A few days ago we watched events in Paris, terrorists attacked the offices of Charlie Hebdo and murdered staff there then fled to take other hostages and kill yet more people.
World leaders stepped up to express their concern and solidarity. We were treated to pictures of every tom, dick and sally waving a ‘Je Suis Charlie’ signs.
We had European and world leaders making a token effort to look like they were part of the crowd.
Everywhere people were agonising over the deaths and the whole state of free speech, should there be lines, where were those lines, what was free and what was not.
But our leaders were of one voice, freedom of speech was important.
"There are limits to free speech — especially when it involves religion."
“One cannot provoke, one cannot insult other people’s faith, one cannot make fun of faith,”
“Every religion has its dignity … and I cannot make fun of it.”
“In freedom of expression there are limits, like in regard to my mom.”
Presumably this means we can't talk about the many children abused by Catholic priests over the years because that involves religion.
Oddly the national flag which represents the political and national identity of Israel contains the same the same symbol.
But using it on the national flag and as a national symbol is not a problem.
Sydney Morning Herald
An Australian paper forced to apologise for a cartoon that considered to be critical of Israel and of Judaism. The image shown here includes the star of David which was considered to make it an attack on religion and therefore anti Semitic.
Or was it the head wear that was a sign of being Jewish that was unacceptable, implying religious Jews would sit and watch Gaza being bombed while identifying themselves as followers of Judaism.
Apparently not if this picture of Israeli citizens watching the Gaze bombing is anything to go by..
Journalist Barrett Brown
Sentenced to five years in prison and nearly a million dollars in fines for providing a link to data online.
These are just a few examples.
The terrorists who claimed their religion gave them license to take hostages and to murder helpless men and women sought to use intimidation and fear to force changes on a society they disagree with, a society that mocks and insults and makes jokes at the expense of politics and religions and attitudes and faiths.
The leaders of the world came together to condemn these attacks and the reasoning behind them, freedom of speech was important and should not be threatened by terror.
But it is not just terrorists that use intimidation and fear to force changes on society.
The sentencing of Barret Brown is is a very clear statement from the government to the governed, be afraid, be very afraid, do not cross this line. If you dare to access information or knowledge that we have decided you should not have then you will pay.
This man did not hack or steal or break any apparent law in order to access the data. What he did was point out to others where they could find it.
Is this not what Google does a billion times a day and to the same information in many cases. After all you can Google the wikileaks data and the climate date letters and many other leads of hacked data.
No this is a very clear attempt to intimidate, to force people to change their behavior and to self censor what they read online and what they talk about online. This is exactly what you see in any police state.
The thing is the western governments are coming to realise that the internet and the digital world is a vast frontier that is for the most part beyond their control, they cannot censor what is there or destroy it so they are resorting to the one option they have left.
They cannot control the internet or the data so they are attempting to control their citizens and they are trying to do this by terror. It is not just terrorists who are using fear, the threat of violence or intimidation to force changes onto our society.
Our Western governments and leaders are doing it as well.