Saturday, January 09, 2016

They never were Charlie

On the one-year anniversary of the Islamist bloodbath at Charlie Hebdo, the New York Times deemed the weekly’s commemorative and irreverent cover newsworthy, but declined to show it — or even to explain it properly...

...Even in January 2015, there were dissenting voices declaring that ‘Je ne suis pas Charlie!’---I am not Charlie. A year later, it is clear that none of the Western political and cultural elites are genuinely for freedom of expression and the right to be offensive. They are all not Charlie now.

This does not signal a change of heart over the past 12 months. It only confirms what spiked has argued from the first. Support for free speech in Europe and the US was never as solid as those solidarity banners made it appear. And far from being alien agents, the French-born-and-raised Islamist gunmen who murdered theCharlie Hebdo cartoonists acted as the extreme wing of a mainstream trend in Western society – the culture of conformism and You Can’t Say That which demands that offensive ideas and images must be closed down.

Those who took a dim view of genuinely free speech in the aftermath of Charlie Hebdo were not confined to Islamist terror cells. It quickly emerged that the threat to freedom came not just from a few barbarians at the gate. Free speech faces more powerful enemies within the supposed citadel of civilisation itself. There were loud accusations of hypocrisy after the appearance of autocratic governments from the Middle East and Africa at the Paris ‘Je Suis Charlie’ demo. Yet double standards flourished much closer to home...

The local media was never Charlie, either.

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