In the Wake of Charlie Hebdo, Free Speech Does Not Mean Freedom From Criticism
On Wednesday morning, the French satirical paper Charlie Hebdo was attacked by three masked gunmen, armed with kalashnikovs, who stormed the building and killed ten of its staff and two police officers. The gunmen are currently understood to be Muslim extremists. This attack came minutes after the paper tweeted this drawing of ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi. (“Best wishes, by the way.” Baghdadi: “And especially good health!”) An armed attack on a newspaper is shocking, but it is not even the first time Hebdo has been the subject of terrorist attacks. In the face of such an obvious attack on free speech, voicing anything except grief-stricken support is seen by many as disrespectful. When faced with a terrorist attack against a satirical newspaper, the appropriate response seems obvious. In this case, it is the wrong response. Here’s what’s difficult to parse in the face of tragedy: yes, Charlie Hebdo is a French satirical newspaper. A call “TO ARMS” is gross and inappropriate.
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