t work that way. If you were to insult someone’s mother in a bar, you wouldn’t expect anyone to come to your aid when you got beaten for it. That’s how this world works.

Charlie Hebdo knew that this day was coming. They stoked a fire very well knowing their fingers would be burned. I am not justifying what happened to the CH staff. I am saying that there is a limit to what human beings can tolerate and that is why tolerance is relative. The same applies to the recent release of ‘The Interview’ by Sony. That was wrong. The sovereignty of a country and it’s leader cannot be trashed just because some people [who are not even North Koreans] label it as a dictatorship. If North Koreans want to be free of Kim Jong-Un then they must device a way to get rid of him on their own. For all I care, everything I know about North Korea has been fed to me by the media.

We have seen how the world is quick to condemn anti-semitic expression. Well I wonder why. After all, it’s just good old satire (pun). Say anything ironic about gays and the public’s opinion about you goes down. Why can’t we find humor when a black person is called a nigger? I say let’s open this door called freedom of expression. While at it, let’s open the other door called freedom of response and action. After all, it’s good for the gander right?

The truth is, we are not all Charlie. Some of us are Africans, others are Muslims; we are all different. In fact, the name Charlie brings memories of a painful past to any country that has been negatively affected by the West’s campaign to bring ‘democracy’ to the oppressed.

Charlie has no right to dictate what is the standard for tolerance.I feel particularly angered by Ahmed Aboutaleb, the Moroccan-born Muslim mayor of Rotterdam, Netherlands for his remarks where he stated Muslim immigrants who do not appreciate the way of life in Western civilizations can ‘f*** off’.I find this statement immature and irresponsible. To me tolerance is knowing that there are lines that you shouldn’t try too hard to cross and if you do, then you should not have a problem taking what comes with a grateful heart.

As we stood in solidarity with Charlie, 3 million copies of an insult to the Muslim faith were added to this already potent situation. All in the name of freedom of speech. So yes, Charlie. You had it coming.

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