Free Speech

Book Cover for Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses

For the record, The Satanic Verses was one of the most boring 500+ pages I ever read. But in 1989, to support the idea of free speech, I read them all from my very own hardback copy of the book. It seemed the least I could do to protest the death threat hanging over the author’s head.

I have not seen The Interview. I still support free speech, but I’m older than I was in 1989 and have learned the value of my time. The premise of the movie just seems too stupid. Even if an evil empire reportedly stooped to such great lengths to snuff it out via threat and cyberbullying, it doesn’t interest me. But I support the right of others to see it if they wish.

North Korean flag

Reeling from the audacious and evil attack on the Parisian offices of the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo yesterday, I sought out the publication’s official Facebook page – thinking I would “like” it in a stance of solidarity with the cartoonists, other staff and policemen who were slaughtered by terrorists. Je suis Charlie and all that. The cover photo at the top of the Facebook page, however, was crass in a juvenile, butt-joke sort of way. So I chose to share some supportive statements via Twitter and an inspirational photo of thousands gathered to proclaim that they were “not afraid” of terrorists, but I held off on the Facebook “like.”

Large crowd of people in Paris - at night. Lit by street lights. Holding large sign that says "Not Afraid."

Photo Thibault Camus AP

I mention these three examples to illustrate that I don’t have to support or “like” what somebody says in order to support their right to say it.

I don’t even have to pretend to like it.

Supporting their right to say it does not imply endorsement.

They have free speech.

I have freedom of choice about what I read, watch, listen to or recommend.

Je suis Charlie?

Not really.

From what I have seen of that publication, it is not really up my alley or something I would find personally compelling.

So, while I am not Charlie, I stand in solidarity with Charlie…and Sony…and Salman Rushdie…and others targeted by evil, terror, murder and censorship.

Je suis Charlie?


Je suis Sarah.

Je suis humain.


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