Isn’t it great that we live in a country where we can say whatever we want to, privately or publicly, without much fear of recrimination. But what if we do say something, and 200 people die somewhere else as a result? This actually happened after cartoons were published in 2005 of Muhammad in a Danish paper. That’s a high cost for freedom.
I discovered this, and many more stories like it, in the June 4th, 2016 issue of The Economist. Free Speech Under Attack is an excellent article and very enlightening, but beware. You may have a hard time sleeping after the read. Or if you are a writer, like I am, you may have a hard time writing freely afterward.
My visit this year to the 35th annual Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF) had already left my mind reeling with the complicated issue of free speech. From my theatre seat, I visited Egypt, Indonesia, Serbia, Croatia and Tunisia. I also saw life through the eyes of a troubled high school student, and experienced a taste of the 1964 Summer Project in the deep South of the United States. All of these vicarious experiences are sitting heavy in my heart.
Then something really unexpected happened. As I love to do, I saw great films at VIFF, and I blogged about them. I love to experience films and share my thoughts and recommendations for others to experience. What is different this time is that I have recently become a Twitter user. Naturally, I tweeted about one of the films that I saw and liked, and I referenced my blog article in my tweet. Uh oh. Trouble. Apparently many Egyptians who saw my tweet liked that I liked a movie about free speech in their country. One like, then another, then a follower, then another . . . I now have 42 followers, and most of their profiles are written in Arabic! At first I was pleased with myself, then I read The Economist article, and now I am scared.
The article in The Economist argued that free speech is in retreat. I understand why.