by Iain Donaldson on 9 January, 2015
Article 19 of the International Declaration of Human rights affirms that:
Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.
We must be prepared to demonstrate our absolute commitment to the right to the freedom of speech.
In her biography on Voltaire, Evelyn Beatrice Hall (1868 – after 1938) summed up the beliefs of the great philosopher François-Marie Arouet (known by his nome-de-plume ‘Voltaire’) as being:
I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it
It is in that light that I, and many millions of others around the world, have adopted the phrase ‘Je Suis Charlie’ as an expression of our resolution that freedom of speech must never be allowed to be curbed by fanatics be they misinterpreting the teaching of religions, philosophical creeds or any other political philosophy.
Another great thinker, Benjamin Franklin, once wrote that:
Those who surrender freedom for security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.” and although he was referring to attempts to curb the American military budget at the time, his words have taken on far more significant meaning today.
The families and friends of those brutally murdered in Paris rightly deserve our sympathy, but this is about much more that just that. It is about the human right to freedom of speech, and that is a right we must never allow fanatics, bullies or fools ever deprive us of.