CHARLIE HEBDO AND FREEDOM OF THE PRESS
By Promod Puri
It was not a case of freedom of press but just an abuse of that freedom.
French sensational tabloid Charlie Hebdo published cheap, filthy and indecent caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad weeping, naked and in sexual poses.
It featured a mock debate about whether Jesus exists.
In its unrefined style the CB suggests that the Pope is stepping aside to be with his girlfriend.
A glib satire in customary French humor the tabloid once carried a cartoon showing rolls of toilet paper marked "Bible", "Torah", and "Quran". It carried the explanation: In the toilet, all religions".
It pride itself to be a cruder. And nobody was off limit. The loud-mouthed journal prey often included politicians and public figures as slackers indulging in wine and women.
It provoked a terrorist group head with New Year greeting card in black and white with the caption, " To your health". And in its most recent edition CB published a haunting image of an armed terrorist with the wording "Still no attacks in France; Wait! We have until the end of January to offer our wishes.”
The tabloid is just a piece of vicious wit. It tried to amuse. But very few subscribed to that insensible hilarity. With low reported circulation of 30,000 the tabloid try to sell itself thru yellow journalism. And covers itself under freedom of the press.
French laws about press freedom may be more liberal. But no democratic country can allow absolute freedom. There are both ethical and legal curbs for responsible exercise of democratic freedoms. That includes press freedom as well.
Wielding a pen to hurt and to humiliate, to ridicule and to disgrace, to downgrade and to decivilize a person or a populace, do mask the freedom of expression and freedom of press.
Journalism in particular is a serious business, not a hunting sport or entertainment. It requires discipline, a commitment toward objectivity and to refrain from hurting feelings of an individual or a community of people. A pen is meant to create harmony and understanding for a civilized and peaceful society. If not handled responsibly pen is as much a killer as a gun.
Pen is mightier than sword. True. As long as it is used prudently.