Be Offended: Vive La Resistance


In America, we like to make everything Democrat vs. Republican and use the polarity to pump more power to government. And sure ‘nuff. I first watched the momentous triumph of liberty be reframed to fit the agenda of MSNBC, and then that of FOX News.

Without commentary, I had seen fellow (small-l) libertarians, en masse, asserting their rights. They were turning out by the thousands, not to flail in a whining plea for more government to raise awareness. Gadsden-style, these good folks were saying, “Don’t tread on me.” And they weren’t just talking to terrorists.

To backtrack somewhat, since the concept was lost on at least the cable news networks, I am one of many who believes all forms of interpersonal evil can be lumped under one umbrella definition of trying to exert one’s will on others. If you don’t believe me, flash back to the horror flicks you’ve seen and ask yourself what was so terrifying. Hollywood producers know they can get the money of people who like to be scared by portraying somebody losing personal control.

It may take the form of dismemberment, demonic possession, confinement, or threats; but man-against-man evil requires submission to unrighteous dominion. It is OK to teach, proselyte, or suggest, but one must also go away when asked.

Charlie Hebdo created disgusting cartoons which I find offensive, but nobody made me look at them. I can still run and jump and listen to music. The same is not true for the twelve who were gunned down. Voltaire is credited with saying, “”I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.” Stephane (Charb) Charbonnier, who had been living under threats, had said, “I would rather die standing than live kneeling.”

The glorious thing about the slogan, “NOT AFRAID,” is that terrorists, by definition, are fueled by terror. By being the bigger person, with a large target sign all lit up at night, the good French people were practicing what behavioral psychologists used to call “extinction.”

As if that was not enough, the next issue of Charlie Hebdo, that sympathizers had helped print to make another shot heard ’round the world, featured another cartoon Mohammed, showing the surviving cartoonists were not going to self-sensor to appease murderers. The caricature prophet, as so many good people were doing, held a sign that read, “JE SUIS CHARLIE,” as he shed a tear. And, most movingly, the cartoonists added a personal note that translates to, “All is forgiven.”

Ironically, a publication famous for disgraceful, anti-religious humor had just screamed the message of the Messiah louder than most of us who confess Him will ever get to. Also ironically, the cartoonists had reportedly been discussing an issue that would make fun of Islamophobia when they were interrupted by the gunmen.

Contrast this to America’s recent embarrassing reaction to murder. The media outlets cherry-picked an isolated incident that fit their agenda. Race-baiters were called in, and the hype-fed, frenzied masses took it as a license to smash and trash and loot. I’m talking about Ferguson.

Back to Paris, it wasn’t long before the triumph of the human spirit, over the sheeple substrate to which power mongers constantly try to reduce it, was lost in the wash. Leaders of forty nations asked, “Where are they going, for I am their leader?” stood in front of the crowd, and grabbed half the media attention. Granted, they all probably had a number of honorable reasons to be there, but this was not a moment to celebrate heads of state, nor was it a mass whining for them to expand the nanny state. The storyline, however, changed from a nation refusing to kowtow to evil, come what may, to, “Where was Obama?”

The protesters, we were told, were not resisting infringements of their rights, as if the pens held aloft were begging for more legislation against hate speech. Media fuzzed out the Charlie Hebdo cartoons as if they might offend somebody.

The late self-proclaimed socialist pundit Christopher Hitchens “got it,” early on. He observed pretzel logic in the growing trend of absolving those who pull the trigger and saying the blood was on the hands of somebody who was exercising free speech. “But now the rot has gone a serious degree further into the fabric. Now we have to say that the mayhem we fear is also our fault, if not indeed our direct responsibility. This is the worst sort of masochism, and it involves inverting the honest meaning of our language as well as what might hitherto have been thought of as our concept of moral responsibility,” he said.

Doug Bandow at the Cato Institute pegged the Charlie Hebdo massacre as religious persecution. Extremists are infringing others’ “freedom not to believe” Islamic tenets. While noting, “violent religious intolerance is almost uniquely Muslim,” he asserts, “For religion, there is no greater affront than to inhibit people’s search for the transcendent and liberty to respond, yay or nay, to God’s call.”

Before Charlie Hebdo, Flemming Rose authored The Tyranny of Silence: How One Cartoon Ignited a Global Debate on the Future of Free Speech. Flemming is fighting against the growing psychosis of victimhood where, “it can be difficult to figure out the difference between an offensive cartoon or movie and committing mass murder. . . . It amounts to giving people who feel like reacting with violence a free hand to decide whether speech incites terror.”

Rose coins the phrase “grievance fundamentalism” to describe the syndrome where victims of assault are “deemed to have been asking for it.” Claiming we need more “insensitivity training,” he writes, “The only right we do not and should not have in a liberal democracy is a right not to be offended.”

Walter Olson, known best for his advocacy of tort reform, argued, “One way we can honor Charb, Cabu, Wolinski, Tignous, and the others who were killed Wednesday is by lifting legal constraints on what their successors tomorrow can draw and write.”

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