Wednesday, January 07, 2015


Some notes about the horrible terrorist attack today in Paris.

1.  Killing is almost always wrong.  In almost every case, "justifications" for killing never really justify the killing.  Typically, they're bullshit rhetoric.

2.  Free speech, for a democracy, must be near absolute.  There can be no playing around with this.  People must be able to express themselves however they want, with only a bare minimum of restrictions--yelling "fire" in a crowded theater comes to mind here.


3.  Free speech is not a license to be a dick, either.  There are consequences, whether you think there should be or not, for being a dick with your free speech.  I'm not saying the terrorist attack was in any way justified, but when your goal is seemingly nothing more than pissing people off just because you can, then it's very likely you will succeed.

I wonder why this French satire publication, as well as other publications throughout the West, feel so compelled to piss off Muslims.  What's the point?


4.  Religion does not get a free pass from criticism just because it's religion.  We should be respectful towards people's religions because not only is religion something extraordinarily near and dear to people's hearts, but also to people's very sense of identity.  When one criticizes religion, it is very easily misconstrued to be a personal attack.  So we shouldn't be dicks.  HOWEVER, religion is also ideology, specific ideas about how people should live, how society ought to be structured. It would be crazy NOT to criticize religion.  Because that's what citizens in a democracy should do with all ideologies.

5. While the US and the West should not and cannot be held responsible for any individual act of extremist Islamic terrorism, there are some very real and reasonable grievances the Muslim world has toward the West.  We support repressive regimes there, all for oil.  Indeed, the entire Middle East regional map was drawn by the West for the express purpose of imperial exploitation.  We benefit economically because Muslims are suffering.

And then there's Palestine.  While Europe has been generally more supportive of the Palestinians than the US has, it cannot be denied that the longstanding double-dealing of Israel toward the nation it has occupied for decades is the main driver of tension between the West and the Muslim world.  We here in the US praise Israel for pretty much anything that nation does to the Palestinians.  And we pay much of the bill for it, too.

It is not unreasonable to say that if the US decided to lead the way in condemning Israel's brutal treatment of Palestine, if we ended all financial support, if we allowed various resolutions to get through the UN Security Council, the Israelis would very quickly reconsider the nature of their occupation of Palestine.

End the repression, and things will quickly get much better for both the West and the Middle East.