Thirteen people are dead.
Most are writers and satirical cartoonists at a Paris magazine called Charlie Hebdo. The killers added two police officers to the list of dead during their getaway.
In Quebec, French-language newspapers repeat the insult — reprint cartoons of the prophet Muhammed — as though one outrage committed by murderers justifies repeating an insult to all Muslims.
Before this goes further, nothing justifies the slaughter of unarmed people. It’s a crime — a mass murder. For the news media, it’s too easy to identify every massacre of innocents as “terrorism”.
Maybe it is. For certain, this was carried out by extremists who threatened to kill the people at this magazine, firebombed it, and decided to wipe out those working at the magazine that mocked the sacred, their sacred. The question we must ask is: Why?
Why did Charlie Hebdo decide to shock, to push, to push beyond good taste into insult, to venture slightly and then more beyond political satire, to sneer at and insult, to promote racism and intolerance in pursuit of something — but not truth anymore.
When that happens, it isn’t satire. It isn’t to expose the criminal, the incompetent, the idiotic, the stupid, and the lying liar. It becomes something else. It turns into a deliberate and concerted campaign against an enemy; a magazine looking for a fight.
There’s no such thing as limitless free speech. We all know the example of the person who yells ‘Fire!” in a burning movie theatre. There are consequences for being an ass in public. But the consequence or reaction should never be murder.
Neither should the reaction by journalists be further provocation and insult. This isn’t responsible journalism nor is it defending or practising free speech.
It’s piling one stupid insult upon another.