A Somali immigrant working as a highly skilled medical technologist told me he loved living in the US because he can say anything he wants without being afraid. But he added, “Just because I can doesn’t mean I always do say what I’m thinking. You have to consider other people’s feelings.”
Freedom of speech is one of the foundations of our democracy and I will fight tooth and nail to protect it. But it’s up to the individual to consider other people’s feelings. I have a box of letters from several generations ago. Some of the content would still hurt the descendants of the writer. No one else will ever see those letters.
I’m certainly not a journalist and I’m not sure how this applies to editorials and cartoons. I do know that, as a Christian, I would have reacted very strongly if the Charlie Hebdo issue had depicted Jesus instead of Mohammed. My response would not, however, have been violent.
That’s how we grow in a democracy. We march. We talk. We yell. We protest. We legislate and we educate. And our society changes for the better.
No one should have to self-censor by thinking before they make a joke and I strongly defend the right to publish whatever content you want. But everyone should think about how that joke will be received.