Free Speech: Dieudonné M’bala M’bala, Liam Stacey and Charlie Hebdo are all victims of thought censors
What percentage of terrorists attack in Europe are perpetuated by Islamists?
So here are some statistics for those interested. Let’s start with Europe. Want to guess what percent of the terrorist attacks there were committed by Muslims over the past five years? Wrong. That is, unless you said less than 2 percent.
As Europol, the European Union’s law-enforcement agency, noted in its report released last year, the vast majority of terror attacks in Europe were perpetrated by separatist groups. For example, in 2013, there were 152 terror attacks in Europe. Only two of them were “religiously motivated,” while 84 were predicated upon ethno-nationalist or separatist beliefs.
But what of the fear of Islamists?
Can fear be linked to the arrest of Dieudonné M’bala M’bala? He was pinched for posting on Facebook “I feel like Charlie Coulibaly” — a portmanteau of Charlie Hebdo and Amedy Coulibaly, the racist who murdered four Jews in a Paris kosher store.
Locking him up is nuts. It’s lamentably stupid. But it’s in keeping with the West’s purge on free speech. In the UK, Liam Stacey’s tweet saw him jailed for 56 days.
The judge’s words in sentencing Stacey could be applied to M’bala M’bala:
At Swansea Magistrates Court, District Judge John Charles told Stacey:
“It was racist abuse via a social networking site instigated as a result of a vile and abhorrent comment about a young footballer who was fighting for his life. At the moment not just the footballer’s family, not just the footballing world but the whole world were literally praying for his life. Your comments aggravated this situation. I have no choice but to impost an immediate custodial sentence to reflect the public outrage at what you have done.
Forget the dying and the death. The social media comment made it worse. The fear of crime – a race riot; the mob; Islamophbia etc – is given equal weight to the actual crime. The thought becomes the act. Actual Jews are murdered for being Jewish but the media is fretting about Islamophobia.
Kenan Malik notes:
Social change cannot happen without causing offense. “You can’t say that!” is all too often the response of those in power to having that power challenged. To accept that certain things cannot be said is to accept that certain forms of power cannot be challenged. Those who most suffer from such censorship are minorities themselves.
The other way to confront double standards is not by extending restrictions, but by extending speech. Mr. M’bala M’bala may be an anti-Semite, but he should have the right to express his bigotry. To talk of freedom of expression for everyone but bigots is to hollow out the principle.
One cannot, in any case, challenge prejudice in practice by banning it; that simply lets the sentiments fester underground. It is only through freedom of expression that we can articulate our disagreements and truly challenge — and, if necessary, mock — the ideas of others, whether they are bigots or not.
It’s not Free Speech if you add a “but..”