At different points, even France’s devoutly secular politicians have questioned whether the magazine went too far.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius once asked of its cartoons, “Is it really sensible or intelligent to pour oil on the fire?“
It is, actually.
Part of Charlie Hebdo’s point was that respecting these taboos strengthens their censorial power.
Worse, allowing extremists to set the limits of conversation validates and entrenches the extremists’ premises: that free speech and religion are inherently at odds (they are not), and that there is some civilizational conflict between Islam and the West (there isn’t).
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