There are many examples of accepted limitations on free speech: libel, slander, obscenity, pornography, sedition, hate speech, incitement, fighting words, classified information, copyright violation, trade secrets, non-disclosure agreements, right to privacy, public security, and there will always be a debate on whether any particular limitation is just. But the speech in question in the Hebdo case is none of these. From the objective stance of those offended, it is most accurately characterized as “blasphemous” speech. So the question arises whether laws against blasphemy should be valid or invalid under a right to free speech. The concept of blasphemy has a long and complex relationship with the rise of the secular state and can only be understood in the West in relation to this history. In the 13th century, Thomas Aquinas expressed the official view: “[if] we compare murder and … [Read more...]
Tomas Byrne's Blog
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About Tomas Byrne
Canadian author Tomas Byrne is a native of Ontario, and received his education at McGill University, York University and the University of Oxford. For twenty years, he worked in London as a lawyer and banker. His novels raise questions about today’s controversial political and social issues. Byrne’s writing has roots in his extensive study of philosophy, mythology and religion. He counts Joseph Conrad, Thomas Mann, James Joyce, John le Carré among his literary influences; Friedrich Nietzsche, Gilles Deleuze, Charles Taylor, Murray Bookchin among his philosophical influences. Byrne resides in Sweden with his wife and two sons.