Free speech should apply to all people

Mari Williams

As a human being who strives to find solidarity in a world full of violence and obvious disconnect, I support freedom of speech, even if it makes me uncomfortable.

I am like many other Americans in that I think everyone reserves the innate right to express his or her thoughts and opinions…until they make me uncomfortable.

At this very moment the human race is facing a dire issue that will ultimately shape history.

It was a miserably cold morning on campus Jan. 7, the day 12 cartoonists were brutally massacred at the French satirical newspaper, Charlie Hebdo. I sat in my first class of my fourth semester at UNA horrified by the tweets displayed on my feed.

As a journalist, but much more so as a human, I was dsigusted. I have never seen a drawing that warranted murder and I am not sure I ever will.

Immediately after news of the slayings broke, people around the world wasted no time showing their support for those killed.

‘Solidarity rallies’ popped up all over the globe.

When I saw this I thought, “Wow, this is beautiful, we are moving forward.”

This feeling of progressivism was short lived.

On the same day #JeSuisCharlie (I Am Charlie) was trending on Twitter, it was accompanied by #KillAllMuslims. BBC reported this hashtag was tweeted 100,000 times by the following day.

While many of these tweets were criticizing the hashtag, even now it is easy to find tweets under the hashtag calling for the murder of all Muslims.

While I stand behind freedom of speech, I question if everyone really does. Many claim to stand behind Charlie Hebdo, and more than likely do. But whether they stand behind Freedom of Speech is something else entirely.

Let’s close our eyes and replace those cartoons of Muhammad with Jesus Christ. How many still support?

The world is at a crossroads and the way we treat this tragedy will determine the direction of the future. Most people will not agree with this editorial and may even publicly share their opinions. I do not care.

While it is good to continue discussing the horrifying brutality of this event, I hope this editorial sparks a conversation encompassing not only a cartoonist’s right to freedom of speech but also that of those who make us uncomfortable.

American lawyer Alan Dershowitz once said the following on this topic, “Freedom of speech means freedom for those who you despise, and freedom to express the most despicable views. It also means that the government cannot pick and choose which expressions to authorize and which to prevent.”