And while I’m on the subject, I have seen some – frankly rather weaselly – accusations levelled at the paper. I have a couple of responses to these.
First, and most importantly, even if the paper had taken a racist, xenophobic or anti-immigrant editorial line, that is still no excuse for cold-bloodedly murdering a bunch of writers and cartoonists. There is never any excuse for cold-bloodedly murdering writers, cartoonists, or anyone else.
Secondly, the claims are untrue and those making them are, at best, both ignorant and too lazy to check their facts. The point to bear in mind here is that Charlie Hebdo is a French paper commenting on French domestic news. When someone cherry picks an image and, without understanding the context, the target or the joke, uses it to level accusations, they are veering from being ignorant to being disingenuous. So, with that in mind, here’s a collection of anti-racist cartoons by Cabu for Charlie Hebdo from Daily Kos (via).
It is worth reiterating that there is no right to not be offended. Indeed, if you live in a free society people will say things that you find offensive. Equally, some of the things you say will offend others. When people use fear of offence to justify placing limits on which opinions can and cannot be expressed, they are not supporting the oppressed; they are pandering to the theocrats, the fascists and the mobs that would take our freedoms away.
Without freedom of expression, we do not have a free society. Freedom of expression, like all our freedoms, cannot be taken for granted. It needs to be re-asserted. Repeatedly.
This is what Charlie Hebdo did.
Long may they continue.