Blaise Tapp column

Blaise Tapp.
Blaise Tapp.

Much has been said and written about freedom of speech over the past week following the horrific events in Paris which included the slaughter of journalists and cartoonists at Charlie Hebdo.

It is pointless trying to make sense of why two radicalised brothers would murder members of the team at the satirical magazine after it had poked fun at Islam, namely by printing cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed.

The editor of the magazine, which has ridiculed all major religions in its pages, acknowledged the risk of printing such images but stated he would rather ‘die than live on my knees’.

He was standing up for his freedom to publish what he saw fit and he and his team paid way too high a price for that.

The right to say what you want, when you want is a freedom many take for granted and there is much confusion as to what it really means.

Since the cold blooded murder of the 10 magazine staff and two policemen as they conducted their regular news conference, a vocal majority has risen as one to stand up for one of the fundamental rights of any civilised society.

Of course nobody should fear being shot in their place of work by fundamentalist nutters who object to something their employer published but with freedom of speech and expression comes responsibility.

Those who shout ‘we are free to say what the hell we like’ overlook the fact there are many laws which prevent us from doing that not to mention the strict media industry guideline and those of each publication and news organisation.

This is one of the reasons why we have not seen the Charlie Hebdo cartoons reproduced en masse by newspapers and magazines across the world.

Right now much of the world is united against terror and, quiet rightly, journalists everywhere including me will continue to uphold our rights.

But just because the sensible decision was taken not to print those cartoons doesn’t mean that the fanatics have won.