France Only Tolerates Some Free Speech

The “I Am Charlie” campaign is a farce in France and the United States. Only certain types of speech are protected. Attacking religion is protected, but speaking out against same-sex sexuality can get you arrested or fined in the United States.

We’ve seen it many times. Businesses that refuse to serve same-sex weddings are being fined and threatened with the loss of their businesses. Some people are fighting back by arguing for consistency hoping to drop State interference in the realm of free speech.

French courts have gone after anti-homosexual hate speech in a big way:

“A French court has handed out convictions for anti-gay hate crimes on Twitter for the first time, after three people used the hashtag ‘let’s burn the gays’.

“In what a major French LGBT rights group called a ‘significant victory’, three people were convicted in a Paris court this week after they accompanied tweets with hashtags including ‘let’s burn the gays on…’ or ‘#brûlonslesgayssurdu).’

“During the same period in August 2013, ‘#Lesgaysdoiventdisparaîtrecar, or ‘gays must die because…’, was also trending.

“French LGBT charity Comité Idaho, which organises the nation’s International Day Against Homophobia, brought the case to court after it filed a complaint against the users for inciting hatred and violence on the basis of sexual orientation.”

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What happened to “I Am Charlie”? I thought even the most vile speech had to be protected. The content of the Charlie Hebdo magazine was as equally repugnant and threatening to large groups of people, and yet the French government did not haul its editors into court.

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No fines were levied, even though there were many who claimed that some of the publications who invite terrorist attacks.

Even after the terrorist attacks on the editorial staff and later terrorist acts, many free speech advocates were fully behind the right of the magazine to publish their offensive material.

Why? Because they agreed with it!

I am not charlie
I Am Not Charlie


But not everybody jumped on the “I Am Charlie” bandwagon. Here’s how one “I Am Not Charlie” advocate explained his position:

“The Charlie Hebdo ‘magazine’ is a disgusting publication that not only is obscenely offensive to Muslims, but also to every other major religion of the world.

Charlie Hebdo is like a grotesquely magnified version of an incorrigibly wicked child who says, ‘Hey, watch what happens when I set the dog’s tail on fire!’ Charlie Hebdo is the most repulsive example of free speech I have ever seen.”

Free speech advocates need to develop some consistency, even when it hurts. The crime is in the act.

Of course, calling for the burning and death of homosexuals is just as bad as what the Charlie Hebdo magazine had been doing and is still doing. So why weren’t the folks at Charlie Hebdo dragged into court and made to pay fines for speech that incited terrorist acts?

Pro-homosexual groups that pursued the anti-homosexual Tweets linked the content of the posts to future violent acts. The court agreed.

Seems a bit inconsistent to me.

The Bible tells us to be “wise as serpents but gentle as doves” (Matt. 10:16) in the way we handle controversial issues. How and what we say matter. The Apostle Paul writes, “Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person” (Col. 4:6).

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