Tuesday, May 12

Leftist claims honoring Charlie Hebdo has a chilling effect on free speech??

PEN is an association of authors, editors and similar folk.  It bills itself as defending free expression and human rights, and very much for international peace and understanding.  If this strikes you as an organization that would attract leftists like mad, you're right.

But free expression is good, so at its annual gala last week the association gave a free-speech award to the French satire magazine Charlie Hebdo.  For those who don't remember, that was where two Muzz armed with machineguns walked into the magazine's offices and one by one, executed ten of the editors and staff.

On learning of the proposal to honor the magazine, some PEN members were horrified: "We strongly support freedom of expression, but you're taking the idea too literally.  We can't go giving awards to people who draw cartoons of the prophet Mohammed (pbuh), or satirize Islam, because...well, you just can't!  It's just awful to poke fun at one of the world's great religions! 

Well, except for Christianity.  That's fair game.  Because...you know.  It's just different.  And did you hear what they did in the Crusades?

Francine Prose, a former president of PEN-America, was one of dozens of members who announced they would boycott the gala because of the planned award to the French magazine.   Here's Ms. Prose explaining her position in the left-wing Brit paper The Guardian:
The narrative of the Charlie Hebdo murders – white Europeans killed in their offices by Muslim extremists – is one that feeds neatly into the cultural prejudices that have allowed our government to make so many disastrous mistakes in the Middle East. And the idea that one is either "for us or against us" in such matters not only precludes rational and careful thinking, but also has a chilling effect on the exercise of our right to free expression and free speech that all of us – and all the people at PEN – are working so tirelessly to guarantee.
Francine characterizes the execution--by Muslim terrorists--of most of the magazine's staff as simply a "narrative"--one that "feeds neatly into the cultural prejudices" that she's certain afflict all non-Muslims.  This "precludes rational and careful thinking."

And then in the same sentence is this astonishing non-sequitur: "...also has a chilling effect on the exercise of our right to free expression and free speech..."

Wait, I thought the whole point of honoring the French magazine was to support freedom of expression, even if such expression offended people.  Yet Francine has clearly implied that honoring the satire magazine--which satirized all religions--would chill free speech?

This utterly reverses what really happened--which was that two heavily-armed terrorists executed the magazine's unarmed, civilian staff because they didn't like what the staff published.

How Francine can rationally claim honoring the magazine chills free speech isn't explained.  One hopes for a moment that what she meant was that the executions had a chilling effect on the willingness of other writers to criticize Islam, but if that was the case why would she be opposed to giving the mag an award? 

Wait, this might explain it:
Perhaps my sense of this will be clearer if I mention the sort of writers and whistleblowers whom I think would be appropriate candidates: Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning, the journalists who have risked (and in some cases lost) their lives to report on the wars in the Middle East.
The bitterness...of the criticism that [those who boycotted the award] have received point out how difficult people find it to think with any clarity on these issues and how easy it has been for the media – and our culture – to fan the flames of prejudice against Islam. As a result, many innocent Muslims have been tarred with the brush of Islamic extremism.
Yep, that rounds out the picture.  This woman is a typical mush-brained leftist.  "Muslim good, western civilization bad."  Says she's a tireless supporter of free speech--but only if Muslims aren't offended.  But don't worry, it all makes perfect sense to her friends.

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