aking a couple of points:
1) Free speech is not negotiable. Do we truly want to live in free societies (A question we should consider carefully before answer!)? If so, we must accept offensive, vile, destructive, and reductive speech as part of the bargain.
2) Accepting that those forms of speech will not be censored or punished by the government does not mean that we must personally find them ethically acceptable.
3) Free speech is also a negative right– the right NOT to have words put in your mouth. This goes for pledges of allegiance, motions of solidarity, etc.
4a) Charlie Hebdo magazine is a xenophobic, racist, obnoxious, destructive, reductive exercise in free speech. I want nothing to do with the kind of person who subscribes to such a magazine.
4b) Charlie Hebdo magazine exists to attack deeply held ideas indiscriminately. They have spent an inordinate amount of time attacking what amount to powerless populations in France (minority populations, relatively economically disenfranchised, socially ‘separate,’ lacking significant representation in government). This is not a ction of a brave organization. This is punching down; it’s pure cowardice and it’s despicable.
4c) at the same time, I acknowledge and support their right to be all of those things in physical safety and without official recrimination.
At this moment in history, I think it’s more appropriate to say “I am with the people of Paris, I am not supportive of racist and destructive magazines, but I believe in dissent and the right of the ugly to exist.”
To mock a whole civilization and set of values on the basis of its number of Nobel Prizes, is as disappointing (rationally) as doing the same to women because men have won 20 times as many Nobel prizes, or implying on grounds of race that white Europeans or Americans are superior because they have more Nobels than others.