Charlie Hebdo is a French satirical magazine with a long history of passionately defending free speech and freedom of expression and satirizing and skewering anyone and anything it decided needed to be satirized and skewered. No one and nothing is off limits to them, nor has anything ever been.
The magazine has just published several cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad which Islamists (followers of Islam, most of whom are Muslims) found offensive. They responded with massive, violent, deadly protests and riots all over the world, with many more to come…the massive, violent, deadly protests and riots haven’t played themselves out by any means and will no doubt become bigger, louder and even more violent and deadly in the coming days.
Islamists and their apologists are trying to place the blame for these outbursts, this mob behaviour, on Charlie Hebdo and its staff. They are saying that Charlie Hebdo and its staff are responsible for them because they published offensive material in the first place and that the perpetrators bear no responsibility for their actions.
They are wrong, utterly and completely wrong. The perpetrators are fully responsible for their actions because each and every one of them is a human being with the ability to choose how to act. If they act in a certain way it is because they choose to and that makes them responsible for their actions. That really is the essence of what it means to be human…the ability to make choices and act on them.
Islamists who say that perpetrators bear no responsibility for their actions and blame them on others are really saying that they are not human because they cannot choose how to act, that they have to act in certain ways, that Islam has reduced them to unthinking automatons. That is what Islam tries to do but in the end everyone is a human being with the innate ability to make choices, whether Islam, Mohammad, Allah or Islamists and their apologists like it or not.
The editor of Charlie Hebdo is right. He isn’t responsible for the violence over the naked Mohammad cartoons. The perpetrators and only the perpetrators are. If you believe otherwise you believe that the perpetrators aren’t human at all, that they do not have the innate ability to choose how to act, that Islam has reduced them to unthinking automatons.
Not so. Despite what Islam has done to them the perpetrators are still human and still remain responsible for their actions. The editor of Charlie Hebdo isn’t, I’m not, you’re not, other Islamists aren’t, Islam, Mohammad, Allah aren’t, our right to free speech and freedom of expression aren’t, no one and nothing are. They are human and they can choose and that makes them responsible for whatever their choice is.
That also makes them accountable for their actions, for their choices.
Accountable to us, to our values and laws, not to Islam and Islamic law. We live in free, secular, pluralistic, democratic societies and if we want to keep it that way we must ensure that our values and laws prevail, not theirs. The two can’t live side by side and it is long past time we recognized and understood that.
The editor of Charlie Hebdo and his staff are heroes and I salute them. Freedom loving people everywhere owe them a great deal of gratitude.
Hey, all you Islamists out there…if you come and kill me because I’ve written this does that make me responsible for my own death?
No, it does not.
It makes you responsible, not me.
Accountable too. And not to Islam and Islamic law either.