12 dead in Paris terror attack; magazine criticized Muhammad

In what is being described as the deadliest terrorist attack in France in decades, 12 people are dead after 3 masked gunman shouting “Allahu Akbar” — “God is great,” in Arabic — burst into the headquarters of a satirical magazine and shot the staff and two policemen to death.

The men then ran from the scene, hijacked a car, and fled. There’s an ongoing manhunt in Paris for them.

The magazine, Charlie Hebdo, had previously been firebombed after its cover featured the Muslim prophet Muhammad. The magazine subsequently published caricatures mocking Muhammad, and more generally has been critical of radical Islam. In the Muslim religion, such things are forbidden.

UPDATE: The world has rallied as a result of this attack.

From NPR:

Many Muslims consider any depiction or mockery of Muhammad to be blasphemous. In a 2005 episode, Danish newspaper cartoons satirizing Islam provoked protests there and in several other countries, some of them violent.

The cartoons in Charlie Hebdo pulled no punches. They included drawings of Muhammad naked and were accompanied by sexual commentary.

paris-charlie-hebdo

Frenchmen are rallying in Paris to honor the victims of the terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo.

Our Jon Green has written a number of stories about religious extremism in general, and radical Islam in particular. And the deadly attack in Paris certainly raises a number of issues, again, about freedom of speech, Islamic extremism, and to what degree some in the west continue to poke a stick at people with a known penchant for responding violently to such pokes.

Now, my reaction to this crime is more in line with Jon’s thinking in his various pieces. But it’s easy and obvious to write a piece today about how radical Islam is out of control. I think the more interesting question is how to challenge religious extremism, especially violent Muslim extremism, and whether these naked cartoons of Muhammad are the best and most effetive way of doing that.

There’s an interesting theory in the law called contributory negligence. The idea is that while the other guy hurt you, and it’s certainly his fault that he hurt you, the law recognizes that you kinda sorta helped as well. Wikipedia gives a few examples:

For example, a pedestrian crosses a road negligently and is hit by a driver who was driving negligently. Since the pedestrian has also contributed to the accident, they may be barred from complete and full recovery of damages from the driver (or their insurer) because the accident was less likely to occur if it weren’t for their failure to keep a proper lookout. Another example of contributory negligence is where a plaintiff actively disregards warnings or fails to take reasonable steps for his or her safety, then assumes a certain level of risk in a given activity; such as diving in shallow water without checking the depth first.

Now, it’s not very PC to discuss whether victims’ own actions play a role in any particular crime. But it’s an interesting, and I’d argue useful, means of trying to understand incidents like this that have much larger societal repercussions.

Generally speaking, I’m not a big fan of killing people for insulting any deity. But I also wonder sometimes at people who insist on poking Islam in the gut by continually taunting them with depictions of their prophet, in this case, naked in a sexual context. That surely is begging for an angry response. Though, no reasonable person in the West would argue that even righteous anger merits violence.

Frenchmen are changing their Facebook photo to a black square to honor the victims of the Charlie Hebdo terror attack.

Frenchmen are changing their Facebook photo to a black square to honor the victims of the Charlie Hebdo terror attack.

But let’s take this a bit further. While violence isn’t merited, it is sometimes anticipated. We know that factions of radical Islam respond to criticism of Muhammad with violence. So what’s a sardonic editor to do? Stand by her principles, knowing that she’s risking the lives of her staff; or take a pass on treating Islam as one would other religions?

The question I’m really asking is this: When you choose to walk home at 3am, through the worst neighborhood in town, knowing that everyone who walks that path ends up getting mugged — and lo’ and behold you get mugged — do you really share none of the blame for what happened?

In this case, I’m playing a bit of a devil’s advocate. I’m shocked and sickened by the crime, and it’s renewed my ongoing concerns about the dogmatic extremism of many modern religions and their followers — particularly Islam. But I also wonder what benefit there is to publishing images of anyone’s deity naked. You could argue that it’s a blow for free speech, but is it? Is this really the best way to teach uber-conservative religionists about freedom — by turning their deity into a sex object?

I think back to Salman Rushdie, a British novelist who was sentenced to die by Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini. No one in the West has any sympathy with Iran over that issue. And I have no sympathy with the attackers in Paris today. But I do wonder whether all of these cartoons mocking Muhammad are the same thing, morally and ethically, as what Salman Rushdie did.

In fact, Salman Rushdie spoke out today about this crime:

Religion, a mediaeval form of unreason, when combined with modern weaponry becomes a real threat to our freedoms. This religious totalitarianism has caused a deadly mutation in the heart of Islam and we see the tragic consequences in Paris today. I stand with Charlie Hebdo, as we all must, to defend the art of satire, which has always been a force for liberty and against tyranny, dishonesty and stupidity. ‘Respect for religion’ has become a code phrase meaning ‘fear of religion.’ Religions, like all other ideas, deserve criticism, satire, and, yes, our fearless disrespect.

Perhaps it all comes down to pornography. Hustler is not “A Farewell to Arms,” and the Nazis are most certainly not the VFW, but all are protected by our western notions of freedom of speech. The vileness of the message does not alter the degree to which we protect the messenger. And my gut reaction to the attack in Paris is most certainly not any kind of sympathy with the attackers — the attack has only heightened my ongoing concerns about our tendency to coddle religious extremism. But, I do think it’s interesting to think about this issue in terms of how best to respond to intolerance. And I’d welcome some comments below exploring this further.

UPDATE: The BBC had an interesting take on the tradition of French political satire:

Charlie Hebdo is part of a venerable tradition in French journalism going back to the scandal sheets that denounced Marie-Antoinette in the run-up to the French Revolution.

The tradition combines left-wing radicalism with a provocative scurrility that often borders on the obscene. Its decision to mock the Prophet Muhammad in 2011 was entirely consistent with its historic raison d’etre.

The paper has never sold in enormous numbers – and for 10 years from 1981, it ceased publication for lack of resources.

But with its garish front-page cartoons and incendiary headlines, it is an unmissable staple of newspaper kiosks and railway station booksellers.


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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  • BrandySpears

    I never said socialists did. However, you have on numerous occasions.

  • Bill_Perdue

    The left condems religious based violence and notes that 99.99% of that violence stems from the wars of aggression of the US and it’s zionsit client state.

  • BrandySpears

    How ironic coming from terrorist sympathizer and Hamas supporter Bill Perdue. Bill is very selective on which countries he’s outraged over who are also the victims of Islamist violence.

  • Bill_Perdue

    Saying that this was about satire is like saying that 9-11 was about office workers. It’s about poverty, wars of aggression by the EU and the US and racismn in France. That doesn’t mean it’s any more justified than 9-11 but it does identify the root causes.

  • The_Fixer

    As I said above, there’s no disputing that the U.S. has done some very obnoxious and horrible things the world over. I also said that this was not about that, it was about satire. The attackers did not mention our horrible policies and deeds, and they did not attack any government installation. They attacked the offices of a satirical newspaper.

    Again, the two are separate discussions. I have no qualms about agreeing with you that we have horrible foreign policy.

    But consider the reaction to the Mohammed cartoon that was published in Denmark some years back. Denmark, to my knowledge, is a pretty placid country that has a foreign policy that in no way approaches that of the U.S. Yet, the extremist Islamic fundamentalists had a fit, boycotted Denmark and burned some of their embassies.

    Last October, three Chechen refugees in Denmark beat a man with a bottle for the crime of expressing his belief that Islam is a violent religion. They kind of proved his point, no?

    Again, the crimes of the U.S. and other governments are a separate issue. This is about daring to question the beliefs of others through satire.

  • Indigo

    Zen?

  • Bill_Perdue

    “Couldn’t these particular kind of Muslims be thought of as poking a stick at civilized peoples by their insistence on living in the dark ages?”

    The fact that religious cults are in involved in criminality and mass murder on a globol scale is uncontestable. That’s true of islasmist terrorists, homophobic judaists, the baby raper cult and of right wing American scum like Scott lively, Pat Robertson, Jimmy Swaggart and Obama boyfriends Rick Warren and Donnir McClurkin.

    It’s also an incontestble fact that the most uncivilized group on the planet is the US government which is responsible for genocide in Vietnam and for genocide in Iraq under the Clinton, Bush and Obama regimes. Add to that their penchant for mass murder in Lybia, Yemen, Bahrain, Palestine, Afghanistan and Pakistan and no one else even comes close.

  • FLL

    “Just because this criminal group is armed and dangerous does not mean that they get a pass.”

    Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding! And we have a winner!

  • mooresart

    …and thank heavens for that. :)

  • The_Fixer

    Well, let’s talk about the idea of “poking the bear”, or “Asking for it”, equated to “contributory negligence” for a moment. Why can’t we turn that argument around?

    Couldn’t these particular kind of Muslims be thought of as poking a stick at civilized peoples by their insistence on living in the dark ages? Aren’t they asking for ridicule by their strict demands to live by an ancient code that is sexist, discriminatory, and homophobic? Wouldn’t one expect to be the recipient of critical attention when they demand that the rest of the world live by an outdated (as defined by the rest of the modern world) code of supposed ethics?

    After all, we make fun of homophobic fundamentalist Christian “prophets” who say the most outrageous things. Just because this criminal group is armed and dangerous does not mean that they get a pass. If we do give them a pass, that’s really giving in to terrorism.

    Yeah, I get the whole idea of not poking the biggest guy in the bar. But I’ve known some of those big guys, and a lot of them have the wisdom to ignore the local pipsqueak who tries to pick a fight with them. It’s called “being the better man.”

    If Islamic fundamentalists (and to be honest, a lot of “mainstream” followers of Islam) really had such a good thing going, wouldn’t they not be threatened by criticism, and “be the better man” (so to speak)?

    I get about the point about being judicious, I really do. However, when we cower to these assholes, and that’s all they are in spite of their claims of devotion, we will never see a better world.

    I’d also be quick to point out that I am not talking about the legitimate complaints that some Muslim-led nations have with our government concerning past and current abuses. That is a different subject in my mind. This horrible situation came as a result of satire. That is vastly different than U.S. drones taking out an innocent family or a wedding party. One should not mix the two conversations. This was about satire, which is older than the religion they claim to be defending. Don’t confuse the two situations, they’re totally different things involving the same people.

  • Bill_Perdue

    What’s absent from this discussion in the national press. “Following the murder of two NYPD officers in New York City, much of the political right moved to blame Mayor de Blasio and other progressive critics of police brutality for inciting the violence, claiming that the mentally ill man who was behind the attack was motivated by left-wing rhetoric.

    That narrative doesn’t fit very well with a terror case brought this week by the FBI against three Georgia men, all members of a right-wing militia that plotted to attack police and others. Yesterday, Terry Peace, Brian Cannon and Cory Williamson pleaded not guilty to a charge of domestic terrorism, as well as charges of conspiring to defraud the government. Northwest Georgia Newsexplains: “Following the murder of two NYPD officers in New York City, much of the political right moved to blame Mayor de Blasio and other progressive critics of police brutality for inciting the violence, claiming that the mentally ill man who was behind the attack was motivated by left-wing rhetoric.

    That narrative doesn’t fit very well with a terror case brought this week by the FBI against three Georgia men, all members of a right-wing militia that plotted to attack police and others. Yesterday, Terry Peace, Brian Cannon and Cory Williamson pleaded not guilty to a charge of domestic terrorism, as well as charges of conspiring to defraud the government. Northwest Georgia Newsexplains: Peace, Cannon and Williamson — all members of a militia in Georgia — participated in online chat discussions between Jan. 23 and Feb. 15, 2014, that were monitored by the FBI. During the conversations online, they discussed using guerilla war tactics and planned to launch attacks against a metro Atlanta police station and several government agencies in February 2014.” In other words, the men plotted to launch large-scale explosive attacks against local government and police that, if successfully carried out, would have been the largest terror attacks on U.S. soil since 9/11. “http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/right-wing-terror-plot-you-didnt-hear-about-week

    The homophobes at MSNBC and Fox and the racsit immigrant bashers at CNN as well as most of the national kept press ignored this. It doesn’t fit into their propaganda meme about bad muslims and good Westerners.

  • Doesn’t sound like a group of people who will be shamed into the 21st century by any amount of free speech any time soon.

  • emjayay

    That’s nice. But you aren’t a well known impudently satirical publication.

  • Bill_Perdue

    There’s a large element of racist and Islamophobic bigotry in French society and law
    and it stems from the same reaction to imperialism that dictates the rise of anti-immigrant bashing and racism here and in England. A constant complaint of the roman aristocracy centered around the ‘pollution’ of Rome although they seem to forget that they were the ones who enslaved millions from Italy and elsewhere and imported them to Rome and to work their mines and latifundia throughout the empire .

    In Europe and particularly in France, immigrants, especially those from former French colonies in Central and North Africa, are harshly treated, get the worst jobs and the lowest pay and are
    subjected to insulting laws like the ones forbidding women to follow islamist laws that require wearing the burqa, a face mask. I’m all for suppressing islamist and other religion based anti-female laws but no such laws are on the books in France forbidding nuns from wearing habits or priests from defiantly advertising their child raping predilections by wearing a roman collar.

  • emjayay

    Pew Research (2010): 84% of Egyptian Muslims support the death penalty for leaving Islam
    86% of Jordanian Muslims support the death penalty for leaving Islam
    30% of Indonesian Muslims support the death penalty for leaving Islam
    76% of Pakistanis support death the penalty for leaving Islam
    51% of Nigerian Muslims support the death penalty for leaving Islam

    Also from Pew (2010): At least three-quarters of Muslims in Egypt and Pakistan say they would favor making each of the following the law in their countries: stoning people who commit adultery, whippings and cutting off of hands for crimes like theft and robbery and the death penalty for those who leave the Muslim religion. Majorities of Muslims in Jordan and Nigeria also favor these harsh punishments.

  • mooresart

    Nope. I just prefer flying under the radar. Personal choice more to do with dissolving my ego than living in fear. It’s a zen kind of thing.

  • Bill_Perdue

    As if anyone needed further proof, this confirms the fact that religion (superstition that demeans and attempts to suppress secular life) and the cults that promote it – christer,islamist and judaist – are enablers of insanity. Their insanity has to be dealt with by harsh criminal punishment for interfering with secular political questions like marriage and the right to free speech and for promoting the rape of children. In this country we should begin the process by taxing the cults until they fall and can’t get up.

    As far as I know, no one who posts here defends the islamist cult, although a few on the right
    defend the mass murder of Palestinians, Libyans, Iraqis, Yemenis, Pakistanis, Syrians, Afghans and other Islamophobic murders by the US and the zionist bunkerstaat. Some of us, along with the ACLU and the Center for Constitutional Rights also criticize the kind of racism that allows Obama to think that he can murder Arab American citizens without trial, people like Anwar al-Aulaqi, Samir
    Khan, ‘Abd al-Rah Anwar al-Aulaqi and Jude Mohammed. One was a sixteen year old boy
    from Denver, Colorado.

    http://www.commondreams.org/news/2014/02/10/aclu-obama-no-you-cant-just-murder-american-overseas
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=21XhdpHOjRY

  • emjayay

    Were any of the cartoons racist? Not that I saw. What is your problem with ridicule of the very deserving?

  • “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

    – Evelyn Beatrice Hall (quote often mis-attributed to Voltaire)

  • FLL

    French police have apprehended one suspect and are searching for two others. (Here is the link to tonight’s breaking news story at Huffpo.) It seems that 15,000 citizens on the streets of Paris have finally had enough, as well as citizens in Berlin and New York City. Below are pictures, the top two from Paris, the third from Berlin and the bottom pic from Union Square in New York:

  • Indigo

    There is only one race, the human race. There’s no “race card” to play or blame beyond ignorance.

  • jamesnimmo

    So living in fear of what strangers might think of you is your idea of a good time?

  • jamesnimmo

    Yes, and those who shot the employees of Charlie CHOSE to do it. No RATIONAL entity told or forced them to do it. They decided by themselves that “Allah” blessed be his name (sic)”, would reward them. Those attackers deserve what ever French justice has in store for them.

  • I don’t consider that rational either, as it serves no concrete purpose other than to sow more chaos.

  • nicho

    With the possible exception of the president of the United States who blows up wedding parties, schools, and innocent American teenagers with his precious drones and magic “kill list.”

  • penpal

    No purpose? I think making the statement that our tangible personal freedoms trump the authority of superstitious nonsense is a suitable purpose. No religion has the right to tell other people what to do when those people don’t subscribe to their religious beliefs. And these theocratic fascists just don’t get that.

  • That’s just it, we’re not dealing with rational individuals. No rational individual shoots up a place, for any reason.

  • 2karmanot

    “contributory negligence.”—-the justification of abusers

  • I already asked him earlier today to write about this! So I certainly hope so ;-)

  • Strawgrasper

    …and if we were dealing with wild animals, I would agree with you. But we are dealing with presumably rational individuals who have chosen to live in the West with our standards of freedom. Not the same thing by a long shot.

  • You’re free to go out into the woods and poke bears too, but you can’t suddenly throw up your hands and deny all responsibility when the bear turns around and swats you.

  • mirth

    I am concerned about racism and nothing about fundamentalists amuse me, but I do concede the racial variety of Muslims.

  • If these were nice people they were ridiculing I may agree with you, but they were ridiculing extremists – murderers, rapists, etc. Sorry but the frat boys I knew were too busy making fun of fat chicks to give a shit about any issue larger than them.

  • Badgerite

    Utter bullshit. These types of attacks have gone on for criticism of anything about Islam including its treatment of women.

  • Badgerite

    Is that what Theo Van Gogh did then? Is that why Ayaan Hirsi Ali must travel with security at all times to protect her life?

  • Badgerite

    I didn’t know Mohammed was a “diety”. I thought he was just a spokesman. I find the attitude of submitting to this type of terrorism repugnant. After all, Theo Van Gogh did not “depict” anybody naked, he merely criticized the treatment of women by Islam and was murdered for it. It would seem that any criticism of Mohammed or his followers is punishable by death. Not merely satirically offensive ones.

  • mirth

    Yes, and I have the protected right to walk alone down the scary 3am street. But is it responsible of me to do that, to risk the safety of those who might come to my calls for help or to ignore the impact of my injuries on those who care about my well-being.
    No, it isn’t.

    Even with your dogmatic thinking, surely you can accept that the flip side of rights is responsibilities.

  • FLL

    Your comment and mine have one thing in common, which you can see by this excerpt from my comment:

    …I will agree that there are more effective and less effective ways of criticizing religious tyranny. Cartoons depicting religious prophets in demeaning sexual situations probably produces more heat than light.

    I will only take exception to throwing in the “racist” card every time anyone criticizes Islam. I think that some white people use this tactic not because they are concerned about racism, but simply because some forms of oppression on the part of Islamic fundamentalists amuse them. There are plenty of white Muslims in the Balkan countries, by the way.

  • Strawgrasper

    …both of which are, last I checked, protected speech in any functioning democracy.

  • mirth

    There is the sanctity of press freedom, and then there is the fratboy-like smugness of publishing racist, derogatory cartoons with no purpose other than to ridicule and inflame.

  • FLL

    Let’s compare various forms of religious violence. American Christians committed about seven murders of abortion clinic doctors and staff members during the 1990s and one in the 2000s; all of the perpetrators were convicted of murder. When was the last time you heard of even the looniest Christians killing someone for making fun of Jesus? Monty Python’s “Life of Brian” remains a well-loved cinematic classic, and I’m sure no one ever was murdered because of it. Comparing anti-abortion murders with the murder of satirists and novelists is comparing apples and oranges—in other words, don’t do it.

    Having said that, I will agree that there are more effective and less effective ways of criticizing religious tyranny. Cartoons depicting religious prophets in demeaning sexual situations probably produces more heat than light.

  • mooresart

    Maybe I’m not as courageous as a few of you commenters below but I tend to think that my actions have consequences and if I purposely poke a stick at fundamentalists, no matter their stripe, I could well be putting myself in harms way so I don’t. While I may have the right to do it itsolves nothing. If I was a woman I would not be wearing a short skirt at all simply to circumvent unwanted attention.

  • FLL

    I corrected my oversight above, so thank you for pointing it out to me. Yes, I read Jon Green’s article about David Duke. I was wondering whether Jon Green would be posting any more articles about Islam or Islamic fundamentalism. If you go back to his articles about the Christian Pakistani woman sentenced to death for blasphemy, you’ll notice that the angry protests on the part of two or three commenters were a little overwhelming, so I think my question about future articles on Islamic fundamentalism is valid.

  • Don Chandler
  • Becca, you’re correct. That’s yet another troubling aspect of religion, this notion that people have a right to be free from offense at any cost.

  • FLL

    I think this would be a good time to take care of some unfinished business. Jon Green posted some articles about Asia Bibi, the Christian Pakistani woman who has been sentenced to death for blasphemy. After being asked to fetch water from a well, she used a cup to take a drink from the well. A neighbor who was involved in a dispute with Bibi’s family over property damage verbally attacked Bibi and said she had no right to drink water from a well that Muslims drink from because Christians (and presumably secular people and other non-Muslims) are “unclean.” During the argument, Bibi said the following, for which she was convicted of blasphemy:

    “I believe in my religion and in Jesus Christ, who died on the cross for the sins of mankind. What did your Prophet Muhammed ever do to save mankind?”

    Actually, Bibi’s last sentence (which was her only mention of Muhammed) is a question, and as such, it is perfectly acceptable in a debate or argument. I believe this is one example of what Indigo means, in his comment below, by a slippery slope. Jon Green merely was discussing the institutional causes for the kind of government-sponsored religious terror that has resulted in Bibi’s official death sentence by the Pakistani government. Two or three Americablog commenters all but demanded that you prevent Jon Green from posting future articles. Curiously, Jon Green has not posted any articles since then, so I’m curious to know, Mr. Aravosis, if Mr. Green will be posting articles in the future.

  • It’s perfectly normal and understandable to be upset when someone makes fun of your deeply held personal beliefs. It is and always will be wrong to take those feelings of upset and use them as an excuse for violence, mayhem, and murder.

    It may be unwise, to use your example, to go walking in a rough neighborhood at 3am. Hell, we women are constantly paying attention to such things. But does this mean that our mugger or rapist should receive a lenient sentence because “we (the victim) should’ve known better”? No.

    (T)he attack has only heightened my ongoing concerns about our tendency to coddle religious extremism

    This is the problem in a nutshell. It is also a tendency to allow those with extreme beliefs to dictate the behavior and actions of others, including non-believers. Is it understandable, as I remarked, that someone who follows Islam to be upset when someone else mocks their Prophet? Sure. Is it justified when that believer then kills you for the mocking? Never.

    This applies to every other religion, too: The free exercise thereof should end when it infringes on the freedom of others not to adhere to your beliefs.

  • FLL

    If you’re advising people to avoid criticizing religion because it’s potentially unsafe, I’ll have to disagree. I’ll give specific examples. If I put up hurricane shutters if the weather reports say that a hurricane is coming, I’m being prudent. It’s everyone right to criticize religion without fear of violence.

  • nicho

    They did satirize Mohammad, as you note, but that was in the past, and someone burned down their offices subsequent to that. More recently, however, they have satirized ISIS and its leader. That is most likely the cause of this slaughter. A lot of disaffected (thanks to IMF neoliberal austerity) French youth have joined ISIS. When your most attractive career prospect is delivering pizza part time, what the hell do you have to lose?

  • I disagree. There are distinctions. If a girl wears a short skirt is she asking to be raped? No, of course not. But if she gets drunk and picks up a strange guy and brings him home then tells him no, then she is putting herself at risk? Yes. Does that excuse the rapist? No. Absolutely not.

    Life is risky – what you can and should do are not always compatible. You can provoke people, but you have to be aware of the consequences. That’s what it comes down to: actions and consequences.

    I’m not saying they deserved to be shot and killed – they had every right to criticize and satire, but there are illogical people who disagree with you running around out there. You cannot expect logical reactions when you are dealing with crazy/extremists.

  • nicho

    Not really as slippery as you think. What you’re doing is conflating two ideas — responsibility and blame. A less controversial example. I go out some night to a seedy bar in a bad area of town. After three or 10 beers, I hit the men’s room, leaving my wallet sitting on the bar. When I come back, it’s gone. The person who took it is a thief and is to blame, i.e. He did something wrong. However, most people would say I was partly responsible for not being sufficiently prudent in taking care of my property. In a perfect world, I should be able to leave my wallet lying on the bar. In case you haven’t noticed, this isn’t a perfect world. We all need to be prudent in our actions. I’m not saying that wearing a short skirt is imprudent (before someone gets off in that tear) but we all need to avoid, if we can, situations that are potentially unsafe.

  • TimK

    Here is my translation of a paragraph from a Swedish newspaper editorial about the Charlie Hebdo killings:

    “Someone might ask: Was it necessary for Charlie Hebdo to always be challenging and provoking the powers that be — at times in every possible direction? The answer is clear: it is every citizen’s right to do exactly that, even when it hurts, even when it happens to be inappropriate. The parameters of democracy must be wide enough to encompass coarse provocations and insults. In this lies a decisive difference between democracy and the forms of social organization where fundamentalism and repression hold sway.”

    Now, to your question, John: “When you choose to walk home at 3am, through the worst neighborhood in town, knowing that everyone who walks that path ends up getting mugged — and lo’ and behold you get mugged — do you really share none of the blame for what happened?”

    That answer is: Yes. You really share none of the blame for what happened. You have a perfect right to walk down the street at 3 a.m. unmolested.

  • Indigo

    All that about victims’ accountability? A slippery slope, John, a slippery slope. When a girl wears a short skirt . . . yada yada?

  • Sadly, the US and other western countries are creating these radicals after 13+ years of war for what again? This really is a shame and I am deeply saddened and support Charlie Hebdo and his right to draw what he wants.

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