Who Won’t Republish Charlie’s Cartoons?

Mark Steyn wishes the MSM would grow a pair:

Amen. Christopher Massie finds a clear divide between digital and legacy publications:

With few exceptions, it has been digital outlets like The Huffington Post, The Daily Beast, Business Insider, BuzzFeed, Vox, and Slate that have exercised their constitutional right by republishing the cartoons that are thought to be the basis for the attacks. In contrast, many “legacy” organizations, from CNN, to The Washington Post, to The New York Times, largely withheld the images.

A Dish reader also called out the CBC, as well as an egregious example from the WaPo. Massie talks to Daily Beast editor Noah Shachtman, who calls not publishing the images “giving in to the monsters that just massacred a bunch of people.” Massie is on the same page:

While editors are regularly forced to make difficult calls about publishing sensitive material, and while yesterday’s murders show that worries about angering jihadists are not without basis, in this case, the obvious news value of the cartoons ought to have outweighed any trepidation. The absence of a confirmed storyline as to whether a specific cartoon ignited the attack means that a wide array of context, including the images, is potentially relevant. Furthermore, if readers want to understand the tragic affront to free speech, there is no replacement for seeing the cartoons, in their unabashed irreverence.

The Urgency Of Blasphemy

In the wake of the terror attack on Charlie Hebdo, Douthat stands up for blasphemy:

[T]he kind of blasphemy that Charlie Hebdo engaged in had deadly consequences, as everyone knew it could … and that kind of blasphemy is precisely the kind that needs to be defended, because it’s the kind that clearly serves a free society’s greater good. If a large enough group of someones is willing to kill you for saying something, then it’s something that almost certainly needs to be said, because otherwise the violent have veto power over liberal civilization, and when that scenario obtains it isn’t really a liberal civilization any more.

Again, liberalism doesn’t depend on everyone offending everyone else all the time, and it’s okay to prefer a society where offense for its own sake is limited rather than pervasive. But when offenses are policed by murder, that’s when we need more of them, not less, because the murderers cannot be allowed for a single moment to think that their strategy can succeed.

Saletan refuses to pretend that the hyper-sensitivity to religious mockery that motivated this attack isn’t specific to Islam:

Islamic moderates who protest these caricatures are undercut by Islamic radicals. Charlie Hebdo insults all religions. Its current issue mockingly questions the existence of Jesus. But Christians haven’t responded with bullets.

Three years ago, after Charlie Hebdo’s office was bombed, its editorial director, Stéphane Charbonnier, pointed out that the magazine was “provocative on many subjects. It just so happens that every time we deal with radical Islam … we get indignant or violent reactions.”

Now Charbonnier is dead. The problem isn’t just the violence. It’s the celebration from other quarters of the Muslim world. On social media, there are comments celebrating Wednesday’s “blessed” attack and telling the killers, “You pleased our hearts.” There are congratulations to the terrorists for shouting “God is great” and striking “a paper known for its abuse of Islam.”

But Sarah Harvard stresses that Islamic doctrine doesn’t actually condone killing those who create offensive images of the prophet:

So what does Islam say about depictions that are not in a positive light? Islam’s most poignant instance of aniconism came when the Prophet Mohammed returned to the city of Mecca in 630 AD. After years fleeing from persecution, Mohammed and his followers had marched back to Mecca to rid idol worshiping from the holy city. According to the critically acclaimed book Muhammad: His Life Based on the Earliest Sources, upon entering the most sacred point in Islam’s most sacred mosque, Mohammed destroyed all the pagan idols and paintings that were sacrilegious to Islam. (He specifically guarded images of the Virgin Mary and Jesus.) Mohammed didn’t seek out the creators of the images or sentence those responsible for the idols and sacrilegious depictions to death.

Historically, Razib Khan argues, the Islamic radicals’ views of blasphemy are far closer to the norm than our modern, somewhat radical attitudes toward free speech in the US:

[T]he behavior of Islamic radicals is definitely not beyond comprehension. Rather, it is totally explicable, and in many societies and times would be entirely normal and healthy behavior. Attacking the religion of the folk is understood to be synonymous with attacking the folk. That is why Thomas Jefferson had to elucidate his views on religion in the first place, they did not come naturally to people in the 18th century. They had to be inculcated over generations. Even if Islamic radicals in the West prey upon the marginalized, they reflect ancient and primal methods of social outrage and sanction. What you see here is the reality of living in a multicultural world where there is no a harmony of values and norms, and free movement of individuals who don’t necessarily subscribe to the social viewpoints of the lands in which they settle.

To Michael Brendan Dougherty, the incident illustrates how modern secularism is not only a Western idea, but a Christian one:

We used to say of comedians, “He can make that joke because he’s Jewish.” In this respect, the Western world’s comfort with attacking Christianity is an inadvertent admission that Christianity is “our” religion. And so it elicits from us none of the respect, deference, or fear we give to strangers. Viewed this way, secularism looks less like universal principle than a moral and theological critique derived from Christian sources and pitched back at Christian authorities.

The great irony of Islam’s continued clashes with the Western way of life — whether its widespread riots over a YouTube video or the murderous actions of a crazed minority— is that it has revealed, to the surprise of everyone but Pope Emeritus Benedict, that modern secularism is a kind of epiphenomenon of Christendom.

Capitulation Of The Day

[Re-posted and updated from earlier today]

A reader spots an “interesting bit of irony”:

The Washington Post article that criticizes Donohue’s ridiculous comments about Charlie Hebdo and the idea that offensive speech ought to be censored contains this cowardly disclaimer:

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this article included images offensive to various religious groups that did not meet the Post’s standards, and should not have been published. They have been removed.

If any reader knows exactly what images they removed, let us know and we’ll post them here. Update:

I saw the WaPo story before the images were pulled down they were exclusively images aimed at insulting Catholics and Jews. I left a comment asking why they weren’t also running the images aimed at insulting Muslims – i.e., the images that were particularly newsworthy. Awhile later all of the images were taken down. Definitely not my intent in making the comment. I just thought it was hypocritical to run one set of cartoons and not the other.  Here are a couple of the images I remember seeing before they were pulled:


Another reader:

The CBC has also refused to air the cartoons. Here’s the internal memorandum courtesy web journalist Jesse Brown:

Closing In On The Kouachis

More Hostages In France

And it appears that the situation in Dammartin-En-Goele may be intensifying:

Nico Hines explains the newest crisis in Paris, which conflicting reports indicate may have led to two more deaths:

Twenty miles south [of where the Kouachi brothers have been cornered], in the east of the city, new-french-suspects-edit at least one gunman is believed to have taken six hostages at a Jewish store. Police suspect that the third gunman is the same man who shot and killed a policewoman on Thursday morning before escaping in a bullet-proof vest.

Parisian police have released a photograph of the suspect, Amedy Coulibaly, 32, who was a member of the same local terror network as the Kouachi brothers. They believe a 26-year-old woman was involved in the attack on the policewoman, it is not known if Hayat Boumeddiene is also helping her former partner stage the attack on the supermarket.

Hines also sums up the news, out last night, that the older Kouachi brother was possibly trained by the Yemeni branch of al Qaeda:

A senior U.S. intelligence official told The New York Times that Saïd Kouachi, the older brother, spent several months in Yemen in 2011, where he received small-arms and marksmanship training from al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, one of the most feared al Qaeda affiliates.

Joshua Keating comments:

If AQAP was involved, even indirectly, in Wednesday’s attack, it would be the group’s biggest success outside the Middle East in quite a while. And coming at a time when international attention has shifted to al-Qaida’s hostile erstwhile allies ISIS—with that group’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi,directly challenging Zawahiri’s leadership of the international jihadist movement—it’s a sign that al-Qaida is still far from contained.

You can watch a livestream of crisis coverage here:

The Endgame In France

Early reports had suggested that all the hostages had escaped unscathed, which appears not to be the case.

Who Won’t Republish Charlie‘s Cartoons? Ctd

Dan Savage takes aim at another cowardly outlet:

I was thinking about how afraid everyone is when I heard the Associated Press had yanked all images of Andres Serrano’s 1987 work Piss Christ from their website and archives. Before we knew how many people had died in the attack yesterday—before we learned that one of the victims (the one shown on the cover of the New York Times) was a Muslim cop—right-wing news outlets, bloggers, and Twitterers were condemning the AP’s supposed hypocrisy and anti-Christian bigotry. Slate:

The Associated Press is among the numerous news outlets that have been self-censoring images of the Charlie Hebdo cartoons that may have provoked 1420766951-pisschristasWednesday’s deadly Paris attack. In a statement, the news organization said that such censorship is standard policy: “None of the images distributed by AP showed cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. It’s been our policy for years that we refrain from moving deliberately provocative images.” The conservative Washington Examiner publication then pointed out that the AP nonetheless continued to carry an image of Andres Serrano’s 1987 “Piss Christ” photograph—which is certainly provocative, having been the subject of massive controversy in the United States, and which was actually vandalized by Catholic protesters when it was on display in 2011 in, as it happens, France.

All images of Piss Christ have since been scrubbed from AP’s website—they’re all gone, including legitimately newsworthy photos of a vandalized Piss Christ. In an attempt to explain the memoryholing of Piss Christ, the AP says they’ve “revised and reviewed our policies since 1989.” The implication: Piss Christ should’ve been removed from the AP’s website years ago and its presence until yesterday afternoon was an oversight. (Perhaps the AP will send the Washington Examiner a thank-you note for bringing this matter to their attention.) The AP’s explanation is complete and total bullshit. They didn’t pull down those images of Piss Christ because they were “deliberately provocative.” The AP pulled them down because they’re afraid.

Here’s what the AP should’ve said to Christian conservatives screaming about Piss Christ and double standards: “Yeah, we blurred out those Charlie Hebdo cartoons because we’re afraid of them. We didn’t do the same to Piss Christ because we’re not afraid of you.” [That’s] something that Christians, conservative and otherwise, should be proud of. … Here are two (Holly and Robert) boasting yesterday:


Christian conservatives want to have it both ways: They want credit for not reacting violently when their sacred symbols, holy texts, imaginary friends, etc. are mocked while also wanting the same deference—the same kid-glove, blurred-image treatment—that violent Muslim extremists have “won” for their sacred symbols, holy texts, imaginary friends, etc. But you can’t have it both ways. You can’t claim to be better than “they” are because you can take a joke while at the same time demanding that people stop joking about you. You can’t hold up their attempts to eradicate art (and artists) that offend them as proof that they’re hopelessly backwards while at the same time demanding the disappearance of art (and artists) that offend you.

Update from a reader:

I just read your item on the Washington Post censoring the Charlie Hedbo images as offensive. It is odd to me that they would strike them from the web, because they definitely printed the images in the print version of the paper. I wish I could show you an image, but I only know this because my husband noted it as he was throwing the dead tree version of the Post into our fireplace. Because it is cold. But here is an article on it (also still on the Post site): “Washington Post opinions section publishes controversial Charlie Hebdo cartoon“.

Ambinder’s take on the free speech question:

1. The attack ought to be connected to Islam, or religion, but not to Muslims. We cannot be afraid to criticize and even ridicule beliefs we find to be harmful and absurd. But neither is it humane nor in the interest of Europe, to indict the people who at worst have committed a thought crime and who at best can be persuaded to disregard that belief, just like practicing Christians and Jews (and even Bill Donohue, who doesn’t incite violence) have in the U.S.

2. Free speech has consequences. Saying it doesn’t is magical — it presupposes that there is some universal law which holds that good things will always happen when people are given license to speak their minds. Not always. But censoring political, symbolic, and religious speech, or trying not to offend anyone often have worse consequences. Censoring enfeebles our minds. Avoiding controversy removes the edge from humor. Protecting people from cartoons concedes sacred ground to much more harmful beliefs and practices.

Let the ink flow.

Malkin Award Nominee

Update from a reader:

Erickson’s recommendation is doubly offensive (and doubly dumb) considering that he’s actually repurposing a trope of old-timey anti-semitism. As Zaid Jilani points out here, using pork products to taunt those who don’t eat them has been a staple of Jew-baiting in Europe for centuries:

In the book Anti-Semitic Stereotypes: A Paradigm of Otherness in English Popular Culture, 1660-1830, the author notes that English schoolboys would taunt Jews with a chant, “Get a bit of pork/Stick it on a fork/And give it to a Jew boy, a Jew.” In German culture, there was a popular concept of the “Judensau,” depicting Jews suckling from a pig; the bigoted imagery was so common it was even placed on churches to keep Jews away. Pope Leo VII called Jews “pigs,” and during the Inquisition, the  Spanish Jews were actually called “marrano” referring to a one-year old pig.

I wonder if Erickson realizes just what tradition he’s drawing on here. I suspect not.

Slaughtered For Satire, Ctd

Several more readers sound off on the tragedy at Charlie Hebdo:

Your reader offers up a rather boilerplate “liberal” or “Ben Affleckian” response to a terrorist attack: the reasons the perpetrators gave for the attack are not the “real” reasons for it, but enhanced-15542-1420644588-9rather lack of education, poor treatment, alienation, etc.  While I do believe that these factors can play a role in radicalization, they do not explain the attack on Charlie Hebdo.  In fact, while claiming to be searching for “the whole story” or at least “the central one,” your reader fails to recognize the predominate and most obvious cause of the horrendous attack: religious dogma.

In fact, the reader seems to go out of his way to avoid mentioning religion at all.  He characterizes the cartoons (or other’s hypothetical opinions of the cartoons) as “racist slurs” (Islam is not a race) and the attack itself as “political violence.”  Now, Islamism, like all theocracy, is indeed partly political.  But it is also religious.  If this were political violence, why wasn’t the target political?  If the cause was poor education, strict immigration policies, and under representation in government, why not target a school or a government building?

No, this act of terror was religious violence.

The gunmen shouted “God is great” as they murdered journalists and artists.  They did so because their religious dogma states that anyone who insults or depicts the prophet Muhammad deserves death.  Islamists do not seem to mind free speech when that speech is used to disparage Christians, Jews, gays, or other infidels.  They only mind when someone breaks the rules of their religious dogma.  Any attempt to frame the whole story, or the central story, of the Charlie Hebdo attacks which does not mention religious dogma is inane, hypocritical, and self-defeating.

Another reader:

I have seen some of Charlie Hebdo‘s cartoons over the years and found some of them amusing, some of them repulsive. More than a few of them I’ve found out-and-out racist, and worse. I’ve thought they were racist against precisely people who, in French society, are the down-and-out, the outcast. It’s the kind of satire which I think can be ugly because it targets not the powerful, but the powerless. On balance, I don’t particularly care for Charlie Hebdo.

But I was reading about the people killed, and in particular the cartoonists, and I found myself weeping for a style, a tradition, a discourse: for human people murdered before they were done exploring what it means to live, to love, to laugh. I haven’t liked their cartoons, not always. But they have a style their own. A rhythm their own. A life their own. They are art in a tradition, a tradition whose contributors will now never contribute again to its growth, its development. People grow up. I grew up in the South and occasionally said or did things which were racist, and worse. I sometimes targeted the powerless, not the powerful. And I am thankful I have yet to be murdered for it, thankful that I had a chance to try again, to be again, to live again, to speak again.

To murder for free expression, even repugnant free expression, is irreligious blasphemy. It denies the person who you think is atrocious, the person who you think is abhorrent, the person who you think is blasphemous, and it denies them the opportunity for redemption. If you believe that God will stand at the end of time in judgment on all humanity, you owe your fellow human beings the chance to redeem themselves in the arc of time, in the arc of their life, to live to a ripe old age, to have a million moments, a million chances, to redeem where they have fallen short. You owe it to them. If your religion demands you kill, then you worship a weak God indeed, a God who has no business standing in judgment over anyone.

Along those lines, another reader highlights “a hadith (saying of the Prophet (p.b.u.h)) narrated by Abu Hurayrah”:

I heard the Apostle of Allah (p.b.u.h) say – “There were two men among the Banu Isra’il (the Jews) who were striving for the same goal.  One of them would commit sin and the other would strive to do his best in the world.  The man who exerted himself in worship continued to see the other in sin.  He would say to the other “refrain from it”.  One day he found him sinning and again said to him “refrain from it”.  The other responded – “Leave me alone with my Lord.  Have you been sent as a watchman over me?”.  The one who exerted himself in worship replied – “I swear by Allah, Allah will not forgive you, nor will He admit you to paradise”.

Then their souls were taken back (they died) and they met together with the Lord of the Worlds. Allah said to the man who had striven hard in worship – “Had you knowledge about Me or power over that which I had in My hand?” Allah said to the man who sinned – “go and enter paradise by My mercy.” He said about the other “Take him to hell”.

Abu Hurayrah said – “By Him in Whose hand my soul is, he (the man who exerted himself in worship) spoke a word (when he judged his partner to be hell bound) by which this world and the next world of his were destroyed.”

The Kouachi brothers judged the staff of Charlie Hebdo without knowing anything about what was truly in their hearts.  Perhaps if they understood their faith a little better, if they knew the above hadith, they would not have been moved to barbarism and murder of a magazine staff that never actually physically harmed a muslim, or prevented muslims from practicing their faith.  If Charlie Hebdo‘s publications offended them, perhaps they should have heeded their Quran:

“The true servants of the Merciful One are those who walk on the earth gently, and when the foolish ones address them, they simply say “peace be to you”” (Surah Al-Furqan; verse #63)

“Repel evil with that which is better and then the one who is hostile to you will become as a devoted friend” (Surah Fussilat; verse #34)

I am not saying the staff of Charlie Hebdo was foolish or evil, just pointing out that if the Kouachi brothers felt they were, their faith provided them with a radically different way to deal with them than the one they chose … a choice which led to the murder of twelve innocent people including a muslim (Ahmed Merabet – the cop they so casually shot in the head).

As Michel Houellebecq said in the Paris Review interview you linked to yesterday: “the most obvious conclusion is that jihadists are bad muslims”.

Les Limites De La Liberté


Judah Grunstein discusses how France’s conception of “free speech” differs from the more robust American version:

Both France and America make the sanctity of free speech a core principle. But at various times over the past 14 years that I have lived here in France, I have been called on by my American friends to “translate” just what the French mean by “free speech.” In particular, they have been perplexed by the willingness to place limits on speech and, relatedly, religious expression here. This first became visible in the context of the law against wearing veils in public schools and government buildings. More recently, it arose when the government banned the one-man show of the ostensible comic Dieudonné, due to offensive jokes about the Holocaust and gas chambers.

Put simply, in France, racist and anti-Semitic speech, as well as historical revisionism regarding the Holocaust, is illegal, as is all speech that can be considered an incitement to hate. That is something that very few Americans understand—or approve of.

Jonathan Laurence notes a crucial caveat to France’s hate-speech protections: they’re not extended to Muslims:

The last lawsuit to be filed against Charlie Hebdo in 2014 was declared ineligible only because Islam doesn’t qualify for the special legal regime that criminalizes blasphemy against Christianity and Judaism in the Alsace region. And the British Muslims in 1989 wanted authorities to invoke British blaspehemy laws, not the shar’ia, to sanction Salman Rushdie’s novel – but there too Islam did not qualify for protection.

Greenwald calls out hypocrisy among those defending Charlie Hebdo on the basis of free speech, and passes along some cartoons – of which the one above is the least offensive – that he suspects we would not be so quick to defend:

[I]t’s the opposite of surprising to see large numbers of westerners celebrating anti-Muslim jews_image081-540x702cartoons – not on free speech grounds but due to approval of the content. Defending free speech is always easy when you like the content of the ideas being targeted, or aren’t part of (or actively dislike) the group being maligned.

Indeed, it is self-evident that if a writer who specialized in overtly anti-black or anti-Semitic screeds had been murdered for their ideas, there would be no widespread calls to republish their trash in “solidarity” with their free speech rights. In fact, Douthat, Chait and Yglesias all took pains to expressly note that they were only calling for publication of such offensive ideas in the limited case where violence is threatened or perpetrated in response (by which they meant in practice, so far as I can tell: anti-Islam speech).

The Dish, of course, is an equal opportunity republisher of trash, as long as it’s relevant and newsworthy. In a sharp post, Sullum argues that France’s hate speech laws indirectly enabled Wednesday’s violence:

I am not saying yesterday’s massacre can be blamed on France’s hate speech laws. Although at least two of the perpetrators were born and raised in France, there is no evidence that they cared about the content of these statutes or that they needed any additional justification beyond their own understanding of Islam. But it is hypocritical and reckless for a government that claims to respect freedom of the press to criminalize images and words based on their emotional impact. Although such laws are defended in the name of diversity and tolerance, it is the opposite of enlightened to invite legal complaints aimed at suppressing offensive messages.

Instead of facilitating censorship by the sensitive, a government truly committed to open debate and freedom of speech would make it clear, in no uncertain terms, that offending Muslims (or any other religious group) is not a crime. Sacrilege may upset people, but it does not violate their rights. By abandoning that distinction, avowed defenders of Enlightenment values capitulate to the forces of darkness.

On the other hand, as Luke O’Neil notes, there’s plenty of free speech hypocrisy to be found right here in the USA:

[T]he self-professed most patriotic citizens in this country harp on our military’s presence in countries like Afghanistan and Iraq, insisting that, if not for these brave soldiers, the very foundation of our culture—our speech freedoms—would collapse overnight. Yet those who question the unwavering justness of any action by the American military are often invited to shut their mouths, or given directions to the nearest port of exit. It wasn’t that long ago that entertainers like the Dixie Chicks were being roundly denounced and taken off the air for having the temerity to question our country’s wars.

Nick Gillespie is sad to say that he “will not be surprised if the Charlie Hebdo massacre has the effect of increasing support for hate-speech laws in the United States “:

Many Americans who don’t particularly care about freedom of speech may look on the carnage and conclude it makes sense to avoid such scenes by stifling expression. Social Justice Warrior types will take another long look at Jeremy Waldron’s 2012 book, The Harm in Hate Speech, and gussy up their interest in controlling thought and social interactions with philosophical language and social-scientific “rigor.” Conservatives, sniffing out a possible way to screw liberals and libertarians, may rediscover The Weekly Standard’s case for censorship and decide, hell, it makes a lot of sense. Aren’t Christians the folks who are picked on in America and treated unfairly by the media and intellectuals? It’s always “Piss Christ” and never “Piss Mohammed,” right?

Which makes it more important not simply to show solidarity with the dead and wounded in France but to rehearse the arguments for unfettered trade in ideas and speech.

Update from a reader, who remarks on the cartoon seen at the top of the post, created by the anti-Semitic Carlos LaTuff:

This is a completely false equivalency, and really gets to the heart of the cultural gap at play. To secularists like the cartoonists at Charlie Hebdo, Mohammed is a man like any other, he is no prophet, he is aggrandized by a religion, and is therefore a legitimate target of satire, just like the the Pope, or Jesus, or even the Dalai Lama if one is so inclined. The Holocaust was systematic genocide based on religion/ethnicity. I’m not saying that jokes against the Holocaust should be off limits, there should be no limits.

A better choice would be a “Cartoons of Jesus, or Moses, or John the Baptist” in the place of the “Cartoons of Holocaust.” (If you did, you would be as likely to find the Westerner laughing at both. Unless it is Bill Donahue, who is incapable of laughter.) You simply cannot equate the murder of millions to making fun of a religious figure. One is a group of real human beings. The other is an idealized version of a person who claimed God spoke to him in a cave.

The reason for drawing Mohammed is less about a specific set of religious beliefs, it is about, (forgive me), forbidden fruit. Don’t tell me not to take a taste of that apple, or draw that picture. There is something wonderfully defiant in the human spirit when told we cannot have, or do something. I’m grateful to the cartoonists who were killed for having that spirit, and expressing it.