Social Question

NerdyKeith's avatar

Do you think there should be limits to freedom of expression?

Asked by NerdyKeith (5464points) April 10th, 2016

In 2015, Pope Francis implied he was defending the Charlie Hebdo murders.

Just to quickly recap what Charlie Hebdo is and when these murders took place. In January of 2015, two brothers forced their way into the offices of the French satirical weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris. Armed with assault rifles and other weapons, they killed 11 people and injured 11 others in the building. After leaving, they killed a police officer outside the building. The gunmen identified themselves as belonging to the Islamist terrorist group Al-Qaeda.

Shortly after this attack, Pope Francis claimed freedom of expression has its limits. He illustrated this by using a hypothetical scenario of if his own mother was offended he’d punch the offender. Of course the Vatican did some damage control after Francis’ statement to the media by claiming that this does not justify the murders.

Personally, I support free expression as a human right. Violence can never be justified on the bases of one finding the way a person expresses themselves as objectionable. One really needs to take satire with a grain of salt. It is an artistic means of disagreeing with something or voicing an opinion with the use of humor. A lot of cartoonists like this regard themselves a equal opportunity offenders, in order to attempt to bring us all to the same level


Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

18 Answers

filmfann's avatar

Anyone who doesn’t support free expression needs to shut the fuck up.

zenvelo's avatar

Not limits to freedom of expression, and also not limits to scorn and criticism of such expression.

There are those who wish to be able to say vile nasty things about groups, yet when they are castigated accuse people of limiting their freedom of speech. Well, if you get to say whatever you want, I do too.

CWOTUS's avatar

I don’t listen to Popes as a rule, anyway, but I do know enough about the Bible to know that “turning the other cheek” is a thing that Christians are known to do … and a good thing, too. That’s some Biblical advice that I actually abide by, at least in a metaphorical sense.

But the Pope says that if someone “offended his mother” then he would punch the offender? And he’s still the Pope, and people believe him to be a holy messenger of God? Really? How in God’s name (literally) is that happening?

It seems like Charlie Hebdo needs to step up their game a bit here. I know they’ve taken a tremendous hit from the Islamist nutjobs, but there’s a Catholic nutjob just itching to have his mother be “offended”.

As a rule, no, I do not believe much in “limits to free expression” that is opinion-based, does not (directly) incite to riot or violence (screaming into the ear of the Pope’s mother, for example, while someone might call it “free expression”, is an assault upon the ears – a painful attack), and which does not randomly block the ability of others to travel or communicate as they wish (so BLM street-blockades are out). Otherwise, the way to beat “bad speech” (or art, or other expression) is with better speech.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Of course there should be limits to freedom of expression! If people die because you’re exercising your freedom, you went over the limit.

CWOTUS's avatar

Well, sure, if your means of “expression” means pushing people over a cliff, or setting them on fire. I’m not in favor of that…

NerdyKeith's avatar

@CWOTUS Yes the exact quote is

“If my good friend Dr. Gasbarri says a curse word against my mother, he can expect a punch… It’s normal. You cannot provoke. You cannot insult the faith of others. You cannot make fun of the faith of others.”

Pachy's avatar

Yes I do—but who among us has the perfect wisdom and objectivity to draw the lines.

SecondHandStoke's avatar


Full stop.


Those that advocate limiting expression:

What exactly is it that you so fundamentally fear?

Dutchess_III's avatar

Oh, @SecondHandStoke, you know. Like, getting killed by someone exercising their right to freedom of expression, as outlined in the OP’s details.

CWOTUS's avatar

Which part did you object to, @Dutchess_III? The cartoons in Charlie Hebdo, for example, which killed – how many folks? Or the violent retribution that followed, à la the Pope’s fine example: “Say something I don’t like, and expect to be punched”?

Following the Pope’s logic, if I say something he objects to strongly enough, then he will punch me. If he punches me, then I’d be justified in continued escalation of the physical assault in reprisal, and since he has escalated an oral offense into a physical one, it’s probably not unreasonable for me to respond with a knife or a gun.

Now, the Pope would be perfectly justified in calling me names or using his moral authority – since I understand he still holds some, for unknown reasons if he represents his own faith so abysmally – to have me shunned or my business boycotted. And those would be perfectly proper means of responding to a spoken or written offense.

If you think that Charlie Hebdo (as a proxy for me or thee) should have its freedom to express biting, satirical and even scatological revulsion at what they perceive to be supremely bad ideas – curtailed because someone else may respond violently, and we can’t afford to provoke them – then I’m at a loss for words. That would be a stupid, stupid idea. I can only hope that I have misunderstood your intent.

“Freedom of Speech” means the freedom to express unpopular opinions and ideas. Popular speech requires no extra protection; its popularity is its protection. Freedom of speech exists to protect what some or many or most would call “bad speech”.

jerv's avatar

There are some who piss people off by accident and some who deliberately incite violence.
The former deserve protection while the latter do not.
The real question is where to draw the line between the two.

cazzie's avatar

Killing people is a form of self expression now? Gosh, I’m so not as progressive as I thought.

Bill1939's avatar

One should be free to respectfully express their opinion. Violence is not a legitimate expression.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Nor is discrimination. You can yell that you hate black people, and that’s your right as an idiot. You can’t refuse them service because of it.
I guess that’s where the line is drawn, at the point where free speech turns into negative action.

cazzie's avatar

Also some societies draw a line at incitement to violence. There was an episode in New Zealand where a Maori leader once suggested a campaign of ‘Kill a Whitey’. I think he said “pakeha” but same thing. I think the courts encouraged him to tone it down a smidgen.

Answer this question




to answer.
Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther