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Is Violence the Only Tactic of Terrorism?


muslim-sword-shushing-christiansCharlie Hebdo is, unfortunately, in the news. Radical Islamic Terrorists, objecting to the satiric content of the magazine, shot and killed the editor and eleven others. In running from the police, others were killed. Let us get this straight: the writers and cartoonists of Charlie Hebdo agitated some people. Those people then decided that they should destroy those who said and did things they didn’t approve of.

There are numerous points embedded in this episode. A few of them need to be emphasized.

In the United States and countries with similar beliefs in individual freedom; one of the basic beliefs is the right to your own opinion. In our Constitution we are reminded of this by the 1st Amendment which says: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or of the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

What this amendment tells us is that people have a right to their own religious beliefs and the people also have a right to express their beliefs; religious, political or otherwise, verbally or through the press. But what is not stated is as important as what is. When we, the people, say that we have freedom of speech and the press, we are implying that everyone has an obligation to respect the right of others to have differing opinions.

Those who attacked Charlie Hebdo felt no such obligation. In fact, they felt the opposite. The purpose of the terrorists was to intimidate others from doing or saying things which they, the Radical Islamic Terrorists, opposed. Because their actions were and are so violent, almost all civilized people have stated their opposition to these actions. But what is it that is actually opposed? Is it only the violence; the killing? Or is what is opposed the intention to intimidate those of differing opinion; to frighten and to harm those who would say and print something someone finds objectionable?

If it is only the violence that people object to, then where stands the belief in the freedom of speech or of the press? If the opposition is to those who would intimidate those who hold differing opinions, then, I submit to you, the hypocrisy of some of those who say they object to the attack at Charlie Hebdo is rampant.

Too often we see or hear of people using tactics intended to intimidate those whose opinions they disagree with. Protesters would put Chik-Fil-A out of business for the opinions of the founder. Leftists would stop the TEA Parties from existing, because of their disagreement with their politics. Progressives would stop the Koch brothers from spending money on political activities, because they oppose them. Opponents of ALEC try to intimidate supporters of ALEC, because they don’t like their politics. Speakers at colleges are shouted down or refused a forum. The list is long.

In every case, the intent is to harm or destroy the ability of those, whose opinions are disagreed with, to disseminate their opinions. These are people who have no tolerance towards those with whom they disagree, and they take action to hurt those with whom they disagree.

How, please tell me, are these actions any different in intent, than those of the Terrorists who attacked Charlie Hebdo? They are not. They are the actions of people who do not believe in freedom of speech or freedom of the press. One can only wonder if they believe in individual freedom, or only in the authoritarianism towards which they lead us.

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