SCSU professors share their views on First Amendment freedoms

Photo Credit: Adam Fagen

Katherine G. Krajcik Special to the Southern News 

Following the Charlie Hebdo attack, entities such as freedom of speech, freedom of the press and the mistreatment of Muslims around the world have been the main topics of discussion in and out of the classroom.

There are mixed reactions coming from both professors and students about the shooting, but it has raised awareness when it comes to certain cultural issues here in the United States.

Jerry Dunklee, a member of the board’s Connecticut Journalism Hall of Fame and a journalism professor here at SCSU, said he has been engaging in conversations with his students about the Charlie Hebdo incident.

“A student of mine believes that sensibilities towards other religions are essential,” said Dunklee, “but she also believes that journalists have the right to criticize, satirize, and speak out. She believes, and I am quoting her, ‘that they should certainly not be killed for it.’”

Dunklee also said, “My hope is that people will believe eventually that freedom of speech and freedom of the press are both more important than protecting the individual sensibilities of an individual religion.”

Steven Judd, professor of Middle Eastern history at SCSU, had a different perspective.

Judd said he was curious to see how people’s responses to the attack was going to play out because many Muslims that he knows were horrified that humans were killed over cartoons, but at the same time they thought these Charlie Hebdo cartoons were absolutely disgusting.

“The worst of these cartoons can not even be put into newspapers here in America,” Judd said.

Kevin Buterbaugh, political science professor at SCSU, had a response similar to Judd. Buterbaugh said that were pornographically offensive cartoons.

“This incident shows that speech can kill you,” said Buterbaugh. “A lesson that can be taken away from this is tolerance. Part of being a free country is that you have to tolerate being offended by others and sometimes you might even have to defend their right to offend you.”

According to the Pew Research Center, 23 percent of the world’s population practices Islam, making it the second-largest practiced religion in the world.

Judd said these groups of crazy people who have taken religious views out of the main stream and acted in an extreme way, certainly do not represent Muslims as a whole.

Freshman Lucas Fanucci, a dual citizen of both France and the U.S., has seen the mistreatment of Muslims in France firsthand.

“When I was in France last year, the tension was very high and you can tell there was a visible racial barrier,” said Franucci. “The French-Muslims were not thriving as much as the French who were not Muslim because they were incapable of getting hired. When I would see a homeless person on the street or a homeless person on the news, they were usually practicing Muslims.”

As France sits under a microscope, time will tell if the reactions around the world will advance not only French culture, but culture in the U.S. as well.


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