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.
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.
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.