Double standards on free speech

Maurice Sinet just turned 86. In 2008 he wrote a column in which he expressed views described by Claude Askolovitch, a high-profile political commentator in France, as being as anti-Semitic. This later resulted in Sinet facing charges of “inciting racial hatred.”

He also received a death threat posted on a Jewish Defense League website, saying: “20 centimeters of stainless steel in the gut, that should teach the bastard to stop and think.”

Sinet, who works under the pen name Siné, got fired from his job but later won a €40,000 court judgment against his former publisher for wrongful termination.

Had he not been fired, he might now be dead — his employer was the magazine Charlie Hebdo.

Is there a double standard in the West when it comes to alleged anti-Semitism versus insults to Islam? Absolutely.

To a great extent, the media and those engaged in public discourse police themselves faithfully and fearfully because even if being accused of anti-Semitism doesn’t typically put the target’s life in danger it can certainly destroy someone’s career.

What is overtly a campaign of intimidation continues to be highly effective. Moreover, as an accusation explicit or implied, this is now the weapon of choice for deflecting criticisms of Israel.

But as MJ Rosenberg notes:

Among those concerned that the response to the Paris attacks is a reflection of Western double standards is a sheikh in Australia called Ustadh Mohammed Junaid Thorne. He tweets:

On Facebook the sheikh amplifies:

They were warned and even threatened more than once. On one occasion, their premises was fire-bombed, yet they forbade to learn a lesson. I’m not condoning what happened, but I’m just stating that there must be a line/limit for freedom of speech, and when people or religions are being affected, the boundaries shouldn’t be crossed.

He’s “not condoning” — just implying the journalists at Charlie Hebdo got what they deserved?

Unless you’re among those who believe that an insult warrants an execution, I’d say that focusing on Western hypocrisy right now — real as it is — risks offering excuses for murder.

After the attacks, Maurice Sinet wrote: “It is too much, it’s unbearable, abominable, inhuman. I have no words to describe how devastated and sad I am.”

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