Pope Francis has recently become popular in his restorative sojourn in countries that need reconciliation, peace, and spiritual uplifting. His seemingly progressive image as he made relative human-like treatment to any societal circumstance has stirred up the world and even the Catholic believers. Most see him as making changes in the future.
On his way to the Philippines for an awaited visit, he was brought in a media conference with media men while on board. He was then asked on his stance on the most current tragedy in France involving journalists of the most popular satirical print media company Charlie Hebdo. His response was clearly a manifestation of upholding fundamental human rights in terms of defending one’s honor and values. He reiterated that although violence and killing are indeed wrong regardless of the matter, insulting one’s faith is equally appalling because human fundamental rights are still compromised at the end of the day.
In a separate interview with CNN, Tony Blair reverted to the very issue in hand, that it wasn’t so much the upholding of religious freedom and respect. It was the mere justification of the action that led to the slaughter of the Charlie Hebdo journalists. Killing and murder are definitely not right and dignifying at all.
Both the rights to religion and freedom of expression are fundamental, democratic, and humane. There is no question to that. But the Charlie Hebdo made a clear distinction between these two rights. The pope seemed to defend the consequences, but he was to explain that it was an instinctual reaction coming from anybody who gets aggravated by the insults on whatever he or she values the most. The killing wasn’t right at all. But he just objectively showed reality that such occurrence has a cause, and the cause itself is not an exception.
Tony Blair, however, further stretches the issue that the consequences cannot be justified by any form of human “natural” reaction. The analogy used by the Pope, of punching someone in the face if he or she insults his mother, was a different story in all. To Blair, nothing can make an excuse out of the Charlie Hebdo tragedy. It was undeniably an act of terror and violence, clearly against human dignity.
1. Relativity and subjectivist ideals
In any context, ideas come through out of one’s stance, belief, and understanding. Arguments happen because people from different backgrounds, parties, and principles interact in a collective, and there is always a point of disagreement. But at times, most have their undebatable stances because of certain subjectivist stances. Meaning, a particular occurrence means differently to different people. Some may say that this said occurrence may be mundane and ordinary, but to one sector of society, it isn’t. It mean may the life of the members of that part of society.
The Charlie Hebdo incident was clearly a grayed-out social issue and occurrence. The act of killing is definitely unjustified in the most general and humanistic sense. But to the devout and religious, it was an act of defense because insult means un-dignifying, and such provocation means an attempt to killing. Though the human reaction of defense is clearly admitted at the onset, most of the world saw this as a vicious act of terror, violence, and again, un-dignifying to humanity.
Now, it’s also good to talk about what really provoked this action. Being a satirical read, Charlie Hebdo released its issue showing Mohammed kissing a journalist. To the magazine, it was simply to evoke something else and not an insult. That’s the whole theme of any satire anyway, to bring out the issues, make fun of them and the people, just to come up with a concluding statement that best serves society and humanity.
The dilemmas comes in given the consequences. Was religion and the intense, valuation of a particular belief enough to act against the relatively, supposed “provoker?” Or was media on the right track in defending freedom of expression, all the more proving that the killing itself was not right? Regardless of the sides that took part, KILLING ITSELF CANNOT BE JUSTIFIED. Though most will admit that by threatening one’s religion can mean potential distraction, the act of killing can never be a rightful response.
2. Human dignity and reconciling notes
The defenders of Islam thought this may make sense because of the instinctual reaction of human beings to threat, but they may also agree that killing is never a reasonable one. To the defenders of media, the right to express and deliver messages that better the world is essential for humanity to progress, but, as what the Pope had said, there is a limit to any form expression. Standards, rules, and laws exist to defend freedom and humanity itself. In this very context, what strikes the balance just so to uphold humanity is human dignity. There is no black-and-white stance on any circumstance because there is always a way out because of the rights that come overlapping and contrasting at times. But there is always that human dignity that should be upheld. Life, people, and society should be respected in any form, be it in religion or expression.