• Some Thoughts on the Slaughter at Charlie Hebdo


    Here are some thoughts on the brutal slaughter yesterday at the Charlie Hebdo office in Paris (I don’t pretend that all of these points are original):



    Responses that concentrate on criticising the magazine, or noting that some people were offended by its output is akin to pointing out that a rape victim was wearing a short skirt. Yes, it might be true, but if the implication is to present the fact as some sort a justification for what happened to them, then that is a disgraceful response to an awful crime.



    The best response to demands that a particular form of expression should be stifled is to actively defy those demands. If those demands threaten violence then that complicates things, as “best” must take safety into account. Nevertheless, it is generally wrong to give in to the demands of terrorists (in part because it rewards their approach), and if enough people are defying violent threats then the threats are shared and diluted.



    Media outlets reporting on the slaughter that don’t publish Charlie Hebdo images are making life harder for those that do.



    The only Muslims who should be blamed for the murders are those who carried them out, and any accessory to the crime. All other Muslims are innocent, even those who agree with the actions of the terrorists (though they should be reviled for that).



    It’s possible to recognise that Islam was a major motivating force in the slaughter, without any blame being laid on the vast amounts of innocent Muslims.



    Muslims are no more obliged to condemn the attacks than non-Muslims. It must be frustrating whenever something like this happens to have lots of people looking at you as if to ask “Well? Aren’t you going to condemn it then?”. I’ve experienced something similar myself, and thus I have changed my view on this point. Perhaps we all have some obligation to condemn it, but my point is that Muslims have no special obligation over and above that base obligation.



    In solidarity:



    Category: EthicsReligion

    Article by: Notung

    I started as a music student, studying at university and music college, and playing trombone for various orchestras. While at music college, I became interested in philosophy, and eventually went on to complete an MA in Philosophy in 2012. An atheist for as long as I could think for myself, a skeptic, and a political lefty, my main philosophical interests include epistemology, ethics, logic and the philosophy of religion. The purpose of Notung (named after the name of the sword in Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen) is to concentrate on these issues, examining them as critically as possible.

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    • iamcuriousblue

      Good, sensible points all, and ones variously missed by either the extreme of multicultural left or its counterpart on the “Defend Western values!” right.

      The only thing I’d take slight issue with is this:

      “Muslims are no more obliged to condemn the attacks than non-Muslims….Perhaps we all have some obligation to condemn it, but my point is that Muslims have no special obligation over and above that base obligation.”

      I think it could be argued that one does have a greater obligation to fight evils that are done in one’s name. But that isn’t a special obligation on Muslims – by the same token, more Americans should speak up against Gitmo and like human rights violation done in the name of keeping Americans safe.

    • kraut2

      “The only Muslims who should be blamed for the murders are those who carried them out, and any accessory to the crime.”

      You are sure of that? What about the countless mullahs who instigate, preach that kind of violence? The “righteous” act to defend their faith not only by words but by violence.They are not part of this picture? They do not deserve our enmity because they just by their rhetoric and encouragement laid the basis for such actions?

    • SimonNorwich

      Some thoughts of my own (not necessarily a direct response to the above):

      I’ve heard a lot of “moderate” Muslims condemn the atrocity, and then follow up with a “but…” or “however…” that their religion should be treated with dignity and respect (i.e. not mocked or criticised).

      I think this highlights the core of the struggle that is going on. The reason why their religion is mocked and criticised, is precisely because it does not treat people with respect and dignity; but they can’t see this.

      I’m not even referring to the terrorist atrocities carried out in the name of Islam. And I don’t care what “the true Islam” is. I’m talking about the way Islam is broadly practised around the world today.

      This includes the practice of branding children at birth with the label “Muslim”, indoctrinating them to believe superstitious nonsense and that if they ever leave the religion they will be, at best, ostracised by their family and community, genital mutilation, forbidding them to fall in love with someone who just happens to be of a different religion, arranging marriages – often to first cousins, imposing restrictions on women, harassing gays, imprisoning dissenters, and so on. These things are all widely practised in many parts of the Muslim world and fall within the bounds of the “moderates”. These are disgusting practices, and an insult to human dignity. Jumped up “scholars” who help perpetrate these disgusting practices deserve to be shown up for what they are.

      I will argue until the day I die that these practices are far more disgusting than the practice of saying they are disgusting!

    • Yeah, perhaps, though it can be difficult to isolate those “linked” in the relevant way. All Muslims, or just Sunnis? All Americans, or just those who voted for the President? What about Christians, as fellow religious people? What about British people, as allies of the US?

      I’m also thinking what it feels like to have people associate you with something you had no part in, and would never have done yourself. It’s frustrating, and I’ve had it comparatively mild compared to what Muslims are getting from some. I’m partly basing my opinion on that – IMO we should normalise the idea that those people have nothing to apologise for, and that guilt by association is a fallacious way of reasoning.

    • This raises the interesting question about what counts as “Islam” – I’m not convinced (nor do I deny) that those practices are “what Islam does”. It’s a genuinely tricky one, and I’ve thought about it quite a bit.

      No argument obviously that the practices you list are terrible!

    • I tried to cover that point:

      All other Muslims are innocent, even those who agree with the actions of the terrorists (though they should be reviled for that).

      In other words, yes, they do deserve our enmity. I’m just saying that their crime is a different one to that of walking into a building and shooting people. It’s one of incitement, which is also serious.

    • SimonNorwich

      I don’t think there can be any doubt that the practice of branding children as “Muslim”, and threatening them with all kinds of horrible consequences if they were to leave, is something Islam does. I think, on its own, that’s enough to say Islam is disgusting.

      All the other atrocities I listed that are inflicted by Muslims on Muslims stem from that initial branding. Although those atrocities may not be entirely unique to Islam or perpetrated by all Muslims, they are all very widespread in parts of the Islamic world, and considering how close all Muslims claim they are to their prophet and their god, I think it’s reasonable to conclude that where those atrocities are perpetrated by Muslims, they consider it part of their religion.

    • Joe G

      So emotional and psychological abuse is OK? Perhaps if the world condemned that cartoon the attacks would never have happened. Perhaps if an apology was offered to Islam after the cartoon appeared the attack would never have happened.

      Killing the people was definitely WRONG WRONG WRONG, but so was the cartoon and the emotional and psychological abuse it caused.

    • I didn’t say emotional and psychological abuse is ok, but I disagree that the magazine caused it. Perhaps some felt abused by it, but then if I say I feel emotionally and psychologically abused by Islam (or anything else) then nobody cares.

    • Joe G

      Disagree all you want it is a fact the cartoon caused it. And why would you be emotionally and psychologically abused by Islam?

    • Well suppose I’m not too keen on Raif Badawi’s awful punishment for his non-crime, or the way women and gay people are treated, or things like that. Should Islam apologise for this emotional, psychological, physical, and political abuse it’s causing?

    • ThePrussian

      Oh, you are more right than you know. I mean, Hebdo once published a cartoon that read “Muslims are the worst of animals”

      – oh, wait, no. That is how the Koran describes us infidels, us kafirs. So, when the Muslim world apologizes for what is written in their Holy book, we can talk about an apology for the cartoons.

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    • Gaujo

      Yes, but when one part of a whole states they have done something horrible for the interests of the group, then the group implicitly accepts the behavior if they do not condemn it.

      Thus, the heads of the group should be compelled to denounce, but doing so individually would be up to the discretion of the members of the group. An individual Muslim has no more responsibility to denounce these crimes than an individual Atheist has to denounce the bombing of a church (done by an assumed Atheist).

      However, your argument purports that the individual is not to be held accountable in any case just because of a group association. Does this same logic protect a Christian from being called to individually defend her stance on homosexual marriage? What if she is a Baptist and they explicitly do not support homosexual marriage? Clearly, society has come to feel that it is appropriate to hold individual members of a group (Baptists) accountable after their group has been exposed as having views that are counter to society’s.

      How about a point closer to the mark as in this case we are dealing with Muslims. You say “Muslims have no special obligation over and above that base obligation”, yet many Muslims believe that there should never be an image of Muhammad, and that creating one is punishable by death. So a Muslim can easily hold an opinion based on their professed beliefs that these murders are just.

      Therefore as society now realizes that Muslims in specific may accept these acts as just, It should not be surprising that society expects individual Muslims to denounce these acts.

      On that note, did you see the article that purports this “law” about images of Muhammad was written by the Taliban in 2001?