I am angry. Very angry. We know that Islamic fanatics are mad dogs whose very humanity has been consumed by their devotion to a rabid religion. We have seen them massacre whole communities of innocent people for no reason other than religious bigotry. We have seen them kidnap hundreds of girls and young women then sneeringly taunt the loved ones of their victims. We have seen them murder and mutilate other girls for the crime of seeking an education. Today’s murderous attack on the offices of Charlie Hebdo, a French satirical magazine, is an attack on all of us for whom freedom of expression is a sacred right. I take it personally. So should you.
How should we react? We cannot give in. Fear cannot win. We must collectively express unqualified support for freedom of expression even when—especially when—it is offensive. If I think your religion is stupid and evil, then I have every right to say that it is stupid and evil. Is that offensive? Tough shit. There is no right, repeat, NO RIGHT, not to be offended.
We will inevitably hear the mealy-mouthed apologetics of moderate Muslims and the whines of the secular self-appointed guardians of sensitivity. Oh, if only we would respect the delicate religious sensibilities of others, then these terrible, terrible things would not happen. We only have our own callousness to blame. Horseshit. Reprehensible things deserve reprehension. Ridiculous things deserve ridicule. Criminal gangs of fanatics and the egregiously absurd theology that motivates them need to be called out in no uncertain terms. If non-fanatical Muslims are also offended by satire and “blasphemy” against the Prophet, then good. Maybe it is good to remind them that the outrage they feel when Islam is insulted is exactly matched by the outrage we feel when freedom of expression is attacked.
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