On Sunday, the new editor in chief of Charlie Hebdo blasted news outlets that decided not to show their latest cover, accusing them of censoring democracy and insulting the public.
“This cartoon is not just a little figure,” Gérard Biard said through a translator. “It’s a symbol. It’s the symbol of freedom of speech, of freedom of religion, of democracy, and secularism. It is this symbol that these newspapers refuse to publish.”
“This is what they must understand: When they refuse to publish this cartoon. When they blur it out. When they decline to publish it. They blur out democracy, secularism, freedom of religion, and they insult the citizenship.”
He goes singles out American press and other outlets in free countries, where they would face no governmental consequences or repressive regimes. Others in more repressive countries he allows more leeway.
Words are not justification for murder, he reminds the world:
“We do not kill anyone. We must stop conflating the murderers and the victims. We must stop declaring that those who write and draw are ‘provocateurs,’ that they are throwing gas on the fire. We must not place thinkers and artists in the same category as murderers.”
Anyway. According to a new poll, despite the slaughter of the Hebdo editors, 42 percent of French respondents said cartoons that made Muslims feel injured or threatened should be avoided. What’ll that number be in 20 years, when France is more Islamic than it is now?
For the record, I disagree with Steele in the clip. There would certainly be people who would be outraged, and there would be, frankly, far too many who argue for a lot of self-censorship. But there’s a difference between a smattering of protests and what we saw in France, as should be plain to anyone. I still have a bit more, ahem, faith in Americans.