Hate Speech or Free Speech?

North Wind Staff

marriage online voteOn Jan. 7, 2015 two men armed with assault rifles, a shotgun and a rocket-propelled grenade entered the offices of “Charlie Hebdo,” a French satirical weekly. They killed 12 people and injured 11.

The cartoonists and editors at the magazine were no strangers to threats and attacks. Since publishing images of the Islamic prophet Muhammad in 2006 the magazine has been on radical Islamist hit lists. The “Charlie Hebdo” offices were fire-bombed in 2011 after again publishing images of the prophet and listing him as a guest editor.

In the wake of the recent attack, those wanting to show solidarity with “Charlie Hebdo” and the right to free speech have marched holding aloft pens or signs saying “Je Suis Charlie” (I am Charlie).

But, there has been controversy within the journalism world.

Many people feel the images and cartoons printed in the pages of “Charlie Hebdo” are bigoted and racist. In a country where racial tensions are already high, some believe the pages of “Charlie Hebdo” only acted as fuel for the fire.

Here in the United States, journalists are wondering if the images which populated the pages of “Charlie Hebdo” would ever make it to publication considering our hate speech laws.

No sane person condones the acts of violence enacted upon the staff at “Charlie Hebdo,” but many are asking where the line between hate speech and free speech is drawn.

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