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Boring Bravado

Most journalists lead boring lives. What really got up my nose last week were the accusations of cowardice and gutlessness levelled at media organisations which decided not to run the Charlie Hebdo images of the Prophet Mohammed in so called "solidarity" with the satirical magazine's murdered journalists. I found the "holier than thou" types making the accusations against fellow journalists both arrogant and silly. They know, as we all do, that there is almost zero chance that they will be executed one-by-one in the repeat of last week's murders in Paris. So what makes them so brave. Nothing. They are playing at being brave. They know that there is no question of them dying to defend someone else's free speech, even if they disagree with what is being said. I think the accusations of cowardice  could be fairly made against a media organisation which was planning to run the cartoons and decided not to after the murder spree. But attacking media outlets for exercising their right not to run potentially offensive images is stupid. In the same way I would not criticise someone for deciding to run the images, I would not condemn someone else who decided not to because they are simply  not their cup of tea. To me, that's what Freedom of Speech is all about. It all reminded me of the aftermath of the murder of Irish journalist Veronic Guerin in 1996. Suddenly, it seemed, half the journalists in Britain were writing about how dangerous their work was - even if it was only writing a gardening column for the local weekly. Self-dramatising, self-important, twaddle. Here's a good rule of thumb - a scary number of the journalists who really do put their lives on the line for the sake of the job do indeed wind up dead. According to the Committee to Protect Journalist, 61  definitely died in 2014 as a result of their work.


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