Charlie Hebdo: The literary indulgence of murder

I suppose it is asking too much of a writer called Francine Prose that she write prose anyone would want to read. But on the principle you can only track down terrible ideas by wading through terrible writing you have to endure Prose’s prose.

She attempted to deploy her prosaic talent to explain why PEN, an organisation dedicated to protecting the free speech of writers, should not honour the writers and artists of Charlie Hebdo – murdered by Islamists for exercising their right to free speech.

The narrative of the Charlie Hebdo murders – white Europeans killed in their offices by Muslim extremists – is one that feeds neatly into the cultural prejudices that have allowed our government to make so many disastrous mistakes in the Middle East. And the idea that one is either “for us or against us” in such matters not only precludes rational and careful thinking, but also has a chilling effect on the exercise of our right to free expression and free speech that all of us – and all the people at PEN – are working so tirelessly to guarantee.

Note the dehumanisation. She turns a murder into a “narrative”…


Why were Mallick, Ondaatje silent when “Charlie Hebdo” mocked Christians, Jews?