A Modern History of Free-Speech Martyrs

As the massacre at Charlie Hebdo reminds us, art and satire have long been targets of violent suppression. Here are nine famous books, films and plays that sparked a virulent backlash.

The Wednesday attack against cartoonists of the satirical French paper Charlie Hedbo is the latest bloody reminder of the consequences that can come from practicing our most sacred and powerful form of expression. Artistic types have been testing the lines of free expression since time immemorial, and this exercise has long tested nerves and inspired brutal backlashes or suppression.

  • Sharkibark

    It’s an interesting article – most obviously because it is structured to try to show the tiresome message that apparently all religions and cultures have their extremists. But here’s the real message: out of the nine incidents noted, 4/9 are by Islamists and resulted in widespread brutality, and multiple (over 200) murders. 2/9 are Hindu, resulting in 5 injuries, a play being cancelled, a movie set being destroyed and a film being boycotted (no deaths.) 2/9 are Christian that resulted in riots and “possible” lynchings though wiki noted only 3 after the movie was released in 1920, the result of a false accusation of rape. Terrible yes, but not likely linked to the movie. The second “Christian” example resulted in protests and (oh noes!!!) a bottle of pee being smashed. The last entry is “Russian” (not sure what religion that might represent?) which involved thrown fruit and fist-fighting which I’m pretty sure is just a normal Russian Saturday night. So basically the author had to go back 95 years into American history to find a violent act resulting in 3 possible deaths committed by “Christians” in a link that was likely fabricated by the NAACP who tried to have the film banned as a “threat to public safety” and couldn’t find ANY other art conflicting with religion that resulted in the brutality and murder that Islamists commit when their artistic sensibilities are offended. Point well made.

  • Hard Little Machine

    You realize that ‘free speech’ is only a cover don’t you? That’s only the excuse the Muslims use. It’s not about ‘insulting’ the prophet, it’s about killing people who aren’t fundamentalist Muslims.

  • Gary

    The Human Rights Commissions have their share of Quisling’s as does the TDSB and Liberal Party.