Political Correctness – again – and Charlie Hebdo

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I’ve written about Political Correctness before, and I’m about to do so again. If this is not your thing,  I won’t get offended if you swiftly move on.
Right, are you still with me? Okay, good.
Charlie Hebdo, the French satirical magazine, published an article a few days ago. Contrary to their usual stuff, it was a “serious” article, no satire involved. You can read said article here: How did we end up here?

Basically, it deals with political correctness, and the fact that people are fearful to discuss or criticise anything having to do with Islam for fear of being branded hislamophobe…and the insidious devastating effects on society as a result. I believe this article is crucial because it is a fact that political correctness has now gone too far. I believe that nothing, no idea, no religion, no philosophy, no anything should be above discussion and criticism. We are human beings with brains, we should be able to use them. And yet, to do so nowadays is akin to wearing a sign round your neck that says “abuse me”.
It is a frightful state of affairs when people can’t express an opinion without being vilified.

This particular Charlie Hebdo article has had people frothing at the mouth. “How dare they?” they say. They’re “showing their true colours…they have been revealed as bigots and racists.” Well, no actually. This article is not about bigotry, or anything of the sort, it’s about the kind of society that develops when people aren’t allowed to emit opinions anymore. Of course the virulent reaction to the article perfectly proves the point it is making, but blindsided people will not, refuse to, see it.

This is one example of what happened on Twitter when I questioned the views of one politically correct person: I have to admit that after being shot down by quite a few people before this one, I maybe wasn’t as tactful as I could have been when I replied to his original tweet…but the condescending and patronising tone of it got to me.

I’d like to pre-empt anyone saying that “I shouldn’t bother interacting with those people” and that “I must have too much time on my hands” by replying that: I can’t help it sometimes, it’s the journalist (and INFJ) in me. I cannot bear misrepresentation of people or their ideas, and that’s exactly what happened with this article. Twitter got inflamed with it, summing it up as: “Charlie Hebdo thinks that the lack of ham sandwiches threatens Western values”. I mean, it would be funny if it wasn’t all over the net, and actually taken seriously. Someone has to speak out, otherwise where will it all end? We are in dire need of people fighting back the PC brigade who are unfortunately supported wholeheartedly by the media. 

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I just couldn’t quite believe that he spoke to me like that, why swear at people?! I am guilty of swearing quite a bit myself but it’s more like: “where are my f*****g keys?” and “what the f**k is this?” – swearing as I’m speaking to myself… I do not swear at people I know or even strangers for no good reason. 

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So anyway, I promptly got blocked by this guy, which is funny really as he was the one who was abusive and got personal. If anybody should have done any blocking, it should have been me, but obviously I’m more mature than he is.

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Then somebody else who had followed this “conversation” tweeted him to say that maybe he should be more articulate rather than swear at people but that person got blocked as well after that one single tweet. This crazy dude blocked everyone (who disagreed with him obviously) involved in the “chat”…even though none of us were abusive.

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So there we have it. The PC brigade is out there, making sure nobody but them is allowed to express opinions. And once again, they scream and shout for tolerance, while showing none themselves, as is always the case. They call us “haters” for having an opinion we express calmly and yet they’re the ones spouting hate words and acting like raving lunatics. Oh, the irony.

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Does anybody *really* believe in Freedom of Speech?

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I feel compelled to write this, although it will be my last post on the subject (for a good while anyway).
Today, I told somebody I know that an anonymous person on the net had left a very long hideous comment on my blog, which ended thus: “If you have children, I hope they ALL die VERY slowly so YOU can watch them and SUFFER”. This was in response to my Caitlyn Jenner post.

Now, obviously this can only come from a mentally deranged person because, WHO in their right mind would ever say such a thing? I read the whole hateful comment twice (I know, I know) and deleted it. It goes without saying it was never going to make it onto the blog but it did make me feel very uncomfortable reading it. It came from the US, so it wasn’t as if there was an immediate threat – nevertheless, it shook me up a bit to have so much hate directed at me, even if it was from across the pond.

However, what shocked me more was my aforementioned friend’s reaction when I told him about it today.
Word for word, this is what he said: “I’m sorry the trolls have been bombarding you, but you shouldn’t be so opinionated about such things then”.
I was aghast. Basically, what he was saying was this: “You don’t deserve it, but…actually, you do”.

That is something I cannot understand and will not accept. To me, that’s like saying that the journalists from Charlie Hebdo murdered in cold blood in Paris back in January deserved their fate because they were also “too opinionated”. Note that I’m well aware that the fact I got some hateful comments cannot be compared with an assassination, obviously. But there is a definite correlation there which is: as long as you express an opinion, there is always a risk and you can’t really complain about the consequences or whatever comes your way as a result. So, freedom of speech truly doesn’t exist then – and it’s entirely normal and logical that some people should wish a slow death on any hypothetical children I may have, just because I said that Caitlyn Jenner’s photo shoot was a “vanity project”.
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My blog is small, I’m not a power blogger and this blog is my own little place to write about anything I feel like: a place where I can play and indulge my obsession with words, a place where I can express myself freely because there are no expectations, as I do not get paid for the writing I do on here. My views and opinions are not even controversial, so I don’t understand how somebody I know could think that I’m too opinionated and that I only have myself to blame if some deranged mind decides to leave heinous comments on my blog.

I have said it ad nauseam, but I truly don’t mind anybody disagreeing with me, as long as they do it intelligently and can sustain a real discussion. But, in any case, because I write on a public blog, I expect some people to pipe up and tell me that they think I’m wrong. I even expect others to tell me I’m stupid, or jealous, or a hater (I’ve had that too in the last few days). I can even handle pure hate as in that comment I got yesterday. All of this, I can understand and I can cope with, because this is what happens when you put yourself out there, on a public site, even if it’s only a small one – some trolls are always going to be able to find you, unfortunately.

But that somebody I know, somebody who is meant to be a friend (and more or less sensible) should imply that I can’t really complain about the hateful comments because I’m “too opinionated”, that I find hard to handle.
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If people that are meant to be close to me think that way, is it any surprise that a couple of religious fanatics should feel justified to go into a Paris office and proceed to execute journalists for expressing opinions?

This unexpected response from my friend made me realise, once again, that it’s not just religious fanatics and deranged human beings who don’t seem to grasp the concept of freedom of speech, it’s also ordinary people: like your friend, your neighbour, an acquaintance – it’s a hell of a lot of people actually. Does this fact upset anyone else? Because it sure does upset me.

If anybody has time (and is willing) to read the post I wrote a month ago about Freedom of speech, you can do so so here

Image credit:rs21.org.uk, paperblog.com and Izquotes.com

The pen really is mightier than the sword

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It’s been an emotional week.
In the aftermath of the horrors that took place in Paris this week, the mood in France is subdued.

After the shooting at Charlie Hebdo, I didn’t realise at first that my favourite cartoonist was among those killed. When I saw his name in the list of victims, anger replaced shock.

I had grown up with “Cabu”, as he was known. Every Wednesday afternoon, he used to appear on this kid’s French show and do a quick drawing lesson. He was funny, he was talented and he was part of our childhood. Now he’s been murdered – senselessly.

I phoned my friend as soon as I saw his name listed among the dead – gosh I was angry. Only when she answered, all I could say was: “the bastards killed Cabu!” in a voice choked with tears.

And that’s what it’s been like among the French this week: anger intermingling with sadness and defiance.

Every one in France has been touched by the tragedy. Even people who didn’t care much about the magazine Charlie Hebdo, even people who didn’t agree with most of what was published in it.

When the terrorists murdered those people, they attacked our values, they attacked the French spirit, they attacked the whole of France.
They tried to tell the French that freedom of speech should be suppressed, that it could be punished and sanctioned.
They obviously didn’t understand who we are. They could kill hundred and thousands of us and yet we would still defend the right to free speech to the end.
That is why the whole of France is standing united and defiant. Because ‘they’ killed people for drawing, for expressing an opinion – and they killed them in the name of religion ffs.

The French community in the English town I live in organised a vigil for the Charlie Hebdo victims on Thursday night. Thanks to Facebook (it does have its uses) we organised the whole thing very quickly. There was about 150 of us in attendance but it was very cathartic. As we lit the candles, brandished our pencils and signs and paid our respects to the dead – we felt at one with Paris and at one with France.
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The terrorists are now dead. It’s ironic that they died after trying to threaten our freedom of speech – only for their actions to actually make it stronger than ever. They died after attempting to create chaos and mayhem in France – and only succeeded in uniting us all: Nous sommes tous Charlie.

I know that this quote has been used to death this week, but that’s because it’s so fitting, and true: “the pen really is mightier than the sword”.
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We will not be silenced

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The cold-blooded murder of at least 12 people in my home country today has left a trail of shock, anger and sadness in its wake.

The senseless attack on the Paris offices of the magazine Charlie Hebdo shocked the world – but was most keenly felt in France, for obvious reasons.

What those, as yet unknown terrorists failed to understand, is that Freedom of Speech is at the heart of the French “spirit” and no barbaric attack is going to change that.

In a world becoming more and more obsessed with Political Correctness, freedom of speech and the freedom of the press is something France has fought very hard to keep alive.

Fanaticism and cold-blooded murder is not going to change what is deeply embedded in the French psyche.

You do not attack freedom of speech in France with impunity – this, the current (and future) terrorists will learn the hard way.

Today, France suffered a great loss – but it is standing united and will not bow down to savage and ghastly tactics attempting to threaten one of our most basic right.

My thoughts are with those who were lost today – and with their families.
#JeSuisCharlie