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Journalism school dean: ‘Charlie Hebdo’ should not be protected as free speech

Charlie Hebdo's first cover since a terrorist attack on its offices.

Charlie Hebdo’s first cover since a terrorist attack on its offices. 

Journalists have always been on the front lines in the battle for the right for free speech, fighting for their right to express their opinions and ideas.

Guess that’s why they say those who can’t do, teach.

DeWayne Wickham, the dean of Morgan State University’s School of Global Journalism and Communication tore down arguments of free speech in a USA Today op-ed Wednesday, arguing that the limit of that right is when it insults Islam. Wickham was referencing the controversial “Charlie Hebdo” satire magazine in France, which chose to negatively portray the prophet Mohamed even after a deadly terrorist attack.

“While free speech is one of democracy’s most important pillars, it has its limits. H.L. Mencken, the fabled columnist who described himself as ‘an extreme libertarian,’ said that he believed in free speech”up to the last limits of the endurable,” Wickham wrote.

Unfortunately for Wickham, the rest of that quote has a very different meaning. It states, “…every kind of freedom up to the last limits of the endurable, including free speech. The limit to the point where free speech begins to collide with the right to privacy.”

Not quite the same thing as Islam.

“French President Francois Hollande, apparently, disagrees. He defends Charlie Hebdo’s latest depiction of Mohammed by saying that protesters in other countries don’t understand France’s embrace of free speech,” Wickham wrote. 

“But even as Hollande defends Charlie Hebdo’s right to publish images of Mohammed that many Muslims consider sacrilegious and hateful, his government has imprisoned dozens of people who have condemned the magazine with talk the French won’t tolerate. Those arrested are accused of speaking in support of the attack on the magazine, and a separate assault on a kosher store in Paris by a lone Muslim gunman with links to the men who attacked Charlie Hebdo.”

Speech inciting violence and cartoons are very different. And this is in France.

He doesn’t seem to understand that those in the U.S. have even more of a legal right to cartoon Mohammed than those in France.

For someone who teaches the First Amendment for a living, it seems that Wickham really needs to take a refresher course.


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