tv Press Freedom and Radicalism CSPAN February 28, 2015 11:00pm-12:21am EST
on the french magazine charlie hebdo. this is one hour and 20 minutes. wallace: i am going to have to introduce a little bit to make sure that everyone understands the order of the day. i'm going to ask, who as you probably already know, is the editorial director and columnist and contributing writer to "the new york times" and then i'm going to ask floyd abrams -- i hope everyone in journalism knows, if you have a problem with the first amendment, you call and there really is no number two. you just call floyd abrams. and then to sort of talk about the elephant in the room and really bring us to the point of understanding what the problem is, what the underlying problem is and where things are going and i'm hoping there's a lot of cross dialogue. i'm going to ask each person to speak for about five minutes to set the stage.
silvie first, will tell us what is going on and what the problems are, from her perspective. i'll let floyd outline the differences and similarities between our idea and america of free expression and perhaps a french notion which may be different in some respects. and then finally bret. with no further ado, sylvie, can you let us know what you think? sylvie: thank you very much and thank you for having me here. it's always a great to come back to new york where i have spent five of probably the most enjoyable years of my life. i will go straight to the point. we have a very serious situation in france at the moment. i would like to remind you of a basic fact to start with, which is that france has the biggest jewish community in europe and the biggest muslim community in europe. so i used to say we have our own little middle east in france. we've had tensions at various times.
you may remember in 2003, 2004 during the iraqi invasion in the war, you know, there were a lot of tensions in the middle east and they immediately reflected in france there was, at that time, a rise in anti-semitic incidents. so there have been that kind of periods where also during the gaza, in the israeli offensive in gaza last year. also, we had a lot of tensions
in france. but the january attacks have really brought us to a new level and i think since these attacks we have reached a crucial point. li offensive in gaza last year. also, we had a lot of tensions in france. but the january attacks have really brought us to a new level and i think since these attacks we have reached a crucial point. i have written that these attacks were a direct assault on our identity because they targeted several pillars of this french identity, as i see it free speech diversity, the targets were very obvious, the cartoonists who had drawn those drawings of muhammad. jews targeted as jews and killed as such. and security force members. also, most of the victims of those attacks over the past couple of years, most of the security forces who have been targeted in various attacks have
been men and women who had diverse ethnic background or religious or muslim background and this is not a coincidence, of course. so we are now forced to confront the danger and the threat that has been there and we knew it was there but the intensity and voracity of the attacks in january just have made us look squarely at the problem. now, how do we confront this threat? again, i will go straight to the point, there is no simple answer, and we are struggling with it. we are struggling as a nation
and struggling as a society. the government is struggling. the security forces are struggling, you may have read the report in today's "new york times" about how the intelligence work was a challenge by this and also a big investigation published two days ago in "le monde" addressing these issues. schools are struggling. teachers find themselves with new burden. churches are struggling. the media is also struggling. so this is the situation right now. there are positive elements. the rally of january 11th was something extraordinary by all standards and also the solidarity expressed on that day. i was there. i was myself personally and
we have this famous slogan, "je suis charlie," which very quickly was followed by all of this debate about -- and we very quickly found out that a lot of people in france did feel that they were -- so this is another respect of the debate and i'll come back to this later. another positive element in this terrible rise of anti-semitism that we have witnessed lately is that french/jewish organizations have broken -- that's the step that they have taken. they have traditionally stuck to israeli policy and they have broken with this line by saying no to prime minister netanyahu's call to mass immigration for jews from france. people have been shocked by this and french jews, most of them, i mean, those who have expressed themselves, have been shocked by this call, and have very openly said that they feel that there
-- that they are in their place in france and they don't want to -- that they shouldn't leave. another positive element was the much smaller but it's a sign was spontaneous demonstration yesterday by high school students. this place, this town where a jewish cemetery was vandalized by five teenagers, 15-year-olds, 16-year-olds. we don't know the extent of their motivations but apparently they have been charged with this morning, they were charged with -- i'm not sure in english what the charge is but their motivation was anti-simetic.
so several hundred school students took the streets to show solidarity, i think that is something worth pointing at, yet we have huge challenges and to name just a few, one is to stop anti-semitism without giving way to standards within the muslim community. this is something which is a huge issue in france. debate. one question you hear everywhere in schools, in workplaces, is how come "charlie hebdo" is a
-- allowed to publish critical material and articles on the prophet? of course, they published about many other religions but this is what is being addressed and, at the same time, a stand-up comedian who criticizes -- who attacks the jews in his shows is being charged, being detained and charged with glorification? why is there a double-standard with this? one thing the government is planning to do is to launch a national plan against racism and anti-semitism declaring it a national cause. it should be done -- they are working on it right now. it was something which was
planned but they are taking it forward to launch it in february. this will involve education -- educational programs, security repression programs, also. and also, regulation of the internet. i don't know exactly -- we don't know what does that mean concretely. i think we'll go back to this issue because i think it's a very important one but this is one of the things which are -- one of the issues which have been raised. another thing we have to do, in my view, is to open a debate about one of the most difficult things we have to do. we -- i hope we succeed. but at the moment it's proving extremely difficult because it's one of the main pillars of
french culture and identity but it's drawing from a 1905 law when we didn't have a muslim community, of course, so a lot of people feel that there has -- a change has to be brought or maybe some opening. but at the same time, we don't want to be giving way just because there have been terrorist attacks. so this is another very complex issue. it is new. we are pretty much in unchartered territory here and you can feel that there's this feeling that something has to be
done to open this debate, but it's a very difficult one to open. last thing, freedom of speech. since the january attacks, we have heard a lot about these where -- i will not go in depth into this because there are more distinguished panelists on this issue here. but just to name a few issues which have been raised in the context of freedom of speech, the cartoons, of course religion, how do we address, how do we treat all of these issues without betraying our faith in the freedom of speech, there is a strong tradition in france of criticism to -- of religion which goes back to the 18th century, to the enlightment, and, yes, there are issues of sensitivity to other religions
to, different religions but yet we cannot be seen as bowing to the threat of terror. this is an issue that the french feel very strongly about and the polls have shown it. between censorship and self-censorship, i think there will be self-censorship, at least i prefer it. that brings us to the dimension of free speech which i think is important if we compare the situation in this country and in europe, particularly in france, there are cultural limitations to free speech and there are legal limitations to freedom of speech. in europe, we do have a lot of legal limitations. but that's -- i think that stems from our history. and last thing, i mentioned it already, the internet. the french government has been saying since the attacks that there is an issue with the internet, with this material circulating on the internet. it is -- if you start to look at it -- it is just terrifying and
sickening what is going on on social networks and anywhere. but we haven't had many details on what the government is planning to do. you also have here -- i see this debate about how to involve the high-tech companies in trying to regulate this. i think we're just seeing the beginning of this debate but it's -- in my view, it's one of the most important debates. thank you. bret: thank you very much. [ applause ] floyd: thanks. it's a real honor to be here. and it's a special fit, i think to be at an organization that deals with french and american
relations and the like. we wouldn't have the first amendment if an american ambassador to france, a man called thomas jefferson, had not written to james madison at the time the constitution was being drafted, and saying to him basically that he would not support the constitution if there was no bill of rights attached to it. and jefferson wrote that it was necessary to have a bill of
rights which clearly and without the aid of sophisms protect freedom of religion, freedom of the press and the like. and really but for jefferson's strong view to that effect, we very well might have -- might not have the constitution that we have, let alone any bill of rights. the argument to the contrary is it was not necessary and therefore it ought not to have been added. i thought i had mentioned three areas of american first amendment law which bear on what sylvie was just referring to, three sort of core first amendment principles. the first of which is that, as one great american scholar put it, the first principle of first amendment law is that there is no heresey, no blasphemy in america. people may feel, think, conclude that others have such views but the law does not recognize the
the notion of blasphemy or certainly the heresy which is not to say that at the time of the founding of the country that there were not some state laws to that effect. indeed, there were a few left but they were not enforced and they are, as we say, unconstitutional. the second is that we don't have any ban which is constitutional on what is called hate speech. some of the sorts of speech that were just referred to in the previous presentation. when jimmy carter was president, an international covenant was drafted on political and civil rights, which was basically signed by leaders of every democratic country. and one of the provisions was that countries were obliged to
take steps, to take action, to prevent hateful speech based on race, religion, or the like. president carter signed it and attached what is called a reservation to it, a very important reservation which said that, as far as the united states was concerned, this was of course subject to the bill of rights, which is another way of saying, we wouldn't do it. we would not have legislation because it would be unconstitutional if we were banning a speech because it was hateful against some religion, against some race, or the like. and the third principle is that
we don't allow what has come to be known as a heckler's veto which is speech that is involved and otherwise protected speech. the fact that some in our society are not only troubled by it, but angered by it, and maybe even lead to a response illegally, violently to it is not a basis for banning it, that we will not give heckler, so to speak, ultimate control over what is said. and what is not. now, very recent articles prompted by the murderous events in paris, you know, have sort of asked hypothetical questions how much do we really mean that? suppose someone were to say, i'm going to kill hostages unless
you stop saying x. i think the odds are that our supreme court would still say that we're not going to let criminals decide what can be said and what not. that said, i don't mean to address this as if it's an easy issue. at a time a few years ago when a preacher in florida said he was going to burn the koran, you may remember that the secretary of defense personally called him on the phone and asked himm not to. that there were riots in pakistan, that people were killed, and justice bryer commenting off the record said that might constitute the clear and present danger which could justify even under american law
a limitation on the person doing it. i don't think he's right. i don't think the court would say that that would be the law but these are not easy issues. for an american lawyer, it's very interesting to compare it to our law, to french law. french law is more complicated. i use the word deliberately. looking at my wife here, i
recall a trip that she and i made to istanbul once from paris, and we were talking to a french diplomat, it was the time of gary hart running for president and getting in all kinds of trouble because of personal activities of his and we were chatting about it and he said to me, you know, we don't understand in france why you're making such a big deal about who gary hart had sex with. our prime minister has a very complicated personal life, he said. well compared to american first amendment law, france has a more complicated law with respect to this area. as the last presentation makes clear, france is a country that believes and treasures the freedom of speech. at the same time, it has far greater limitations on freedom of speech than we do. and sometimes those limitations make for very difficult decision making. after world war ii, france
passed legislation basically abolishing all the vichy legislation and reinstating in 1939 a law which prohibited racist and anti-semitic speech. it did that for obvious reasons. france is one of many european countries that makes it illegal to engage in the denial of the holocaust. french law basically distinguishes -- and i'm reading here because it is so difficult and complicated to draw lines in this area -- but basically distinguishes between insulting a religion as a whole and saying
things which, quote, "provokes discrimination, hatred or violence," unquote. the problem is, the first can cause the second or at least be involved in the second. so it's very difficult to make the distinction and us that one -- and that is one of the reasons that i think the question of dual standards comes up repeatedly in france, why are you prosecuting the anti-semitic comedian and you allow or indeed celebrated at least after the murders what the mocking publications said about muhammad. and that is a consequence of a
choice that different countries makes of these very difficult issues, which come about because of our very different histories, the different turmoils, the different way we've seen our countries behave in one way or another. i'm not here to predict how we would react here if the next what i'll call paris or come pen -- or copenhagen-like event is here. usually the first place to go is to limit speech, in those circumstances. it's almost easier to do that than to take the circumstances which you hope will prevent events like this from happening in the future. in any event, there are real
differences and real similarities and both countries do have and act as a matter of law on the basis that they care a lot about broad freedom of expression. whatever the potential consequences of it. because there are always potential consequences. a final thought, it always seemed to me, it's sort of interesting that here where we have more legal protection for speech, we don't have a lot of the publications that countries have more severely limiting free speech have. we don't have a publication like "charlie hebdo" and people would say, you know, it's in bad taste, it's offensive, it's, you
know, simply often, you know trying to stick a finger in the eye. our law protects journalists far more than is the in england say, but our journalists don't engage in hacking. our journalists routinely behave according to the law at least better than the tabloid journalists. and in england, notwithstanding or perhaps a harder question because of the more stringent laws that exist in that country. it's stuff that's worth talking about on a panel. thank you. [applause] >> thank you, floyd. so brett stevens, can you take the podium and just while you're
going up acknowledge that you won the pulitzer prize and the a prize as a foreign columnist. just to set the stage. tell us what you really think. bret: i single-handedly took down osama bin laden. [laughter] well, thank you. it's a great honor to be here before this audience with this foundation and, above all, to share the stage or the table at least with such distinct panelists. i'm going to be brief. i agree with sylvie entirely. i think of the events in paris as a watershed moment not just for the french but really ought to be for all of us, especially here in the united states. and let me sort of reflect on it in three or four different sentences. sense at least the attacks of 9/11, there's been a long-standing argument among --
in foreign policy circles which surrounds the question that fareed zakaria asked not long after the attacks, why do they hate us? basically, there are two camps in this why do they hate us school. there's the camp that has made the argument fairly consistently that they hate us because of western policy in the middle east. that is to say, because of american support for israel and for dictatorships like hosni mubarak's regime in europe or -- in egypt or the late musharraf of iran or the saudi's energy policies in the middle east, our involvement in the gulf war, tanker wars, obviously the more recent iraq wars, there's a whole list of policies that you can list and you can say, well, this is the problem. if you change the policy and this is what would you hear from ron paul but you'd also hear it from people on the political
left, if you change the policy you largely remove the problem, which is to say that terrorism is a function, is a reaction to western policy in middle eastern countries. and the second side of that debate has said no, in fact, it's more fundamental and it's really a clash of civilizations or, if not civilizations, then perhaps, at least, of values which is to say that you have throughout the middle east both
among the secular autocrtats of the baath regime or saudi fundamentalists, you have values or a set of of the shia and shiite. freedom of the press, freedom of conscious, all of the freedoms we associate with the american constitution and with liberal democracies like france. i think after the attack on "charlie hebdo," i would hope -- i'm speaking here as a columnist -- i would hope that that debate would finally be resolved. because it is very difficult for me to see how murdering a dozen journalists sitting around an editorial conference table who were guilty of nothing more than practicing not just free speech but sort of scatalogical vulgar, irreverent speech with barbs aimed in multiple directions. it is very difficult for me to
see that as a response to western policies in the middle east. i didn't track politics of the various editorial board members of "charlie hebdo" but my impression -- correct me if i'm wrong -- is that they were not perfect -- well aligned with the views of american neoconservatives or others who are arguing that we should -- i don't know -- bomb iran's nuclear installations or do things like that. if anything, my sense is that they were very much people of the political left who simply insisted that to be -- to fully realize the promise of a liberal democracy, you had to prove that you could say and print and publish anything. and so i think it ought to be -- the attack on "charlie hebdo" ought to be a watershed moment in the sense that it ought to give us some clarity about the nature of the conflict which engages us now between groups like islamic state, al qaeda in the arabian peninsula and all of us in this room sharing all of the values that we have. that would be the first thing, i would say.
second thing is the attack on the kosher supermarket or the kosher grocery i think also ought to be an occasion for a certain amount of clarity. i started covering the middle east when i was based in brussels for the "wall street journal" in the late 1990s and early part of the last decade. and even then and especially after the outbreak of the so-called second intefadeh in the fall of 2000, i sensed that there was a great deal of antisemitism on european streets and it was antisemitism coming in both a vulgar and high-tone variety. the vulgar variety is the sort you would encounter if you walk through my largely muslim neighborhood in downtown brussels towards the canal. but also a high-toned variety which typically went by the anti-zionist catchphrases, but anti-zionist catchphrases that had a weird reflection in
traditional antisemitic tropes. i'll never forget shortly after the outbreak of the second intefadeh, "the economist" had an editorial -- it is a serious magazine, maybe the best magazine in the world -- there was a line that said israelis are a superior people -- not sure if i'm quoting this exactly but i'm getting the spirit of it largely right. the israelis are a superior people. their talents are above the ordinary but they must curb their greed for other people's land. i thought, boy, if that's not an antisemitic stroeptrope. those clever jews, superior, but greedy. it was very hard to sit in brussels and have dinner time conversations with the class of commissioners and foreign policy people in brussels and not get a great deal of this. so now with the attack on the kosher super market, i think it is at last out in the open. and in that sense i'm almost
grateful that this happened, that at least i think europe is coming to recognize that it has a real problem with antisemitism that can't be denied or can't be passed off as a function of a reaction to israeli policy. third point i want to make is this, which is my grandmother knew trotsky -- i grew up in mexico city -- so trotsky is a favorite of mine. trotsky had this wonderful line. he said at some point you may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you. well, you may not be interested in the middle east and its troubles and turmoils and ideological fanaticisms, but it is interested in you. and i think that's another lesson that we ought to draw from paris. we can't simply -- we can't simply look away from what's happening in yemen today or in
northern iraq or eastern syria and imagine that it's some far-away place. and in this sense i think that the french government has been admirabley out in front, i would argue, of the american administration in the action it took in mali and the general seriousness of the threat and it has to be confronted not just in the form of marches and statements about solidarity but it has to be confronted kinetically, so to speak. so that's an important point. i would add -- let me add just two points. i know i'm running up against my time limit. i think as i said earlier, because we're coming to grips with the fact that this is a war on western values like free speech, one of the best responses is to have more free speech. if i were a french -- if i were part of the french political debate, i would advocate for two things, one of which would be what i once heard someone say is a pedigogy of insult.
people have to get used to having their sacred cows gored and it is not going to help if it is left only to "charlie hebdo" or publications like that behind barbed wire and masses of gendarmes to do it. people need to do it more. and at the same time, i would think if i were a french policymaker that they need to lift, not impose new restrictions on free speech but to lift them because the charge
of hypocrisy is a very potent charge. i don't see the popularity of what's his name -- the anti-semitic comic being brought low by the fact that he's been charged multiple times for violating the laws. if anything, it is elevating him. so this ought to be an occasion to reflect for the french perhaps to import some of that -- some of the american statutory values of simply allow ing people to speak without fear of the law. at the same time, at the same time i would want to finish with one thing, which is this -- people after the attack said well, don't you understand, this comes in the wake of the gaza war so peoples' emotions are heightened and they're upset. someone said a few years ago "if you try to explain antisemitic acts by what some jews in some other country did
you're not explaining anti-semitism. you're replicating anti-semitism." peoples' ears pricked up because of what israel was doing in gaza. so if only those israelis pursued a different policy vis-a-vis the palestinians perhaps we would see the kind of anti-semitism we're experiencing here. but i don't think that's going to work very well. final, final point. and it's this. i swear, this is the end. when i was in brussels and especially when i was editor in chief of "the jerusalem post," i was routinely scandalized by the crassness of european coverage of the israel-palestinian
conflict. and when europe -- too much of european media routinely portrays the israeli-palestinian conflict as a story of a crass and brutal israeli goliath simply stepping on the necks of poor palestinians who lack all moral agency, right? it's not surprising that we should now find this antizionism suddenly be translated into anti-semitism. there is -- speaking as a journalist, i think that the quality of journalism, particularly among some of my european peers, the unthinking sense of solidarity with the palestinians, whether it's hamas or fatah or -- you name it -- the treatment of people like the prime minister of israel or any prime minister of israel. this one, the past one, the one before that, and so on as some kind of unique figuredevil is not a good. i would wish that some better, fair journalism, some more serious and sober-minded journalism came out of some of our european counterparts when it comes to portraying a very complicated conflict that is not a story of angels on the one side -- angel victims on the one side and demon persecutors on the other. you.
wallace: thank you. so just to set the stage again i'd like to have about ten minutes of some cross dialogue. i'll open with one yes. then we are going to open it up to the audience to ask questions so get those questions ready. do we have a microphone in the audience? we do? ok. just drawing on something that floyd said, and i think brett said, floyd said that there seems to be a -- the more you have laws that kind of restrict speech, the more obnoxious speech you get. i heard you, bret, say in effect there was some relief in this ugly situation that at least the problem was out in the open. so from a french perspective, if some magical laws restricting whether it's wearing headscarfs or whether it's speaking your mind regardless of how hateful and obnoxious the words were would that make it better or worse in the short term, medium term and long term, and how realistic is it to even think policymakers would move in the
direction of less restriction? sylvie: i don't think we're really discussing or considering more limitations to free speech. as floyd abraham said, we already have legislation in place which -- for historical reason. the holocaust took place on our continent. nazism was on the european continent. so this was different. this there is consensus on these laws generally. so nobody thinks seriously that in france we're going to have laws prohibiting or limiting the way you can draw the mohammed or mock such religion or the other one. i don't think this is being considered at this stage. what may happen -- and what is already happening i think is that we all will be a bit more cautious. we already saw that in 2006 when those cartoons were first published in denmark. we had this debate about whether we should reprint them.
we decided to reprint two of them. in "le monde," we decided to print two, there were 12, i believe. and we choose them, we decided that we couldn't not publish them at all, but we didn't want to publish the most offensive ones. and also some of them were totally uninteresting. and so that was a kind of road if i may say. but other papers decided not to print any of them because they were afraid or because they thought it was a bad idea. and again, we had this debate in the western press and american newspapers took a very different -- and media generally took a
different road from than the one we took in europe. but even in europe, some papers decided not to publish them. "the guardian" had a very, very lengthy discussion and debate on the editorial board about this and came up with this -- i thought they published a very good editorial explaining their decision, that they would give one way they gave 100,000 pounds to support "charlie hebdo," and on the other hand, they said no, we're not interested in publishing this. this is not the way of showing our solidarity. we don't find this material -- wallace: do you agree with floyd's point there would be less thumb in the eye obnoxious journalism -- sylvie: i think so. you can see what's happening in denmark already. yeah. some of us will take the defiant position and say, no, we still have to publish this, but that
will be like an act of defiance. and some of us will say, you know, we have to be more cautious. and it's not -- i think this is a trend generally. if you think -- we have looked at the cartoons we published in the '70s about catholic priests and jesus christ in france. we wouldn't publish them today. i mean the tolerance of the public is not the same as it was 40 years ago. it's also, i think, a general cultural trend in at least in europe where we've noticed this difference. wallace: bret, what is your response to that? bret: i'm sorry?
wallace: to sylvie's idea that there is going to be a self-imposed self-censorship partly out of sort of -- in other words, it seems like instead of opening up the dialogue and having a wide-open debate, some of it ugly and some of it productive, everybody's going to pull back a little bit. bret: i think that would be a terrible lesson to draw from the attacks of last january. i mean i was somewhat depressed when -- listening to her presentation that the questions seemed to be between censorship and self-censorship. that seems to me precisely the wrong debate to be having after "carlie -- "charlie hebdo." and i mean i'm somewhat shocked to learn that you would have
reservations about publishing images of christ analogous to the ones that the danish paper published images of mohammad. wallace: even at the "wall street journal" you would refrain from publishing things you either thought were in the interesting to your readers, offensive to your readers and not particularly productive -- bret: so in 2005 or 2006, i can now say it, i wrote the editorial making the case for why we didn't reprint the cartoons. wallace: yeah. speak into the microphone.
bret: sorry. in 2005 or '06, i guess now i can safely say i was the author of the editorial as to why we didn't publish those cartoons. making the case that what you have a right to do isn't necessarily what a paper with a reputation ought to do. there is a question -- there is a distinction between right -- what you have a right constitutionally speaking to print, and what is tasteful and appropriate in a publication like the "wall street journal." i think our viewers evolved and our views changed. we did in fact publish the -- reprint the cover of "charlie hebdo" after -- in january after the attack because it seemed like you had to do it. and i would -- i wish we had in fact published the cartoons --
i'm speaking in a personal capacity. i wish we had published those cartoons in 2005 and '06. the targets for islamists who think that the proper response to publication of these cartoons is mass butchering. wallace: floyd, how confident are you that that makes things better? will better? floyd: nothing makes things too much better. it's a tough world out there. but i mean i look back on the danish cartoon debate. "yale university press," for which i was doing some legal work at the time, published a book, a scholarly book about the whole danish cartoon affair and didn't put any of the cartoons in there. and my reaction was disbelief because one's not talking about taste any more. this is what the book was about. and while perhaps you didn't have to publish every one of them, it's hard to communicate
what was going on if you don't do it. i mean i had a letter in the "new york times" complaining about the fact that they didn't publish any of the cartoons at issue with respect to what we're talking about today. their stated position was they have a policy against publishing materials which, by their nature, are offensive and don't advance a public discussion of some issue. my view was that they were news newsworthy. how could they not be? and while one could make a determination that in the service of good taste, if you will, not to publish them all, publishing none of them seemed to me to depriving the readers of the chance to make a more informed judgment or at least have a better informed body of knowledge as to what was going on. now it may be that it was the head of cnn who put it most candidly. he said, "i think of the wives and children of my employees. that's why we are not doing it." now, you know? i'm not sending cnn into places they don't want to go, but
that's a surrender to terrorism. period. i mean that's a way of saying they win. i think that's an unacceptable answer. bret: just very briefly. the times when the decision was made not to publish the cartoons, it was pointed out that the "times" had previously published anti-semitic cartoons for the service of illustrating some of the cartoons that are routine in much of the arab world when it comes to their view of jews. and that was the right decision to publish the anti-semitic cartoons and it made his decision not to publish the "charlie hebdo" cartoons that much stranger, more curious, in my view. i guess i would say just further to what floyd just said, you
can't conduct editorial policy much less foreign policy, as if you are in a harry potter novel where, you know, certain things cannot be named. this is not -- you're entering into kind of a strange moral universe the moment that you do that which is another argument for -- right now we have a conference on violent extremism. but we cannot speak of the violent extremism that we are -- all of us -- aware of being engaged in a struggle with. so is it's a slightly orwellian world. sylvie: i'll be very brief just to clarify. because i don't want to be misunderstood. my personal view is that we had to publish those cartoons and we did. and again, this here. but what i don't -- of course i don't approve self-censorship
and i think we have to stand up to all this. that's pretty obvious to me. but i don't like the compulsory aspect of -- we all have to publish. i mean every editor is -- takes his own decision and has the stakes in his or her newsroom. but i must say i don't like this idea that we all have to publish the same thing. it's a bit totalitarian to me. wallace: so as a yes or no question, you're deciding as a broadcaster whether to put a beheading on the news and it's clearly a vital, interested and controversial with be but it is also promoting the terrorist group who's doing it. yes, no?
you broadcast or you don't broadcast it? bret: no. wallace: floyd? floyd: no. wallace: a beheading. sylvie: no, definitely not. wallace: so everybody's got a limit, in any event. let's open up to the floor and i'm just going to start up front. we'll work our way back. please identify yourself. >> i would like to slightly disagree i guess -- [ inaudible ]
and i think france has to -- it is not about self-censorship or fear or anything. france has decided it's a multi--face society. when you're trying to discern the 8% or so population of france from radical fundamentalists, i don't think it is the smartest thing to do to publish cartoon that insults wide majority of muslim population. so i think, again, i don't think we should change the law, french law been one side or the other but there is something broader than that and i think this debate is very important to have in france. wallace: next question. that wasn't a question. [laughter] i think we'd rather have questions but i guess people want to comment. that's fine.
was there another question? >> hi. i'm a reporter with "newsweek." i've been covering the middle eastern conflict and isis specifically for about a year-and-a-half, two years. as a younger reporter, i was kind of curious how you think the social media age and particularly twitter have changed, an example like "charlie hebdo." so much of the original reporting and breaking news was coming out of social media and i was sort of curious how that was different from france to the united states because i found a lot of american publications were pretty much giving all of their news through the aggregation of french publications' tweets, especially "le monde," and the cover, the
new cover, was of "charlie hebdo" after the attacks. the one with prophet mohammed on the front was actually distributed through "le monde." it was through their twitter account. so i was just curious if you could each speak to sort of the social media age especially when so many think tanks are saying that a lot of these jihadists are coming through social media, and if france is now considering that there should be some kind of cap on the internet, is it a cap on the youtube videos, is it a cap on twitter and is there a limit as far and the journalistic aspect of that goes because that's how so many of us share information? >> the issue with twitter and facebook is -- and other social media is that they are being
used by the terrorist groups to communicate, and also to spread their propaganda in a very, very nasty way. now, as i said, we are only at the beginning of this. i don't know how you can really put a cap on this legally, politically, it's a very complicated issue and also technologically. twitter has been closing a lot of accounts after those attacks. but you close one account, and then they open another one. so i'm not an expert on this technology so i don't know how it can work technically. it's a huge issue. i'm struck by the fact that -- i mean i know you have this issue here in the states and barack obama was in silicon valley the but other day and had addressed this. apparently the high-tech companies are being very, very reluctant to help him on this or to collaborate.
but the french government hasn't been specific at all so far. it's still very, very vague and i'm not sure they know what to do actually. >> floyd, just while we have the question, are tweeters as protected as the "wall street journal"? >> i'm glad you asked that rather than the last question to me which i'm 20 years too old to answer. [laughter] him but the answer to your question is yes. >> is that generally true in france, if you know? >> we don't have a first amendment. >> no. but i'm saying if i want to go him on twitter and say and do anything i want, is there any distinction between what lemond can write and what i can write because it is a newspaper and i am not? >> well, that's also something which is being debated by legal him and him experts, whether -- that's also new territory. google recently was -- european court of justice when it sentenced on the issue of right
deliver got, the year p.m. -- the european court of justice decided google would be controller -- that's new stages. it's not only search engine. it is a new legal status. so again legally we are i think trying to find the right qualifications and the right responsibilities so i don't think in france it's very -- we have found the solutions yet. >> i would add the fact that everyone is now press. everyone is now an editor is going to have -- it has not yet had -- a significant import for the first amendment. and it may not all be good. certainly issues on which the press, as press, has received considerable protection, confidential sources, for example, of journalists is one
where it seems to me there's no way that everybody that says something on the internet is going to get the same level of protection. and the result of that may well be -- because i continue to believe as i answered a moment ago, that everyone is going to wind up with the same protection at the end of the day. the result of that may be that the press, "press" may wind up with some less protection than it has now because it will just be impossible -- or the judges will be unwilling to draw lines between the person in pajamas who's on the internet all day and the guy at a newspaper. -- and a great newspaper. in a perverse sort of way, that could wind up hurting freedom of the press.
>> other questions from the audience? go ahead. you have a microphone coming. >> thanks. my name is gary cole. question for the panel. u.s. courts have traditionally interpreted freedom of speech with a rubric saying speech is not protected by yelling fire in a crowded theater. can you not make the distinction between depicting the prophet mohammed in "charlie hebdo" or some other publication and the french comedian who augers for killing jews and violence against jews? >> well, you can make a distinction between what constitutes incitement to criminal conduct. and we do that. a direct advocacy of incitement to criminal conduct with a high
likelihood that it will occur is not protected, for example, by the first amendment. but that's a pretty polar extreme of speech. my reaction -- justice holmes, who wrote that phrase, falsely by the way, falsely crying fire in a crowded theater, was, in effect, trivializing what that was about. if anything, we give more protection to political speech. not to speech in a theater about something like that. i mean there's nothing that is more protected under american law than commentary about how the world ought to function, who ought to be elected, how
government ought to behave and assessments of people. so under our law at least, i don't believe that the fire in a crowded theater notion really helps too much because, if anything, it understates the level of first amendment protection that is given and is needed with respect to political or socially relevant speech. >> if i go on television and suggest that a really good idea would be to kill all the first amendment lawyers in the u.s., would you think that kind of speech should be protected? it's just an example. >> yeah. there was a cartoon once in "the new yorker" which showed the supreme court sitting around a table and one of the justices says, "do you ever have a day when everything seems unconstitutional?" that's what your question
suggests to me. >> just one thing. he's smarter than that. he doesn't call for killing the jews. that would be easy to qualify as a crime. he says this well known jewish journalist, it's a pity he didn't perish in the gas chamber. that he was charged with. right? then the last thing he did was he put on his twitter account [ speaking french ] that was the killer at the kosher supermarket. and that can be -- that fits into glorification of terrorism charge.
then again, that sentence can be interpreted in different ways, so, you know, it's difficult. it is not black and white. >> does his prosecution for those kind of acts make him more popular among -- >> yeah. yeah. yeah. yeah, absolutely. i mean to go back to the issue of anti-semitism, there is a strong streak of anti-semitism in the muslim community and in the arab world. i mean there is no denial of this. so it's not the anti-semitism that we knew in france in the bashir regime and in the 20th century. it is a different one. the reach unfortunately is the -- the reason unfortunately, is the same but the origin is different. he is very popular in some
segments of the french society that's true. and so the more you -- the more he's persecuted, the more popular he is, yeah, in those segments. >> other audience questions? >> can i just ask for the two journalists, in deciding to publish after the murders, how much was your own newspaper's security and fear an ingredient? how much did you say, well, are we putting our employees and others in harm's way by inviting a violent act against us? >> we didn't take this into account. no. we had a discussion. we had a debate, including in the newsroom among editors and also in the newsroom. but that was not really a factor . as the people who went to the january 11th rally didn't take into account the fact that there
might be more attacks. this was something we thought we should do. >> it was a major factor. danny pearl was my colleague. so we thought long and hard about it. i think the "the journal" has more reporters overseas than all other u.s. newspapers combined. we have a lot of people in harm's way all the time. so we give it a great deal of thought. and so the decision to publish the cover of "charlie hebdo" -- the cover after the attack was made with a great deal of consideration and deliberation. by the way, though, i received -- this is to the "newsweek" reporter -- after i was on bill maher the other day, someone tweeted to me that he wants to buy me a plane ticket to syria so he can enjoy watching me be
beheaded. so my response was to retweet it. i think that's the only way to answer these people and exposure for who they are. >> question. >> former american foundation young leader. i have more of a comment which is that, with the freedom of speech comes i believe responsibility, especially for newspapers and media organizations. and while we discuss whether or not something should or should not be published, newspapers and media organizations should have a policy, some principles, that at the end of the day they're producing a pure rated product -- curated product that's supposed to be a service to the
public. whether you publish a beledding or repeat a racial epithet those are questions of what best serves your public and your audience. and over time, because we do live in this digital age everybody can publish but it now becomes incumbent on the consumer to decide what best serves his or her purposes. i did have a question. i'll just throw it back to the journalists. what are your editorial policies around publishing this type of information, and how are they centered? are they centered to actually serve the public? >> that's the -- the point you make is an excellent one. we are agents -- we are essentially at "the journal" we are the institutions safeguarding the freedom of the press, and at the same time , we're curators of culture and what is taboo and what is not
taboo and how taboos evolve, by the way. so there are -- we are a family newspaper. so we will avoid foul language whenever possible. there are, by the way, occasions when you cannot escape using an epithet, a foul word, if it is intrinsic to understanding the story. and when you reach those moments, a judgment has to be made as to whether you can communicate the same information without offering the explicit language or the explicit images. i mean all i would say is that there is no science to this. it's editors sitting around a table making often very difficult judgment calls. as i said, i wrote the editorial on why we would not publish the cartoons back in 2006.
after "charlie hebdo," it seemed like a different set of considerations were in effect. and people sort of looked for hard and fast and relatively simple rules for how these things are done. and the truth is, there are none. what we try to be are responsible adults making serious judgments about difficult questions. and anyone who would suggest that there's some simple line or it is all one way or all the other i think is just not engaging in a serious conversation. >> other questions from the audience? there are many americans who never heard of "charlie hebdo" before the murders. i've seen it many times in paris and candidly, didn't read it. what's the difference -- from someone like yourself and other educated french people to what they thought of it then, how they came to think of it, and what is the future of specifically "charlie hebdo"?
>> i was not a regular reader of "charlie hebdo." my brother is. he's a subscriber. he's a teacher and we had this discussion sometimes that we joke with him and say how can you read this macho-like magazine. and he said, you know, he would explain to me because of the irreverence. ive reverence streak and this impertinence which is the hallmark -- which is the hall mack hallmark of "charlie hebdo." i will conclude with saying if -- while i am glad you can read it it's good news, go on , subscribe to it. i think this is something -- i think it is average circulation was 60,000 copies a week. it was something -- which was not mass circulation but people are happy with it to be around. it's an important part of our life.
and another thing is that those cartoonists were very famous in the general public. some of them wrote comics for children. not the same -- with not the same drawings but, you know, some of the cartoons or comics i read as a child or teenager included drawings from them. they were also invited to tv shows like talk shows and they would draw while people were debating. so they were -- they were really popular figures in french culture, in the french public. and now it's going to go on. of course, there are -- they have collected quite a lot of money, but i don't know how much that -- how long they can go on with this.
but they are trying to put together a newsroom which can produce regularly the paper again and i think they have -- the next issue is in a week, i think, is next week. yeah. they are working out of another newsroom. so yeah, it will go on. definitely. >> can i just add a factual correction? we did have "national lampoon" in this country for many, many years. >> and "mad" magazine, too. >> "mad" magazine was more for children, less pornographic. but we have "south park" which i think is our own version of "charlie hebdo. do yourself a favor. there is a wonderful episode of "south park" which revolved around mohammed in a bear suit. while the figures of jesus buddha and moses were busy snorting cocaine, looking at
pornographic magazines and -- and it was just so brilliant and so profound in so many ways. i would say it is a higher version of "charlie hebdo," just with a greater degree of genius. >> on this weekend's "newsmakers," just as bob goodlatte -- our guest is bob goodlatte. >> it is a legitimate question to ask if his president will carry outlaws. you have grave misgivings -- carried out laws. you have grave misgivings but we think that the -- we have
misgivings but we think that they should have the tools to show that the border is being enforced with illegal immigration. and then we can address legal immigration reform and certainly we will always have before us the necessity of determining what to do about the status of people who are not awfully here. -- lawful easier. -- lawfully here. they are different groups of people. all of that needs to be addressed but the first thing that has to be done is to regain the trust of the american people that in these difficult times when we are concerned about terrorists, when we are concerned about the security of orders, when we are concerned about the fairness of immigration laws where people go
through the process legally are put beyond people who are unlawfully in the country those enforcement issues must be addressed first. >> you can watch the entire interview tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. eastern on c-span. >> with the homeland security department currently funded until friday, march 6, the house and senate will continue worked to order so -- avoid -- work to avoid a showdown. at 2:00 they will work on bills for the homeland security including a bill that would give the secretary the ability to recoup bonuses. the senate returns monday at 2:00 p.m. eastern and will consider a motion to go to conference with the house to work out differences on homeland
security funding. also they are expected to begin the initial debate on the veto of the keystone xl pipeline with an overriding vote later in the week. next week the house and senate will be welcoming is really prime minister benjamin netanyahu -- is really prime minister benjamin netanyahu to speak to -- israeli prime minister benjamin netanyahu to speak to a joint session. >> the landscape of congress has changed. there are 108 women in congress including the first african-american republican in the house and the first woman veteran in the senate. keep track using congressional chronicle on c-span.org. the congressional chronicle has useful information including voting