Charlie Hebdo has a right to offend you and it is not a double standard

Jan 16, 2015

Photograph by Brandon Robbins/Getty Images

By Dan Arel

Writing for the Huffington Post UK, Mehdi Hasan has decided that free-speech has its limits and he also believes that Muslims are being held to a hypocritical double standard.

Are they? Is there truth to Hasan’s claims?

The answer here is simple. No! There is no double standard here and Hasan is doing nothing but excusing the terrorists actions (even though he claims he is not) by claiming that Charlie Hedbo went too far and violated free speech rights.

Hasan writes,

Let’s be clear: I agree there is no justification whatsoever for gunning down journalists or cartoonists. I disagree with your seeming view that the right to offendcomes with no corresponding responsibility; and I do not believe that a right to offend automatically translates into a duty to offend.

No one has said that your right to offend comes with no responsibility, but what sort of responsibility do the cartoonists at Charlie Hedbo have here? A responsibility to possibly defend their cartoons? Maybe, but they don’t have a corresponding responsibility to beg for their lives.

And why don’t they have a duty to offend? Charlie Hedbo spoke out against crimes against humanity, racism, social injustice and that offended many right-wing fascists in France, should they be careful not to offend those people? Or does Hasan only mean Muslims and doesn’t want to be offended by images that make him uncomfortable by confronting the villainy inside his beliefs.

Read the full article by clicking the name of the source located below.

49 comments on “Charlie Hebdo has a right to offend you and it is not a double standard

  • “To Allah, there are no animals viler than those who do not believe and remain unbelievers” (Sura 8:55).

    This is quite spectacularly insulting. According to Hasan we would have to censor the Koran in order to avoid hypocrisy.

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  • 5
    Light Wave says:

    Exactly and I’m more regularly disgusted at Rupert Murdoch’s daily attempt to keep porn in his daily paper…I don’t read the trash…. but always end up seeing the odd one lying around somewhere usually close to building sites or in the gutter etc…

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  • I think it helps to consider what the criticism and free expression is about….if it is about a belief system that contradicts modern human rights and human decency then it should be open to any amount of criticism or satire in order to expose it and hopefully change or eliminate it for the benefit of civilisation. The changing thereof is simply a human choice to be made.

    If it is simply prejudice against others on the basis of race, gender, sexuality, physical handicap etc then that is cruel and indefensible as the targets cannot do anthing to change even if they wished to. No choice is possible.

    Religious belief is the former…things like fgm, killing for apostacy, adultery, being an infidel, hiding paedophiles from the law etc.

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  • To reiterate a point made elsewhere, you have to actively seek it out and pay to read Charlie Hebdo.

    If you don’t want to read it, keep your cash.

    Similarly, if you don’t like porn or violence or whatever, don’t subscribe to pay-TV channels that provide it.

    The “outrage” here isn’t because people are personally “offended” because they were exposed unawares to “offensive” images. Like porn or violence on TV, they are “offended” not by direct exposure to the material itself, which many will not have actually seen, nor ever see, but by the very thought that it exists, and the thought that people are free to create it and consume it.

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  • 11
    old-toy-boy says:

    The Koran is more more offensive than Charlie Hedbo, so that should be grounds for banning the Koran. And whereas Charlie-H makes us laugh, the Koran makes us cry.

    Islam does not have a leg to stand on, and muslims would be hypocrittial to say otherwise.

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  • Islam is a bully.

    Far, far too often. Sufis, Sunni Kurds, numerous reforming others, though, have it less so, to not at all.

    You just encourage them when you cower.

    Exactly so!

    They have to learn, their religious rules apply only to Muslims.

    Indeed. But further, the rules should apply only to those currently electing to be part of their particular club. Lets save as many as possible from the bullies.

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  • Roedy Jan 17, 2015 at 2:22 am

    They have to learn, their religious rules apply only to Muslims.

    Not even that! Sunnis, Shias and others have been killing each other over just that “TRrrrroooo Muslim” issue.
    They have to learn respect for secular laws, tolerance of other people’s views, and learn to think rationally about criticisms.

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  • Stephen Fry said it best:

    ‘It’s now very common to hear people say, “I’m rather offended by that”, as if that gives them certain rights. It’s no more than a whine. It has no meaning, it has no purpose, it has no reason to be respected as a phrase. “I’m offended by that.” Well, so fucking what?’

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  • There is no difference between Muslim gods and The Flying Spaghetti Monster. Both have been criticized and both are ficticious supernatural beings. But, do you see FSM followers killing people because they are offended? No!

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  • Religion insults me every time I see or hear it anywhere. I don’t go round killing religious people. Why does the fact that I am offended by all religion not seem to matter… why is it me that has to be careful around the religious (I’m not, but I know they would like me to be)?

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  • As a Christian, I have seen many cartoons and other jokes about Jesus. Most Christians might be offended, but never to point of killing. I can’t understand what makes a man kill another for not following the same religion or for making fun of a historical, non-divine figure like a prophet. What happened in France and many other parts of the world by extremists (terrorists with extremely low esteem is simply incomprehensible. What’s next — getting shot in the head for calling a Democrat an ignorant pig?

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  • Why do Muslim extremist groups pop up in Islam communities? If a non violent Muslim, teaches nonbelievers are hated by god. He’s not a terrorist. He’s just an innocent Muslim. Why do we condemn the kids when we support the teachers. Read the Koran, Read the Bible, learn something.

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  • 26
    ddw1959 says:

    Being offended is in the complete control of the one feeling offended. I might see something and think it is in poor taste, rude, offensive, or stupid. But whether I get personally offended and feel I must respond in kind, is totally up to me.

    Making fun of Muhammad is only offensive to someone who believes he was a prophet from god. Something most people in the world do not believe. To one who does not it is no more offensive than making fun of Jesus or Santa Clause, Gandalf, or IronMan.

    If someone is offended by a thing like that… don’t buy it.

    Muslims routinely say things non-muslims find very offensive, and don’t seem to care who gets offended. THERE is your double standard.


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  • We all know terrorism is bad. The point is, the mag produced some racist and bigoted material and the fact that the Hebdo staff were convinced they were not producing racist material highlights a blind spot in their thinking – that this form of satire was inadvertently masking other motives apparent, even obvious to others. The pertinent lesson here is to look at how France can come to terms with its double standards around freedom of expression and not just foolishly resort to tribalism and nationalism as old DAWKins would like us have it.

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  • If a comment, article, or cartoon offends you deeply, then in a rational world you have two options,
    1 – Ignore it, don’t read or look at it and encourage people who feel the same to do likewise.
    2 – Write, draw or say something in response that will explain your position or deride / insult your insulters position.

    And that is it. ‘Physical violence is the last resort of the incompetent ‘ – Long live Hari Seldon!

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  • 30
    mombird says:

    How was it racist? My understanding is that they satirized everyone, every religion, every politician. How thin skinned can you get over a cartoon of the Prophet? Seriously, that is taking oneself a little too seriously. It begs for a little satirical poke. Satire is supposed to be provocative. It makes people stop and think about what they are saying and doing. If one is offended they need to examine what they are so up tight about. The ones getting offended in this case, “doth protest a bit too much.” They are defensive which makes me wonder how sure they are of their position if they need to cry at every insult. If the Muslims have issues they need to address them in a forth right manner and not hide behind their religion or use their religion as an excuse to get pissy or terrorize the entire world. Grow up babies.

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  • racist and bigoted…

    Helmet. Can you cite an example of a Charlie Hedbo article or cartoon that used race (your word) as its focus. Likewise with the word bigoted.

    Just to help you, this is the definition of Bigot to guide you in your endeavours to find examples.

    a person who strongly and unfairly dislikes other people, ideas, etc. : a bigoted person; especially : a person who hates or refuses to accept the members of a particular group (such as a racial or religious group)

    “Strongly and unfairly.” Nope. “Hates”. No. “refuses to accept” Wrong again.

    Helmet. You’ve made the allegation. Time to stand up. Back it up with examples. And while you are looking for examples, read GasMaNZ, post a couple below this.

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  • 32
    Lorenzo says:

    The point is, the mag produced some racist and bigoted material

    Fascinating. Either you never even tried to look at what Charlie Hebdo publishes or you really need to look up in a good dictionary what “racist” and “bigoted” mean… David already helped you with the second term you used.

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  • 33
    Lorenzo says:

    I’m beginning to have an issue with the whole concept of “offence”. I mean: giving offence is not death threats or personal insults or spreading falsehood about something. Those three things are at least disgusting and, usually, you can prosecute the perpetrators legally.
    Offence, on the other hand, is something that resides specifically in the receiver of a certain message, and looks like a default reaction when there’s an utter lack of opposing arguments. If someone came around saying, for example, “the theory of evolution is stupid” or “atheism is idiotic”, most of the posters on this blog would be able to kick that someone around the room for a very, very long while, wouldn’t they?

    I tend to agree with Linus Torvalds on the matter:

    I like offending people, because I think people who get offended should be offended.

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  • Lorenzo Jan 18, 2015 at 9:10 am

    I’m beginning to have an issue with the whole concept of “offence”. I mean: giving offence

    “Offence” is just some childish emotive response to information.

    I recall an incident when in a discussion with a member of a disciplinary panel of which we were both members, he mentioned his involvement with some of the parties concerned.

    I pointed out the code of conduct which required anyone who was previously involved or potentially biased, to withdraw from proceedings. He retorted that he found this “offensive”! – Presumably responding to the suggestion that even he could possibly be biased!

    So – people who like playing “offence” with airs of superiority, can even be offended by ethical codes of conduct, or legal requirements, designed to ensure fair hearings!

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  • Brilliant post, GasMaNZ, including my second favourite Foundation quote, the first being:
    “Never let your sense of morals prevent you from doing what is right.” – Salvor Hardin

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  • I am offended by the lawyers in Pakistan calling for international law against offending Islam. These people were on the news yesterday burning effigies in the street. These are the people who enable the terrorists.

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  • The “offence” word harbours a strange concept: it suggests that if someone becomes upset about something it must be someone else’s fault, rather than a weakness in the person becoming upset, and that other person should be the one to be held to account for your own feelings.

    Compare physical violence and offence. If I choose to strike someone with a club there’s no doubt about it – I’ve perpetrated an act of violence upon another person. If, instead, I insult that person’s mother, is it also an act of violence in the same way?

    I would say no because of the practicalities of the situation. Physical violence is done to another without their contribution to the act; it is one-way from perpetrator to victim. Actual violence cannot be defended against by internal means, it requires actions in the outside world. “insult violence” on the other hand, requires the other person to join in, to choose to be hurt by the barb to make it effective. An insult is merely an invitation to emotional hurt rather than hurt itself. The defence against invitation is simple – reject the invitation, refuse to be hurt by it, laugh at its feebleness, render it toothless. The acceptance of the invitation to turn it into an actual hurt is a participatory act itself.

    This clear difference between two forms of attack makes it strange that in modern society there are so many acquiescing to demands for excessive respect for others’ beliefs – especially religious – and pleading special protection from the threat of insult.

    PC platitudes from leaders often seem less about equality and tolerance and more about the appeasement of the bully out of fear of the consequences – widespread public disorder. The traditional bully responds to insult and lack of “respect” because inside he wants to do violence but for some reason needs some kind of internal psychological justification or excuse to provide them with permission to freely assault. In every day civilised life, if someone has a silly idea not supported by evidence we (hopefully) gently lead them to see their error, we don’t allow excessive concern for their pride to make us leave them mired in their mistake. If they persist in their view and do violence to force their error on others, we lock them up…. unless the “someone” is a large and volatile group whom we are afraid of, in which case, we try to appease them so they don’t get upset and nasty.

    Respect for the right of others to hold views you don’t share (and vice versa) is an important part of civilised life. This ought not to taken to the extremes of excessive respect for a right of never having to be upset by someone! There is no way to control the potential number of things about which someone might feel offended. Appeasement via excessive “respect” is nothing more than a method of delaying confrontation, it’s not about respect for others. Stephen Fry is largely right.

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  • I suppose it’s because religions usually want to aggressively expand and jihad and violence are successful mean of spread.


    I do think it is important in these discussions not to make the mistake of tarring everyone with the same brush and of stereotyping through membership of a group. Every person is an individual and this site in particular should be very careful of the generalised and de-humanising “they” word…

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  • The “offended” delusion-nutters continue to run amok!

    The Niger government says at least 45 churches have been set on fire in this predominantly Muslim West African nation in protests over French cartoons lampooning Islam’s prophet.

    In a statement issued Monday, the government also declared three days of national mourning for the 10 people who died amid the violent protests that first began on Friday.

    Authorities have said that the victims were inside churches and bars set ablaze by protesters angry about the portrayal of the Prophet Muhammad in the French news weekly Charlie Hebdo. The publication was the subject of a terror attack that left 12 dead earlier this month.

    Niger’s government in the statement promised that those responsible for the arson and deaths will be sought and punished.

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  • 45
    mombird says:

    They is not a dehumanizing word. It is a word. Individuals form masses. Religious masses are not individuals they are groups who all too often become dogmatic and form opinionated mob mentality. They (the members of a particular group) can be painted with the same brush if they belong to the same group and think the same thing! If a religion can’t get its act together and figure out where they stand or figure out their own doctrine then they only have themselves to blame when things go crazy.

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  • Thanks for posting real hypocrisy. Here’s an example of what I found insulting from a booklet on Islam handed out to staff at a school where I worked, by a muslim mother, at christmas (with a chocolate bar taped on each): Here it is.. One reason muslims don’t eat pork is that “The pig is the most shameless animal on the face of the earth. It is the only animal that invites its friends to have sex with its mate. It feels no jealousy. And among people who consume pork, the practice of wife swapping and other forms of promiscuous behaviour is common.”

    Regrettably I didn’t collect up all the copies from staff before they threw them in the bin, and hand them back to the mother saying I was offended. In fact my reaction was to be scared by the evident lack of reason in the 21st century, and my action in doing nothing was out of fear of appearing disrespectful or bigotted.

    Arguably, the most hypocritical thing was the fact that I ate the chocolate.

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  • I live in Malaysia and was forced to convert to Islam in order to Marry … but that’s another story. You should see some of the terrible stuff they hand out when you convert!

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  • Should we ban any publication for criticising Stalin just because it may offend people who believe in Stalin? Or Hitler? I think the solution is very clear: don’t buy any magazine or newspaper that criticizes a political or spiritual leader you cherish. If you do, you do it at your own risk.

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