Obv the massacre at Charlie Hebdo is weighing heavily on me. A couple of thoughts:
- Trying to parse this as “well, satire is OK but they were really really offensive” is bound to fail and the worst kind of victim-blaming.
- There’s an irony here that this attack was clearly at attack at one of the pillars of the West’s Enlightenment values, the freedom of speech. The debate that must spring from this couldn’t be more clear: is political Islam compatible with the core civilizational value of freedom of speech?
- Like a good liberal, I still believe that this kind of expression hatred is a perversion of the Islamic faith. But I have to say: I’m starting to feel like a sucker for believing that.
- I know that today, I am much more confirmed as a freedom of speech absolutist than ever. In the past I have tried to parse and balance the freedom of speech with other values, thinking there must be an oh-so-Canadian middle way. I’m not so sure about that today. The freedom of speech *is* the freedom to offend, and to blaspheme, and even to hate. And the only reasonable answer to speech one disdains is more speech. Not to silence the other speakers, or writers, or cartoonists. Never to silence them.
- Please, help me overcome my ignorance: where is the high-profile Islamic enlightenment? Where is the leader who will stand up and promote and defend essential human freedoms like speech and expression and suggest that this must become a core value in the Islamic world? Where is the government in an established state who would allow the publication of Charlie Hebdo or even something much milder?