Today’s blog post was meant to be a prediction of this year’s political outcomes, with the closest election in many a year looming. When I got home however and took in today’s events in Paris I thought that could wait to another day.
Freedom of debate, speech and print are significantly more important than the vote itself. Without these, the latter would and could never exist. Communist Russia had the vote, as did Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. A vote is meaningless, as with these two examples, when debate, expression and plurality are non-existent. Today’s terrorist attack was an assault on liberty.
I have not seen the cartoons that ‘provoked’ such an atrocity, but no perceived insult, however offensive it is deemed to be, can justify such barbarity. When I dare to question the political direction of the Labour Party at present, or the canonisation of Tony Benn, the worst I will receive is a diatribe of abuse and regular deletes on social media. In a pluralist, democratic society though, that should be the worst you are to expect. Anything deemed of extremely bad taste and offensive can be reported, picketed and boycotted, but in no circumstance should it lead to deadly violence if we claim to live in a civilized society.
The true marks of a civilized society is a secular state under which all can profess their belief and unbelief, their political beliefs and crucially express opinions, without impinging on the rights of other individuals in that society. That right has today been violated in one of the world’s great Republics, assaults on and intimidation of the free press can never be tolerated.
Above any question of economics, materialism, public service reforms this coming election, plurality and freedom from attack shall take precedence for me over all. Whichever party offers a realistic policy to protect its citizen’s safety, while maintaining the protection and circulation of a free press shall win my vote.