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Millions stand for free speech—and the media is still afraid

Millions stand for free speech—and the media is still afraid

The shame of a nation

Coverage of the attacks on Charlie Hebdo in Paris this month may be about spun out, but questions regarding media censorship of the attacks, the cover of Charlie Hebdo, and Obama’s absence from the Paris unity march rage on.

On Meet the Press this weekend, Chuck Todd spoke with the new editor of Charlie Hebdo, Gerard Biard, about American media outlets’ decision to blur out the cover of the satirical magazine.

“Listen,” Briard replied, “we cannot blame newspapers that already suffer much difficulty in getting published and distributed in totalitarian regimes for not publishing a cartoon that could get them at best jail, at worst death.”

“But,” he said, “I’m quite critical of newspapers published in democratic countries. This cartoon is not just a little figure — a little Muhammad — it’s a symbol of freedom of speech, of freedom of religion, of freedom of democracy and secularism. It is this symbol that they refuse to publish.”

“What they must understand,” Briard continued, “is that when they blur it out — when they decline to publish it — they blur out democracy, secularism, freedom of religion, and they insult the citizenship.”

Not every journalist shares the sentiments of those who chose to censor their reporting. Last week, Jake Tapper rocked everyone’s world when he said that he was ashamed by the absence of U.S. leaders from the Paris rallies; he called out not only the Obama administration, but also current Congressional leadership and potential candidates for president.

Why? I hope it’s not American arrogance, a belief that everyone should express shock when something bad happens to us but that our presence at an international rally is worth less than a ticket to the Green Bay game when the victims speak in accents we don’t understand.

I suppose there’s always the risk that coming to an event like this as an American leader and getting stuck in the third row could be embarrassing or could lead to accusations that you’re trying to capitalize on a tragedy.

But that’s not how it would have been interpreted in France.

People here are happy that Americans care. They’re eager and appreciative of any evidence of that. And I know it exists — although American Twitter seemed much more focused on the Golden Globes than anything else Sunday night.

I only wish our leaders had done a better job of showing solidarity with the passion for the freedoms exemplified by the rally.

On Fox News today, a panel discussed the phenomenon of the media’s reluctance to cover the absence of an American delegation to the Paris unity rallies, and emphasized just how much influence cable networks and the new media earned by not shying away from the story—and the real reason behind the attacks.

Tapper is right, and so is Gerard Biard. What happened in the American media was mirrored by the actions of the Obama Administration (or, it could be the other way around.) By failing to fully cover what happened in Paris, the American media revealed its weak spot—the sensibilities of a small but vocal group of readers. Similarly, the Obama Administration revealed its weakness when it not only failed to send a delegation to Paris to join the rally, but then walked back their actions and admitted to making the wrong call.

In both cases, there’s no standard. There’s no standard for what’s fit to print, and there’s no standard for what’s fit to stand beside and stand against.

“Standardless” may not be the most dangerous mindset for the leaders of the free, democratic world to adhere to, but it’s certainly the weakest.

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Comments

Re “…the media’s reluctance to cover the absence of an American delegation to the Paris unity rallies..” —

The American news media is utterly corrupt, and exists solely to wipe Barry Hebdo’s bottom when he soils himself – which is a constant effort.

Most of them still confuse Barry’s frightening and malignant intentions towards our nation as bad potty training by Ann Dunham and Frank Marshall Davis, and they will continue to tolerate his mess until our nation is neck-deep in his excrement. With nowhere to turn, they will then blame the GOP for obstructing appropriate sewage legislation.

Our nation’s media desperately needs a good flush. It’s up to us to push the handle.

I don’t think it is fear at all. Too many in the Western media are staunch opponents of free speech, and see it as their proud duty to eliminate any ideas that contradict their socialist beliefs. It’s called totalitarianism.

Right now the Islamists are being protected by the Western media. I would argue largely because Islamists oppress and murder Jews and Christians, whom many journalists passionately hate. If that protection means that media-protected groups such as women and homosexuals also suffer – well, socialism is a demanding and jealous god. Besides, it’s probably all Bush’s fault, anyway.

    This.

    The fact of the matter is that even in Europe, with speech codes against holocaust denial, or other speech deemed prohibited by the powers that be, hardly cares about *free* speech – they only want *their* speech free.

    Freedom of speech is as simple as this – the right of people you *hate* to express opinions you *despise*. If you cannot overcome your sense of offense at someone else’s expression enough to acknowledge their right to offend you, you’re one of the fascists.

Blurring the cartoon means giving in to bullying, which only encourages the bully.

The only way to keep terrorist away is to make two points unequivocally clear:

1- We are not afraid of you.
2- You should be afraid of us.

    Exiliado:

    This goes beyond “bullying” – this is a battle against fascism. There will always be sick people or a sick culture looking to seize power and commit genocide (they tend to go hand-in-hand.)

    The likes of Isis, communists, fascists, whatever – and the people who lead them – should be VERY afraid of us. The day they’re not, they will start a war.

      Bullying is just the first step of the fascists. If it doesn’t work, they get progressively more violent about their persuasion.

      But it usually works.

Had I been POTUS, I’d have gone, and I’ve had a tailor put a big yellow mogen david on my coat with the words, “Je sui Juif”–and I happen to believe that the Messiah came 2000 + years ago.

While I feel sick for the Charlie Hebdo victims, I have to admit that their kind of satire which attacked all the safe targets (Christians, conservatives, immigration control advocates) with all the worst mud they could find is more a weed in the garden of free speech, I’m a lot more sympathetic to the survivors of those gunned down in the grocery store. I am also angered that much of Europe’s response to the rising anti-Semitism is to tell Jews to put away their yarmulkes and tzitzits while walking to and from Synagogue (itself becoming an unsafe activity). What the dickens? My guess is that deep down inside, the socialists running Yurruppe think that the Muslims preying on both them and the Jews are engaging in some sort of Franz Fanon-esque “recovery of manhood and dignity” through “revolutionary catharsis” or some gibberish like that.

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