EUROPE: Where free speech is mistaken for satire

By Eddy Montilla.

If you ask someone about the meaning of free speech, you will probably hear that…”It is the right to speak freely”. And this might be an acceptable answer coming from a person in the street, but it is absolutely inexcusable coming from the lips of a journalist. If you think about what happened in France where an excessive satire, as a result of a wrong concept about what free speech really means, caused the death of 12 people at the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, then the conclusion is only one: These days the media and numerous journalists’ s perception of free speech is as ingenous as people’s in the street, with the great difference that they can cause more and serious problems.

     Free speech does not mean to say whatever you want, whenever you want at the moment you want. In Europe (in France, England, Spain, etc.) since far-off times there is a bad practice of making an extensive and poor use of satire and sarcasm to express ideas. This is neither journalism nor free speech, but inability to show, hold and refute arguments, in short, a concealed way to insult, that is, cheap journalism.

     Since there are people whose job seems to be to understand the opposite of what it means, let me repeat what we have written many times: Any form of terrorism is brutal, unacceptable and abominable, but people have focused their attention on the terrorist attack only and that prevented them from viewing this situation with a critical eye. We all know how sensitive all people around the world might become when it comes to religion, then why such extremes of satire?

     Each of us might define the concept of free speech in a very different way, but in journalism, you only need nine simple words: To(1) be(2) able(3) to(4) say (5) and (6) defend(7) the(8) truth(9). Let us not confuse free speech with bad journalistic practices because water and gas-oil might look similar at first sight. However, if you drink the first one you have life, but if you drink the second one, you know exactly where you will go.

This article was originally published in the digital newspaper World And Opinion with Eddy Montilla.

Copyright 2015 All rights are reserved.


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