ECLECTIC RANT: Thoughts on freedom of expression in the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo massacre

Ralph E. Stone
Friday January 23, 2015 - 02:35:00 PM

Much has been written about the killing of 12 people and the wounding of 11 others at the French satirical weekly publication Charlie Hebdo. The discussion has for the most part been quite healthy concerning freedom of expression. Freedom of expression is a right but it comes with a responsibility.

In the United States, the 1969 Supreme Court in Brandenberg v. Ohio struck down the conviction of a Ku Klux Klan member, and established a new standard: Speech can be suppressed only if it is intended, and likely to produce, “imminent lawless action.” Otherwise, even speech that advocates violence is protected. The Brandenberg standard prevails in the U.S. today. Article 19 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted in 1948, states 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.”

Unfortunately, the concept of freedom of expression is not appreciated or understood in most of the Arab world. Blasphemy, for example is prohibited in many Arab countries. For many followers of Islam, the depiction of Muhammad is a contentious issue. The Quran does not explicitly forbid images of Muhammad, but there are a few supplemental teachings which explicitly prohibits Muslims from creating visual depictions of figures. And lampooning Muhammad is certain to raise the ire of most Muslims. -more-

THE PUBLIC EYE:The Return of Good Obama

Bob Burnett
Friday January 23, 2015 - 01:09:00 PM

After working on the 2008 Obama campaign, and celebrating his election, I’ve spent much of the past 6 years defending the President. Fortunately, the 2015 State-of-the-Union address found the President in fine form. Hopefully, this speech marks the return of the “good” Obama I expected. -more-

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Deterioration vs. Bouncing Back + Rebuking Rand Paul

Jack Bragen
Friday January 23, 2015 - 02:12:00 PM

A lot of people with severe mental illness go a number of years in which they are stabilized and function at a fairly high level. However, these fairly good years are sometimes followed by a downturn. -more-

SENIOR POWER : Assisted dying in the UK

Helen Rippier Wheeler,
Friday January 23, 2015 - 02:07:00 PM

Is suicide a crime? Assisted suicide? How about physician-assisted... -more-