Read the article here. (For those of you on the home page, you have to open the whole post for the link to show.)
I don’t agree with Finkelstein’s comment about not having sympathy for the Charlie Hebdo staff. It feels more emotional than rational, and it doesn’t seem to recognize how complicated life can be at times.
But with that said, I think Finkelstein’s views have merit and should be considered. The idea of free speech implies personal responsibility—that its use will somehow be constructive, for the general welfare, or used to speak out against tyranny, oppression, and powers attempting to suppress us. It is not meant as a venue to spread hate, bigotry, and intolerance for entire groups of people.
Anytime we get to the point where we are generalizing everyone in a culture, nation, or religion as bad, evil, or less than human we have opened the door to more of the horrors littering our history.
It is important to both support free speech, and condemn its abuse. It is one of our most potent weapons against oppression, and as with all things of great power it needs to be wielded with respect, caution, and competence.
In my opinion Finkelstein’s books are must reading for understanding the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, and I have found him to be a scholar of the highest order.