Free Speech Is More Than Just Words And Images On A Page


Yesterday, twelve people died in Paris due to the “crime” of lampooning Islam.  (That’s not really a crime in France, actually.)  As the day progressed and one international publication after another defended the God-given right western culture values of speaking our minds, it became clear that the main thrust of meaning was contained in political speech, and pretty much limited to “we support our brethren to say what they want, even if we are not going to admit that they died via the bullets of wacko terrorists who adhere to a religion that Europe kicked out and hounded into the Middle East hundreds of years ago.

(That part always gets left out.)

It’s as if free speech is limited to politics, and that from this vantage point, religion is just one more political point.  It is not.  Neither is free expression or what we think about details of every day life.  That is where the over politicization of life as fomented by humanist relativism has taken a wrong turn.  Religion is not politics in the west, even if religious teaching is the basis for our vaunted freedoms and should guide us as we go about our business and interact with others…even in politics.

That’s something Islam does not have in its purest form, which, of course, is what set up this week’s Islam vs. The West conflict.

Free speech and expression transcends the state.  It is not controllable, to be honest, without brute force and fear used as chilling effects.  Yesterday’s shooting in Paris was meant to be that sort of chilling effect in addition to the revenge that the shooters considered necessary in defense of their prophet.  That it will be used as a rallying point and perhaps an incident of martyrdom by westerners defending our culture is not at all incidental.  It is part of the very free speech that was attacked and manifests in more ways than satirical newspapers.

Free speech can be reflected in where we vacation. Europeans, especially around the Mediterranean Sea, like to be at the beach.  Many people in the United States value God’s creation and spend time with it.  Some people like to gamble and are entertained by kitsch.  They go to Las Vegas.  Then, there’s Disney World, for children young and old.  There is no one size fits all, and if one chooses to take a religious pilgrimage, there’s plenty of places to go and see.  No one should be condemned for public visitation and expression in this manner.

Free speech can be seen in where we work and how we make a living.  People who are enamored of defending freedom in the west have no problem working in the defense industry, either fighting on the front lines or building fighter jets and artillery.  Those who have no problem killing unborn children, and preying on vulnerable women work for Planned Parenthood.  Artists who hold Christianity in contempt create “masterpieces” desecrating Sacramentals with offal and dung.  As offensive as this may be to different factions of westerners, the right to be able to work in these ways is at least debated rather than just executing the individuals whose work reflects their beliefs.

Free speech is also present in how we present ourselves.  The ladies of Fox News in their solid wrap dresses, smoky eye make-up, and impossibly high heels tell the world, “We’re sexy and we know it.”  That they are all very smart and have no problem putting their brains on display along with their legs is beside the point.  (It would be nice if someone would tell Megyn Kelly that the bondage wear says something of her no decent, Christian woman would want to project about herself.  Hint: comb the hair and wear sleeves, please.  And lose the leather.  Be classy, for God’s sake, you’re supposed to be a conservative.)  Not getting into the slob wear that the people of Walmart sport, rude captions on t-shirts, or Chicago Blackhawks sweaters.  Or the Cubs.

Think about how followers of Islam dress, where they work and what they work on, and where they make their pilgrimages.  All of those details are expressions of the worldview they espouse.  It is free speech in the west, and protected no matter how much it may offend us.  Crime in the name of Allah is not.

It is very easy to say of Islamists who object to western free speech norms that they are merely intolerant and they belong to a cult.  While it may be true from a western perspective, Islam is still a religion to its followers, and while not the one on which western culture and law is based, adherents still exhibit all the zeal Christians on fire for Christ do.  At this point, any benefit of doubt that Islamists are ignorant of western norms and law when it comes to free speech has expired.  They know the deal.  They also know that western expression has to be forced to their will if they are to have any satisfaction.  Unfortunately, at this point, the only people who are oblivious to that fact in the west are the elite and leaders who seem to be beholden to Middle Eastern oil.

(Can we start drilling more now????)

Free speech is not limited to political expression or condemnation of what offends us.  It is all around us and is part and parcel of culture.  Defending cartoonists who lampoon Islam is western culture at least making an appearance in the debate.  If followers of Islam really want to squat in western countries, they would do well to remember it is still the culture of the land.  We were here first.

About the Author

Cultural Limits
A resident of Flyover Country, Cultural Limits is a rare creature in American Conservatism - committed to not just small government, Christianity and traditional social roles, but non-profits and high arts and culture. Watching politics, observing human behavior and writing are all long-time interests. In her other life, CL writes romance novels under her nom de plume, Patricia Holden (@PatriciaHoldenAuthor on Facebook), and crochets like a mad woman (designs can be found on Facebook @BohemianFlairCrochet and on Pinterest on the Bohemian Flair Crochet board). In religion, CL is Catholic; in work, the jill of all trades when it comes to fundraising software manipulation and event planning; in play, a classically trained soprano and proud citizen of Cardinal Nation, although, during hockey season, Bleeds Blue. She lives in the Mid-Mississippi River Valley with family and two cute and charming tyrants...make that toy dogs.