The Charlie Hebdo debate on freedom of expression

S Thayaparan

Modified 14 Jan 2015, 5:38 am

“A learning experience is one of those things that says, 'You know that thing you just did? Don't do that.” - Douglas Adams

COMMENT In a piece riddled with assumptions and condescension, blogger K Temoc attempts to navigate the treacherous terrain of religion, politics and media and ends in agreement with Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin.

The writer starts off the piece confusingly with “I have to call what happened in Paris on Jan 7, 2015 as an ‘incident’ (and not yet a terrible tragedy), at least until we can separate the two issues and examine each carefully and objectively...” and ends finding the hypocrisy of Charlie Hebdo as offensive as the slaughter of their cartoonists.

In other words, to someone like the writer, the slaughter at Charlie Hebdo ends up an “incident” and not a tragedy because they were hypocrites when it comes to the ideal of freedom of expression.

The writer says I (like many others) “chose to highlight what had stood out uniquely, that of the Islamist terrorists killing a Muslim police officer” and goes on about “this identification of a victim’s religious affiliation or even ethnic grouping as regrettable”.

Well, if something stood out “uniquely,” then why should it not be highlighted, not that I did this as a matter of course - an opening point of the absurdity of Islamic extremism is old ground for me and was not the thrust of the piece. The fact that the perpetrators targeted the cartoonists because of what they deemed offensive to their religion has no part to play or no need of mention, according to the writer’s point of view.

However, since the writer chose to ignore what my piece was about and chose instead to argue on assumptions he makes, I will respond to his points merely because it exposes a kind of thinking that has eroded the very values many in Malaysia wish they had more of.

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