Charlie Hebdo Massacre

Free-Speech Wannabees Pull out of Free-Speech Gala Honoring Cartoonists Who Died for Free Speech

For some, sword is mightier than the PEN


This is what you get for "punching down." |||

For nearly a century, PEN America, a chapter of International PEN, has been one of the world's foremost defenders of global free speech. "Free expression" is right there in the organization's motto, and the international charter includes such verbiage as "PEN stands for the principle of unhampered transmission of thought within each nation and among all nations, and members pledge themselves to oppose any form of suppression of freedom of expression in their country or their community." This ain't just idle talk—PEN has historically championed the causes of dissidents (such as Vaclav Havel, or writers languishing in Cuba) who have dared speak too loudly against their regimes, no matter how momentarily fashionable the underlying ideology of the oppressors might be to some dues-payers in the West.

So it should come as little surprise that the organization chose this year to honor in its annual gala what few surviving members there are of Charlie Hebdo, the French satirical newspaper that criticized violent Islamic radicals (in addition to fundamentalists of every stripe), for which it was firebombed and eventually massacred. And yet less than four months after one of the most egregious assaults against free speech in modern history, a half-dozen PEN-gala co-hosts are backing out of the event because they worry that the dead cartoonists might have been insufficiently non-racist.

I wish I was making this up. From The New York Times:

The novelists Peter Carey, Michael Ondaatje, Francine Prose, Teju Cole, Rachel Kushner and Taiye Selasi have withdrawn from the gala[.]

"self-righteous" ||| The Guardian
The Guardian

The arguments from these free-speech refuseniks are remarkable in their awfulness. Here's Peter Carey, in an email to the Times:

"A hideous crime was committed, but was it a freedom-of-speech issue for PEN America to be self-righteous about?" he wrote.

He added, "All this is complicated by PEN's seeming blindness to the cultural arrogance of the French nation, which does not recognize its moral obligation to a large and disempowered segment of their population."

As Anthony Fisher pointed out soon after the murders, the "I'm All for Free Speech and Murder is Wrong, But…" crowd has really covered themselves with an ignorant, cowardly stink that will not soon wash off. Carey gets extra credit here for pivoting from an attack on Charlie's perceived sins of collective discrimination—even though murdered editor Stephane "Charb" Charbonnier has new book out decrying, um, the collective French discrimination against a large and disempowered segment of its population ("If one day all Muslims in France converted to Catholicism … these foreigners or French of foreign origin would still be seen as responsible for all ills")—and going straight from there to a blanket condemnation of the entire French nation. No way will I go to that awards dinner, because those guys were racist, and besides, every person from France is terrible!

Here's Rachel Kushner:

In an email to PEN's leadership on Friday, Ms. Kushner said she was withdrawing out of discomfort with what she called the magazine's "cultural intolerance" and promotion of "a kind of forced secular view[.]"

How does a "secular view" get even kind of "forced"? Was there some power, hidden just off-screen, compelling Charlie Hebdo staffers to be a-hole atheists? Or—just spitballing here!—maybe they were "part of a radically irreverent school of secular thought that goes back centuries," as this Wall Street Journal subhed put it succinctly. At any rate, color me surprised to discover that aggressive secularism is considered by some to be incompatible with the values of free speech.

Teju Cole is another Charlie agoniste; his post-attack essay in The New Yorker, with its pretentious headline "Unmournable Bodies," contains one of the worst hand-waving dismissals of context you will ever read in an intellectual journal:

Blacks have hardly had it easier in Charlie Hebdo: one of the magazine's cartoons depicts the Minister of Justice Christiane Taubira, who is of Guianese origin, as a monkey (naturally, the defense is that a violently racist image was being used to satirize racism); another portrays Obama with the black-Sambo imagery familiar from Jim Crow-era illustrations.

Bolding mine. When Gawker routs The New Yorker on French political/satirical context, it may be time to back away from that #slatepitch.

Short-story writer Deborah Eisenberg also protested the move:

"What I question is what PEN is hoping to convey by awarding a magazine that has become famous both for the horrible murder of staff members by Muslim extremists and for its denigrating portrayals of Muslims," she said. "Charlie Hebdo's symbolic significance is unclear here."

Actually, the only thing "unclear" here is the judgment and knowledge base of Charlie's posthumous critics. As Jesse Walker pointed out in his discussion of Doonesbury cartoonist Garry Trudeau's idiotic comments about the newspaper,

Right after the killings, you may recall, an instant take was available for Charlie contrarians: You accused the outfit of hate speech, suggested it was "punching down," maybe pointed to some images that supposedly proved what a racist outfit the weekly was. This critique grew less tenable when people more familiar with the paper provided context for those cartoons and explained the anti-authoritarian, anti-establishment outlook that fueled them. The discussion left room for people to like or dislike the humor in Charlie's pages, but at least they knew which way it was aiming its punches.

Unless they didn't pay attention. 

That's just it: People who call themselves writers and champions of free speech paid just enough attention to slime dead cartoonists as racists even before all the blood was mopped up. They continue to reveal themselves by their works.

It's somewhat wince-inducing to see on the front of PEN's website the blurb "None of us must endorse the contents of Charlie Hebdo's cartoons in order to affirm the principle of free expression for which they stand," but at least the organization is sticking to its guns, and making a principled case against "the assassin's veto."

As for the anti-Charlie dissidents, Salman Rushdie, appropriately, gets the last word in the Times article:

"If PEN as a free speech organization can't defend and celebrate people who have been murdered for drawing pictures, then frankly the organization is not worth the name," Mr. Rushdie said. "What I would say to both Peter and Michael and the others is, I hope nobody ever comes after them."

UPDATE: Over at The Intercept, Glenn Greenwald has published a bunch of correspondence about the controversy between PEN members and organizers.

NEXT: A.M. Links: Massive Earthquake Strikes Nepal, Protesters Decry Police Abuse in Baltimore, Loretta Lynch Sworn In Today

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  1. …they worry that the dead cartoonists might have been insufficiently non-racist.

    Free speech is fine as long as everyone agrees with its contents.

    1. Free Speech is , to be more precise, Freedom of Oral Communication !. A subset of Freedom of Communication (which is not in the constitution).

      Freedom of communication not only covers the content (regardless of whether someone believes it was expressing something) but all the characteristics of the speech too … like loudness, tone, and speed.

      1. Yes, and that has absolutely nothing to do with net neutrality.
        Consider yourself busted.

        1. Is that where that bizarre tangent was supposed to be going?

          1. I think the point here is that freedom of expression actually includes satire, right? Surely then one must wonder why PEN has remained silent about the criminalizing, in New York City, of inappropriately deadpan email parodies, documented at:


            Consider the trial judge’s vulgar declaration that the defendant’s “criminal intent brought you a parody over the line,” or the prosecution’s declaration that the defendant is a “menace” because he “knows how to twist language, stir up controversy.” And consider the dissenting judge’s statement that the case would “penalize and chill speech that the constitution protects,” and that “the use of the criminal impersonation and forgery statutes now approved amounts to an atavism at odds with the First Amendment and the free and uninhibited exchange of ideas it is meant to foster.”

            Yet, not a word from PEN about a free speech case dealing with the limits of parody and having such obvious consequences for thousands of Americans. Does PEN believe that “intellectual provocateurs” should be imprisoned under contrived legal pretexts? It’s easy to defend the grand principle of the right to mock while discreetly ignoring what’s happening right there in New York.

        2. I’m going to agree with him. If the 1A protects both the content and the medium from governmental interference it pretty much nukes 90% of the FCC’s reason for being.

          Congress making no law regulating how packets are distributed kills net neutrality.

        3. On the contrary ! It sets up the concept of Freedom of Communication which covers Freedom of Internet Communication (if we were re-writing the amendments) . And as such it covers the characteristics of internet communication too ! Like speed which is highly regulated by Net Neutrality .

          1. (if we were re-writing the amendments)

            (by the way my premise is actually nonsense)

            1. Glad to know you prefer the biblical way of supporting what the constitution means .. perhaps it could have said “citizens have the right to kill jews” and you would support it.

          2. Freedom of Communication … Like speed which is highly regulated by Net Neutrality .

            One of these things is not like the other.

            1. Loki, re-read what was said …. freedom of communication covers both the contents AND the characteristics …. like tone and loudness for speech and font for press.

              Speed is certainly a characteristic of internet communication too

      2. Oh, tell us more, pedant of communications.

      3. Oh suck a dick, this is false and you know it. No one has ever made a legitimate argument that “speech” does not include communications other than oral. You’re a fucking piece of shit statist fuckwit. Piss off.

        1. well for one … there is printed communication which is covered by freedom of press … not speech.

          And if you meant no one has ever made an argument for freedom of communication , well there is always a first time for many things ….. believe it or not

      4. I think “free press” covers the general freedom of communication. “The press” just refers to non-speech means of communication.

        1. Yes, press being the mechanism of communication, not the profession.

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  2. In an email to PEN’s leadership on Friday, Ms. Kushner said she was withdrawing out of discomfort with what she called the magazine’s “cultural intolerance” and promotion of “a kind of forced secular view[.]”

    It really is amazing how this same argument could have come out of the mouth of a conservative Christian in some other context. I doubt she is that self-aware.

    1. Moral relativists are retards.

  3. Good thing I don’t have a moral obligation to read any more Peter Carey.

  4. “All this is complicated by PEN’s seeming blindness to the cultural arrogance of the French nation, which does not recognize its moral obligation to a large and disempowered segment of their population.”

    Obligations like prosecuting people for blasphemy? Because they seem to be fulfilling those obligations quite nicely.

    1. Everything’s a moral obligation when you believe in positive rights.

  5. My instant reaction to things like this is how the world is going to hell in a handbesket. But then follow two counter thoughts.

    First, this crap used to be swept under the ring. When you clean a house, the process uncovers a lot of dirt, and a naive bystander might think you are mkaing things dirtier.

    Second, the times when I have looked into historical episodes, whether by googling for specific instance or by chance reading of some unrelated history, I come to the conclusion that the hypocrisy was actually worse in the past, and the combination of living today and seeing every instance is just another example of current-bias, such as oldie radio stations making you forget that they don’t play the dreck, foreign movies seeming better because they don’t send us the dreck, old cars looking great because we don’t drive them any more, and so on.

  6. To these left-wing intellectuals it’s “edgy” and “bold” to critique the capitalist machine, Christianity, and white privilege but out of bounds to speak out against Islamic barbarians that would drag the world back into the Middle Ages.

    It’s pure projection because the number of Christians in the West willing to massacre writers for insulting their faith is infinitely smaller than the number of Muslims in Europe that would do the same to critics of Islam. These left-wing critics may not be “punching down” (how I hate that phrase) but they are attacking a target fully neutralized by Western liberal tolerance, a value that Muslims either want to destroy by brute force or slow erosion in law.

    1. They neuter and disempower themselves systematically, and nobody should be surprised if Islam begins to gain preference and active favor in European laws of all sorts within mere years.

    2. I watched last night the Welch video that was posted over the weekend where he was discussing campus speech issues in front of a Santa Barbara crowd. One thing he seemed to note was that the Free Speech movement of the 1960s was positive because it was very much about allowing offensive speech. What he didn’t sufficiently note is that the movement of the 1960s made it about blanket speech only because at the time, the speech of the left was generally counter to the broader culture. The Left of the 1960s was all for free speech that permitted advocacy for tyrannical left wing regimes abroad that had no such robust speech movement. In the 60s, that ran absolutely against the broad cultural ethos.

      Now that the progressive Left has taken control of the nomenclature and permissible topics of speech, they care not for those allegedly robust speech protections they once did.

      It has always been principals over principles. They just weren’t the principals in charge in the 60s.

      1. The radical left abso-fucking-lutely did not value and celebrate racist and anti-semitic speech. Which was common in the broader society at the time.

  7. Rushdie is also tweeting prolifically about this, and angered the SJWs further by repeating someone who called these six authors “pussies.”

    1. + 2 ovations for SR!

    2. It is nice to see he still has giant stones.

    3. They are pussies. They’re massive, titanic, unconscionable, morally bankrupt, retarded, sad pussies.

      P – U – S – S – I – E – S.

      If you need help translating that to French, pussies, Google Translate’s there to help.

    4. I’m not always a fan of Rushdie, but he’s getting a standing ovation for that one.

    5. Why this denigration of pussy? I love pussy. I wish I could get more pussy.

      Let’s not ruin our language by calling these jerks pussies. Let’s agree to call them cunts.

      1. They are limp-dicks.

      2. Ugh. A glace at that twitter feed shows that 50% of the people ended up debating whether or not “Pussies” was politically apropos.

        Would they complain if Rushdie had referred to these authors as “cocksuckers”? “douchebags”? “Dickless zombies”?

        I want to tell people to check their pussy-privilege, but i also think that’s why i don’t do twitter.

      3. Let’s agree to call them cunts.

        Doesn’t that have the exact same problem as “pussy”?

        1. “douchebags”?

        2. No pussies are nice, soft inviting and wonderful. Cunts are the ones the pussies belong to.

          1. Well, that’s a novel definition.

      4. Team America gave us definitions we need. These guys are definitely assholes. They may have started as pussies, but they are so full of shit now, that they became assholes.

  8. It’s the perception of cartooning being considered as low-brow, especially those cats like Charlie Hebdo and other French weeklies.

    Imagine the pearl-clutching amongst the literati if Hustler Humor was awarded a Pulitzer (HH is more like the American equivalent of Charlie Hebdo than those lame-o middle-of-the-road newspaper editorial cartoons).

    1. Rework Chester the Molester cartoons to be Mohamed the Molester instead?

      I’m totally down with that.

      1. I got together with yesterday, PJ.

        We had a gay ol’ time biking in MPLX and had a homeless person yell “Fag!” at us but we didn’t have any smokes to give to him.

        1. Well, can you blame the homeless guy? Maybe if you hadn’t removed the bike seats he wouldn’t have yelled such hurtful things.

        2. And by the way, why was here in Mpls and not letting us know?

          Quick hogging the Jesse time Mongo!

          1. There was a big thread on his arrival last week. His hotel was downtown and I live downtown so it was easy for a meet-up.

            1. Shit!

              Fucking last week was hell at work. I didn’t spend any time on HyR at all because I was spending all my time begging people to do the work that they had promised to complete.

              And look what happens!

              Did any of the other Minnesodans show up?

              We really should organize like the left coast pussies have.

              1. No one else showed up — he mentioned some of the HyRs who live in Maple Grove though.

                He drove up to fuckin’ Bemidji and back!

                1. Yeah, Tundra and I are MG-ers.

                  Go Lumberjacks!

                  Who goes to Brrrrmidgi voluntarily?

  9. When free speech comes into conflict with the liberal sacrament of always siding with the non-western “minority,” then free speech has to be discarded. Free speech oppresses the other. The Left can’t have that.

    1. exactly oppress the oppressers two wrongs alway makes a right, that is when it is for the lefts right cause.

    2. Free speech allows people to broadcast views the majority would rather censure, and that’s not allowable in a coherent, enlightened society.

      /Pinko cuntstain.

  10. If a public figure stands firm in defense of free speech, his consistent stance will (eventually) result in the perception that he supports or endorses a view he finds execrable. Most contemporary progressives prefer to be seen as imperfect/inconsistent defenders of free expression rather than as folks who’d ever excuse, tolerate, or support politically-incorrect sentiments.

    It is galling when these same folks claim to support the “unhampered transmission of thought.” Maybe we can put an asterisk on “unhampered” and to clarify that “*certain moral reservations and content restrictions may apply.”

  11. “Well, I’m all for free speech, but….”

    Yeah, no.

    1. “Get your but off my First Amendment.”

  12. A group of satirists chose to express discontent with Islamofascism. That discontent was resultant of the Islamofascists’ murderous, degenerate, barbarian worldview, and of the animalistic behavior they exhibit in their observance of that worldview. In vengeful fury, Islamofascists concocted a plot to commit mass murder — a course of action precisely illustrative of the very defects and malignancies attributed to them by the satirists they condemned to death.

    Foundational pillars of true civilization — absolute freedom of speech, and a staunch rule of law to buttress and defend that expression — were thenceforth scrutinized for facilitating the expression of an unpopular viewpoint and causing offense, and deserved blame for the slaughter instigated by a gaggle of inhuman malcontents remains unapportioned.

    The shitheads who decided to withdraw their participation from the gala need to reexamine themselves as human beings, and reconsider whether it is wise for them to procreate, lest their retardation contaminate the local gene pool irreversibly.

  13. How much does this have to do with election politics?

    How are Marine Le Pen and the National Front doing at the polls?…..73356.html

    Maybe this is about the politicization of everything. Anti-immigrant parties start doing well in the polls across Europe, and suddenly lending your support to anything that might seem to support the anti-immigrant cause is like supporting the election of anti-immigrant candidates–in some people’s minds.

    For some of them, I bet it’s like progressives who won’t condemn Hillary Clinton for accepting donations from foreign governments while she was the Secretary of State. No matter how awful Hillary’s behavior, they still think it’s better to suffer Hillary’s wrongdoing than say anything that might lend support to putting a Republican in the White House.

    And it isn’t just in Paris. It’s in Norway and Sweden! The anti-Muslim immigrant tide seems to be rising all over the developed world. It’s in Australia. It’s in Germany.

  14. It’s a shame that these supposedly erudite people cannot bring themselves to condemn mass murder and stand up for free speech they disagree with. They are moral cowards and preening fools who are happy to reap the benefits of standing up for popular speech (which doesn’t need protecting) but who bail at the first sign of controversy or disagreement.

    Fuck ’em, I’m glad they’ve self-identified.

    1. Supporting the rights of people we don’t like seems to be characteristically libertarian. I’m not sure who else does it consistently anymore.

      You have to see other individual’s rights as being the same as yours when they’re under threat–even though you’re not that individual. You have to see past group identity and collective rights.

      We stand up for the right of terrorists not to be tortured–even though we’re not terrorists. We stand up for the right of gay people not to be discriminated against–even when we’re not gay. We stand up for the right of fundamentalists to free exercise–even if we’re not fundamentalists. We stand up for the right of Nazis to express themselves–even though we hate Nazis.

      But except for libertarians who else is like that anymore?

      1. We stand up for the right of gay people not to be discriminated against

        By the government. I am pretty sure the party line is that gays have no right to be free from private discrimination. Or has that changed too?

        1. How droll.

      2. It seems very few people are like that anymore and we’re vastly outnumbered by both liberals and conservatives who would be only too happy to use the force of law to crush dissenting viewpoints.

        To put it bluntly, we’re screwed and free speech is as well.

  15. Kinnath’s theoretical speech: “I’ve read Charlie Hedbo. I find it sophomoric, not particularly funny, and frequently offensive. And, I fully support their right publish sophomoric, not particularly funny, and frequently offensive content. If you don’t like it, start your own fucking magazine.”

    1. Your viewpoint is intriguing and I’d like to subscribe to your newsletter.

      1. I distribute out on the street corner every Tuesday and Thursday morning from 6 am until beat cop chases me off.

        1. And by “chases you off”, I assume you mean “tazes. kicks repeatedly in ribs”?

          1. I find that lining my jacket with tin foil helps a bit with the tazer. Rolling with the kicks keeps the ribs from breaking. After a while you get used to the bruises.

  16. But those two religions hold very different positions in France, as well as in most of the Western world. Catholicism, in its most regrettable European roles, has represented centuries of authoritarian repressiveness and the abuse of power, whereas Islam, in modern Europe, has represented a few decades of powerlessness and disenfranchisement. So in a contemporary European context, satires of Catholicism and satires of Islam do not balance out on a scale.

    FU Eisenberg.

    1. Islam is so powerless that they’ve made every European news organizations frightened to criticize them and Ed Milliband, the leader of a major British party, just argued that Islamophobia should be illegal.

      That’s an awful lot of pull for a ‘disenfranchised’ minority.

    2. Does he even realize Hebdo also went after the Catholic Church in a similar ruthless fashion? Apparently not.

      Also, why is it so hard for some to understand that behavior that’s contemporaneous trumps behavior that occured in the 18th century and before?

      1. Yes, she does, but according to her they are fair game because Catholics are not an “official minority” in France.

      2. Because they’re idiots. The Catholic Church is not a major contributor to authoritarianism in the 21st century whereas political Islam is currently the most widespread authoritarian movement on the planet. If Muslims are an ‘oppressed’ group anywhere on Earth, it’s in other Muslim countries where they’re being oppressed by their co-religionists. They move to Europe for a reason – because Europe is less oppressive than their home countries and it is absurd that Europe is then criticized for allowing them to move there out of the Europeans’ own kindness and benevolence.

  17. This is not a new thing on the part of P.E.N or the literary crowd in general. Herewith a link to George Orwell’s “The Prevention of Literature” from 1946.…..ish/e_plit

  18. Glenn Greenwald hates America!!!!!!

    1. No Brooks, he hates freedom. His hatred of America is only a means to that end. Let America become sufficiently unfree and Greenwald will love it again.

      Seriously, how can you defend that shit bag?

      1. He’s Gay and he hates SoConzzzzzzzzz

      2. No Brooks, he hates freedom. His hatred of America is only a means to that end.

        Are you sure it isn’t the other way around?

  19. “Over at The Intercept, Glenn Greenwald has published a bunch of correspondence about the controversy between PEN members and organizers.”

    Don’t sugarcoat what Greenwald did. Greenwald agreed with everything these nattering idiots said and he did so because Greenwald is a self-serving liar who only cares about oppression when it’s carried out by Amerikkka or Israel.

    He actually said ‘how is it hard to make fun of a ‘marginalized group’ in the west?’ Well, Glenn, it’s hard when everyone knows that members of that marginalized group will try to murder you and then they do so. Idiot.

    1. And of course Greenwald doesn’t mean a fucking word of that. There are all kinds of marginalized groups Greenwald would be all for making fun of. Greenwald is just actively on the other side here.

  20. So to summarize: Writers’-freedom organization gives magazine an award, several writers I never heard of protest the award.

    The magazine has published anti-Christian blasphemy, but somehow the Christians managed not to firebomb them. The anti-Muslim stuff was much milder, but terrorists still considered it bomb-worthy. And the magazine’s criticism was actually based on legitimate concerns (as proven by the murders themselves).

    A group has the right to go about its business, even offensive business, without being murdered. Murder makes martyrs. If you don’t like the praise for Charlie Hebdo, blame the root cause – that their people were murdered for their views.

    1. Heck, I’d give an award to the Illinois Nazis if communists killed them for anti-Communist writing.

      1. That’s roughly how the Center Party reasoned in 1933.

        1. You need to bear in mind that, to me, Charlie Hebdo are like Illinois Nazis, sharing the Nazis’ hatred of Christianity.

          If you wouldn’t give a free-speech award to Illinois Nazis murdered for their views, but *would* give an award to Charlie Hebdo, then you’re basically saying that outright blasphemy is OK.

          1. Except the NAZIS aren’t proponents of free speech, whereas Hebdo – at least in many respects – was.

            So when a bad guy is killed over his views and who doesn’t support free speech that doesn’t deserve a free speech award, even though we still support his right to be a bad guy,

            When a bad guy who at least nominally supports free speech is killed over his views then maybe he has a shot at being in the running for a free speech award.

            And yes, outright blasphemy is “OK”, whatever the fuck that’s even supposed to mean.

            1. If some communists massacred Illinois Nazis for being anti-Communist, then how can the murder be contextualized, and “I’m for free speech BUT”ed, just because they’re not for free speech for others? That doesn’t mean they’re entitled to be murdered!

              That’s the reasoning with Charlie Hebdo – they were subject to murderous attack, so it’s not time to criticize their beliefs, but to support their rights! And if you take this occasion to criticize their beliefs, you’re a moral reprobate!

              If you want to know how Christians react to blasphemy, consider how y’all react to buttplug and tony.

              1. I’m curious how so many people say, “I, a non-Christian, am not offended by blasphemy, so I can’t imagine how a Christian would be offended!”

                1. I can imagine quite well how a Christian would be offended. I just think it is stupid. What kind of a crappy god do you have if rude things that I say makes any difference to you or your god.

                  1. God needs no defense, there is no inherent reason for Him to be offended by anything human beings do…unless you count His love for human beings and His wish for them to be better people.

                    Someone who engages in blasphemy isn’t showing a desire to be a better person, but is showing ingratitude toward the very Being who wishes him well.

          2. “Hatred of christianity”?

            Why do people throw around “hate” so freely? Is it necessarily hateful to mock or criticize something? I don’t think so. Thinking that an institution is silly or harmful is not the same as hating the belief system it promotes.

            1. “Thinking that an institution is silly or harmful is not the same as hating the belief system it promotes.”

              I don’t think that’s what I said. I was referring to blasphemy. If that’s not hatred I’m not sure what would be.

              1. I was referring to blasphemy. If that’s not hatred I’m not sure what would be.

                Among other things It is blasphemous to show irreverence to God. If I don’t even believe in God in the first place can I really hate s/him?

                1. I’ll put it this way, if there’s no God there can be no blasphemy.

                  But if there is, yes, it’s possible for atheists to blaspheme.

                  And in any case, there’s a lot of people whom you’ll offend for no good cause.

                  What if I called you a hell-bound devil-worshipping infidel (not that I think you are)? That wouldn’t contribute to the debate!

  21. Fuck EVERY SINGLE PERSON EVERYWHERE who says, “I believe in free speech, but…”

    1. On the contrary, nobody should fuck them. Prevents any hereditary fascism from being carried to future generations.

  22. “A hideous crime was committed, but was it a freedom-of-speech issue for PEN America to be self-righteous about?” he wrote.

    So only speech we find acceptable with worth defending from the threat of murder. I don’t think “free speech” means what this guy thinks it does. If Muslims are pissed of that Charlie Hebdo is getting all of this attention, I guess they shouldn’t have murdered them.

  23. Doonesbury cartoonist Garry Trudeau’s idiotic comments about the newspaper

    The best part was Trudeau’s whining about the poor artistic quality of the drawings.

    1. That Trudeau – always on top of the most-salient point in any discussion

    2. I’m still wondering if anyone thinks that Trudeau has been relevant since the 70s, and if so, why.

      1. No non ‘jounalist’ ever thought of Trudeau as relevant or amusing.

  24. When PEN talks about free speech, they mean free speech for anointed members of their club of the intellectual elite, not free speech for everybody.

    1. No, the organization is very good. It’s only some members who have outed themselves as one of those “I support free speech, but…” persons.

      1. It was Mark Steyn, I think, who said that everything before “but” in such a sentence is a lie.

  25. The cowardly six, I hope their typing hands get a severe form of arthritis. Anal fuckwads, they will be the first to welcome our alien overlords.

    1. They shall forever be dubbed the Cowardly Six. Or the Six Anal Fuckwads. I can’t decide which I like better.

  26. “None of us must endorse the contents of Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons in order to affirm the principle of free expression for which they stand,”

    Personally, I always find it helpful when I get advice on what to think.

  27. “What I would say to both Peter and Michael and the others is, I hope nobody ever comes after them.”

    We all do realize that this is precisely what they’re trying to avoid, right?

    They cloak themselves in a kind of haughty, arrogant position which scolds Charlie and what it stood for, while telegraphing to would-be killers that they’d really, really like to be passed over.

    1. But of course they won’t be passed over. Barbarians always eliminate intellectuals.

      And when it’s their turn on the wrong end of an AK they’ll be all surprised, saying, “Wait! What?”

  28. The novelists Peter Carey, Michael Ondaatje, Francine Prose, Teju Cole, Rachel Kushner and Taiye Selasi have withdrawn from the gala[.]

    I should thank these dipshits for outing themselves. Now I won’t make the mistake of wasting any time reading anything these assclowns write.

  29. The critical difference is that the award was earlier for GOVERNMENT oppression and murder, not an act of terror.

    Reason tend to describe mostly government oppression, would it be better if it just turned into a “crime” mag? Lots of criminals hurt ordinary people every day, more than the police or bureaucrats.

    A “special award” might be a different issue and I would then agree if there were complaints.

    This is like giving a medal reserved for military bravery to a civilian. A civilian might have acted as bravely, but they aren’t soldiers.

    1. You’re wrong. PEN was actually founded to help writers harassed or killed for their views, not just those harassed and killed by the state. Moreover, if someone is murdered for their views by Islamists, how does that have any less of a freezing effect on free expression than if they’re murdered for their views by the state? Either way you know what you’re saying can get you killed and might opt not to say it out of fear.

    2. They were not a victim of ordinary “crime”. It is not like they all were shot in a botched robbery attempt. They were killed for their views and were victims of politically motivated terror. That makes their deaths no different than if the government of Iran had sent assassins to murder them.

      Sorry, but the “this was jut a crime” bullshit doesn’t fly here.

    3. The critical difference is that the award was earlier for GOVERNMENT oppression and murder, not an act of terror.
      If your division is between government oppression to control people’s lives and criminal acts to profit from plunder, I’d think terrorism in furtherance of an intention to rule the world would be the former, not the latter.

      Lots of criminals hurt ordinary people every day, more than the police or bureaucrats.
      Uh, no. Governments hurt more people, and it isn’t even close. We’re talking orders of magnitude.

  30. As The Intercept put it:

    Indeed, some of the most repressive regimes on the planet sent officials to participate in the Paris “Free Speech” rally, and France itself began almost immediately arresting and prosecuting people for expressing unpopular, verboten political viewpoints and then undertaking a series of official censorship acts, including the blocking of websites disliked by its government. The French government perpetrated these acts of censorship, and continues to do so, with almost no objections from those who flamboyantly paraded around as free speech fanatics during Charlie Hebdo Week.

    1. What the fuck do the actions of the French government have to do with anything? No one is giving them an award. I don’t care what the French government did. The fact remains these people were murdered in an act of political terror for the purpose of making it impossible to criticize or satirize Islam. The point of the act was not just to murder them. They were just means to the end. It was to by murdering them intimidate other people from daring to question Islam. Those murders represent a much greater threat to free speech than anything your article mentions. They put everyone in the world on notice that telling the truth about or satirizing Islam means risking your life. Fuck you for not realizing that or realizing it and lying and pretending the murders are anything but what they were.

    2. The “almost no” there is probably my favorite bit.

      1. Good catch. “Almost no”? How do you “almost not object” to something?

    3. And Reason has covered that extensively too before they did. It’s already well known France has stricter speech laws that Hebdo themselves have run up against, and true supporters of free speech want freedom for all, while detractors bring up any seeming hypocrisy because they want less freedom for all.

  31. I propose we set up a Kickstarter for these PEN members, and other allied Western writers who decry Islamophobia. We’ll send them on a tour of Pakistan and Afghanistan in a specially painted bus or two.

    “Hello, we’re Western writers, including many Jews, who think Muslims are overly criticized and oppressed by Western culture! We’re reaching out to you! We can be friends! And to show our commitment to peace, we have no armed guards! Our buses are gun-free zones!”

    1. They wouldn’t even need a return ticket!

      1. +1 Pippa Bacca

  32. I’m not so sure I would feel the need to honor the cartoonists just because they got shot. I have a problem with the whole “Je suis Charlie” thing. By way of analogy, I would have fully supported the right of the Nazis to march in Skokie, but if someone had pulled out a gun and shot them during the march I would go around tweeting “Ich bin Adolph.”
    The analogy goes too far in that the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists aren’t Nazis, but much of their stuff is offensive. They have a right to be offensive, but that doesn’t make it honorable. (And their stuff wasn’t often very funny either.)

    1. I respect you and your comment only because we are in a free speech zone

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