Sunday, January 18, 2015

They Are Not Charlie Hebdo

Consider this an addendum to my post where I asked, with David Brooks, whether we are all really Charlie Hebdo? Are we as fiercely defending free speech as we say we are when we see an atrocity in a Paris newspaper office.

In a recent column from Canada’s National Post, Rex Murphy laid out the case against those who talk the talk on free speech but who do not walk the walk.

Murphy indicted our educational and media establishments for their failures to defend free speech.

His thoughts are worth sharing:

Indeed, at our universities, newspapers and broadcasters, we have seen an ever-shrinking defence of free speech, a timid reluctance to take on those who claim special privilege to shut down those they simply don’t like. The great institutions of the West, the press and the universities, have been at best complicit and at worst cowardly when it comes up to defending freedom of speech — not from threats of Islamist fanatics with guns, but in much less demanding circumstances.

Where was this “we” when a video critical of Islam was mendaciously identified as the “cause” of the terror attack on Benghazi? Where was “we” when Hillary Clinton went on Pakistani television to declaim against this “reprehensible” video and revile its maker, and at the Benghazi victims’ funerals said: “We’ve seen rage and violence directed at American embassies over an awful Internet video that we had nothing to do with.” Where was “we” when the filmmaker was arrested, while to this day the butchers of Benghazi roam the Earth unmolested?

One ought to keep Hillary Clinton’s reaction to Benghazi in mind. We have not heard the last of it.

Murphy continues:

And where was We of the Hashtags when President Obama made the inexplicable declaration at the United Nations that “the future does not belong to those who slander the Prophet?” More than anything else, that sounds like a fulsome statement of accord with those who denounce cartoons and videos and editorials about the “Prophet,” who riot after he is “traduced” by someone in the West. There is no “We are Charlie Hebdo” in that statement. There is surrender instead.

Our universities bleat about inquiry and free speech, but they are feeble and craven, caving in to protestors and special interests, pleading “sensitivity” and the “wish not to offend” any time some topic or speaker threatens to “hurt” the professionally agitated on campus. Where was “we” when a band of fatuous progressives protested former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice giving a convocation address at Rutgers University? She worked for Bush, so free speech be dammed.

Political correctness and what we consider to be an enlightened sensitivity to the hurt feelings of others has produced a situation where we are anything but Charlie Hebdo:

This part of the world has a sack full of pieties when it comes to free speech, but its own actions, and frequently its own words, put the lie to all of them. Bowing to ruthless protest has become a habit. Labelling speech some people simply do not wish to hear as “hate speech” succeeds in silencing it. In matters big and small, on issues from global warming to abortion, there is collusion — we call it political correctness — over what should not be said, what cannot be said.


Sam L. said...
agrees with you and Rex on this. There are lots of people and organizations that are afraid of free speech.

Ares Olympus said...

re: Political correctness and what we consider to be an enlightened sensitivity to the hurt feelings of others...

I know, I never get it, but I thought this is how a "shame-based cultures" is supposed to work.

The community sets the standards for proper respectful behavior, and those who break the standards are shunned and punished.

And then I guess the willful minority retreat to their shameless underground speakeasys to plan for the revolution, and meanwhile where vice is virtue, and victim-mentality individuals need not visit.

Dennis said...


One of the reasons we don't give you a harder time is that we know you are at least attempting to understand. You need to start thinking more for yourself and open up your mind to the ramifications of ideas not just in theory, locality, but at a global level understanding human history.
I suspect you will get it when you get past education to wisdom and take stock of the possible.