Three Takes on the Charlie Hebdo Massacre


Catholic League founder William Donahue argues that while murder and terrorism are reprehensible, Muslims ought to be offended by blasphemy; everyone ought to be offended by blasphemy.

Ace of Spades’ rebuttal is 90% Ad Hominem but it contains this gem:

If you’re not permitted to mock a religion, You have in fact been effectively coerced into offering a quasi-religious genuflection and deference to that religion…

…Islamists demand that we bow and genuflect to their god and, of course, by doing so, we simultaneously bow and genuflect to them. Like so many things in life, it’s a crude power/dominance game. Kind of like the feminists and the left generally are constantly demanding that we bow and scrape to their strange gods…

Respect for a god is a two way street — one can’t expect full respect for one’s god from someone who doesn’t believe in that god, else that person may demand the same full respect — and full genuflection — to his alien god.

We are only free to not believe in someone else’s alien gods to the extent we are willing to let others not believe in ours.

I side mostly with Ace on this one: William Donahue occasionally does a good job of pointing out how common anti-Catholic tropes are untrue, unfair, or just plain stupid. He also encourages a paranoid siege mentality, and is convinced that he has a right to not be offended, which is stupid.

One of the problems with satire as a genera is that it is difficult to distinguish “good” satire from “bad”. Were Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons an attempt to bully a French minority or an attempt to point out the flaws of Islam? It is impossible to tell. But if we forbid satire for fear of offending, if our society can’t take a joke, even if we suspect it is mean-spirited bullying, then we suddenly live in much poorer society.

Cultures that only allow some forms of satire are not only humorless, they tend towards the totalitarian. When you pick and chose what is a proper object for satire, you are essentially saying: This preferred group is allowed to make fun of that other group, which can’t answer back. In other words the powerful can bully the weak, but the weak cannot satirize the bully.


Islamic bullying by the way is working brilliantly on the Western media, who while congratulating themselves on their courage, for many years now have gone out of their way to avoid giving offense to the one religion that will kill you if you don’t show the proper respect. It has now reached the absurd level of media types referring to Mohammed as “The Prophet”.


Kevin Williamson points out that the world does not have a problem with religious extremism. Religious fundamentalism in most religions is merely annoying. Only in some religions is is deadly: “We’ve seen, over the past few decades, scattered paroxysms of Hindu extremism and Sikh extremism (India), Buddhist violence (Burma), quasi-Christian cult violence (Uganda, Sudan), etc., but the big show in terms of violent extremism is the never-ending circus of jihad.”

The problem, Williamson argues, is that the Western fetish for multiculturalism makes people blind to the positive aspects of their own culture (they cannot admit that living in West is pretty awesome) while making them incapable of understanding that militant Islam really is dangerous.

(If) we cannot fully understand the difference between such fundamentalism as we experience — soppy, sentimental, and occasionally atavistic as it may be — and the cultural currents that produce such atrocities as the one perpetrated today in Paris… we are unable to act intelligently in response to it. It is not as simple as “Us and Them,” but there is an us, and there is a them, and one or the other is going to prevail.

I look at it this way, Western criticism of the religious influence in society tends to 1) not be about religion per se, but about aspects of Christianity they dislike 2) tend to be ignorant of non Christian religions. So they will say a Christian fundamentalist is no better than a Muslim terrorist (you know, except for the mass murder part), or they will blame Muslim terrorism on Christians (or even better, the Jooooos), or they dig up events from the 13th century to claim all religions are the same.


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