Journalists and other leftists around the world are wrapping themselves in the blood soaked banner of French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, a lot of conservatives too. Last week’s attack on the newspaper’s staff, along with the murder of a French policeman, was horrific. We should all support their right to publish. We should also recognize the innate hypocrisy we are being shoveled by many (most?) of Charlie Hebdo’s new found allies.
Charlie Hebdo loves to ridicule religion; not Islam, not Christianity – religion … period. Fair enough, they should have that right. What if they attacked homosexuals, or women, or blacks, or … ? They would be have been labeled as a right-wing (always) homophobic (or sexist, or racist, or …ist) rag. As David Brooks has pointed out:
The journalists at Charlie Hebdo are now rightly being celebrated as martyrs on behalf of freedom of expression, but let’s face it: If they had tried to publish their satirical newspaper on any American university campus over the last two decades it wouldn’t have lasted 30 seconds. Student and faculty groups would have accused them of hate speech. The administration would have cut financing and shut them down.
When Ayann Hirsi Ali is invited to speak at a college campus she is usually protested, or disinvited. This hypocrisy is not limited to the college campus either. Writers such as Ann Coulter are routinely attacked. Why? They present a right-of-center point of view. Sure, some leftists are attacked as well but the attack is usually against their arguments.
If we are serious about freedom of speech, we should strive to protect it. This means engaging in civil discourse whenever possible and acknowledging that speech never justifies violence. We should acknowledge that some speech, like much found in Charlie Hebdo, is just plain rude. We should support their right to publish. We should decry the Jihadist attack against them. But are they heroes?