Given Islamic supremacist groups’ universal tendency to characterize all honest discussion of Islam’s violent and supremacist texts and teachings as “hate speech,” that prospect should cause grave concern to every free person. It was to prevent such totalitarian coercion that the Founding Fathers formulated the First Amendment guarantee that Congress would make no law infringing upon the freedom of speech. That freedom stands as our fundamental bulwark against tyranny, preventing a ruler from stifling dissenting voices that call his rule to account. The First Amendment guarantee of the freedom of speech is the basis for all our freedoms, for without it all the rest could be taken from us, and not a word could be raised in protest.
While this legal jihad advances apace, some Islamic supremacists are not inclined to be patient. And so in advance of legal restrictions on speech about Islam, they resort to violence – as they did in Paris Wednesday morning. Yet Charlie Hebdo’s editor, Stephane Charbonnier, who is known as Charb, was defiant: “If we can poke fun at everything in France, if we can talk about anything in France apart from Islam or the consequences of Islamism, that is annoying.” Indeed, and far worse than annoying: it would spell the destruction of free society.
“We no longer have a newspaper,” Charbonnier added. “All our equipment has been destroyed or has melted” in the bomb blast. “We cannot, today, put together a paper. But we will do everything possible to do one next week. Whatever happens, we’ll do it. There is no question of giving in.”
Bravo. If only everyone in the West were similarly determined to stand for freedom.
The damage is done to Charlie Hebdo’s offices. Now comes the challenge. Will France stand up for the freedom of speech? Will France and the West capitulate to the calls that are sure to come in the wake of this bombing to stop “provoking” Muslims, and to effectively rule Islam off-limits for criticism? The worst aspect of this firebombing is that there are certain to be voices in the West over the next few days – some of them no doubt quite prominent and respected – who will call on Westerners to be more “sensitive” toward Muslims, and to end this unacceptable hurting of Muslim feelings by drawing cartoons of Muhammad and making him the honorary editor-in-chief of a comedy magazine.
Less numerous will be the voices telling the Muslim community in Paris, and Muslims all over the West, to grow up, and to stop reacting with firebombs and threats and murder to everything that offends them. The almost certain fact that such voices will be less numerous than those calling for “sensitivity” in the face of violent intimidation and thuggery is as good an indication as any that Western society is desperately ill, and that when it comes to Islam, leaders on both sides of the Atlantic have lost all sense of perspective. Before they regain it, we are certain to be in for some very rough days ahead – days that will make the firebombing of Charlie Hebdo look like a gesture of mild disapproval.
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