The Charlie Hebdo story isn’t adding up

Just watched CBS explain the shootout in Paris today & wonder if there was a problem in translation because the story doesn’t add up in English. We aren’t likely to learn the full truth about this incident & it’s not politically productive to fixate on it anymore than on 911 or other alleged conspiracies because it dead-ends. Our work lies with figuring out how to respond to the problems this assault creates for civil liberties, antiwar opposition & Palestinian solidarity.

CBS ended their mangled narrative with a homily explaining why Charlie Hebdo was not reckless in their caricatures. The news reader offered the pompous justification that freedom of the press is “absolute”–which is simply not true in any country. Freedom of the press, which is part of freedom of speech, has all sorts of restrictions including on porn, defamation, incitement, obscenity, copyright violations.

In France, the Press Law of 1881 governing media has a rich political history with specific provisions against hate speech & incitement to racism or violence as crimes. Other European countries also have hate laws implemented in the wake of the holocausts of WWII. Several prominent figures have been prosecuted under this law including Bridget Bardot, designer John Galliano, and Charlie Hebdo.

In truth, France has selective freedom of speech because just last summer it attempted to ban Palestinian solidarity protests as a “threat to public order” & protesters were threatened with prison & hefty fines. France also has a long political tradition undaunted by such threats & there were several massive protests.

This morning The International Business Times published a story on alleged links between Israeli intelligence & the CH shootings but pulled it within a few hours calling it a lapse in judgement beneath their journalistic standards. It’s a plausible connection–maybe even likely–but because it can’t be documented it really can’t be charged & is fruitless to speculate. There’s much more important political work to do than play detective with the masters of deceit.

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