Salman Rushdie Gets to the Heart of the Matter: “The Moment You Limit Free Speech, It Is Not Free Speech”

“The moment somebody says, ‘I believe in free speech but…’ I stop listening…”    — Salman Rushdie

Oh, to have more people of influence saying things like this! Salman Rushdie knows what it means to have the Islamic World turned against him. He had to live in hiding for years after publishing his very popular book, “The Satanic Verses” which some in the Muslim community decried as sacrilegious and heretical.

In a speech at the University of Vermont, Rushdie gets to the heart of the matter when he describes exactly what free speech is.

“The point about it is the moment you limit free speech, it is not free speech.”

Placing any limits on Free Speech – means that speech is no longer free… and that would be even more heartbreaking then the terrible murders at Charlie Hebdo.

Charlie Hebdo attacked everything: Muslims, the Pope, Israel, Rabbis, black people and white people, gay people and straight people. It has attacked every kind of human being, because what? It was making fun. It’s strategy was to make fun of people. And it was seen as that: it was very loved, these cartoonists were beloved in France.

And now, the moment somebody says, “yes I believe in free speech, BUT,” I stop listening.

You know: “I believe in free speech, but people should behave themselves.” “I believe in free speech, but we shouldn’t upset anybody.” “I believe in free speech but let us not go too far.”

The point about it is the moment you limit free speech, it is not free speech. The point is that is was free. You can dislike Charlie Hebdo, not all their drawings are funny, but the fact that you dislike them has nothing to do with their right to speak. The fact that you don’t like them in no way excuses their murder.