Alejandro A. Tagliavini *
The French magazine Charlie Hebdo – which today has its newsroom in a secret place – published again, on Wednesday, September 2, the cartoons that were the excuse of the jihadists for the attack in 2015.
Two of his journalists reproduced them on Instagram and then, on Sunday, their accounts were deactivated.
Cartoonist Coco and journalist Laure Daussy complained. “It is probably a hack due to a campaign of mass complaints, a new form of censorship. Mind-blowing”, Daussy wrote. Instagram warned them: “Your account has been deactivated. Take the following steps within 30 days to request a review”.
Many complained. Mathieu Delomier, councilor in the commune of Cars (Gironde), commented: “It is incredible that in 2020 an account is deactivated because of the cover of #CharlieHebdo!” The Minister of Culture pointed out: “The right to blasphemy cannot be reduced. It is a right in the secular republic of France, we must fight for it to be respected”.
On Friday, before the event, President Macron had spoken in support of Charlie Hebdo. Freedom in France includes “the freedom to believe or not to believe. And this is inseparable from freedom of expression up to the right to blasphemy”, he said.
Hours later, Instagram restored the accounts arguing that they were mistakenly deleted and apologizing. Daussy celebrated her return and republished the image. “My account had been deactivated by the Instagram robots, after a massive campaign by those who wanted to censor the cover,” she wrote. “Today still persists the problem with these campaigns, as soon as a content is considered ‘offensive’ can lead to this type of absurd and automatic censorship,” he continued.
Let us see, private property implies that everyone does what they want with it. Therefore, each medium has the right to publish, or not, whatever it wants, because if not, if each one was forced to publish what others want, what sense does that medium have? What is the point, for example, of a magazine dedicated to animals if it is forced to publish notes on vegetables because someone who sent that note feels “censored”?
Freedom of the press exists when nobody, not even the government, coercively prevents the publication of something. Whether we like it or not, a mature society must abhor what is negative for life, but at the same time it must respect even those believed to spread negative things. Putting the State or a court to judge what is harmful and what is not, is dangerous because politicians will use that argument to censor what they dislike.
But, as long as there is no coercive impediment, those who have a different idea can express themselves in another medium or create his own media. Of course, this seems ideal because States tend to regulate the media and it is not easy to fund your own. For example, many countries to set up a TV channel require authorization from the government that imposes a maximum quota, and then a group buys all the licenses and becomes the only TV broadcaster.
Or, as I pointed out in a previous column, copyright laws that grant quasi-monopolies to large companies like Instagram make it difficult to counter them with a different opinion. But this is another issue, it is not strictly censorship, but monopoly privileges established by governments.
* Senior Advisor at The Cedar Portfolio and Member of the Advisory Council of the Center on Global Prosperity, de Oakland, California