The Gold Medal for Best Letter Submission 2015: Freedom of Expression: At Gunpoint?

AuthorOrla Kelleher
PositionBCL (French) student in University College Cork
Pages150-156
[2015] COLR
150
THE GOLD MEDAL FOR BEST LETTER SUBMISSION 2015
FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION: AT GUNPOINT?
Orla Kelleher*
Dear Editor,
Freedom of expression (…) is the matrix, the indispensable condition, of nearly every other
form of freedom.’
1
Given the media’s instrumental role in freedom of expression, namely
acting as ‘the eyes and the ears of the public’,
2
the notion of freedom of the press has
naturally become associated with the idea of freedom of expression.
Questions abound in France of late about the scope of freedom of expression and the press.
On the same day the French satirical weekly, Charlie Hebdo, famous for its insolent, garish
and incendiary caricatures, sold out an initial run of five million copies of its latest ‘survival
issue featuring a cover that boldly lampooned the prophet Muhammad the notorious
French comedian Dieudonné was arrested and charged with incitement of terrorism by
suggesting on Facebook that he sympathised with one of the gunmen involved in the brutal
terrorist attacks in Paris.
Firstly, this letter will briefly sketch a picture of current law pertaining to freedom of
expression and the press in France. In turn, it will consider whether the different treatment
accorded to Charlie Hebdo and Dieudonné can be considered sound and well founded or
* BCL (French) student in University College Cork.
1
Palko v Connecticut, 302 US 319 [1937].
2
Irish Times Ltd, v Ireland [1998] 1 IR 359 at 409 per Keane J.

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