Spiked is more libertarian than I am, but its editor Brendan O’Neill is certainly correct in his post-Charlie Hebdo commentary:
The difference between the everyday war on offensiveness and this terrible murder of ‘offensive’ journalists is one of gravity and bloodiness, not of moral intent: in all cases the arrogant aim is to silence, by pressure or threats or force, those who say things you don’t like. This new culture has given people and groups across Europe a licence to take offence and a feeling of moral authority to do away with offensive ideas or images; it has inflamed intolerance, everywhere from Twitter to universities to mosques. Indeed, Charlie Hebdo hasn’t only been violently attacked (today and also in 2011, when its offices were burnt down) – it has also been sued by Muslim groups under actual French laws, against blasphemy and incitement. Across Europe, law itself, as well as the new culture of offence-taking and self-censorship in response to pressure, now actively invites people to act on their feelings of offence and to use power to destroy speech that they hate.
Enough. The Paris massacre shows us the terrible dangers of this new Endarkenment, this retreat from freedom of thought and speech and this unleashing of a new, seemingly PC intolerance. The best, most civilised response to this barbaric act is to promise that we will defend freedom of speech every time it is threatened, stop kowtowing to the offended, and stand up to every mob, campaign group, thug and gunman that think they have the right to silence others.
It ought to be the case henceforth that all these secularized blasphemy laws that Muslims in Europe use to silence criticism, and that the p.c. Left supports, ought to be thrown out, and so should any politician who supports them.
Claire Berlinski was there shortly after it happened. It is unclear if anyone from the magazine’s staff survived unscathed. Her gripping report, excerpted:
President François Hollande said the trivial: “No barbaric act will ever extinguish the freedom of the press.” That the statement is self-falsifying seemed to bother him little: That barbaric act literally extinguished the press. Literally. They are dead. Their freedom is thus of little relevance.
That I’m shaken is of concern to no one; my emotions are not the point. The entire city is shaken. So much that even my cab driver — I had to catch one to get home; the streets were otherwise blocked off — didn’t even ask me to pay the fare. When I said I was a journalist, and in a rush to say what little I knew, his response was, “Forget about the money. Just hurry.”
The assailants are as yet at liberty. I hope they’ll be dead by the time you read this. But if not:. You want me too? Come get me. Because nothing short of killing me — and many more of my kind — will ever shut us up.
And if you don’t believe that now, you’ll believe it very soon. Because there are more of us willing to die for that freedom than those of you eager to take it from us. And soon you will find out that those of us willing to die for that freedom are also much better at killing than you.
So come and get me. Je suis Charlie.