The Right to Freedom of Speech

Freedom of speech has been largely debated recently due to the terrorist attacks in France, the delayed release of The Internship, and Malala Yousafzai being shot.

Earlier this month, with the Je Suis Charlie incident, The News Tribune published an opinion article called Bloodbath in Paris has Escalated War on Free Speech. This article strongly argued that freedom of speech is an inherit right that shouldn’t be regulated no matter how offensive it may seem.

The author begins by appealing to the reader’s emotion by referring to incidents like the 15 year old Malala being shot for “championing female education” and the two American journalists who were killed in by the Islamic state last summer.

The diction choice carries a highly negative connotation, to emphasize the injustice the author feels regarding the restriction of freedom of speech. When referring to the American journalists, the author states that they were “beheaded” by “Islamic State goons.” The use of the word beheaded conjures a stronger, more vivid mental image of the brutality faced by advocates attempting to speak the truth. By referring to the Islamic State as goons, the author reduces them to mere hooligans with no purpose or cause. Lastly when referring to the death of the 12 journalists, cartoonists, and police officers in France, the author uses the word massacre, implying a mass, cruel killing.

Anecdotes dot the entire story, adding facts and emotions to convince the reader of the opinion portrayed.  Seattle cartoonist Molly Norris is mentioned. She published cartoons that “poked fun at” the Islamic prophet Mohammed. For this, she received many serious death threats, and was ultimately forced to go into hiding and change her name, for her own safety. As I was reading the story, I definitely felt the unjust the author felt for Norris. Again, with diction, the author says the cartoonists poked fun at the prophet, which hints at a small joke, rather than any serious offense.

Next the author discusses hate speech simply stating “freedom of speech requires that we put up with the speech we hate.” The author further argues that violence is not the answer to hate speech. Credibility is added because the author refers to Sweden’s policy of outlawing Charlie Hebdo’s content, illustrating that time and effort has been spent to understand various policies that don’t resort to violent extremism.

The piece concludes with the author strongly asserting that the biggest fear associated with the terrorist attacks in France is that it will instill fears in journalists to not use their freedom of speech to express certain thoughts and view point.


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