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.