This is from last week, but it’s worth noting. After several members of the Charlie Hebdo staff got slaughtered by Islamic terrorists in January, a large number of their colleagues blamed the magazine for deliberately provoking the attack with its crude satire. Two months ago, editor in chief Gėrard Biard warned that “we can’t be the only ones to stand up for these values,” and lashed out at the global press for “a lack of courage in this matter.”
During an interview with the Hamburg-based news magazine “Stern,” editor of the French weekly “Charlie Hebdo” said he would no longer draw comics of the Muslim prophet Muhammad.
“We have drawn Muhammad to defend the principle that one can draw whatever they want. It is a bit strange though: we are expected to exercise a freedom of expression that no one dares to,” [editor Laurent] Sourisseau told “Stern.”
The editor said that the magazine had done what it set out to do.
“We’ve done our job. We have defended the right to caricature,” Sourisseau said.
“We still believe that we have the right to criticize all religions,” the editor said, adding that he did not want to believe that the magazine “was possessed by Islam.”
It’s not just their own experiences that led them to this inevitable embrace of the assassin’s veto. When Pamela Geller, Robert Spencer, and Geert Wilders tried to organize more support for the right to free expression and open debate with an editorial cartoon contest, they narrowly avoided an attack themselves. And the US media seemed a lot more intent on blaming them for their insensitivity and animus than they did with the terrorists who went on to make public threats against their lives.
In this kind of environment, why should they continue to risk their lives for freedom? They’ve done their part.
The Federalist’s John Daniel Davidson agrees that Charlie Hebdo should be let off the hook — but not the rest of us:
That’s fair. They have suffered enough. A dozen of their best gave their last full measure of devotion to the principle of free speech. Let them rest. However, that means the rest of us need to step up. …
n the wake of the January massacre, Parisians took to the streets with signs proclaiming, “Je Suis Charlie” (I am Charlie)—a show of solidarity that prompted similar expressions across the globe. So much for all that. The magazine’s decision, while understandable, is nevertheless a vindication of the Heckler’s Veto—or in this case the Terrorist’s Veto, which has silenced the one publication in all of Europe that was willing to defy Islamic extremists for the sake of free speech.
It seems clear, now, that France’s slogan after the massacre should have been “J’étais Charlie”—I was Charlie. But no more. Charlie is dead, and “J’étais Charlie” has become the epitaph of Europe. And if America’s progressive elites at places like The New York Times and in the upper echelons of the literary world have their way, it will eventually be our epitaph, too.
One didn’t have to “be Charlie” to stand for their freedom to speak and publish. I wasn’t a fan of their crude style, but I’m not a fan of lots of publications, and the proper mode of criticism is more speech, not violence. We could have a debate over taste and effectiveness, right up to the time when the bullets fly in order to enforce silence. At that point, we needed to stand shoulder to shoulder … and plenty of people failed to do so. Don’t blame the staff at Charlie Hebdo for succumbing to the terrorist veto.