Down the Barrel of a Gun

On the morning of January 7, Islamic terrorists forced their way into the offices of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, known for its fearless swipes at Islamic fundamentalism.

Armed with assault rifles, the gunmen murdered 12 people, including eight staffers who were the intended targets of a prior attack on the magazine in 2011 over cartoons lampooning the Prophet Muhammad.

In the wake of the shooting, the social media-born “Je Suis Charlie” movement has defied the shooters, marching in support of the victims and further combating the threat to western freedoms in the Capitalist-Democratic tradition, voting with their wallets and buying what has been dubbed the“survivors’ issue” of the magazine in droves.

Their efforts were apparently lost on French police, who this week demonstrated their love for free speech by arresting 54 people in a nationwide crackdown on“hate speech, anti-Semitism” and statements “glorifying terrorism.”

Among those detained by police was notorious French comedian Dieudonné, who allegedly made statements sympathetic to Amedy Coulibaly, said to be responsible for three related shootings. Exhibit A: this January 11 Facebook post, in which he wrote that he felt like “Charlie Coulibaly” – a combination of “Charlie Hebdo” and “Amedy Coulibaly.”

In a separate Facebook post, he wrote an open letter to French prime minister Manuel Valls pleading his case.

Whenever I speak, you do not try to understand what I’m trying to say, you do not want to listen to me. You are looking for a pretext to forbid me. You consider me like Amedy Coulibaly when I am not any different from Charlie.

Question. Is there a principled difference between a terrorist who shoots a satirical cartoonist in the name of his religion and a policeman who arrests an offensive comedian in the name of national security?

In France, both are faced down the barrel of a gun.


1 thought on “Down the Barrel of a Gun”

  1. […] The murder of eight staff members of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo within the first week of 2015 proved how dangerous the argument is that one person’s right to freedom of speech ends where another person’s feelings begin. This proved especially true of “those who demand that speech that offends them be equated to physical violence” (Scott Greenfield via Twitter). Free speech does not exist down the barrel of a gun. […]

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