Jesus ‘n’ Mo ‘n’ Charlie

January 8, 2015 • 7:15 am

Today’s Jesus and Mo strip, called “nous“, clearly expresses the author’s solidarity with other cartoonists (and people) appalled at the terrorist murders in Paris. (Yes, the killers have now been identified as Muslim extremists.) In his/her email to subscribers, the artist says this:

After yesterday’s horror, the latest strip seemed so trivial and inadequate. So here is a placeholder until next time.

What is incongruent about this is that given the history of the character Mo, I doubt that he’d ever have expressed the sentiments below. Clearly, in this case emotion effaced the plot line.


I have a feeling—and I may be wrong—that this time the extremists crossed a line, one that will mark a turning point in how liberals regard terrorism. I suspect that it will be increasingly hard for those liberals and for Islamophiles to justify such acts as the result of colonialism, the disaffection of the disempowered, or as anything other than the expression of pure, misguided religiosity. But, as we’ll see later today, the Catholic League’s Bill Donohue still pins blame on those religion-hating French cartoonists themselves.

The latest update from the New York Times includes this:

The two chief suspects in the attack on Wednesday, Said and Chérif Kouachi, 34 and 32, who are brothers, remained at large as a manhunt continued over a wide area of northern France. A third suspect, Hamyd Mourad, 18, turned himself in at a police station in Charleville-Mézières, about 145 miles northeast of Paris.

This verifies what was suggested by not only the act itself, but the shouts of “Allahu Akbar” from the murderers.

And my CNN email news bulletin adds this:

There have been “several detentions” during the night in connection with the Charlie Hebdo shootings, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said Thursday, not specifying how many.

153 thoughts on “Jesus ‘n’ Mo ‘n’ Charlie

  1. Some liberals are doing a bit of re-thinking. Last night I watched Chris Hayes explain that he had done a re-think. He now understands he was wrong in 2005 when he put the blame on Islamic violence on the publishers of “tasteless” cartoons.

    Some progress is being made.

    1. Also, I found this interesting, particularly the quote from a Syrian journalist, addressing Salmon Rushdie:

      “[W]e committed an unforgivable sin in the Arab world when we responded with indifference to the fatwas and calls for your death. So indifferent were we that we colluded – even if just by our silent complicity – in excluding and eliminating difference, while acting as if the whole thing had nothing to do with us. And so here we are today, paying the high, bloodsoaked price of that collusion, and finding ourselves the main victims of the obscurantist ideology now infiltrating our homes and our cities.

      What a great shame that it has taken us all of this bloodshed to arrive at the belief that we are the ones who will pay the price for preventing those with whom we disagree from expressing their views – and that we will pay with our lives and our futures. What a shame this much blood has had to be spilled for us to realise, finally, that we are digging our own graves when we allow thought to be crushed by accusations of unbelief, calling people infidels, and when we allow opinion to be countered with violence.”

          1. This can be generalised. The main victims of any religion are the members of that religion.

    2. I certainly hope you are right. I am skeptical though. I would have thought many earlier atrocities would have been persuasive to liberals. Sadly, this may get their attention for a while, and then be forgotten.

        1. I would concur. I was prepared to hear/read the usual arguments from my fellow progressives in rebuttal to condemnations of islamic violence and while there have been some, it’s much less than I anticipated.

          1. One talk show call-in: “If this does come down to two individuals who have perverted the cause of Islam to their own bloody ends, let’s remember the greatest antidote to the perversion of that great world religion, Islam, are law-abiding British Muslims themselves.”
            I’m holding my breath.

          2. In general I agree with Daniel Pipes on this: the problem is radical Islam, the solution is moderate Islam. But pretending that radical Islam isn’t really islamic makes the problem harder.

          3. It may be that the solution should come from Muslims themselves, but it is difficult. I’m sure as soon as they think of condemning this sort of thing, they look around to see who is going to call them a traitor.

          4. I tried to google “fifth column” and it seems to be a clumsy suggestion of ‘traitors’? [ ] I’m not sure what Farage and you suggest, why and who somebody would undermine democracy among democratic nations.

            Besides, inasmuch as “multiculturalism” exist (whatever that is supposed to be), it would fit well into democracy that is largely independent of (but stronger under) diversity.

        1. 3rd skeptic here. If none of the past atrocities have resulted in lasting change to leftist thought, I can’t see this one being any more successful.

          1. No, I think we won’t see a recognition until…until what? How about the detonation of a small atomic device in a major western city? This is Sam Harris’s frequent warning. I’m not sure what it would take to make the threat clear.

    3. I’m bracing myself for the Greenwald response. Before the second soldier was shot by a radical in Canada this past fall, he had already released an article saying Canadians had it coming for our foreign policy.

      1. Wow that’s crazy. You bunch of hardline cultural colonialists, you. Don’t you know that people dying in foreign lands and nonwestern economic stagnation can be directly attribted to the incorporation of “eh?” into English speech?

          1. Exactly the reaction I expect — contrary to JAC’s hopes — from most of the “Islamaphobia” peddlers.

        1. Gilmore seems to make the point that Islamists are screwing us, but they are also screwing Islam. Islam has become a pariah. No solution in sight.

        2. Nice article.

          “Will these attacks eventually end, as the zealots realize what they have wrought? Or have we now passed the tipping point, where Islamic culture can only continue to self-destructively spiral inward?”

          Contemplating this ending question, it is difficult for me to imagine that the answer is not the latter, that it will not end until the entire Islamic world self-immolates and recreates itself from the ashes. When I consider the time frame, a hundred years seems like a probable minimum. I hope I am wrong.

          1. Funny, I contemplate ETA and the IRA, Shining Path and all the groups in the ’70s, and it is difficult for me to imagine that muslim terrorism won’t eventually end. There are very few (but not zero) cases where the children can maintain the fervor of their parents, and so on. These groups tend to have a life cycle like anything else; they rise, prosper for a while, then fall. Moreover, the ‘fall’ phase often starts when the group does some attack so outside the pale that not even their vocal supporters really get behind it; sure the verbal support continues, but the material support dries up. This may be one of those events.

          2. I hope you are correct.

            Of course, in the 1970’s, we were also concerned about Muslim terrorists too (c.f. Black September). And here we are, over forty years (two generations) later, and who would say it has run it’s course yet? One might say that their aims were more narrowly anti-Israel back then, but the religious dimension of the revolution in Iran, and many other events since, seem to paint a much bigger fundamentalist vs The West picture (or if you will, fundamentalists agains all comers, including different flavors of fundamentalists) that shows little sign of abating, IMO.

            As for the present attack being a watershed, I believe it may be, but not because it will be seen outside the pale by vocal supporters of Islamists. I would hazard that, compared to 9/11, this is very much within the pale since it directly attacked the people responsible for the perceived offense rather than being indiscriminate slaughter. I’d expect that many in Islam would feel like Donohue, that they asked for it. Even 9/11, with it’s indiscriminate slaughter, did not undermine the soft support for Islamists among Islam, so why would anyone think that targeting blasphemers specifically would?

            No, I think this is a watershed because it was such a direct attack on the press that the press may be changed by it. I think many who tried to appease delicate sensibilities of Muslims will see the folly of that path. I think some opinion leaders in the West will change their tune, and realize that they have to choose sides between the enlightenment and religious thugs. This change may have far reaching consequences, and a non-coddling press may itself have some effect on the outlook of soft supporters of Islamists by not providing them with polite cover, but I can not imagine that these attacks will have much effect on the sympathies of anyone who thinks it’s remotely OK for Saudia Arabia to have a death penalty for apostasy on the books.

          3. One thing is certain. With change comes turmoil. The faster and / or bigger the changes, the bigger the turmoil. And when religion is the context any significant turmoil is sure to include significant violence.

        3. Now I’m thinking of a cartoon showing the front of the pub, large ‘Je suis Charlie’ sign, smaller ‘Closed till late – see you at CH vigil’, and Jesus and Mo heading up the street…

        4. This was a good part:

          ….it could be due to historical injustices like those committed by diplomats such as François Georges-Picot and Sir Mark Sykes, who, infamously and arbitrarily, carved up the Middle East in 1917, condemning it to a cyclical hell of internecine war. Further east, colonial legacies can be faulted for the ragged states of Pakistan, Bangladesh and Indonesia. And, of course, the endless parade of self-interested dictators from Rabat to Jakarta must not be forgotten.

          But those answers ignore the men, their faces covered with black masks, walking through the streets of Paris, killing in the name of their God. They might not be the reason the Islamic world has been left behind, but they are the reason it is staying there.

          I am disappointed that the CBC would not publish the photos – not because they just didn’t publish them but because the excuse they gave was that they were offensive to people. I think it’s important to see what was worth killing people over. Furthermore, the CBC publishes lots of things that are offensive to people – in fact, they have published several nasty, bigoted columns denigrating atheists. There are probably more atheists in Canada than Muslims. Why was it okay to denigrate us?

      2. “Deserve” is not the same as the “expect”. I am of the opinion that one should *expect* extremists to have more numbers, more support where the power vacua exist and where foreign powers are meddling.

  2. Don’t count on liberals as a whole changing their tune. That would involve contradiction of fundamental dogma, then a lot of their positions would fall into disarray.

    Unless they learn to compartmentalize like the fundies.

    1. BS.

      I have no trouble at all being a strongly (strident!) liberal person. No contradictions required.

      I’ll refrain from further characterizing your remark out of respect for da roolz.

      1. Sadly, I’ve known many liberals who come by their positions not by honest reflection, but by lock-step with what they’re told are “liberal” positions. These authoritarian “liberals” are typically the ones shutting down free speech in the name of “tolerance.” There are a surprising number of them around.

        1. On the political spectrum I consider myself far more liberal than conservative, and culturally in the modern age I feel far more in common with the liberal than the conservative mindset.

          That being said, this person is absolutely correct. Go look at something like PZ Myers blog to see it in action. A holier than thou refrain in service of hunting down and defaming anyone that fails to live up to the purity of “liberal” ideals. It does exist and it isn’t pretty.

          Somehow I doubt the Ben Afflecks of the world are going to change their opinions. Their views, like religious views, aren’t intellectual just intellectualized. Their arguments are gussied up by academic language, but still based on emotional or cultural values.

          A thousand muslims could stand on rooftops and execute writers around the world and proclaim “I am doing this for my religion, which is Islam. My knowledge of practice of which is based on my reading of the Koran. I am not doing this because of your politics.” and people would still insist that they are doing it because of western colonialism.

          1. Jonathan: Thank you for your comment on PZ’s holier than thou gospel of liberalism. I had come that conclusion but was not sure if I stood alone. P.S., Myer’s science isn’t that good either.

          2. If one takes a look at history, especially history predating the Enlightenment period, this is exactly what Islam is doing. 500 years ago, Christianity was doing it too, but Islam has never stopped. It’s not even much of a stretch to imagine that the PC liberals of the world would retroactively apply western colonialism to the Middle Ages–“Well, the reason they did this was the perceived threat posed by some of the heretics of the day to create a powerful society not based on theism,” or something along those lines.

    2. Ah, so it’s dogma that makes me try to treat people the way I like to be treated myself. You could almost call it Christianity – at least the version in which I was raised – but I guess that’s a bit too soft for the likes of you.

    3. I think you’ve you’ve got it exactly backwards.

      It’s the tolerance of oppressive, regressive, and violent religious culture that undercuts the liberal project. Those who think tolerance of the way women are treated in Islam is “liberal” are simply mistaken.

      1. “Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them.” — Karl Popper, The Open Society and Its Enemies (1945)


    4. jay wrote:

      Don’t count on liberals as a whole changing their tune.

      Don’t count on liberals as a whole fitting into your narrow definition of “liberals.”

      I think you’d be wiser to focus your criticism on those accomodationists who both pander to anything which falls under “faith” and yet consider themselves ‘liberal.’ Because that seems to be the group you’re talking about.

      And don’t count on anyone in that group not changing their tune, either.

      1. Since I’m the only one who seems to have read jay a certain way, I was probably wrong to do so. I thought perhaps he was referring to the po-mo relativists who seem to hold sway on liberal arts campuses, the ones who can always find a political-cultural-historical excuse for any third-world, non-white, inconvenient behavior.

          1. Whew, I’m in good company.

            I hope you’re right about not all liberals having scrambled brains, but the old-style kind sure seem to have a low profile nowadays.

  3. “The right to blaspheme religion is one of the most elemental exercises of political liberalism. One cannot defend the right without defending the practice.”…. Jonathan Chait.

    1. “One cannot defend the right without defending the practice.”

      Indeed. And that is just the kind of lip-service freedom of expression gets all too often these days.

  4. UK politicians are already falling over themselves to absolve Islam and “true” religion, but I can’t see any clearer example of murder justified by religious belief.

    1. The cynic in me isn’t surprised. There are votes in the Islamic population and there is an election looming.

      1. It isn’t muslim votes, it’s soft-headed “only bad people condemn other religions” votes that he’s pandering to.

  5. Seems like a fine strip to me, placeholder or not. I’m glad he went with the simple message of unconditional support, rather than having the strip characters argue pro/con like they usually do. That sort of strip will have its place, but I think the above strip sends a much stronger message right now.

    1. He’d published his weekly strip just minutes before he heard about the massacre, so he didn’t have much time to come up with a full strip in any case.

  6. It is interesting that the cartoonist chose to show Jesus & Mo in solidarity under the “nous sommes” banner rather than the two each holding the “je suis” banner.

    1. The cartoonist is their Creator. Just as He can harden their hearts at will, He can also soften them to fit His purposes.

      Peace be upon Him.

  7. It is high time for Pope Francis’ next positive act of cleansing: he needs to ditch Bill Donovan, who has proven himself a worthy denizen of the early middle ages, a good fit for the most ignorant and perverse excesses of Christianity in that era. Which, by the way, may differ in style but have a smell uncomfortably similar to those of today’s Muslim fundamentalists.

    1. I don’t think Donohue is president of the Catholic League. Not official Church. So it’s unlikely the Pope could do much about him. It wouldn’t hurt if he denounced the bastard, would it?

      1. Excommunication is always an option. But that mostly is used for more serious crimes like desecrating a host.

    2. According to comic Kathy Griffin, who once brought down Donohue’s ire for accepting an award while explaining that Jesus Christ had jack nothing to do with it, the “Catholic League of Decency” is pretty much just one guy with a computer.

      Catholics in reality go all over the place when it comes to what they do and don’t accept and believe. And despite the mantra that Catholicism distinguishes itself from Protestantism because “we are beautifully united by the central authority of the Church” it seems to me that even the central authority of the Church likes to see a lot of leeway and surprising diversity within the ranks (within certain limits, of course.)This keeps the numbers high.

      It also allows both an elite humanist Catholic intelligentsia sounding reasonable and huge swaths of superstitious rabble being anything but. Either group can thus be dragged out to make an appropriate point.

      1. I agree with your perception of Catholic heterogeneity. Having grown up in an exceedingly narrow and rigid Protestant fundamentalism, Catholicism seems almost a free for all by contrast. Superficially, I even find it kind of charming that they can so well accommodate such an eclectic mix. But only superficially, for what they have in common is as useless, if not rotten, as ever.

    3. The Catholic League is not actually connected to the Catholic Church, so the Pope can’t fire him. Like Sastra above, I’m not sure it’s much more than a guy with a typewriter.

      1. I’m pretty sure he has a word processor by now.

        And he’s got a pretty good microphone. He uses it all the time in TV interviews.

  8. First story I heard after flipping on the TV this morning was something about how perhaps cartoons like this shouldn’t be published because people find them offensive.

    So f*****g what?!

  9. “I have a feeling—and I may be wrong—that this time the extremists crossed a line, one that will mark a turning point in how liberals regard terrorism.” Time will tell, and I hope you are right. Although it’s a different kind of event, in some ways this feels like as shocking an attack on freedom as 911. That opened peoples eyes…for a while. I’ll be scanning the cultural horizon for signs of hope. The Cris Hayes comment that GBJames mentioned is a good start.

  10. I’ve never heard any ‘liberals’ justifying acts of islamic terrorism. I’ve heard them pointing out that it’s a bit rich to criticise islamic terrorism, whilst ignoring Israeli warcrimes or western ‘crusades’. But I’ve literally never heard any liberal or free-thinker excusing islamic terrorism. However I have heard them excusing IRA and other terrorism committed by white people. I think that’s an appalling state of affairs.

  11. I have the impression that, each time an islamic motivated crime happens, the German government draws straws who gets to be the village idiot. This time, it was Thomas de Maizère who had to say it: “The attacks had nothing at all to do with Islam.”

  12. I have a feeling—and I may be wrong—that this time the extremists crossed a line, one that will mark a turning point in how liberals regard terrorism

    I doubt it. Within minutes some ‘liberals’ were shifting the narrative to the alleged Islamophobia of those relating the attacks to Islam.

    There was at least one idiot attacking you for your ‘right wing’ views on a previous thread; and of course the usual suspects were obsessively monitoring Dawkins, Harris and the rest for any hint of offensiveness.

  13. I think we have to deal with the situation that a lot of people simply are not capable to envision strategies to escape their own tunnelling (that’s what is originally meant by “closed minded”). On some emotional level, they feel that putting the blame onto a group was racist or “Islamophobic” and that evokes visceral revulsion in them. They can’t entertain the idea that perhaps a group has founding principles that can lead to such atrocities and where it is extremly unlikely that some other group would target satirists – of all people. And so the deniers hold their breath and hope some other group did it, where blaming them doesn’t evoke the same reaction in them.

  14. Practical people understand that all of this, the shootings in France, the terrorism in Canada, the bombing in Boston is a religious problem and it is religious caused. So worrying about the response of the liberals is really not important. It surely is not helpful to solving the larger issue which is a religious inspired one.

    The question for many European countries and ours is — how much more like Israel are we going to look as this problem continues. It’s a hell of a way to live but it may be the norm.

    1. I think it IS important that an entire sphere of the political world is essentially acting as a P.R. arm for Islam. I think it’s important for many reasons. It’s important because I consider myself a liberal, my political views are liberal, my moral philosophy is liberal and a liberal world is the kind of world I want to live, one in which the default position in society is that of equality, free-speech and tolerance.

      And it bothers me very much that honest discussion of the deep flaws in Islam emanates almost entirely from the conservative right.

      This is important because the easiest way of de-fanging any criticism of Islam is to imply ulterior, racist motives are at hand, and this is easily(and often justifiably)done when the criticism comes from the right. So as a result there is not the slightest intellectual pressure on any follower of Islam to examine their religion critically because attempts to apply this pressure are immediately dismissed as tainted by right-wing prejudice. Both by Muslims and the majority of liberal pundits.

      So I would argue, along with most of the people who comment here, the majority of whom seem to be liberals, that some kind of intellectual mobilisation on the part of the left is absolutely central to any hope of ‘reformation’ in Islam.

  15. Who would have thought that in the 21st century the most sinister phrase, the one raising the most hairs of dread on the collected neck of civilization, would be “Allahu Akbar?”

    Liberals (I would be one I suppose) and “moderate” Muslims may condemn the attacks but, hell, it’s easy to condemn a terrorist massacre. To do so barely speaks to the very issue itself: the clash of values between free thinking and free expression and suppression/threat of the same.

    If a Muslim living in the west says “I stand with you in condemning this attack, it doesn’t represent Islam” I would ask “but do you stand with me on the issue of freedom of thought and expression, on these enlightenment ideals that underlie the society that you’ve joined? If you think the newspaper ought to be free to ridicule or criticize anyone or anything, why do you persist in a religion that does not hold those same values? How free are you within Islam to do what those cartoonists did? How free are you to ridicule or even question the core claims of Islam? What are the repercussions in most of Islam for declaring yourself an apostate who just can’t believe it anymore?”

    Mostly, we have a good idea of the answers already. Standing with us condemning obvious atrocities isn’t particularly impressions; one would expect it of any decent person. But do our Muslim neighbors stand with us in terms of the enlightenment ideals that are actually under attack?
    If your religion subverts those ideals in any way, then it seems you’d be speaking out of both sides of your mouth, as in: “I support the right of someone to ridicule and reject religion, (but I orient my life around a religion doesn’t allow us to ridicule or reject it).”

    1. +1

      Excellent point. The question isn’t: are you against terrorists, but are you *for* enlightenment values? If the answer to the latter is “no”, then your claim to be against terrorists is, at best, merely lip service.

  16. CNN: ‘Church bells honor terrorist victims.’ My call: Ultimate irony.
    I await CNN to broadcast an offending cartoon, but shall not hold my breath. Cowardly (i.e., profit driven) corporate news is now spinning the murders as being the work of the devil and presenting themselves, so-called journalists, as the victims. Religion, of course, had nothing to do with it.

  17. After an event like this the call always goes out for “moderate” Muslims to condemn the terrorists. And many do, only to go unnoticed. Ultimately, though, this is a worthless exercise.

    If moderate Muslims really are the majority, and really want to condemn this activity, prove it. How? Let’s see a groundswell of support for the repeal of blasphemy laws in Muslim-majority countries. Then we’ll know you’re serious. Until then, talk is cheap. You can say that the majority of Muslims don’t support this kind of terrorism, but if you are unwilling to condone blasphemy then you are tacitly supporting the inevitable, violent consequences.

    1. Yes, this is exactly Vaal’s excellent point above, that merely condemning the most egregious violence is really doing *nothing at all* unless you defend also the ideals that are under attack.

  18. The most incisive quote I’ve heard in the last 24 hours was on Newsnight and I can’t for the life of me remember who said it(it might have been an old quote from one of the cartoonists or even the editor of Charkie Hebdo), but it was pointing out the similarities between people like Bill Donohue and their ‘they were asking for it’ arguments, and the people who lay into rape victims for dressing provocatively. It was spot on.

  19. I’m personally sick of the very concept of “being offended.” It seems so linked to a backward honor/shame culture and outside of that toxic context I’m not even sure what basis it would have.

    I’m having trouble thinking of what would “offend” me. If someone makes a comment or claim, I may think it wrong, or silly or stupid or ill-considered, and I may be angry if it’s a false charge etc. But “offended?” – what would that even mean?

    If someone right in front of my family calls my wife ugly and my kids stupid, it wouldn’t harm me insofar as it’s his opinion about my wife and he’s factually wrong about my kids.
    He’s an idiot. I would be angry because I know his words may have some effect on it being said directly to my wife and kids in terms of what they think of themselves. So I’d rightly judge the guy an asshole for being so inconsiderate and malicious.

    But within all that I just don’t see were “offended” comes in, what more it adds to the facts, and what useful role it would play. It seems mostly a toxic emotion, and little else.

    1. I agree with you. But I think this is a stumbling block for liberals and others who want to protect from offense in their particular areas of interest.

      One cannot (as you indicate) limit ‘non-offense’ to religion, including sexuality, ethnicity, language, customs, and of course religion. We have some who would accept offense about religion but not sexuality, we have religious types who are willing to offend about sexuality but not religion.

      If we are to be consistent, it’s all or nothing. One does not get to pick and choose what’s ok for offense and what is not.

    2. I too am ‘unoffendable’. In general, people who are offended lack intelligence, are over-emotional, or un-creative.

      Being offended just is not in my lexicon of thinking.

      1. Being offended is a choice, a stupid choice.

        Nobody has the right to not be offended. That right doesn’t exist in any declaration I have ever read.

        If you are offended it is your problem, and frankly lots of things offend lots of people.

        I can walk into a bookshop and point out a number of books that I find very unattractive in what they say. But it doesn’t occur to me to burn the bookshop down. If you don’t like a book, read another book. If you start reading a book and you decide you don’t like it, nobody is telling you to finish it.

        To read a 600-page novel and then say that it has deeply offended you: well, you have done a lot of work to be offended.

        — Salman Rushdie

    3. I have no problem with the word “offended” or “offensive,” though I think they are getting overplayed lately. It basically just means to feel hurt and insulted, though I would add that being “offensive” generally includes being both insulting and in poor taste. For example, if someone said he was dressing up as a Jew for Halloween and he wore a big fake nose and walked around talking about money all night – that would be offensive. It’s insulting and in very poor taste. The issue is not with taking offense, it is with the reaction to the offense. The reaction should never be violence or limiting expression. It should be either education, ridicule, or just ignoring them.

      1. I think there’s an important, often overlooked distinction between: “That offends me” and “That is offensive”.

        The example of the Halloween Jew costume is, as you rightly say, offensive. And I can recognise it’s offensive without having any particular emotional reaction to it at all.

        1. I think you are splitting semantic hairs when you say there is a difference between “that is offensive” and “I am offended.” In the case of the Jew costume, I have no problem saying “I am offended by that costume.” And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with saying or feeling it. I would then say something like, “you’re a disgusting asshole” and then I would walk away. That’s the appropriate response. I would not try to get laws passed banning “Jew costumes” on Halloween. I would not violently attack the man in the costume or anyone else. If it was a kid, I would explain why it is offensive. There’s nothing inherently wrong with being offended. It’s just that some people are offended too easily and react too harshly.

          1. Agree. And I’m finding it hard to imagine that anyone is really incapable of being offended.

          2. I have no problem with saying that I’d be offended by the costume, either. My point is that I can recognise when something is offensive independently of whether I am personally offended.

            And it goes the other way, too: I can feel offended, while at the same time recognising that the thing that offended me isn’t really offensive – that’s roughly how I’d feel if someone told me that The Lord of the Rings is poorly written, for instance.

            And I don’t think this is splitting hairs: I think the distinction is a very important one. If I’ve come up with some choice insult, and I’m considering whether or not to publish it, the question Is this offensive? (or as you might prefer to put it, Would saying this make me an arsehole?) is one I should consider seriously – whereas the question Will anyone be offended by this? is one I should ignore.

          3. +1

            All sorts of things offend me, most of which would not be termed ‘offensive’ by the general public or in a court of law.

            And similarly, what might be termed ‘offensive behaviour’ may or may not bother me at all.

            I would absolutely reject any suggestion that I shouldn’t be offended by – anything that offends me, really. But I’d make the proviso that my reaction should be reasonable and proportional to the degree of offence. And if it’s something which only offends me personally, then I just have to take that into account and, usually, just avoid the annoyance if possible.

    4. I’m personally sick of the very concept of “being offended.”

      Not enough people in this world value the sentence “so what?” You’re offended? So what? Freedom means living in a society where people are bound to say things or do things that offend you. That’s what it means to be free.

  20. I do not mean to pick on liberals. On most issues I am as liberal as any, but I don’t see the liberal’s ideas solving this problem any more than the conservative ones.

    Realistically, the religion will have to fix itself, if that is possible. Christianity somewhat fixed itself with the enlightenment and somehow realizing that progress was only possible by removing religious dogma and thinking. Of course, lately in the U.S. they are in a kind of reverse evolution.

    The Saudis claimed to have a program that they used to put previous terrorist through that would reprogram them. I have no idea if it worked but in some form, the Muslim states will have to reprogram their religion and remove this tendency to extremism.

    1. I think that’s not quite right. Christianity didn’t “fix itself”. Christianity was muzzled. It was constrained by people who realized that Enlightenment values provided a better way to understand the world and a better way to live a life. Religions change, but they don’t become less toxic by bad elements evaporating on their own.

      1. In particular, a rejection of the scientific world view makes change for the better impossible, except in an ad hoc way. Whereas, a scientific world view automatically includes error correction.

        That said, I always ask people whether or not their values really do include the horrendous stuff that they are logically committed to by various viewpoints.

      1. If it is the case that these acts are wholly religiously motivated, then it is trivially true that such acts will cease when religion ceases. I suspect the nutters who did this are largely (>90%) religiously motivated but the justification, manufactured in the minds of the perpetrators, is dominantly (>99%) religious.

  21. A glance at the Guardian’s website would suggest that nothing has changed with the focus now firmly shifted to the evils of “Islamophobia”.
    A comment piece by Martin Rowson, one of their cartoonists, argues not just that the original publication of the Mohammed cartoons was motivated by racism but also contains this gem: “Don’t fool yourselves that this is about Islam…”
    This puts me in mind of Orwell again:”One has to belong to the intelligentsia to believe things like that: no ordinary man could be such a fool” but I fear that we will hear much more of this kind of thing.
    The BBC did little better last night with a hopeless discussion on Newsnight that demonstrated little more than that Steve Bell (also of the Guardian) should stick to cartoons and avoid comment.My hopes rose when Ayaan Hirsi Ali appeared but she was allowed little more than a sentence (albeit the best one of the night) before being politely dispensed with.
    That said, there is great piece by Tom Holland on the BBC website which is well worth reading.

    1. A glance at the Guardian’s website would suggest that nothing has changed with the focus now firmly shifted to the evils of “Islamophobia”.

      That’s a shame, as first morning after The Guardian had a good article about the challenge of terrorism on personal freedom, and how post 9-11 the West reacted in just the same way as the terrorists were hoping – by restricting our freedom and wasting huge amounts of money.

      Anyone who hasn’t read Nick Cohen’s You Can’t Read This Book, should now.

  22. Even Fox news won’t show the cartoons… In Canada, only one journal, The National Post (right wing), agreed to publish the cartoons while all french journals this morning published the one where the prophet says : “It’s hard to be loved by morons”. Maybe because secularism was at the core of the French Constitution, the french world is more “radical” with this issue while the english world seems to be more at ease with their minorities. I don’t say that one is better than the other but there is clearly a difference…
    But I think we reached a point where it hasto be clear for everyone that western free speech means that your belief can be mocked and that if you can’t deal with it, you are not at the right place. And the law is clear, that doesn’t mean you can say anything…

  23. I suppose I am a liberal as well, although the (capitalized) term has skin-crawling connotations in my Canadian home for domestic political reasons.

    I am not unoffendable as many here seem to be. Jokes about how victims of torture or slaughter deserved it offend me. Jokes blaming the poor, discriminated against or victims of violence for their misery offend me. Comments by privileged suckers on the teat of capitalistic excess expressing contempt for the values of reason, compassion and empathy offend me, as do most of the spewings of religious demagogues of every stripe.

    However, I do not have a right not to be offended. And I would rather have the piles of excrement out in the open where I can see and avoid them before helping to clean them up. This way, I don’t step in some unawares and spend my life wondering why things looks clean, but I can’t seem to get rid of this lingering smell.

    1. “and that kind of blasphemy is precisely the kind that needs to be defended, because it’s the kind that clearly serves a free society’s greater good.”

      More sensible than what?
      He’s siding with Charlie Hebdo, but very conditionally. He wants to be allowed to approve blasphemy that “serves”, not blasphemy itself. Not much help really.

  24. I’ve also read various newspaper reports by eye-witnesses who said the gunmen were avenging their prophet Mohammed. Wiki includes this on the shooting:

    ” An authenticated video surfaced on the Internet showing two gunmen and a wounded police officer, Ahmed Merabet, the latter lying in pain on a sidewalk near the corner of Boulevard Richard Lenoir and Rue Moufle, 180 m east of the main crime scene, after an exchange of gunfire. One of the gunmen runs toward the policeman, shouting in French, “Did you want to kill me?” The policeman answers, “No, it’s OK, chief” [non c’est bon chef], raising his hand towards the gunman, who shoots the (Muslim) policeman in the head at close range.[42] The gunmen leave and shout, “We have avenged the Prophet Muhammad. We have killed Charlie Hebdo! “

    1. Yeah, that always makes me shake my head.

      As if the prophet of God, now sitting in heaven with the All Powerful Deity watching events unfold, would need puny humans to avenge him.

      For all their declarations about the greatness and power of God, their very actions are yet another vote of non-confidence – the only reason they take the task on themselves is because they must acknowledge somewhere in themselves that vengeance will happen ONLY if they themselves take action. Every time they slaughter people yelling “God is great” they are simultaneously demonstrating this God’s impotence, this God who can’t apparently get anything done unless humans decide to do it themselves.

      1. I agree, but this goes a little above the heads of the perpetrators. I think they reason on the level of schoolyard bullies. The sense I have is that the ethos within the Muslim culture has been conditioned by centuries of feuding between rival bands of thugs. Retribution is highly valued as a political tool. It worked for our ancestors. It will work for us.

  25. “given the history of the character Mo, I doubt that he’d ever have expressed the sentiments below”

    However, the Muhammad from Charlie Hebdo’s cartoon would be entirely down with it:

    (See if that works or do I have to issue a fatwa on WordPress?)

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