Savagery And Speech-A Few Thoughts On The Charlie Hebdo Attack

One wonders if the often self-selecting guardians of cartoons in America would show the same courage to publish freely and provoke, day-in and day-out, as did those at Charlie Hebdo.

From The Independent, a little backstory:

‘Reappearing months later under the name Charlie Hebdo, its left-libertarian team of writers and illustrators, whose crude caricatures provided the magazine’s signature style, gleefully mocked all sources of political and religious authority. It folded in 1981 but was resurrected in 1992.’

One suspect in the attack has turned himself in.

Ross Douthat:

‘But if publishing something might get you slaughtered and you publish it anyway, by definition you are striking a blow for freedom, and that’s precisely the context when you need your fellow citizens to set aside their squeamishness and rise to your defense.’


More broadly, the West is at war with many Islamist ideologues and holy warriors motivated to be in a state of constant war/conflict with the West, especially through terrorist and guerilla-style attacks such as this one.  Simmering away in caves and enclaves, real-world havens created by leadership like the Taliban, as well as virtual havens and floating cells, online screeds and video feeds, some people are quite busy.

Some would go so far as to the draw the West into battle and face the full force of organized Western violence (they can’t seem to imagine anything else), in hopes of ultimately driving the infidel from the Arabian peninsula, achieving glorious purity, domination and ideological conquest.  This part of the conflict will likely be going on for some time, hot and cold.

I should point out that I don’t think the West is in a war with Islam, per se (nor its universal claims forbidding such cartoons), which is a vital distinction to make.  I encourage others, as always, to think for themselves, gain new experiences, to get to know parts of the Islamic world, faith and people and make their own judgments.

That said, many in the West often take for granted the freedoms, opportunities and obligations of living in post-Enlightenment societies (their own roots).  In the case of Charlie Hebdo, these conflicts were sought out in the pursuit of truth and principle, often to provoke, but only one side made it bloody, savage, and terminally personal.

At certain points, the claims made by those living in the West are universal of course, including religious and faith claims as well as knowledge claims, but also (especially in Europe) the potentially violent and revolutionary claims of socialist solidarity, the softer claims of secular humanism and multi-cultural tolerance which seem to have congealed into majority opinion in many places, exported around the globe, glossing over a past, bloody century and many debt-ridden, aging, more culturally homogenous populations.

It seems to me that on the part of the citizen, a response to such violent attacks doesn’t necessarily require the bravery and valor of soldiers, but simply the quiet courage and the strength to look such barbarism in the eye for what it is.

To call it what it is.

As many people as possible must not tolerate such a violent response to the expression of ideas; a struggle in which we all have a part to play.

Any thoughts and comments are welcome.

See Also:  Why Lars Hedegaard Still Matters…Michael Moynihan At The Daily Beast: ‘The Repentant Radical’In The Mail-More On The Boston Marathon Bombers: ‘The Fall Of The House Of Tsarnaev’

From The Middle East Quarterly Via A & L Daily: Europe’s Shifting Immigration Dynamic

Kenan Malik In The Spiked Review Of Books: ‘Twenty Years On: Internalizing The Fatwa’-Salman Rushdie

Theodore Dalrymple argues that France has the potential to handle Muslim immigration better because of its ideological rigidity, which can better meet the ideological rigidity of its Muslim immigrants…Theodore Dalrymple Still Attacking Multi-Culturalism In Britain

How do you reasonably deal with relativism anyways?: From Virtual Philosophy: A Brief Interview With Simon Blackburn

Repost-Eugene Volokh At The National Review: ‘Multiculturalism: For or Against?’

If you thought the cartoons were bad, more on the Fitna movie here.  Libertarians stand firm on this issue:  Repost-A Canadian Libertarian Making Noise: Ezra Levant

Via The A & L Daily-Interview With Christopher Caldwell At Spiegel Online

Christopher Hitchens At Slate: Yale Surrenders

A British Muslim tells his story, suggesting that classical liberalism wouldn’t be a bad idea…as a more entrenched radical British Left and Muslim immigration don’t mix too well: From ‘Introduction: How Salman Rushdie Changed My Life’… Via YouTube: ‘Christopher Hitchens Vs. Ahmed Younis On CNN (2005)’

5 thoughts on “Savagery And Speech-A Few Thoughts On The Charlie Hebdo Attack

  1. I am more libertarian than most but I wonder whether Charlie Hebdo would have published what it did if the owners had to pay for the magazine’s own security. There is a sense in which the State subsidizes provocative remarks by guaranteeing that it will protect anyone who utters them. It’s an interesting question whether an anarcho-libertarian society could have free speech constrained by the rising premiums of insurance companies who are being paid to protect people. Maybe the insurance companies would have special rates for magazines like Charlie Hebdo, just like life insurance companies charge more to insure sky divers? Just a thought. My heartfelt sympathies go out to the victim’s families.

    • Malcolm,

      Well, that’s certainly a reasonable thought given the assumption of risk, but I generally leave that kind of protection to the State, national defense, the police and those responsible for the law etc. but I see where you’re coming from.

      I suppose the post is asking a little something of every citizen, French in this case, but American and Western in general, to not leave that risk of death entirely on a few heads where such speech runs into conflict, whether or not the protective force is private or public.

    • And it raises uncomfortable questions about what many Muslims believe, how inflexible some can be about that belief, how many European and Western societies have been poorly integrating immigrants from many places and leaving them to fester in enclaves where they import beliefs and customs from their home countries that do not jibe with their adoptive ones.

  2. “fester in enclaves”

    Chris, did you really mean to use this phrase? As long as they don’t harm anyone what is wrong with them keeping alive their way of life? Three have just become murderers, stuff happens.

Leave a Reply