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The moral hysteria of Je suis charlie

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I read this on a blog yesterday; it is a version of a claim that has been made over and over again in the last couple of days, lionising Charlie Hebdo: “In its cartoons, Charlie Hebdo did not discriminate. The magazine lampooned all and sundry in its cartoons: racists, bigots, right-wing politicians, the uber-rich, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and more.” And what does ‘more’ include? More to the point: what does it not include? Did they, for example, lampoon journalists who, in the name of freedom of expression, mock Muslims and Jews regardless of the consequences? Did they, in other words, ever satirize themselves? Apparently Charlie Hebdo has announced it will produce a million copies of its next issue. Will this issue ridicule the scenes of mourning and solemn demonstrations on the grand boulevards of Paris, poking fun at people who raised pens skyward and lit candles in the dark? And why not? Nothing is sacred. Wouldn’t this be just the kind of outrageous act, defying convention and challenging popular ideas of decency, that puts freedom of expression to the test?

Here is a thought experiment: Suppose that while the demonstrators stood solemnly at Place de la Republique the other night, holding up their pens and wearing their “je suis charlie” badges, a man stepped out in front brandishing a water pistol and wearing a badge that said “je suis cherif” (the first name of one of the two brothers who gunned down the Charlie Hebdo staff). Suppose he was carrying a placard with a cartoon depicting the editor of the magazine lying in a pool of blood, saying, “Well I’ll be a son of a gun!” or “You’ve really blown me away!” or some such witticism. How would the crowd have reacted? Would they have laughed? Would they have applauded this gesture as quintessentially French? Would they have seen this lone individual as a hero, standing up for liberty and freedom of speech? Or would they have been profoundly offended? And infuriated. And then what? Perhaps many of them would have denounced the offender, screaming imprecations at him. Some might have thrown their pens at him. One or two individuals — two brothers perhaps — might have raced towards him and (cheered on by the crowd) attacked him with their fists, smashing his head against the ground. All in the name of freedom of expression. He would have been lucky to get away with his life.

Masses of people have turned the victims of a horrific assassination (which the staff of the magazine truly are) into heroes of France and free speech. The point of the thought experiment is not to show that such people are hypocrites. Rather, it is to suggest that they don’t know their own minds. They see themselves as committed to the proposition that there are no limits to freedom of expression: no subject so sensitive, no symbol so sacrosanct, that it cannot be sent up, sneered at and parodied, consequences be damned. They call this “courage” and they think it is the defining difference between them and the killers – and not just the killers but anyone who thinks there are limits to what can be said or printed. But they too have their limits. They just don’t know it.

When people don’t know their own minds — but think they do — they are liable to be swept away by self-righteous moral passion; which is just what we don’t need as the storm clouds gather on the European horizon.

Brian Klug

Brian Klug is senior research fellow in philosophy at St Benet's Hall, Oxford and member of the Faculty of Philosophy at Oxford University. He is an honorary fellow in the Parkes Institute for the Study of Jewish/non-Jewish Relations at the University of Southampton, associate editor of Patterns of Prejudice and a co-founder of Independent Jewish Voices (UK).

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69 Responses

  1. a blah chick on January 11, 2015, 10:07 am

    I t seems that the solidarity march is going to be a who’s who of countries who have targeted journalists. Egyptian representatives will be there. You remember Egypt, the country that just sentenced some journalists to long prison terms.

    I hope they and Butcher Bibi get egged.

    • MMetwally on January 14, 2015, 2:23 am

      First of all these allegations are lack adequacy , support evidence ! It makes sense for Egypt that had witnessed a revolution of 33 Millions ( the biggest protest in the history of man kind in the 30th of June 2013 )Against radical terrorist of Brotherhoods ! to send representatives ! It doesn’t however make sense to NetinYahu who has killed 14 Journalists last year during his war on Gaza to be in the front line :) ! That’s what i call it double standards and hypocrisy !

      Not to mention , the countless number of children and families , civilians generally killed by him during that war and countless other wars ! and you still have no problem that he was there ! stop hypocrisy ! Egypt has been and still confronting terrorism via its military since the throw of the Radical Government that had connections with Qaeda..etc .. Its facing the threat of terrorism and stopping it effectively from all the hot zones around its border ( Gaza and Libya that even has got ISIS coming to it from IRAQ )..

      Egypt Got rid of a government that used to support radical Qaeda free rebel terrorists in Sryia ! and used to support terrorists of Hamas ! while Irdogan , is officially supporting them and ISIS as well ( and they are the same with just different names and forms ) and ISIS terrorists have been hospitalized and received treatment in hospital .. in addition to weapons and supplies !… Not to mention that obama is also supporting them and he announced it in the last UN summit ! and his administration is also supporting ISIS in Iraq ! and has been supporting Brotherhoods ( in Egypt ) …

      Egypt has got rid of the militias of brotherhoods in Peninsula of Sinai that have been migrated to Egypt by the radical government. Brave men had therefore , sacrificed their lives for this to happen ! and they never asked for a creepy fake support of other 20 countries to confront terrorism ! when terrorists were arrested your main stream media has shown them as peaceful protesters ! expressing their opinion ! and no one ever shown respect to a nation confronting terrorism ! How about the Gunmen of Charlie Hebdo ! is it ok ! how about calling them protesters defending freedom of speech… !? Egypt has always made it clear and its president has always said ! Stop supporting terrorists together with the CIA and sending them to , IRAQ …etc they will come back to you !! and the british journalist had been killed by a british boy who was an ISIS member ! ..

      Egypt’ had 22 borders guards killed last year via a suicide bomb ! by Hamas on the borders with Gaza ! and Human rights , UN , … bla bla never condemned it ! The military cleared terrorism alone ! and it simply needed no support from NATO.. and didn’t play a fake dirty game of having 20 countries coalition to confront Terrorism! Last not least , 33 Million Egyptians revolted against terrorism in 2013 and they faced the risk of being killed or bombed by militias of the radical government by that time ! Their Army protected them, protected their freedom of speech and refused the orders of using force against them ! and your main stream media had neglected those 33 Millions and framed it as a military Coup ! Thus , it makes sense for Egypt to send Reps in Paris ! while no one had ever sent just one representative to Egypt when our Police men used to be assassinated by those radicals ! If don’t wanna show respect ! its up to u and its not needed indeed ! but don’t post any biased crappy allegations that lack evidence and support ! simply like that ! be silent better ..

  2. American on January 11, 2015, 10:17 am

    Well I just cant wrap my mind around the idea that gutter cartoons and gutter journalism should be worshiped as the ultimate in free speech courage. Just because they have’ a right to do it doesn’t make it admirable.
    Orwell’s world was only off by a couple of decades—but its here now.

    I don’t see anyone morning the 3 innocent children that froze to death in Gaza and Syrian refugee camps.
    So I wont be morning the not so innocent Charlies or the hypocritical supporters. ….not morning ‘inciters’ of violence will be my anti terrorism stand.

  3. eGuard on January 11, 2015, 11:00 am

    Already happened. Amsterdam, last Thursday.

    Big CH happening on Dam, main square. PM Rutte and the mayor speeching. One minute of silence. Then, someone started to sing. He was approached by civilians (force unknown), and arrested by the police. vid

    He sung “Het Vrije Woord” (‘The Free Word’), written in 2007 by comedian Hans Teeuwen for the murdered Theo van Gogh. lyrics

    • a blah chick on January 11, 2015, 11:10 am

      Irony is not dead, it set itself on fire after cutting its own throat.

    • Naftush on January 14, 2015, 7:19 am

      On what grounds do you equate “approached” and “arrested” with murdered?

    • Elisabeth on January 17, 2015, 4:01 am

      Just so that all can appraise the ‘level’ of the expression of free speech in this song by Hans Teeuwen, here’s a partial translation:

      Put God on the john,
      Stick the Prophet in your ass,
      And dance for the free word,
      If you are shot, you at least enjoyed this song.

      Christian dogs and goatfuckers alike (Van Gogh’s term for Muslims)
      Everyone joins in
      Jesus and Mohammed on a public john
      No, I should not use hurtful language, my apologies,
      And as punishment I will allow some Halal girls to give me a blow-job.
      You are harder to shoot if you are prepared to lose some weight
      So in that sense Van Gogh had it coming to him,

      Put God on the john,
      Stick the Prophet in your ass,
      And dance for the free word,
      If you are shot, you at least enjoyed this song
      Etc etc

  4. tommy on January 11, 2015, 11:37 am

    The masses showing their support for French bigoted satirists were too busy courageously laughing at degrading pictures of Muslim’s prophet to notice when Operation Protective Edge was killing scores of Palestinian civilians.

    • annie on January 11, 2015, 4:05 pm

      actually hundreds of thousands, perhaps in the millions, demonstrated in cities and towns all across france last summer. even tho those demonstrations got hardly any msm coverage (other than some attacks that followed trying to pin an attack (initiated by JDL) outside a synagogue on the anti war demonstrators) comparable to those for this attack, they were massive demonstrations. it’s probable many french citizens have attended demonstrations against Israel slaughter in gaza and the attack last week too. i could be wrong.

  5. amigo on January 11, 2015, 11:44 am

    Ireland still has a Blasphemy law but still our fearless leader , is right there with other world leaders supporting the right to free speech.

    Netanyahu is there .The same man who leads the Knesset that evicts Palestinian politicians who “speak out of turn ” in the presence of their masters.

    So much hypocracy surrounding this tragic event , as we see world leaders making political fodder out of it.

    • Naftush on January 14, 2015, 7:21 am

      Netanyahu does not “lead the Knesset,” and Zoabi didn’t “speak out of turn.” Mind your own political fodder.

  6. Theo on January 11, 2015, 11:50 am

    The EU has many serious problems, very high unemployement and the states have spent more money than they should, and what do their heads of government do ? They all march to Paris to join the flashmob celebrating the death of 20 human beings. I must wonder how many millions of euro does this “show of solidarity” costs and could it not be put to a better use?

    Newspapers and magazines overdo eachother with anti-moslem headlines, looking for a larger than normal sales, TV talk shows twist history to fit their stories and all of them warn of coming islamic terror without bothering to name the cause. The roots of this is the wars we fought on islamic lands, the killing of hundreds of thousands of their women and children, our support for their despots and dictators and the hopelessness of millions.

    To Charlie Hebda I must say the following: if you tease and torment a dog until it bites you, then you have no rights to call it a vicious dog! We radicalized the islamic world and they play this game not to our standards.

  7. ritzl on January 11, 2015, 11:59 am

    Yes. “…swept away by a self-righteous moral passion…”

    And more ominously, by those who orchestrate and exploit it.

    • Kathleen on January 11, 2015, 12:48 pm

      One big problem with this type of “self righteous moral passion” appears to only apply to the French by the French. Limited “moral passion” Unless the MSM in France etc did not cover the protest in France before the invasion of Iraq (and we know this did happen around the world). When people show similar outrage about Muslims being killed or killed by an unnecessary invasion of their country by the U.S./U.K etc then we will have come a long way. When your “moral outrage” is limited to those in your bubble can be a real problem

      Great piece Brian “He would have been lucky to get away with his life.”

      MSNBC’s Melissa Harris Perry has done a remarkable job at widening the scope and understanding of the killings in Paris on her program. Worth watching at her website at MSNBC. Well worth it. She is always great at widening the public’s perspective on important issues

      • Whizdom on January 11, 2015, 1:20 pm

        The media is almost silent on the conflict in Yemen, despite the connections to Yemen and AQAP of the perpetrators.

        AQAP is a nationalist group in Yemen, supported by Saudi, and ISIL, and opposed by the Houthi, supported by Iran. The Houthi captured the capital, Saana, last month. We are droning the crap out of AQAP, which aids the Houthi, and indirectly, Iran. The MSM loci of discussion is focused on “radical Islam”, and nothing on the role of the actions of the US and the coalition in Yemen, where it appears the attack was directed, and in the Maghreb, where France has revived its military/colonial activities.

    • Keith on January 11, 2015, 7:17 pm

      RITZL- “And more ominously, by those who orchestrate and exploit it.”

      BINGO! And the amazing thing to me is how little comment there is on the obvious orchestration and massive scale of these demonstrations! And you better believe that the social media were employed to help create these “spontaneous” demonstrations. Talk about social engineering! I am one of the few Mondoweissers to argue that in spite of its many benefits the internet has permitted the dominant elites to increase social control considerably. That is the big story here, France in the grip of manufactured mob psychology. How better to divert Europe’s attention from the consequences of neoliberalism than to create a “clash of civilizations” hysteria?

  8. bilal a on January 11, 2015, 12:01 pm

    Left wing publishers have been bombed before in order to destabilize european countries.

    Pellegrino added, “Mastelloni’s report showed that there was an organic link between Ordine Nuovo, a right-wing terrorist group, and the Mossad. Despite the anti-semitism of most right-wingers, some sought alliances with Mossad and with certain other military secret services.” In particular, Mossad is now suspected of being behind the death of Giangiacomo Feltrinelli, a well-known left-wing publisher who was killed by explosives he was carrying, supposedly while preparing a bomb… the fact remains that a number of former Mossad directors are presently being tried in connection with the Argo 16 case. In this context, it seems very possible that Mossad was taking a close interest in what was happening in Italy at the time. While denying that he said that Moro had been killed for being “too pro-Arab”, as some press reports have stated, Pellegrino did say that it was only logical that if Moro was pro-Arab, then Mossad might have considered him a threat to Israel.

    A parliamentary inquiry confirmed Israeli Mossad efforts to aid the terrorist group red Brigades in an effort to destabilize Italy, Chomsky, Fateful Triangle, p257 footnote

    Israelis Offered Red Brigades Arms, Study Says,” Globe and Mail
    (Canada), 4 June 1983

    JTA-Judge Probing Red Brigade Accuses Israel of Trying to Destabilize Italy
    According to an interview published in the daily II Messaggerio today. Judge Ferdinando Imposimato claimed that up to about 1978, Italian terrorist groups had been infiltrated by Israel’s secret service. “The plan was intended to reduce Italy to a country racked by civil war so that the U.S. would be forced to depend more on Israel for security in the Mediterranean,” he told the newspaper.

  9. John Douglas on January 11, 2015, 12:19 pm

    # Klug “But they too have their limits. They just don’t know it. ” Klug is critical of the Paris demonstrators for 1. Professing to believe that there are no limits to free speech and for 2. not knowing that they themselves have limits. I doubt that either of these is true and can’t think of the reasons that Klug thinks they are.

    My problem with the reaction to the Paris horror is that once again a terrible act is being identified as a matter of “national security”, and will be used to further the monetary interests and power grabs of the security state. I have never feared that I would be directly harmed by a terrorist act, and there was never a reason for me to be so. As a threat to human life terrorist acts pale in comparison to smoking, drunk driving, assault weapons, handguns, and every form of dread disease. But I still fear, indeed I dread, terrorist acts for the manner in which they will be used to limit the liberty of all of us.

    • ziusudra on January 12, 2015, 5:08 am

      The French are only screaming : Nous sommes French.
      Did they ever mourn the atrocities of their colonial days
      in Algeria, Vietnam & elsewhere?
      The French & the UK have been meddling, murdering &
      thieving for centuries with impunity.
      That’s a small price to pay for all the profit.

  10. Walid on January 11, 2015, 1:33 pm

    Some printing shop must have made money on these “Je suis Charlie” white on black posters, they are all the same and nothing spontaneous about them.

    On Wednesday, Charlie Hebdo will be putting out a million copies; that’s one heck of a super increase in circulation to be going from a pre-massacre average circulation of 30,000 copies to 1 million. Money keeps coming in from donations. Google has committed to $300,000, Guardian Group to 150,000 euros and the French Government to 1 million euros

    Someone remarked, I think it was Escobar, how was it that the Charlie Hebdo shooters simply shot the people and walked away instead of blowing up the building containing all those blasphemous copies of insults to the Prophet as any fundy fanatic would do. I think it was in Hamburg yesterday that a publisher there in solidarity with Charlie Hebdo published one of the Muhammad caricatures and by the end of the day saw his premisses torched for it.

    The thing is looking more and more like a set-up.

    • Walid on January 11, 2015, 1:51 pm

      The “je suis Charlie” campaign split this afternoon and created a parallel “Je suis juif” one. Netanyahu stood at the front of the parade with only one person between him and Hollande and for most of CNN’s coverage, the camera was on him smiling and waving to people that had lined up on both sides of the street. During the parade, it was announced by CNN that the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office had graciously invited the families of the 4 dead civilians from the Supermarket massacre to burry their dead in Israel. It was also announced that Netanyahu to re-assure the spooked French community that they should consider Israel as their home. A bit later in the parade, CNN announced that Hollande had decided to accompany Netanyahu to Paris’ Grand Synagogue for the Shabbat service that had been postponed the day before because of the incident. It was an all-Israel event and an occasion for political picture taking.

      • seafoid on January 11, 2015, 2:03 pm

        Je suis Juif. Je soutiens le Tsahal quand il tue des enfants a Gaza.
        I am Jewish. I support the IDF when it kills children in Gaza.

      • Naftush on January 14, 2015, 7:26 am

        So, MW moderators? The jeeeeews did it after all?

    • seafoid on January 11, 2015, 2:02 pm

      It looks fairly incoherent given the silence over Gaza but I don’t think it’s a set up.
      The gulfies’ war in Syria and Iraq is real.

      • Walid on January 11, 2015, 2:39 pm

        If not a set up, it’s close to opportunism. No doubt about the war but ironically or gratefully, can’t distinguish the difference anymore, royal plane from Qatar landed in Lebanon last night with 26 tons of badly needed help for the 1.2 MM Syrian refugees freezing from the current snowstorm.

  11. rensanceman on January 11, 2015, 1:37 pm

    Satire Is a method of exposing intrinsic foolishness such as an emperor whose invisible clothes represented high fashion. We then laugh at the extreme gullibility of a buffoon who is swayed by sycophants into believing the contrived fiction. Now, examine satire that mocks and ridicules a person’s faith, one which establishes the precepts by which he lives, his ethics and morality, his place in the universe. This is not satire but a purposeful insult and defamation of the existential symbol of a person’s core belief. What is the purpose of depicting Jesus,Mohammed, or Buddha in a disreputable way? Is its society showing how much unbridled freedom it has ? I believe the “free speech” aspect of this tragedy has become the wrong litmus test of country’s confidence in its heirarchy of ideals. The editors of Hebdo exhibited a cavalier disregard and insensitivity to the Muslim population of France and made the decision to demonstrate how free it was to say anything it chose under the banner of “free speech” as if this was the main determinant of a free society.

    • Mooser on January 11, 2015, 5:41 pm

      “The editors of Hebdo exhibited a cavalier disregard and insensitivity to the Muslim population of France and made the decision to demonstrate how free it was to say anything it chose under the banner of “free speech” as if this was the main determinant of a free society”

      But that was supposed to be the joke! That’s what makes it funny, these idiots doing this in the name of free speech, as if they were doing anything but exposing their own (or, for comedic purposes, pretenses of) bigotry. It’s a joke, I guess, but it wears thin very fast, awfully thin.
      You know, like a guy who says something racist, and then says “But I’m just kidding” after invoking a racial stereotype. Wears real thin.

  12. Whizdom on January 11, 2015, 1:42 pm

    Do we know anything about the 32 y/o jogger victim shot by the HyperCacher killer? All I can find is a ballistics link, and it is a male, in critical condition. No name given.

  13. Danaa on January 11, 2015, 2:34 pm

    Was an Egyptian delegation really in attendance of the the rallies? the Sisi people who are persecuting countless people in Egypt for daring to speak their mind?

    I think the only delegation missing is the one from saudi Arabia, led perhaps by the blogger who just got flogged for expressing some opinion.

    yes, the irony.

  14. Hugo on January 11, 2015, 3:15 pm

    ‘swept away by self-righteous moral passion’ – you come across as pretty self-righteous yourself, actually. Regrettably though, moral passion does not seem to be your motivator. You’re apparently an agenda driven man, and in reality your biggest concern with this ‘wave’ of human emotion, is that is does not coincide with your own selfish agenda. But whatever, at least you have freedom of speech and will continue to do so, not because of your own efforts (in fact, in spite of these), but because of the efforts of those you seek to vilify.

    • straightline on January 12, 2015, 1:52 am

      Your simplistic rant shows that you clearly fail to see Klug’s point. Freedom of speech is a relative concept – not an absolute one. One person’s freedom of speech is another’s blasphemy.

      He is pointing out that there are always points at which any society abhors freedom of speech and that is different for different societies. Therein lies the hypocrisy of this reaction.

      Consider how you might feel about holocaust deniers or “racial” stereotyping of your ethnicity? Do you want freedom of speech for them?

      Your problem with this particular wave of human emotion is that it does coincide with your selfish agenda. I don’t think Klug talks about any agenda – selfish or otherwise.

  15. seafoid on January 11, 2015, 3:16 pm
    “Daphna Poznanski, president of the Association des Francais en Israel, said Netanyahu’s appeal was “just words,” and charged that Israeli leaders have been making such calls for years without taking any concrete steps to make immigration easier for French Jews.

    “In any case, I am against an aliyah of fear, one should want to come to live in Israel for idealism,” she said.

    While not addressing Netanyahu’s words directly, a French embassy official who spoke at the rally also encouraged French Jews to stay put.

    “The Jews of France have been afraid for many years and they have a right to feel safe,” said Deputy Ambassador Gilles Pecassou. “But Jews have a place in France and without them France would no longer be France.””

    • Naftush on January 14, 2015, 7:32 am

      This trialogue is mostly a closed loop — Zionists professing Zionism, diasporists professing diasporism, and French officialdom professing French republicanism. But in fact Israeli leaders did take a concrete step: relaxing occupational recertification rules specifically for French Jews.

  16. seafoid on January 11, 2015, 3:19 pm

    More hysteria

    “An enlightened France of Émile Zola defended, more than 100 years ago, two goals that were actually one: Equal rights for Jews and the freedom of speech. In an article published in May 1896 in Le Figaro, “In Defense of the Jews” – even before the Dreyfus Affair blew up – Zola wrote, “While we seek to bring peace, a handful of crazies, idiots and schemers scream at us every day: ‘Kill the Jews! Massacre and exterminate the Jews! Bring back the stake and the dragonnade!’” There is nothing more idiotic than this, nothing more disgusting, he wrote.

    When a million, maybe even two million, French people go into the streets today to protest and protect the freedom of speech from the crazies of Islamic extremism, these words of Zola’s should not be forgotten. The other side of the equation cannot be forgotten. The bullets fired at the offices of the magazine reached all the way to the kosher supermarket, and this was far from a coincidence.

    More than at any other time in its history, the fate of France is entwined with the fate of its Jews. And if it loses them, sooner or later it will also be lost.”

    Stop the fucking madness of Zionism and nobody will bat an eyelid at Judaism.

    • Mooser on January 11, 2015, 5:54 pm

      “Stop the fucking madness of Zionism and nobody will bat an eyelid at Judaism.”

      I would think so. And people are welcome to have any opinion they please of the validity or efficacy of its theology.
      But I do think Zionism and Israel will make every effort to see they go down together. And Zionism will make every effort to see Judaism gets the blame and the responsibility, if it comes to that.

      • seanmcbride on January 11, 2015, 6:14 pm


        “But I do think Zionism and Israel will make every effort to see they go down together. And Zionism will make every effort to see Judaism gets the blame and the responsibility, if it comes to that.”

        Who do you think bears the primary responsibility for Zionism?

      • talknic on January 11, 2015, 9:46 pm

        @ seanmcbride
        “Who do you think bears the primary responsibility for Zionism?”

        Who? What … $$$

        Washington, August 11, IMS. Mr. Epstein, the Representative in Washington of the Provisional Government of Israel, is pressing for a decision on his Government’s application for a loan of $100 million, now pending before the Export-Import Bank

      • Mooser on January 12, 2015, 2:12 pm

        “Who do you think bears the primary responsibility for Zionism?”

        Sean, if you want to pin it on me, go ahead. You might as well. I probably did it during one of those “white nights” Graham Greene spoke of.

      • seanmcbride on January 12, 2015, 2:29 pm


        ME: “Who do you think bears the primary responsibility for Zionism?”

        MOOSER: “Sean, if you want to pin it on me, go ahead. You might as well. I probably did it during one of those “white nights” Graham Greene spoke of.”

        If you ever feel like getting serious on the subject, I would be curious to hear your thoughts.

        One could compile a list of the 100 most influential leaders of Zionism for the past 120 years — perhaps they bear primary responsibility for the political movement they have led.

        Some Zionists might assign blame to “the nations” — the non-Jewish nations of the world — for pushing Jews into a corner — because “the goyim” suffer from the disease of antisemitism — which apparently is a genetic, biological or neurological disorder. Others do of course claim that “God” is the author of Zionism.

        (The Graham Greene reference is to opium — got that.)

        I have suggested several times that Zionist ideology is organically rooted in ancient and traditional Judaism — probably we still don’t see eye to eye on that issue. The world will probably survive our disagreement. I find myself increasingly curious about the psychological factors driving and forming all religions.

      • Mooser on January 13, 2015, 10:43 am

        “a serious discussion”

        Look Sean, you learn to read the time-stamps on comments, and we’ll have a discussion. Til then, I don’t get a lot of amusement out of watching you get run down by your own arguments.

  17. Whizdom on January 11, 2015, 3:48 pm

    Israeli papers are reporting the French asked Netanyahu not to come. But he invited himself anyway.

    And FM Lieberman chastised his hosts for unequal attention to the HyperCacher killings vs. the Charlie Hebdo attack. Classy.

  18. Egbert on January 11, 2015, 4:26 pm

    Apparently there were two marches, one for the proles and one for our most moral leaders.

    The look on Netanyau’s face (lower right picture) is priceless.

  19. jasdo on January 11, 2015, 5:24 pm

    You assume that the person holding a “Je suis Cherif” poster would be physically attacked. I don’t think you can say that for certain. Criticised, shouted at, yes. But “have his head pounded to the ground” – you cannot say that for sure.

    I just saw a collection of Charlie Hebdo homages made by French art students. One featured a cleaning lady sweeping up blood in the CH main office. The text says “Sick of working overtime for Charlie Hebdo”. That sums up the spirit of the magazine for me.

  20. joer on January 11, 2015, 5:32 pm

    It is ironic that in this time of celebration of free speech in France, it would probably be pretty dangerous to go out on the street wearing a sign that says, “I am not Charlie.”

  21. Bob_Salad on January 11, 2015, 6:12 pm

    Will Self offering some excellent clarity on the topic of satirical targeting:

    Channel 4 News (06’41)

  22. Saiyuki on January 12, 2015, 5:41 am

    To feel insulted is a choice. I think many of the habdo cartoons are actually quite funny. My opinion is that this article is pretty self righteous. Yes the men at Charlie Hebdo did make fun of themselves by the way, maybe you should actually read a few issues? In Europe you can insult all you want, you have a choice to read something. We draw a line at calls for violence. I agree with a leftwing muslim mayor of Maroccan descent in the Netherlands stated ‘if you want to go to Syria please go but never come back’. And ‘If you don’t like our freedoms then go’, he made these comments without all the racist and anti islam rethoric that is coming from the right. It is our hard working muslims that suffer the backlash. If we don’t protest, the extreme right will take over these outings of public anger. And that would be a real threat to European societies that’s exactly what happened in the 30’s by the way. So what would you suggest do nothing and stay home? And just hand over this issue to the extreme right on a silver platter by staying silent like in the 30’s?

  23. samlebon2306 on January 12, 2015, 11:51 am

    And, not a single loon said I am Boko Haram.

    • Mooser on January 12, 2015, 2:14 pm

      I am Procol Harum. Well, I can play the organ part from “Whiter Shade of Pale” anyway.

  24. Theo on January 12, 2015, 1:36 pm

    If the following is known by the MW crowd? The son of ex-president Sarkozy married a rich young jewish heiress, one of the journalists at Hebdo wrote a satirical article about this event. The author was requested to withdraw it and to appologize, he refused with the words: ” I would rather lose my balls”! (It would have been no great loss, as he was 80 years old already)!
    Consequently the magazine fired him!

    So much for the freedom of press at that publication.
    The present prime minister Vail, when he was the interior minister cancelled all shows of a french-arab comedians known for his anti-semitic jokes. So the great republic of France, the source of liberté, egualité and fraternité, have different versions for free speech and all these marches are organised hypocracy, great for the otherwise blank faced politicians of that country and the rest of Europe.

    • Naftush on January 14, 2015, 7:43 am

      Theo, even Zionists know how to use Google. Sinet didn’t pen a satire; he spewed a blatant antisemitic innuendo on the basis of a falsehood. And Dieudonne? Apart from being “known for his anti-semitic jokes,” he has the courage of his many convictions in court on the topic.

      • traintosiberia on January 18, 2015, 9:27 am

        Convict on the topics and use the prior convictions to convict again over same topic . Works well for the Zionist but doesn’t for freedom of speech.

        Is sodmization of prophet not a falsehood?

        After the state used tax payers money to defray the cost of the publications and distribution , no innuendo needed to be uttered or printed , that message was already sent to every viewer .

  25. MazenAbd on January 12, 2015, 3:01 pm

    Absolute garbage article. The author ropes protesters for free speech in with terrorist assassins. He assumes that a crowd of peaceful protesters would turn violent based on his thought experiment wherein somebody would go down to a crowd of people and purposely troll them. Not only that, he’s comparing a scenario where a group of people become angry with somebody going to them and mocking them with a group of gunmen who collected weapons and went into a magazine office to murder 12 people because they wrote things that offended them.

    Is it likely that free speech protesters may attack someone who does something that offends us, making us big ol’ hypocrites? Hell, maybe. Will they go out of our way to murder a dozen people for it? I doubt it.

    It’s not that hard to be morally superior to murderers.

  26. seafoid on January 13, 2015, 2:31 am

    “On 11 January, an estimated 1.6 million people took to the streets of Paris to voice their solidarity with those murdered at the hands of radical Muslim terrorists and proclaim ‘Je suis Charlie’ (I am Charlie). But not everyone in the city felt comfortable with that idea. Many Muslims throughout Paris chose to stay away – some of them even stating ‘Je ne suis pas Charlie’ (I am not Charlie). Imam Amrani meets members of this community and investigates their reaction to the ‘Je suis Charlie’ movement”

  27. almostvoid on January 13, 2015, 4:23 am

    Mr King you are wrong about everything. Writing pretentiously does not verify what you exclaimed pretending to know more about those gathered and what goes on in their minds as you pontificate away the whole point and idea of the street march. Go and stay in your ivory tower. You have no use on the street

  28. philadelphialawyer on January 13, 2015, 5:37 pm

    Right on target.

    How cheap and easy to say that you are Charlie. You are not. Nor are you, unlike the fellows in the crowd in the movie “Spartacus” (“No, I am Spartacus!”) actually in a near identical relationship to the person you claim to be, much less are you willing to accept the fate that was to be meted out to that person. The protestors know damn well that the offended Muslims are never going to get around to killing everyone who claims to be Charlie, and, again unlike the captured rebel slaves in that movie scene, are not going to be harmed for their “courageous” stand at all.

    Moreover, unlike Spartacus, Charlie was not an admirable person in the first place. There is nothing in being killed for one’s views, or for the expression of one’s views, that necessarily makes one a hero or one’s views and their expressions laudable in any way. Fascists can be murdered for their views. So can bigots. The latter is what happened in this case. In neither case does that make being that person a good thing, even though, of course, it was wrong to murder him.

    Beyond the hypocrisy pointed out in the article (how many of these folks really believe that any expression, no matter how hurtful, should be protected, particularly if they were the ones being hurt?), and much like the post 9-11 hoopla in the USA, and, to a lesser extent, the post Boston Marathon attack hoopla, this is just another chance for folks who are not oppressed in any way, and who are much, much more likely to be struck by lightening than to be killed by a Muslin, to pretend to be victims and heroes. Moreover, as has been mentioned, the governments represented by these people, particularly in the USA (and Israel), kill more Muslims in a month than all of the victims of Islamic terrorism from the beginning of time to today. Even France, as has been mentioned, certainly has a colonial history of killing thousands of Muslims. I wonder, is there any official or semi official commemoration of that in France? How much easier to play the role of the righteous victim, and the fake hero, when one has never been in any real danger at all, than to deal with past and present policies in which one’s own government (rather than a few, pathetically ineffective gunmen) engage in bigotry, racism, killing, etc.?

  29. santasa on January 13, 2015, 10:20 pm

    Read it with “Charlie Hebdo not racist if you say so…” at

  30. Boomer on January 14, 2015, 10:08 am

    Each life lost is a tragedy: an intense reaction is to be expected. The Boston bombing comes to mind. But as you say, hysteria isn’t helpful.

    I noticed that Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld has called for the the U.S. to open its doors to imperiled European Jews.

    He says that America has a moral obligation to do this. I would say that we have a more compelling moral obligation to open our doors to the Palestinian refugees who have lost their homes due to the ethnic cleansing we support and enable.

    • traintosiberia on January 18, 2015, 8:57 am

      Hey Rabbi- Sit down and listen up – America has no moral obligation to expiate some abstract guilt built by some other guy. America has moral obligation to correct the wrong that it has committed – 1 Take the refugees streaming out of Iraq,Syria,Libya,and Somalia.
      2 Stop[ IDF raising fund in US
      3 Stop sending money that goes to Settlement , the army protecting the settlement ,4 Stop financial and spiritual contact with the synagogue that creates a priesthood providing the moral cover for occupation, and with the academia that supplies distorted ,decontextualized intellectual understandings of the Palestinian reactions to Israeli onslaught .
      5 Admit the dishonesty and abuse of the power that it resorted to in the days following WW2 .

    • traintosiberia on January 18, 2015, 9:18 am

      “Caltech Provost Edward Stolper, who has ties to Israel and received an honorary degree from one of its universities, seems to have been one of those leading the charge.

      The lawsuit is by a distinguished physicist named Dr. Sandra Troian, who was recruited from Princeton, has won numerous scientific awards, and serves on national and international scientific boards. In her suit Dr. Troian says that an Israeli postdoctoral student blatantly violated US laws and transmitted information on potential space technology to Israel.
      – See more at:

      Why any Americans would want any French Jews come to this country when the French is being blamed unfairly and grotesquely out of proportion ? What is stopping these “french Jewish ” or this rabbi to charge same at US as more and more Americans realizes and join in demonstrations.BDS,and demands in cutting off aid and stopping collaboration with Israel ?
      Not that long ago Israeli pundits,ideologues,politicians,stenographers , and rabbi were threatening to dump US and move closer to China and India . They even offered reasons –
      1 Jews and these countries share very old history
      2 All three have fought against colonizations
      3 All three have not forced other to convert
      4 Geographically Delhi is much nearer to Tel Aviv

  31. eljay on January 14, 2015, 10:40 am

    >> Boomer: … I noticed that Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld has called for the the U.S. to open its doors to imperiled European Jews. … He says that America has a moral obligation to do this.

    A security failure does not a Nazi state make. Mr. Herzfeld should be arguing that France has a moral imperative to better ensure the equality and safety of all of its citizens. If the U.S. – which carries no more (and, in many cases, far less) moral authority than other states in this world – should be responsible for anything, it should be to pressure France to live up to its obligations.

  32. dumdum on January 21, 2015, 8:14 am

    Hello Brian,

    Where do you draw the title “moral hysteria” from. Did you participate in any of the rallies in France. What is your first hand experience that allows you to make this statement?


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