Free Speech: the Charlie Hebdo lie seduces the thought police
Few of us in the UK had heard of Charlie Hebdo, the satirical French magazine, before so many of its staff were murdered by Islamists. David Cameron announced on Twitter that he was joining that ‘unity’ rally in Paris “to celebrate the values of Charlie Hebdo“.
Everyone was for free speech and a free Press. The French so love it their creepy sounding Minister of Culture hands state subsidies to French newspapers. With money comes control.
France’s two most prestigious newspapers, “Le Monde” and “Le Figaro”, received more than €16 million in government subsidies each… The catholic newspaper “La Croix” got over €10 million while the communist “L’Humanité” received almost €7 million in public subsidies, the Ministry’s website shows…
The regional daily “Ouest France” follows close behind Le Monde and Le Figaro on the on the list, receiving over €10.4 million in 2013…France’s press sector also benefits from a low 2.1% rate of VAT. In addition, French journalists enjoy advantageous tax privileges which are supposed to compensate for professional expenses… [full list here].
That freedom of the press looks a lot like state control.
Add to that the assaults on free speech on univerity campuses, the attempt to shut down debate on global warming, no debate on gay marriage and – well, you name it – and you wonder what Cameroa and every other leader who declared they are Charlie Hebdo thought they were supporting.
And so to the news that Wiltshire Police “have apologised after an officer visited a newsagent requesting details of customers who bought French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in the wake of the Paris massacre”.
The thought police issue a statement:
“Following the terrorism incident in Paris, France on 7 January 2015, Wiltshire Police undertook an assessment of community tensions across the county. As part of this work, local sector policing teams were asked to be mindful of business premises, in particular newsagents who may be distributing the Charlie Hebdo magazine and to consider that these shops may be vulnerable. There was no specific threat nationally and nothing to suggest newsagents in particular would be vulnerable. A police officer visited a local shop and post office in Corsham to make an assessment of community tensions and, if appropriate, encourage the newsagent’s owner to be vigilant. During this conversation the officer requested information about subscribers to the Charlie Hebdo magazine. Wiltshire Police would like to apologise to the members of public who may be affected by this. Information relating to this specific incident has been permanently and securely disposed of. Wiltshire Police are confident that the police officer’s intention was purely around enhancing public safety and ensuring that the newsagent was advised appropriately. “
Just a one off, then. Just a copper who thought he’s get a list of people who read edgy, foreign publications.
No. Get a load of this letter to the Guardian:
Your offer of commemorative badges in support of journalistic freedom highlighting “Je suis Charlie”, prompts me to suggest a degree of caution following my experience. Tongue in cheek, I asked my helpful newsagents to obtain a copy of the edition of Charlie Hebdo issued after the dreadful massacre in Paris, if indeed a copy was ever available in north Wiltshire. To my surprise, a copy arrived last Wednesday week and although the standard of content in no way matches that of the Guardian I will cherish it. However, two days later a member of Her Majesty’s police service visited said newsagent, requesting the names of the four customers who had purchased Charlie Hebdo. So beware, your badges may attract police interest in your customers.
That question might be rhetorical. We know the answer. It’s because the police are not there to listen. They are there to tell. And they will tell you what freedom is…