10/01/2012 12:06 EDT | Updated 11/30/2012 05:12 EST

The Arbitrary Limits to Freedom of Expression

I am confused about the concept of freedom of expression. The publication of the anti-Islam film Innocence of Muslims and the drawing of caricatures of prophet Muhammad that appeared in a French magazine has made me revisit about my own understanding of the concept of freedom of expression.

When Muslims protested, everyone went furious. "How dare could they limit our freedom of expression,?" cried people on social media.

The angry Muslims who were offended by the film that depicted their prophet in a demeaning manner were told "Too bad, so sad."

While I was trying to comprehend the reasoning of the proponents of the film and the cartoons, then, the issue of the topless photos of Kate Middleton had surfaced.

I was surprised and shocked to see the abrupt change of tone altogether by the same advocates of freedom of expression in France where the cartoons were published.

Not long ago I am told there is no limit to freedom of expression -- then the French court going ballistic about publishing the photos.

According to the news, a French court has ordered a magazine publisher to return all digital files of topless photos of the duchess of Cambridge within 24 hours.

The weekly magazine Closer is also forbidden to continue publishing the images of the duke and duchess of Cambridge's private moments, including on its website and tablet. The magazine printed 14 photos of the duchess last week that showed her sunbathing topless while on holiday in southern France, taken with a telephoto lens.

Under the ruling, Closer faces a daily fine of €10,000 if it fails to hand over the photos.

I became riddled with confusion and ambiguity.

Does freedom of expression have limits or is the sky the limit as the proponents of the anti-Islam film are trying to make us believe? Or does it have limits to certain cases and no limits at other instances?

While this clear contradiction has bothered me a lot, I nevertheless gave the French court the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps when it comes to the Royal Family, the standard is quite different, I thought.

In the midst of my personal struggle to reconcile my understanding of freedom of expression in light of the recent events, my confusion grew exponentially as a result of what had taken place in the Canadian Parliament.

When members of the Conservative government were asked to cast their vote on a private members bill to examine part of the Criminal Code to establish when a fetus becomes a legal person, the Minister for the Status of Women, Rona Ambrose, voted in favour of the bill. Then, she was the subject of heated discussion, complaints and even a call for her resignation.


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The National Postran a headline about thousands signing a resignation petition for Ambrose.

Ambrose faced a barrage of criticism last Thursday after standing up in support of M-312, a private members motion that would have struck a committee to study parts of the Criminal Code that establish when a fetus becomes a human.

An incredible amount of heat was directed at Ambrose for exercising her right in a freedom-based society.

Politicians on both sides of the political fence have jumped on her for voting on the subject.

Liberal MP Justin Trudeau accused Ambrose of being hypocritical and NDP Leader Tom Mulcair called her vote shocking, since she had told a parliamentary commission she had the opposite position.

Where are the advocates of freedom of expression? Why didn't they provide her with support as they did with the filmmakers of Innocence of Muslims?

Why have they changed their tone once again?

I am sensing a high level of double standard here where freedom of expression is abused and misused according to the whims and desires of people. When the victim is Islam and Muslims, then, it has no limits. It is like an open buffet where it is all you can eat. But when it is about others, then, you better watch your mouth.