Je Suis Charlie


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There was a terrorist attack in Paris today, and in many ways, it’s worse than 9/11. Not in the terms of people killed. No, we have “only” 12 people dead as opposed to 3,000 or so. Not in the terms of property loss or the likelihood of it starting a war. No, it’s worse than 9/11, and many other terrorist attacks, because this one actually is a direct attack on the concepts of freedom and free expression.

The attack in question was against the offices of Charlie Hebdo, a French satirical magazine. Think of something like Mad, only more overtly political. Back a little bit ago they stirred up a bit of controversy by publishing some naughty cartoons with Mohammad posing nude, among other things.

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The insanely religious types out there responded about like you’d expect, with the site’s offices being firedbombed and their website being attacked. This all culminated in today’s attack, which left twelve people dead, including 10 employees of the magazine, and three gunmen and a driver on the run (and I’ll bet you they find them without shutting down all of Paris). While we don’t know for sure that the attackers were Muslim extremists, the fact that they were shouting “Allahu akbar!” (“God is great”, for the curious), seems to be a bit of a clue, though to be fair, it’s what I would do if I were pretending to be an Islamic militant.

This is, as I said, an attack on actual freedom and free expression. It’s a group of people saying, “You are not allowed to express an opinion I dislike, and I will kill you if you do.” It doesn’t get much more direct and basic than that, and free expression of opinions is the primary cornerstone of a free society. You literally cannot have a free society without freedom of expression, and that’s what these assholes tried to stop today.

It is also an effort by one religious group to tell you that it isn’t enough for them to follow the rules of their religion; you must do so as well. This is like if a Jewish person told you every boy must be circumcised, or if a Hindu told you you weren’t allowed to eat meat anymore. In this case, it’s Muslim extremists telling you that not only are they not allowed to create depictions of their prophet, you also aren’t allowed.

This 1 weird painting, created by a Muslim...

This 1 weird painting, created by a Muslim…

These guys can go eat a bag of dicks. They’d be laughable if they weren’t going around killing people. I sincerely hope that they’re caught soon and spend a good long time in prison, and that Charlie Hebdo is back up and publishing soon, because the only way to fight back against terrorism like this is to go on like it never happened.

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4 Responses to “Je Suis Charlie”

  1. Chris Says:

    Also, I don’t wanna hear anyone offering up the magazine attack version of, “Well, it’s their fault for getting drunk and dressing like they did.”

  2. SKANLYN Says:

    Free speech doesn’t give you the right to disrespect people who happen to subscribe to the Islamic faith. No one would dare to demean Christians in this way as they have a track record inquisitions and burning heretics at the stake. Everybody wants to give them a pass for that though (the general whiteness of their skin perhaps?) A little tolerance and respect would go a long way in preventing these types if events.

    • Chris Says:

      “Free speech doesn’t give you the right to disrespect people who happen to subscribe to the Islamic faith.”

      Good manners generally prevent me from mocking individual people. I don’t mock all Mormons, but I think their religion is resoundingly stupid. I don’t mock all Jews, but the not eating pork thing is silly. I don’t mock all Christians, but Revelation is something doing genuine harm to the world. I mock the religions in question, and seldom mock the people who practice them. The exception is when their practice of their religion requires them to kill or injure other people, or when it’s just damaging to society as a whole.

      All that said, if I were to mock religious people by saying, for example, that everyone who is a Mormon is an idiot, then that’s my right to do so, and I should feel safe to do so without worrying that I’m going to get killed or thrown in jail. I wouldn’t do that, because, again, rude, and not true, but I should feel safe if I wanted to.

      And if you doubt that I mock other faiths, I strongly suggest you look into my Bible Project, where I’m constantly taking Christians, and by extension, Jews, to task for their stupid religion (though, to be fair, all religions are stupid).

      And, yes, tolerance would go a long way. Religious fundamentalists who live in a multi-cultural society need to tolerate people who don’t practice their religion, and even those who mock it.

  3. van Rossum Says:

    Muslims however seem to be perfectly ok with these cartoons frequently appearing in Arab newspapers:
    http://www.barenakedislam.com/2010/05/19/here-are-some-really-really-offensive-muslim-cartoons/

    They alone have the right to be offended. That’s their point of view.


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