Say no to the assassin’s veto

From PEN: Rejecting the Assassin’s Veto.

The “assassin’s veto” over speech has become a global phenomenon in recent years and, even more vividly, in recent months, when we’ve seen killings not just in Paris but also in Copenhagen and Bangladesh. Reflecting the intensification of violent intolerance for speech considered offensive by some, former PEN American Center President Salman Rushdie has commented that while he would write The Satanic Verses again today, he does not believe that he would survive the reprisals in this era.

Charlie Hebdo has positioned itself in the firing line of this battle, refusing to accept the curtailment of lawful speech by those who meet it with violence. It is undoubtedly true that in addition to provoking violent threats from extremists, the Hebdo cartoons offended some other Muslims and members of the many other groups they targeted. Indeed, were the Hebdo cartoonists not satirical in their genesis and intent, their content and images might offend most or all of us. But, based on their own statements, we believe that Charlie Hebdo’s intent was not to ostracize or insult Muslims, but rather to reject forcefully the efforts of a small minority of radical extremists to place broad categories of speech off limits—no matter the purpose, intent, or import of the expression.

And ask yourselves: who is ultimately most harmed by the efforts of a small minority of radical extremists to place broad categories of speech off limits? We’re not. It’s the people who are most subject to the power that those extremists (aka murderers) are enforcing who are most harmed. Muslims are marginalized in Europe but at the same time Islam is a powerful religion, and way too many people are crushed and maimed by that power.


  1. johnthedrunkard says

    AND, the Islamic world view includes very strong notions of being Anointed World Conquerors. Only by cutting off memory at 1967, or 1917, can we forget that, for example, Spain, Sicily, Naples, Bulgaria, Hungary, most of Austria etc. are ‘ancient Muslim lands’ groaning under Western Oppression.

    In one of Bruce Bauer’s books, he tells of an incident in Denmark. An imported (Wahhabi of course) imam actually preached that: since his congregation lived in Denmark, the country was ‘Islamic’ and all non-Muslim Danes were subject to tribute or forced conversion. He actually told his congregation that they were free to steal from ‘natives’ as claiming their due payment.

    Yes, he was an individual crackpot, but the (Muslim) journalist who reported his sermon was forced into hiding by death threats.

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