Charlie Hebdo: Freedom out of Bounds?
by Fr. Emmanuel Hatzidakis on January 12, 2015
[intro]The U.S. media described the more than three million marchers in Paris and other cities of France as a right of free expression. However, in the rest of the world the march was described for what it was: No to terrorism. The whole world came together in solidarity to give a response to terrorism, in an expression of outrage and of a firm stand against extremism.[/intro]
Ironically, Charlie Hebdo, the satirical weekly magazine, has itself maintained an extreme form of free expression, lashing in an offensive way against whatever and whoever stands to the right of its extreme left-wing radicalism. Called “irreverent” by the Washington Post, it inveighs against religion and established values. No wonder it was banned three times when even the liberal French society could not tolerate such extreme forms of “free expression.”
Publication of offensive caricatures of prophet Muhammad caused uproar among the Muslim population back in 2006 and again in 2011. This is not an exercise of free expression, but an abuse of freedom, which was rightly condemned for inflaming passions. “Anything that can hurt the convictions of someone else, in particular religious convictions, should be avoided,” French President Jacques Chirac had stated. Still, in the end, the paper was exonerated of racism.
To joke, mock, caricature and satirize religious figures has boundaries of decency, respect and the rights of the personalities it lambasts. Unbridled freedom without bounds is anarchy, and it should not be and is not totally tolerated in any society, if that society is to be and remain healthy. One’s rights may infringe upon the rights of another. Rights without accountability, obligations and responsibilities will clash with the rights of others and will create chaos.
Have you looked at the cartoons of the publication? They are shameful, graphic, obscene, lurid, defamatory and sick. The caricatures of the most sacred images of the Christian faith and of other faiths are appalling, particularly of Christ and of the Holy Trinity. There is no justification for them. If society tolerates this kind of “free expression” it only reveals how deeply sick and degenerate it has become.
In expressing our disapproval of the obnoxious form of satire by this publication we obviously do not condone in any way the acts of terrorism taken by those who felt offended by it. We lament the loss of life and abhor any form of violence, but we also deplore the irreverent, incendiary, intentionally harmful and provocative publication.
Complete freedom, along with true love and joy that accompany it, exists only where one’s individual rights are willingly and knowingly surrendered in voluntary obedience to an agreed upon wise and benevolent authority.