Current Affairs

Canadian Muslim puts free speech to the test and gets investigated


UPDATE: Jerry Reddick’s Twitter account has now been deleted.

A Muslim in Canada decided to put ‘free speech’ to the test in the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo shootings by joking about 9/11 and the Holocaust on Twitter. He is now the subject of a police investigation.

Hot dog seller Jerry Reddick took to the social media network yesterday to experiment with how far he could take freedom of expression, writing, “Let’s test just how free freedom of speech is when it’s not Muslims being disrespected.”

What followed was a series of tweets which were undoubtedly offensive but for many wouldn’t be construed as any more odious than material published by Charlie Hebdo.

Within hours of sending out the tweets, Reddick was reported to Halifax police and is now under investigation by authorities.

“I know you didn’t think freedom to insult worked both ways,” wrote Reddick, adding, “My point about free speech being limited was made loud and clear!”

Reddick’s free speech experiment seems to confirm that making offensive jokes about Muslims is acceptable under the banner of free speech, but insulting Jews or victims of terror attacks or crimes against humanity is not.

Many would say this highlights hypocrisy, whereas others would point out that the consequences of making jokes about Jews – criminal investigation – is far less severe than the punishment metered out by Islamic extremists to the publishers of Charlie Hebdo in Paris last week.

The main point of contention seems to be whether or not it represents an act of hate speech to ridicule a crime against humanity, which in countries like France is illegal, rather than a religion itself. In Canada, people have been charged with anti-Semitism despite it being acknowledged that this was an infringement on their free speech rights.

As Glenn Greenwald highlighted, the west’s new found support for ‘free speech’ is something of a sham given that French comedian Dieudonné was arrested yesterday for a Facebook post about the Charlie Hebdo attack in which he wrote, “Tonight, as far as I’m concerned, I feel like Charlie Coulibaly.”

Since last weekend’s free speech march in Paris, French authorities have opened 54 criminal cases as part of a move to crackdown on “hate speech, anti-Semitism and glorifying terrorism.”

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