The murder of the cartoonists in Paris is terrible. There is no excuse for the killing of these people over satirical cartoons. But we should also consider examining our own conscience.

First, that any depiction of Muhammad is deemed sacrilege by Muslims. So is it ever right to belittle the belief of millions of people? If you had a friend who was Muslim, would you ever make disparaging remarks about his religion to his face? Not if you wanted to continue to be his friend. If we are all trying to live together in peace, this kind of religious satire is counterproductive and engenders hatred instead of brotherhood and understanding. We should respect their religion and avoid actions that disparage it, even though we would not normally consider these actions to be offensive, such as religious satire.

Second, there are limitations on freedom of speech. A person cannot just say anything at any time. To cry “fire”in a crowded theatre is an abuse of this freedom. This is wrong because people will probably be injured in their attempt to flee. In a similar manner, since we already know how certain actions are perceived by the Muslim community, why provoke them into actions which hurt everyone concerned?

There are actions of certain sects of Islam that I believe are wrong and that we must resist and fight if necessary, but why create unnecessary ill will?

Wallace Jeanfreau, M.D.


New Orleans