The Volokh Conspiracy

Mostly law professors | Sometimes contrarian | Often libertarian | Always independent

Volokh Conspiracy

Brave and transgressive artists


It is common for artists and entertainers who produce work that is offensive to Christian sensibilities, prurient, or violative of an imagined set of bourgeois values to be described as "brave" and "transgressive." The safest way to know a social more does not exist is when an artist is praised for "testing the limits" of that norm. By and large, Western satirists only bravely challenge those taboos that are in desuetude. The musical "The Book of Mormon" and every racy Madonna music video fairly encapsulate this.

Today's massacre of the staff of Charlie Hebdo reminds us that there are indeed artists who are truly brave, who truly "take artistic risks," to use another platitude. Now there are 10 less, and I fear there are not so many left. In their honor, don't call anything less "edgy."