When the attack on Charlie Hebdo and the killings of journalists and others shook France, the people of France have been standing and mourning in solidarity in the face of what is no doubt a great challenge to their values of freedom, and the French president Francois Holllande was especially boasting of how country claims to value freedom of speech. That said, the French government recently arrested comedian Dieudonne M’bala M’bala over a Facebook comment that supposedly suggested he sympathized with the attackers. Some demonstration of the French value of freedom of expression. 53 other cases have also been opened for “condoning terrorism”.
You can’t say you support freedom of speech and then have somebody locked up for saying something other people find offensive or for how you can interpret it. That’s just downright unfair. How’s it any different from killing someone for saying something you don’t like? Either way you’re attempting to coerce someone and stifling liberty.
The arrest of Dieudonne has sparked a debate about freedom of expression and about its limits, just like the massacre did. The thing is, freedom of expression is not something that is meant to have a beginning and an end. Freedom is timeless, and liberty is sacred. To limit freedom of expression is to harm liberty as a whole. The way I see it, if you say something offensive but otherwise are not working to stand in the way of the life and liberty of others and do not seek coercion of others, there is no need for you to be arrested for anything. It’s that simple. You don’t just ban someone for what they say. That’s not what a free society does.