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While Xinhua Says Charlie Hebdo Attack Proves Freedom of Speech Has Limits, Home of Hong Kong’s Media Tycoon Jimmy Lai Gets Firebombed

Today I don’t have time to write a long post. I am struggling with a DVD drive that’s not working (software compatibility issues) and I’m too tired to write much. But two articles have caught my attention this week and I wanted to share them. 

First, an article that was published on Xinhua, China’s state-owned news agency. In an editorial Liang Xizhi argues that freedom of speech has its limits and that the terrorist attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo shows that press freedom has gone too far in France.

The attacks against Charlie Hebdo should not be simplified as attacks on press freedom, for even the freedom itself has its limits, which does not include insulting, sneering or taunting other people’s religions or beliefs … 

It is important to show respect for the differences of other peoples’ religious beliefs and cultures for the sake of peaceful coexistence in the world, rather than exercising unlimited, unprincipled satire, insult and press freedom without considering other peoples’ feelings.

The funny thing is that most people in the West have drawn the exact opposite conclusion from the Charlie Hebdo attacks. I never liked extreme religious caricatures, but the death of so many people has convinced me that what the cartoonists do must be defended, because no one has the right to silence free thinking individuals, however silly or distasteful their ideas might be. We can discuss if a caricature is good or not. One can sue a magazine, or publicly criticise it. But killing people can never be accepted. A distasteful cartoon doesn’t justify murder. Xinhua, on the contrary, is trying to sell the terrorist attacks as an example of why people should censor themselves in order not to be killed by individuals who feel insulted by others. 

While the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists are still mourning their colleagues, on the other side of the world Jimmy Lai, the owner of Next Media, has been once again the target of an attack. On January 12, men wearing masks threw firebombs at Jimmy Lai’s home and head office. 

Mr Lai is the founder of Hong Kong’s and Taiwan’s most popular newspaper, Apple Daily. He is a notorious opponent of Communist one-party rule, and he was at the forefront of the Occupy Central movement. He was victim of many slander campaigns and attacks in the past (for example, a ‘soy sauce’ attack that destroyed thousands of newspapers, and a massive hacking attack). 

Last year Kevin Lau, former chief editor of Ming Pao, a liberal newspaper, was stabbed three times by a man who was waiting for him in front of a restaurant that Lau frequented. The attack is believed to have been carried out by triad members. 

What lesson should be learnt? Should people bow to violence and censor themselves? Should we always yield to armed intimidation by people that claim to be angry because of something we said? 

source: Wikipedia

Liang Xizhi’s opinion is too simplistic. Who decides what’s right and wrong? Who decides what goes too far? Taiwanese, Tibetans, Uighurs, Hong Kong’s ‘Occupiers’ etc. have no space on mainland China’s media because they challenge the Communist Party’s ‘monopoly of the truth’. The CCP has unlimited freedom of speech, while those who oppose the CCP risk their lives to express their views. Is freedom of speech the exclusive right of those who possess weapons and who are willing to kill?

The Charlie Hebdo massacre is a reminder that freedom of speech is precious and must be defended against people whom intolerance turns into murderers.  

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