10 January 2015

The New York Times: “The Blasphemy We Need”

But we are not in a vacuum. We are in a situation where my third point applies, because the kind of blasphemy that Charlie Hebdo engaged in had deadly consequences, as everyone knew it could … and that kind of blasphemy is precisely the kind that needs to be defended, because it’s the kind that clearly serves a free society’s greater good. If a large enough group of someones is willing to kill you for saying something, then it’s something that almost certainly needs to be said, because otherwise the violent have veto power over liberal civilization, and when that scenario obtains it isn’t really a liberal civilization any more. Again, liberalism doesn’t depend on everyone offending everyone else all the time, and it’s okay to prefer a society where offense for its own sake is limited rather than pervasive. But when offenses are policed by murder, that’s when we need more of them, not less, because the murderers cannot be allowed for a single moment to think that their strategy can succeed.

Ross Douthat

A tragic event that will probably have long-ranging consequences. No matter if you liked or resented the cartoons published in Charlie Hebdo, the principle of free speech still applies. If you are free to speak your mind, there will always be someone taking offense in your opinion. But freedom of speech ends when that someone has the power to silence you (through murder, coercion or any other means) – and we shouldn’t let that happen here or anywhere else! Without conflicting opinions and debate, without people standing by their opinions and their right to express them, there can’t be any progress in society. We need people to point out and ridicule our hypocrisy and stupidity, otherwise they will become the rule rather than an exception.

Massacre at Charlie Hebdo
In memory of Cabu, Wolinski, Charb and Tignous.

Patrick Chappatte

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