Freedom Of Speech Is Not A Religion Of Hate

The cartoonists at Charlie Hebdo did not deserve to die. As a believer in free speech, I’m now supposed to go beyond that sentiment and lionize them as martyrs, fearlessly expressing themselves and standing up for the principles of freedom. I can’t do it. I will mourn for their deaths but I will not glorify their hate speech.

I will not defend the people who murdered the staff of Charlie Hebdo. Those murders were completely unjustifiable. I will mourn the dead because they are human beings, and I’m sure that they were loved by their families and were, in many ways, good people. But I refuse to make the slain cartoonists into saints for the one thing they most clearly did wrong with their lives: their racist, witless work which had no redeeming social value other than to spread hate.

The attack on Charlie Hebdo was a calculated, strategic move not intended to avenge the honor of the prophet Muhammad, but to fan the flames of Islamaphobia and racism. To incite good-intentioned, predominantly white Westerners into gleefully sharing racist and reprehensible caricatures masquerading as “satire” was exactly what the terrorists wanted. Because most Muslims — especially French Muslims — aren’t interested in terrorism. In fact, one of the police officers killed in the crossfire was a Muslim, but the attackers didn’t care. Muslim collateral damage was the point. The terrorists believed that Muslims will become a lot more interested in extremism and be easier to recruit, if we take the bait and begin to treat them with hate.

Says Jacob Canfield:

Charlie Hebdo is a French satirical newspaper. Its staff is white. Its cartoons often represent a certain, virulently racist brand of French xenophobia. While they generously claim to ‘attack everyone equally,’ the cartoons they publish are intentionally anti-Islam, and frequently sexist and homophobic.

I mean, look at this shit:

That roughly translates as, Boko Haram’s sex slaves are angry — “Hands off our child benefits!” Yes, it’s a cartoon asserting that women sold into sex slavery and bred like animals by a Nigerian terrorist group are welfare queens. That pretty much sums up the tone of Charlie Hebdo’s “courageous” “satire.” It exists for no reason other than to reinforce a widely-held bigotry, an advertisement that reminds us to “be racist!” instead of “buy Coca-Cola!” A reminder that absolute free speech applies to vapid, lazy hate speech, which nobody needed to be reminded of. This is the kind of crap we’re supposed to be exalting as freedom fighting.

It’s disappointing to see more talented satirists coming to the defense of Charlie Hebdo’s lazy work out of sheer reflex. It doesn’t even have anything to say beyond hate. Even South Park, that sacred cow of nothing being sacred, tends to refrain from pointless insensitivity when you really critically analyze it, and it’s even gotten downright progressive in regards to marginalized groups recently.

We boorishly push the billions of peaceful, non-violent Muslims to condemn the extremists who tarnish their culture, and to apologize for their religion and race (and no, saying “Islam is not a race” when you’re talking entirely about brown people is bullshit). If Muslims are supposed to apologize for people who turn their religion of peace into a religion of hate, then why isn’t there an onus on us to condemn people who use our religion of free speech to spread hateful things?

Yes, that’s right. I called freedom of speech a religion.

The way hate speech apologists talk about free speech isn’t all that different from religious fundamentalism. To them, free speech is a dogma to uphold out of a pious, idealistic duty, and it’s almost as esoteric as some aspects of Islam. They champion the idea that even the most reprehensible, hateful screed is to be defended and protected, that even appalling callousness and ignorance is defensible. They ignore the reason why freedom of terrible speech is protected.

It’s not that it wouldn’t be a wonderful, amazing, fantastic thing to rid the world entirely of hate speech. It’s that we can’t do it without causing more problems than we solve. We can’t come up with a consensus on where to draw the line between truly toxic hate that will contribute to pseudospeciation and convince people to engage in discrimination and violence, or harmless insensitivity or a simple misunderstanding. When hate is so deeply ingrained in a culture that people can be racist without knowing it, some people can engage in hateful speech that reinforces discriminatory ideas without even realizing it. So we refrain from legally punishing hate speech — fining, imprisoning, or executing people — simply because we’ll never be able to come up with a legal framework that doesn’t cause collateral damage.

That’s another thing: freedom of speech is a legal construct. There’s a reason why you can be banned from a comments thread for being an asshole, or fired from your public-facing job for making reprehensible statements, without having your freedom of speech violated — free speech is specifically a freedom from being punished by the state for your beliefs and expressions. Maybe you could argue that extralegal institutions, like online forums, social media, or employers ought to strive to replicate the principle and idea of free expression. But sometimes people want to be free from your speech too, and that’s why at smaller scales in private settings, that option is left to our individual discretion.

But let’s not forget the historical context that birthed freedom of speech. Freedom of speech was never about your right to shout “fuck” in a public place, or to make fun of somebody of a different creed or color than you. Freedom of speech was about your right to criticize the state, the authorities, and other officials who would otherwise have the power to imprison you. Freedom of speech was created to defend speaking truth to power, not to defend punching down on people with less power than you. We begrudgingly allow hate speech as an escape valve,

And this is why I really, emphatically cannot defend Charlie Hebdo’s racism and xenophobia. Hate speech is in no danger. Violence against it is so rare as to be newsworthy. It is not being threatened. It does not need to be defended.

Western Islamophobia is mainstream. Defending Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons is the safest, least subversive position one can take. It is like making a principled stand for ice cream. Everybody loves ice cream. You’re not a hero for standing for it. What Charlie Hebdo ostensibly stands against — terrorism and violence motivated by a perversion of Islam — is a stance that is literally as popular as ice cream. You are going to have a very, very hard time finding a significant number of people in the West who will tell you that Islamic extremism is okay, even if the only people you ask are Muslims.

The uglier ideas that leak out from Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons — the orientalist caricatures of Muslims that deliberately mark them as “other,” the ignorant and inaccurate portrayals of laziness, ignorance, and barbarism — these ideas also need no help. Muslims, even those who are only Muslim culturally and don’t practice or study the faith much at all, face hate and discrimination in the West every day. Their dietary restrictions and prayer rituals hurt no one; their attitude towards women is more nuanced than blanket “oppression,” and many wear hijab and identify as feminist; they are by all measures perfectly ordinary people who just happen to have a different religious and ethnic background than most Westerners. (In fact, in France, “Muslim” is often used as a politically correct term for disparaging people of Middle Eastern and North African descent regardless of how religious they are) They are the victims of a widespread, mainstream irrational hatred, and if anyone’s freedom is at risk and in need of defense, it is Muslims’.

In 2013, after a massacre of Muslim protesters in Egypt, Charlie Hebdo had this to say:

“The Qur’an is shit. It doesn’t stop bullets.”

Today, a Muslim paper has yet to draw a cartoon saying that the the Declaration of the Rights of Man doesn’t stop bullets. Because that wouldn’t be funny.

Asghar Bukhari further contests the idea that this is harmless fun:

The elites narrative was simple, a left-wing magazine, had produced ‘satirical cartoons’ about all religions and politicians, some of them about the Prophet of Islam — Only the Muslims took offence (subtext because their backward barbaric religion was alien and intolerant).

Imagine today’s spurious and conceited argument being used by the Nazi’s — could a German newspaper hide behind the claim it also made fun of white Germans? How unjustified that only the Jews complained so! After all Germans didn’t complain when they were made fun of — those backward Jews and their greedy religion didn’t understand free speech!

I’m going to keep flirting with Godwin’s Law here — itself turning into an anti-intellectual device used more to stifle criticism and discourse than anything else — and quote an eloquent series of tweets from activist @ThatSabineGirl:

Last year a neighbour threatened to kill me, I had to move. Civilization doesn’t need to fall far for trans [people] to be in serious danger. This is why publishing hate speech, creating online spaces that feed it is so dangerous. ‘Free speech’ people defend our dehumanisation, and marginalised people will be the first to suffer, while liberals say ‘Well nobody saw it coming.’

Liberals who defend hate speech need to come clean about their reasons for doing so. It’s not high minded ‘free speech’ idealism. We know that, because liberals are among the first trying to silence the impolite speech of marginalised people. Liberals value hate speech more highly than the speech, or even the lives, of marginalised people. Witness ‘liberals’ gleefully distributing racist cartoons and shutting down discussion of their racist nature. Their actions speak louder than their ‘free speech’ bullshit words.

The real attacks on free speech will soon come. It’ll be attacks on the speech & association of Muslims, & any other groups they can tie on. Meanwhile the racist caricatures in the media will continue, and probably get worse. Public shaming of Muslims is already occurring, in form of demanding they prostrate themselves in apology & contrition for their religion. We know where this leads.

Marginalised [people] & ‘SJWs’ are already being made out to be inferior, while being caricatured as having influence and money. Sound familiar? The scapegoating is already long underway. Marginalised people are singled out, made out to be external threats rather than just oppressed citizens. The ‘workshy’, the disabled, the left wing, are being demonised and blamed for the suffering the [government] is inflicting on the people. So anyway, that’s how fascism happens, so let’s avert it instead of going headfirst towards it, yeah? People talk about Nazi Germany as if it just happened, and nobody saw it coming. People saw it coming. They were just silenced and ignored. People didn’t speak out. Hitler didn’t do magic, he didn’t hypnotise his supporters. He gave them the scapegoat they wanted, a people who were already hated. And what are politicians doing now? They’re giving you scapegoats, people you already hate. Us. [Paragraph breaks mine]

This is the deep irony of hate speech apologism — the fact that treating “freedom of speech” with the same bastardized fundamentalism as Islamic extremists is leading us in a dangerous, fascist direction. In beating the drum of what they call “freedom,” apologists for hate speech may end up brining about the authoritarianism they claim to hate so much. All’s well if it doesn’t harm them, perhaps.

Perhaps extremists who claim to uphold free speech have the right to one sense of superiority over extremists who claim to uphold Islam: the speech extremists don’t literally kill anyone. This reminds me of Randall Munroe’s position on free speech:

I can’t remember where I heard this, but someone once said that defending a position by citing free speech is sort of the ultimate concession; you’re saying that the most compelling thing you can say for your position is that it’s not literally illegal to express.

Congratulations on not literally taking a Kalashnikov and shooting anyone who disagrees with you. Do you want a cookie?

This monstrous massacre was not an attack on free speech. In the wider sociopolitical context, it was a strategic retaliation for violence by Western governments, for decades of Muslims around the world being made into an underclass who were subjected to bombings, invasions, resource theft, and systemic humiliation. The attack was targeted not at anyone who dropped the bombs, but instead at people who instead cheered for them. That’s not excusable. Murder is not the appropriate response to hate speech, and it’s unlikely that had they instead killed someone more directly responsible for the deaths of Muslims that it would have helped anything either. But this was an incredibly rare attack. In the grand scheme of things, the freedom to be racist and the freedom to marginalize is under no threat. The only freedom in true need of defending is the freedom to be outside the mainstream. I fear publishing this article more than anyone should reasonably fear publishing an Islamaphobic cartoon.

Why did so few newspapers around the world dare print a Charlie Hebdo cartoon on their front page? Maybe it wasn’t out of fear. Maybe it was because they weren’t very good cartoons.

It goes without saying that nobody deserves to be murdered for drawing a shitty cartoon, though.


  1. Freedom

    If anyone deserves to be killed for having an opinion it’s you, Zacquary.

    1. In Sweden

      Why is that? Would you say there something about him that disqualifies him from having one? Or did you write that but really meant he deserves being killed for having that particular opinion?

      No matter, I don’t agree with either. Nor share his view.

      1. Lel, its a Swede

        Considering the sheer stupidity of Zacqary “Fursuit” Xeper’s post, Freedom’s comment is apt.

        1. In Sweden

          Zack’s a furry? Cool!

          But even if you hate furries, why would being one, or writing a “stupid” post, make someone deserve to be killed?

        2. Isn't English thought in Sweden?

          ESL? Don’t take things literally, Swede. When Zack makes a comment that goes against one of the party’s core beliefs, shits in the face of many other opinions, and determines free-speech on a whim based on his feelings and personal opinions, comments as far as asking he be killed are apt.

          In simpler terms for an ESL, Zack wrote in such a hypocritical manner that it’s no surprise someone would make a comment like that.

          You should also always take a step back and watch out when a person turns out to be a furry.

        3. In Sweden

          Of course “Freedom”, probably the same person as you, isn’t likely to mean that seriously after second thought, but still wrote it as if it were. That’s one of the problems of communication online, you can’t know if something is sarcasm, exaggerated, or face value, unless it is indicated by text, emoticon, etc.
          I attempted to point that out, and I guess you got that, but can’t admit that you wrote that too quickly in affect.

          I’m going to be especially Swedish now, and wonder where this prejudice against furries comes from.

  2. Wrong

    I agree with everything you said. I want to add a little more.

    Charlie Hebdo, from my understanding, is a radical left, radical anti-puritan magazine. Their editorial stance is blasphemy. Their intent was to raise shit.

    This doesn’t take place in a vacuum, and in france it is true that there is a lot of racism. The examples people give of Charlie Hebdo’s racism however always miss out on essential context. The Boko Haram image appears racist if you don’t know what they are riffing on. Charlie Weekly would often have covers that were mixtures between two of the weeks events. In that particular week they made that absurd image as a shot at the far-right that had said something about welfare queens that week. The joke is: boko haram sex slaves do not have to work for a living, but yet they are disadvantaged. The premise is absurd, it’s not meant to attack the muslim community. It’s meant to show how attacks on people who recieve social welfare are ridiculous.

    More on that here:

    So without disagreeing with any significant point of your analysis, I think that the current leftist trend to insult the satire, call it “shitty” , etc, and intent of Charlie Hebdo is missing critical context, or otherwise missing the script. I think that defending Charlie Hebdo’s work is also kind of besides the point, but it makes me sad, because I am a cartoonist, and any time that a cartoonist is murdered for their work and my friends start saying “well, those cartoons were pretty bad” – its just- it’s critically sad for me.

    The state power structure is going to use this as a way to justify further encroachments on our civil liberties. The Salafi Jihadists are going to take this as proof that they are winning the battle against blasphemy.

    I am against all 4 – religious puritanism, islamaphobia, murder, censorship.

    I believe in blasphemy. Blasphemy is sacred to me. This may not be enough to others, and they are certainly free to pick through C. Hebdo’s catalogue to try to imagine that we live in a just world, where brutality is saved for the deserving, but to me, this is a tragedy from all angles. Including losing a publication that promised to stand up to any illegitimate truth-claim with its tongue out.

    And it’s meant to be profane. It’s meant to piss and shit on everyone’s idea of what is sacred. If you don’t like that- don’t read the magazine. There is no need to defend, directly or indirectly, the people who would shoot publishers they disagree with the editorial stance of. Nor is there any need to defend real racists. The far right white nationalist groups that will benefit from this shooting must be attacked also.

    In the words of Charb, the editor himself, before he was literally murdered over cartoons:

    “Forty years ago, it was considered obligatory to jeer, run down, even crap on religion. Anyone who set about to criticize the way the world was going could not fail to question the great power of the biggest clerical organizations. But according to some people, in truth more and more people, these days you’ve got to shut your mouth.

    Charlie still devotes many of its cover illustrations to Papists. But the Muslim religion, imposed like a flag on innumerable people across the planet, as far away as Indonesia, must somehow be spared. Why the hell? ”

    1. Christopher

      Bullplop! We should not ‘shut our mouths’ about the lies and inconsistencies of religion and the basic F A C T that religion is bullcrap!
      That is the bottom line in the real world, it is brainwashing that starts when people are children and is the only form of brainwashing, outside of that done by the military, that is socially acceptable today.
      Without religion, there would be no justifying the deaths of other people simply because ‘they do not agree with me’.

      1. gurrfield

        There are many things in this world which are “brainwashing” except religion… Religion worked for a long time in the west too, you know. Today we have brands, advertisements, mass-media and pop cult (ure). The reason why we don’t have religion so much in the west anymore?

        Could it be that those mentioned are much more effective..?

  3. geo

    Zacqary, you are one of the few people in this world I agree with 90% or more of the time. I’m not too sure if this article is part of the 10% or less, though. While I do not condone racism at all, and as a matter of fact I’m part of a racial minority where I live and have been discriminated many times, I think when people laugh at muslims are not being racists, they are taking the mickey out of a religion. As an atheist myself I think all the religions are simply nonsense, and in that, islam in particular is champion.
    I have to admit, I never read Charlie Hebdo and if they are racist in the strict meaning of the word of judging people because of their genes, then I’m with you again in this article, and I will mourn but not glorify them . But if their ‘sin’ was the fact that they took the mickey out of a religion,then I will also glorify them.

    1. sarah

      The sad thing is; race is not genetic. So if they were racist it would be against someone’s culture and appearance, an idea of them being different because of their behaviours. There was a documentary I watched (on national geographic I believe) where they retraced people’s genes back and showed how they had moved from Africa to their ‘final destination’ over the centuries and several of the African Americans were actually European according to their dna. This was because they had a European ancestor but you sure couldn’t tell. And eventually we all end up African anyway – the most genetically diverse group of people in the world. So the sad thing is, if they were being racist it wasn’t because of genes. It was because they just wanted somebody to hate.

      1. Emil Kirkegaard

        Race is of course genetic. A modern working definition of race is something like “genetic cluster in a suitably specified cluster analysis of human DNA”. One can pick other definitions like “human ancestral groups”, and so on, but the result is pretty much the same.

    2. Flossie

      I agree with the comments above, I think you were a bit quick to jump on the bandwagon here Zac. Your article lacks depth of knowledge and historical background and is very one-sided. You need to understand what you’re talking about. Portraying Charlie Hebdo as peddlers of racism and xenophobia is bot incorrect and simplistic.
      Did you see the Charlie Hebdo cartoons at the death of princess Diana? That should have really offended the Brits!! Believe me, there was plenty in that magazine and its predecessor Hara Kiri to offend just about everyone. So perhaps you should stick to writing about what you really know and do some serious research before slating people. As for saying “(and no, saying “Islam is not a race” when you’re talking entirely about brown people is bullshit)” with a link to an article in the Guardian’…. well, without reading the article in question, I find your comment racist and dangerous. Need I mention there is a law punishing ‘incitement to hatred’ in France and that anyone can make use of it if they are offended. Also, for your information, what do you make of the support of 8 Morrocan and Tunisian cartoonists to Charlie Hebdo ( ? I could go on but suffice it to say that this time the bullshit is yours Zac, sorry. Think before you write, that might help you grow up (or is that ageist 🙂 ?)!!

  4. Gaphi

    Zac, I thought you were for free speech?

    Criticism of idea’s are not racist. Pointing out bad ideas are not racist. And pointing out bad habits and such are not racist. I don’t know if you’ve been listening to the Catholic Leagues Bill Donohue, but you’re wrong on so many levels. There is a difference between free speech and hate speech, and Charlie Hebdo didn’t cross it.

    Charlie Hebdo has a right to exercise their free speech and their practice of free speech should not be limited, for what is free speech if it is limited? It wouldn’t be free speech.

    1. Christopher

      Exactly, Gaphi. One person’s free speech is another person’s ‘hate speech’ and we should not be clamp down on either one UNLESS the people in question are condoning violence against a group of people for the sole reason that they disagree with them.

      1. gurrfield

        So do we know that the ones who condoned an act of violence were not oppressed and silenced before that act? My bet is that they were. That they had no other means to reach out than violence. That is what freedom of speech is – a splatter filter. If everyone has the right, the freedom and the ability to reach out things don’t have to become violent.

        If someones’ speech is not free, they will inevitably (with enough one-way harassment) become monsters.

    2. DGH

      Exactly. And you only need to see the examples Zachary set, as seen in many other comments.

      Speech – Context = Hate Speech.

      1. Thanatostasis

        Hate Speech? No such thing, whiny pussies is what people are, whiny and that don’t like to be criticized

  5. Dennis Nilsson

    Freedom is how free your opponent is.

    – Rosa Luxembourg

  6. Colin

    There is such a thing as respecting the person’s sensitivities.
    I don’t like the way Wahabbi Muslims oppress women, ban alcohol, flog bloggers etc etc.
    But that doesn’t mean I have to be gratuitously offensive to them. I can condemn their ideas with reasonable arguments, yes. But saying their religion (or any religion) is a load of rubbish will cause serious offence to Wahabbis (or Catholics, Buddhists, Jews, Hindus Jains etc). Causing offence is not nice. More importzant, it is like an ad hominem attack. It displays the weakness of your own argument for all to see.

    1. next_ghost

      Some people will get offended no matter how polite you try to be. That’s not our problem, that’s THEIR problem. And ridiculing obvious stupidity is the only way to fix the problem. If you go out of your way to not offend anybody, some people will just go out of their way to invent new reasons why to get offended.

      1. Rick Falkvinge

        Yes. This.

      2. gurrfield

        There is a problem however, that if the one’s you are ridiculing have no platform to reach out. They will grow desperate and finally things will get violent. But maybe that is even what you’re hoping for…

        That is a devious recipe for portraying your enemy as a monster:

        1) Make sure they can’t reach out and show their version of the story.
        2) One way harassment ’til they can’t take any more.
        3) Make sure to stay out of the way when they finally go bananas.

        Bang. Your enemy could not remain calm and is now officially a monster ™.

        1. Autolykos

          Maybe you should ask the question of why they can’t show their version of their story (or rather, why this fails to have any effect).
          And that’s simple: Their “story” is entirely founded on religion. But it is logically impossible to convince anyone of your religion who doesn’t already share your premises – because all religion is built on circular reasoning.
          From this, you can derive two different courses of action:
          Either you decide that mocking religion is verboten because poor religion has special needs and can’t defend itself without resorting to violence.
          Or you decide that religion is dangerous bullshit that reacts violently to being questioned and thus should be mocked into extinction to keep it from being taken seriously and cause even more damage in the future.
          Charlie Hebdo obviously picked the latter, and I’m with them on this one.

        2. next_ghost

          That is a devious recipe for portraying your enemy as a monster:

          1) Make sure they can’t reach out and show their version of the story.
          2) One way harassment ’til they can’t take any more.
          3) Make sure to stay out of the way when they finally go bananas.

          There are journalists and even entire newspapers that write almost exclusively about $minority abusing welfare, stealing, selling drugs etc. Different countries have different $minority, but it pretty much always fits your recipe. Yet I’ve never heard of any member of $minority who attacked journalists for writing badly about $minority.

          This kind of violence is always triggered by severe cognitive dissonance. In other words, this kind of internal monologue goes on in the crazy killer’s head before he snaps and starts killing:

          Crazy killer (CK): Believe this unbelievable fairy tale.
          His subconscious (SC): No.
          CK: Believe it!
          SC: No way, it’s absolutely ludicrous bullshit!
          CK: I said believe it, or else!
          SC: Geez, whatever, just leave me alone.

          After years of back and forth like that, the crazy killer then sees something that ridicules his fairy tale, with a really sharp point:
          SC: See, I told you it’s bullshit.
          CK: Aaaaaaaargh!

          That’s the moment when crazy killer snaps and starts killing.

  7. Arne Lapsus

    It would appear that the attack on Charlie Hebdo was in fact justifiable.

    1. Arne Lapsus

      It would appear that the ruling on killing people insulting the prophet now is available on the wayback machine only.

  8. Tweak


    You did briefly touch on the correct reason for defending free speech, but the rest of your article I feel was incorrect. Hate speech IS free speech. As an individual, one is allowed to think, feel and express whatever they like. The reason for this (which is what you touched on) is that the State cannot be allowed to judge speech and thus control the minds of its citizens and residents. Once this power is in the hands of the State, we start marching right down Fascist Avenue and open the gates of the camps.

    There is retribution for this behavior, however. It comes in the form of SOCIAL consequences. For example, not many people I know like, or associate with, overt racists. One can think whatever one wants about [insert particular racial, religous or social group here], but one must also suffer the consequences of that expression in the social sphere. This is how there can be seemingly so much vitriol in the digital space – it is much harder to ostracize people with undesirable views online than in meatspace (read: fewer consequences).

    Charlie Hebdo is free to express whatever they so choose in their publications, regardless of the perceived value of their statements; however, they must also submit to the will of their audience. If they have no audience (or lose it due to their choice of speech), make no sales or profits, their voices become diminished in the social sphere.

    All you can do is vote with your voice and choice of consumption.

  9. saturn

    “Today, a Muslim paper has yet to draw a cartoon saying that the the Declaration of the Rights of Man doesn’t stop bullets. Because that wouldn’t be funny.” Well that depends,it might be funny because it seems to be based on,Liberty which is the freedom to do what ever I want with out hurting you,which is controlled by”law”.Charlie Hebdo broke no french law that I know about,so you don’t like their cartoons is just opinion,which you are allowed to have.So in the same sense the Saudi blogger who was flogged,does have” Liberty”just Liberty imposed on him by Laws. So yes it would be funny to say the declaration of the rights of man cant stop flogging.FYI when comparing “humorous” books use one that Joe six pack might of heard of.

  10. In Sweden

    I haven’t read all of your text, but a good deal of it.

    “Hate speech is in no danger. Violence against it is so rare as to be newsworthy. It is not being threatened. It does not need to be defended.”

    In Sweden this is definitely not true. Hate speech is illegal here, with fine or even prison. An artist displaying xenophobic art was recently sentenced to prison. The one arranging the exhibition also got in court for it I think, but I don’t know if he got any punishment and in that case what.

    And “hate speech” in Sweden only need to be a twentieth as hateful as in many countries to be called that.

  11. Flossie

    I agree with the comments above, I think you were a bit quick to jump on the bandwagon here Zac. Your article lacks depth of knowledge and historical background and is very one-sided. You need to understand what you’re talking about. Portraying Charlie Hebdo as peddlers of racism and xenophobia is bot incorrect and simplistic.
    Did you see the Charlie Hebdo cartoons at the death of princess Diana? That should have really offended the Brits!! Believe me, there was plenty in that magazine and its predecessor Hara Kiri to offend just about everyone. So perhaps you should stick to writing about what you really know and do some serious research before slating people. As for saying “(and no, saying “Islam is not a race” when you’re talking entirely about brown people is bullshit)” with a link to an article in the Guardian’…. well, without reading the article in question, I find your comment racist and dangerous. Need I mention there is a law punishing ‘incitement to hatred’ in France and that anyone can make use of it if they are offended. Also, for your information, what do you make of the support of 8 Morrocan and Tunisian cartoonists to Charlie Hebdo ( ? I could go on but suffice it to say that this time the bullshit is yours Zac, sorry. Think before you write, that might help you grow up (or is that ageist 🙂 ?)!!

  12. Name of my choice

    While I agree with you that the Charlie Hebdo magazine is for the most part pretty offensive and while I personally would never buy it, simply because it probably would only cause me discomfort and no joy, I disagree very strongly with your sentiment that Charlie Hebdo should be disallowed. I will to the very last of my power defend anyones and yes I do mean anyones right to write and draw whatever they feel like no matter how strongly I disagree with it. In this way it is possible for me to defend Charlie Hebdo while disagreeing with most they write as well as condemning Breivik while agreeing with him that the Democrats in Norway has gone too far oppressing other politics than their own. I do not believe there exists such a thing as a thought crime and in extension of that I think that everyone should be able to use Free Speech however they please. As a single exception to that I do not think it is okay to aggressively force your opinions and creations on others (as it should be possible to express anything imagineable it should also be possible to ignore (f.x. I do not find flyers with very offensive graphics being slid under your door as an okay way to express Free Speech)).

  13. Patrik

    Zacqary, I quite agree with the contents (if not the tone) of the first part of what you wrote. There is no reason to defend the message from Charlie Hebdo. It can, and probably should, be criticised. There is no need to show solidarity by jumping on the “je suis Charle” bandwagon. None. Yet, I find it in very poor taste that you feel the need to vilify them and call them racist just after they have been murdered. On one hand we have people publishing images that are objectionable to you. On the other hand we have people who murder the first group of people allegedly because they, too, object to the images in questions. Had I been one of the PC crowd I’d said you were a victim-blaming murder apologist. Since I’m not, let me just say that it says something about you that you spent a looooong post decrying what is “hate speech” in your mind, and only condemn the murders in a few dry statements devoid of any emotion of emphasis.

    But then, the rant about free speech… You write:

    “It’s not that it wouldn’t be a wonderful, amazing, fantastic thing to rid the world entirely of hate speech. It’s that we can’t do it without causing more problems than we solve.”

    Did you even READ the text you linked to there? Item #1 in the list of reasons why hate speech shouldn’t be banned is that SOMETIMES IT TURNS OUT TO BE RIGHT! This is the #1 reason why speech should be free from interference from morally indignant people like yourself: truth doesn’t care about morals. Morality and truth are pretty much orthagonal to each other, and when you’re discussing freedom of speech from an entirely moral perspective you’re shooting yourself in the foot.

    Freedom of speech wouldn’t be an issue if it wasn’t for the fact that the speech moral indignants (such as yourself) would like to see censored sometimes is true. There wouldn’t be a need for freedom of speech if there weren’t people (like you) wanting to impose their morals on others. Somehow, when morals and truth collide, people with morals often want to suppress the truth. The reason for allowing free speech is because truth is so much more important than morals. The role is absolute, meaning we should NEVER let morals trump truth. We shouldn’t even risk it; truth is sometimes difficult to determine, and the principle errs on the side of truth.

    See which side of that equation you end up on, when you look at freedom of speech from a moral perspective?

    You also write:

    “Western Islamophobia is mainstream.”

    Seriously, pull your head out of your U.S.-centric arse and perhaps take a look at the rest of the world before writing such an absolutely ludicrous statement? Last time I checked, Sweden (where this blog post will see quite a bit of exposure) is part of the “west” – and the mainstream (as in mainstream media) here is far from islamophobic. Some would say quite the opposite.

    As for the quotes from @ThatSabineGirl… They bear the telltale signs of someone intolerant trying to stomp out intolerance, of someone narrow-mindedly criticising narrow-mindedness in others. The worldview expressed in those quotes is like something from through the looking glass – twisted and warped, even if there are some familiar elements. Particularily the part about marginalised people and SJWs leave me seriously shaking my head. I’m struggling to find polite words to describe someone whose mind just doesn’t connect with reality, but all I’m coming up with is “insane”. Sorry if that offends you, but the truth is a bitch sometimes.

  14. Ninja

    At first I would agree 100% with you but after finding out that Charlie joked around with Chatolics, Muslims, Lefties, Righties, social stupidity and more I’m inclined to agree with you with some reservations. It’s not as bad as you painted. But putting Charlie to the side, the core of the article is pretty much on spot.

    You don’t see Jewish people being demanded apologies and kneeling because of the genocide Israel is promoting against the Palestinians. When Hitler burned them it was Holocaust but this is just reclaiming their land that was ripped from the ones that were already there to serve a new Israeli State? Not that both sides don’t do very questionable things or even that Israelis aren’t capable of awesomely human acts. But then again why should the Jewish people apologize to the actions of a despicable government and a small percent of their ‘kin’? Should all Americans apologize for the US snooping on the communications of the entire world? Or for the US treating everything as war and steamrolling whatever is in the way? Hell no, even the Americans themselves can’t rein their Government in because the Corporations took over. I’m citing 2 well known examples but you can go on and on.

    The fact is we are in an age of extremism, fundamentalism, totalitarianism and prejudice. We’ll have to fix a lot of it before we move into the next stage of evolution.

  15. frank87

    Your comparison to online forums is completely off. In the Netherlands, there is no absolute freedom of speech, but freedom of press: you may publish anything you like (But you can be sued if it’s libel, hatespeech etc).
    The press (website) isn’t obliged to send your speech into the world, but ‘Charlie Habdo’ has it’s own press, and is free to publish what they want. And you are free not to buy it (I won’t, my french isn’t that good).

  16. From Belgium

    I usually agree with your idea Zacqary, but this time I disagree on you opinion on Charlie Hebdo.

    Charlie Hebdo is a satirical atheist newspaper not racist.

    I think that their humour might be misunderstood because

    * related to fresh news both in time and space (cf This cover is mixing two unrelated elements which made the news at about the same time:
    – Boko Haram victims likely to end up sex slaves in Nigeria
    – Decrease of French welfare allocations)

    * its in a foreign language for you

    * its sometimes a parody of that magnifies a reasoning of others religious people

    * etc

    Moreover, religions cannot always hide behind the blasphemy/racist shield. They have to accept criticism. Look at all the damages that are justified by religion, they clearly deserve some caricatures.

    Yours truly

  17. the j

    While I do not agree with what you say, I will fight and die for your right to say it, as long as you’re polite and don’t offend anyone.


  18. geo

    For us pirates, this also has another angle.
    The retaliation of the terrorists was because a law that forbids an image to be reproduced was broken.
    I don’t know who created that law; but whether it was the prophet himself or some follower or some institution of followers , it certainly was the most strict copyright act in history.

    1. Autolykos

      Not that the copyright industry wouldn’t happily shoot anyone and burn their house down whom they suspect to infringe on their monopoly – but for now they’ll have to settle for ruining them financially…

    2. Marcel

      The Quran does not have any rules on picturing God or the Prophet. This is just recent interpretation of the preachers.

      1. geo

        there you go; the preachers are the copyright trolls then.

  19. 1eau

    Zacqary, this time you are completely wrong. What you write is so obviously contradictory. On the one hand, you say we need a right to free speech, even hate speech because we can’t decide where to draw the line. On the other hand, you say you wish to get rid of hate speech with you deciding what is and what is not hate speech. So which is it? Do you sense the irony of telling other people “don’t draw a line” and then drawing an arbitrary line between hate speech and OK speech yourself? In addition, you even fail at this task because you seem to be incapable of interpreting the cartoons you quoted. This might be helpful:

    But thanks for demonstrating how dangerous it could be if guys like you, or any persons, decide on what speech must be classified as hate speech. The chilling effect would be enormous. No blogger, no magazine, would dare to even mildly suggest something which could be interpreted as criticism of some individual or group. Today, the intimidation of the media and of authors is at a new high. Do you suggest the intimidation should be increased? Wouldn’t be the effect that we end up with government approved media and bloggers working for the government like in China?

  20. Andy

    Almmost all of the media and bloggers has obviously never even tried to understand even one issue of Charlie Hebdo beyond the satirical sketches on the cover. To label them racist and hate speeches is ludicrous. I suggest a look into the Website understanding Charlie’s hebdo, which puts the images into the time and content context of when they appeared. They were first to compare the outcry about 20 dead Europeans to the 2000 killed elsewhere in the name of religion. They may be white, but last time I checked that is not a crime in France.

    As a non French speaker I harbored similar sentiments until I had the chance to get a translated more in depth impression of the magazine. Please allow yourself the same…

  21. Andy

    Furthermore, a point I missed… the Quran does not have any written restrictions on picturing Mohammed or this God person in and by itself, as opposed to the christian bible. Christians all over the world live just fine with almost daily depictions of Jesus, God etc, and not many believers bat an eyelid over it anymore, even if the content is highly controversial… Even in Islam back in the backwards times of the 13th century no one seemed to care. For many financially well-to-do muslims of that time and age, it was a kind of status symbol to commision artworks that showed the life of Mohammed in art from almost childhood on to the end.

    Which begs the question where all the actionism is coming from. I believe it is that more or less radical Imams who interpret scripture are to blame for making this more of an issue than it REALLY should be even to believing mulims to perpetrate their own agenda. This is the real problem with Islam as of today, it in many cases just a wrench used to turn up the heat between those muslims who have a life of hardships (integration in France failed really badly, putting out many immigrants with muslim faith into the banlieues, without any proper jobs in sight.

    There is also an interesting anecdote. It is said that Mohammed hat a neighbor once who was not that fond of him and made it a habit of dropping his garbage over on Mohammeds propety. M. never really made a fuss about it. One day this behavior stopped, and M. inquired to find that the neighbor had taken seriously ill and had trouble keeping his householc chores. It is said that M. stepped up and made sure the man got assistance and help. I think this flies along the lines of the christion “turn the other cheek”

    I wish todays muslims would stick to scripture and give less power and influence to the Imams who may or not be radical, who may or may not have their own agenda. We might find an Islam community that is much more peaceful and relaxed.

    1. Arne Lapsus

      That is an interesting anecdote about Muhammad’s neighbour.

      Where, and in what source can I read about it?

  22. westerner here

    I am not Charlie Hebdo.

  23. Ossian

    “No redeeming social value other than spread hate”? Sorry but this reek of victimhood and typical leftist/liberal propaganda. What is the redeeming social value of widespread Islam, I wonder?

    Freedom of speech is a desperation. We are able to express ourselves, to our varying abilities to do so, and so freedom of speech become a very strange phenomenon.

    Making jokes and ridiculing stupidity is evidence of intelligence and that you do not take life so seriously. This is what the leftist-liberal-general population do not get and the terrorists also. They are terrified and have been so ever since the cold war that is why they are so serious.

    Freedom of speech -liberté! Typically bunkum meaning you have the right to express yourself from the position of ‘the people’ in a supportive, liberal, feminine way but you may not be against these things or anything else prior to the French Revolution. It is a one-way freedom. Actually it is not a freedom, at all. What a clever disguise!

    p.s. Im very interested in the rumored upcoming project, Rick. The one with the promised mars sneakpeak.

    1. Ossian

      now it should say …that you may not be critical of any politics that are the result of the french revolution or support anything authorative(prior) :-).

      Otherwise you’re swiftly dealt with in revolutionary fashion.

  24. Yann

    For the first time since I read I find a terrible article. Poor article. No, bullshit.
    The author is hatefull. Such a shame.
    There are too many wrong things in this article to debunk them all. But let’ not worry: intelligent people will not be fooled.

    However I am very disappointed for the webmaster to have let through such an article.

    Je suis Charlie.

    1. anti-hypocrites

      ” I am very disappointed for the webmaster to have let through such an article.”

      That’s because you like censorship although you think you support freedom.

      Je ne suis pas Charlie.

  25. Chamelion

    This is a good article and I do agree with it. It is not just the content, but also the way Muslims are portrayed in this magazine that is hateful. What immediately comes to mind are the caricatures of the Jewish people produced by the Nazis in Germany. There are way over a billion Muslims in this world. A lot of them are our neighbors now, regardless of what country we are living in. The vast majority of them just want to live what we all consider just a normal live. Many, many of them live in horrific conditions due to wars started in the first place by western interests. The conditions in occupied Palestine are more then horrific.
    The life of those who have found a place in a foreign country is not easy. It seems that every time an ultra violent group, often implementing tribal rule, not The Koran, commits an insane act of random killings, it is the general Muslim community that is suffering.
    In Australia and many other western countries there are laws against racist, hateful publications.
    This might be against ‘free speech’, but it is very much for decency.
    Decency that should prevent people to publish certain things in the first place!
    I also think that these cartoonists at Charlie Hebdo did not deserve to die. Zacqary is right there also.
    In my eyes Charlie Hebdo is not funny. On the contrary, it has made the world a little bit worse then it already is.
    I am not Charlie.

  26. Eli Cummings

    As usual it’s a battle about the attributes of a category.

    There is probably not a single person who has commented on this article that has taken the trouble to do a critical analyses of their opinions from any other standpoint than that generated by reflex. The complexity of the couple of issues discussed is only a miniscule part of the complexity that exists in this world.

    Freedom can only be contextualized as freedom from something or freedom for something. It is not a category that defines itself. If one is unable to elucidate all the elements of both aforementioned conditions and how they can be realized in the world without internal contradictions one has no clear idea of freedom. What one has is an emotional reaction of a specific psychology socialized within a given environment by a limited set of experiences.

    That is poor equipment for spouting universals.

  27. Nihilanth Non Serviam

    “It’s not that it wouldn’t be a wonderful, amazing, fantastic thing to rid the world entirely of hate speech. It’s that we can’t do it without causing more problems than we solve. “‘

    Shows how fucking thick OP is, he considers “hate speech” a problem… Consider rather this: HOW WONDERFUL IT WOULD BE IF WE RID THE WORLD ENTIRELY OF VIOLENCE. I guess that’s how you fucking do it without causing more problems than you solve. Any censorship of speech violates your rights, we should instead seek to solve violence once at a time, let’s count the ammount of violence we see:

    -Gang violence
    -Government violence
    -Police violence
    -Military violence
    -Sexist violence
    -Religious violence
    -Juvenile violence

    And let’s just leave it at that, simulated violence or violent speech should be legal as it is a form of speech and expression and harms none, if we where to illegalize violent speech or written word, then we would have to ban several hundreds of books, movies, institutions, starting from the religious ones (That contain most written violence)

  28. professional engineer visiting card images

    I’ve spent too much,240151396768005815 time on the internet and was waiting for it to be just a giant mass of

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