French Lessons: Is Blasphemy Against Free Speech Worth Dying For?

I have been doing background research on the murders of ten members of the staff of Charlie Hebdo by Islamic terrorists on January 7. This atrocity raises profound questions about the relations between Islam and secular Western culture, about the role of free speech, and about the nature of blasphemy.

Not all of it is depressing. For instance, I stumbled across a scholarly publication devoted to the study of blasphemous and offensive language, Maledicta: The International Journal of Verbal Aggression. The journal lapsed in 2005, but for many years it had collected examples of vulgar, obscene, aggressive, abusive, and blasphemous language, such as . . . sorry, I’d better not go there. The keyboard might melt if I were to type in some of the words, let alone say them.

h/t DS

  • dance…dancetotheradio


    • How so?

      • dance…dancetotheradio

        The article accepts that inflammatory speech is a justification for violence.

        • Daviddowntown

          Could you point out the quote that says this?

          • dance…dancetotheradio

            Human decency demands that he react strongly—hopefully not violently, and certainly not murderously, but emphatically and severely.

          • I do not read that as a call to violence.

          • dance…dancetotheradio


          • moraywatson

            Perhaps the suggestion is to tickle them with a feather ? “Emphatically and severely” but “not violently” – what utter horsehockey ! It’s like the islamic permission to “beat your wives gently”.

  • bargogx1

    Free speech IS an enlighenment value.

  • My opinion of Charlie Hebdo is that it’s a shitty “libertarian” rag. Its cartoons aren’t particularly funny, entertaining, or enlightening even from a libertarian perspective.
    That being said they have the right to publish without fear of reprisal, hence they have my support.

    And occasionally they come up with something really good. The cartoon below is ingenious, imo (h/t BCF). Nobody can claim it “insults the Prophet” because the Prophet isn’t depicted. Nevertheless death threats resulted because of the depiction, “as if” it were depicting the prophet. Since when is insulting Muslims the same as insulting Mo or Allah? The whole thing is arbitrary — it’s not a religion it’s a supremacist political system akin to Nazism and its adherents should be insulted into oblivion the way the Nazis were:

    • moraywatson

      Muslims are the bestest (sic) of people. Allah says so. Therefore insulting muslims is insulting allah.