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January 08, 2019



The retreat from free speech principles is disturbing - no argument there. But the Charlie Hebdo cartoons I've seen are (IMHO) witless, artless, gratuitously offensive and apparently motivated by animus against religious people in general. The murders are not a reason to canonize the magazine staff, as if they were Solzhenitsyn or Sakharov. Larry Flynt is not a hero just because some anti-porn nut shot him.


The belief that “speech has consequences” and we just can’t help it if the consequences are violent, actually started before Hebdo. I think they started with the fatwa against Salman Rushdie. I remember many writers turning on Rushdie.

I think there’s a cultural barrier to understanding the Hebdo cartoons.

Mick H

Yes, agreed, it really started - as did so much else - with the Rushdie affair, where we saw so many "progressives" turning against Rushdie. I think the writer here is looking for the Jewish connection, which really came to the fore with the Charlie Hebdo shootings and the murder of the Jews in the supermarket that followed.

I personally have no problem with "gratuitously offensive" cartoons against religion - particularly where Islamists are the target.


One Hebdo cartoon I saw depicted the persons of the Trinity engaged in sex acts with each other. Just brilliant. And how brave, in 21st century France - only a few centuries after the death of Cardinal Richelieu!

Again, I agree that Hebdo should be free - like Larry Flynt - to publish its supposedly transgressive "art" without fear of violence from Islamists or anyone else. In that sense, I "have no problem" with their stuff, either. But I see no reason to pretend their cartoons have any merit. The "cultural barrier" to understanding their work is the same as the barrier between adults and fifth grade humor.

As I recall, the public response in France to the Hebdo murders was unaccompanied by any public acknowledgement of the jihadist murders in the kosher supermarket, which the then-president of the US characterized as a "random" attack.

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