Charlie Hebdo: How Extremism Won and Free Speech Died

Since the attacks in Paris in 2015, Islamic terrorism has faded away and been replaced by a beige imitation that seeks to silence anything it deems offensive. These extremists have been given license to bully and spread bigotry by double standards and hate speech laws that were only created because of fear and the desire for an easy life.

It wouldn’t be too hyperbolic to say that if those cartoons depicting the prophet Mohammed had been created in 2020, the victims of the Charlie Hebdo massacre may have been spared because a tamer and more vocal mob would have had them cancelled and thrown in prison. The half-hearted virtue signals of “Je Suis Charlie” would be replaced with “interdire Charlie”, and The Guardian would clap along and cheer. 

 Reflecting on the events of January 7th 2015 and how everything has changed since then, it reminds me of events that happened 10 years prior that involved two stage productions offending religious fanatics, and how it lead to a change of law that became detrimental to our fight against extremism. 

 On the 8th of January 2005, The BBC aired a televised recording of the popular British satirical musical Jerry Springer: The Opera. Jerry Springer: The Opera was a lewd, irreverent, and very offensive show that was infamous for depicting Jesus Christ as a nappy wearing homosexual, and featured a tap dance number carried out by the KKK. 

Following the broadcast, the BBC was flooded with over 55,000 complaints from mostly outraged Christian viewers (or non-viewers is often the). This was followed by protests outside BBC buildings by angry Christian groups, spearheaded by the hard-line religious organisation Christian Voice. 

During the protest outside BBC buildings in London, Stephen Green, the national spokesman for Christian Voice stated: 

“if this show portrayed Mohammed or Vishnu as homosexual, ridiculous and ineffectual, it would never have seen the light of day”. 

Another protestor, Imran Joseph, told the BBC “there should be freedom of speech, but there should never be freedom for desecration”. Mr. Joseph went on to say that the BBC should have canceled the broadcast in the face of such “an intense volume of criticism”. 


Jerry Springer: The Opera

photo of Stephen Green

Stephen Green

Mr. Green and Mr. Joseph did seem to have a point, as the BBC’s decision to broadcast Jerry Springer: The Opera had been closely preceded by another stage production that caused outrage, but this time amongst the Sikh community. 

On the 18th December 2004, the opening night of “Behzti”, a play by British Sikh playwright Gupreet Kaur Bhatti, was met by angry protests outside the Birmingham Repertory Theatre. The protests had been organised by local Sikh leaders outraged by the play's scenes of rape, physical abuse, and murder taking place inside a Gurdwara (Sikh temple). 

The protests lead to clashes with Police, leading to the arrest of three protestors, which in today’s climate may qualify for “mostly peaceful” protest status. Following the incident, on the 20th December 2004, an emergency meeting between the theatre management, members of the local Sikh community, West Midlands Police and the Commission for Racial Equality was held. The conclusion? The Theatre decided to cancel “Bezhti”.  

 Where-as it took only three days for Behzti to get canceled, it would take Jerry Springer: The Opera eight months; sort of. When the musical hit the road for its first national tour, many shows were met by protests headed by Christian Voice, who were backed and often accompanied by the BNP, up and down the country. In August of 2005, the UK Arts Council refused an application to fund a nationwide tour of Jerry Springer: The Opera, claiming they had refused funding as they considered the show to be “too commercial”. 

John Thoday, the show's producer, disputed this reason saying that the council had given in to pressure from the protestors. In an interview with the Independent newspaper, Thoday said “I feel like we are the only people standing up for freedom of speech in the arts community. I feel incredibly disappointed that while they see freedom of speech as a good thing, they are not prepared to support it”. After a successful 8 month run at the National Theatre that had generated £1.8 million in revenue, many venues that had agreed to put on the musical during the tour decided to pull out. Christian Voice’s protests seemed to have gotten the results they wanted, and Thoday’s belief that the council had succumbed to mounting pressure from protestors appeared to be valid. 

However, Christian Voice weren’t completely satisfied and would go on to try and have John Thoday and Mark Thompson, the then director-general of the BBC, criminally prosecuted for blasphemy in the High Court. Unfortunately for Christian Voice, in December 2007 the UK high court would go on to rule that Jerry Springer: The Opera was not blasphemous. Lord Justice Hughes and Mr. Justice Collins said in their ruling, “as a whole [Jerry Springer: The Opera] was not and could not reasonably be regarded as aimed at, or an attack on, Christianity or what Christians held sacred.” Christian Voice had not got exactly what they wanted, but a precedent had certainly been set, one which was now backed up by law.

Whether Jerry Springer: The Opera was well and truly canceled due to pressure from Christian Voice or not does not really matter as these incidents would play a role in the passing of new legislation to outlaw “incitement to religious hatred”. This legislation was a reflection of the changing times in a fearful post 9/11 world, a world where more and more people would find themselves forced to tread more and more lightly.

During the Edinburgh fringe festival in August 2005, many comedians fought back against this, one of these being Stewart Lee of-course, who said, “I have tried to write the most indefensibly blasphemous show there could possibly be.” This, I would argue, was the right attitude, but pushing back harder can lead to an even fiercer counter-attack. 

The passing of religious hatred laws in 2005 was the beginning of a 10 year slide towards what I believe is the end (or the possible end, depending on how you see it). Things were very different in the 2000’s, it was the decade of offensive comedy, mean-spirited reality shows, and gross-out entertainment. It was perhaps inevitable that the pendulum would swing hard in the opposite direction. But the 2000’s was also a decade that saw the rise of fear and paranoia because of Islamic extremism, perpetuated by the fear-loving media. It was a decade that saw the rise of paranoia and distrust between Muslim and non-muslim, it was also the the decade that I would argue helped the rise of double standards and the empowerment of extremist cowards that are common place today. 

  Though Jerry Springer: The Opera and Behzti share the similarities of, in one way or another, making criticisms of organised religion, you could argue that the outrage over Jerry Springer: The Opera was more justified. Jerry Springer: The Opera’s co-writer Stewart Lee openly told The Independent in September 2004, “one would like to think that comedy could incite religious hatred. That would be great.” If every judgment is based upon the intent of a creator, then the outrage over Jerry Springer: The Opera was justified and was what its creators wanted. 

However, the intent behind Behzti is very different. In an article penned for the Guardian, Gupreet Kaur Bhatti wrote “religion and art have collided for centuries, and will carry on doing battle long after my play and I are forgotten. The tension between who I am, a British-born Sikh woman, and what I do, which is write drama, is at the heart of the matter. These questions of how differences in perspective and belief are negotiated in Britain today will, I hope, continue to bring about a lively and vital debate.” 

picture of a man and woman in a scene from the play Bezhti

A scene from Bezhti

The writers' intentions are very different, but the outcomes were the same: they got canceled. Well as I mentioned before, sort of, because the true intentions of why Jerry Springer: The Opera was not funded by the Arts Council is based on opinion and not concrete facts. Plus there have been many new productions of Jerry Springer: The Opera since those controversial days of 2005, where-as Bezhti was canceled for good and Bhatti would not put on a new production until ten years later. 

Christian Voice seemed to be talking nonsense at the time with their eye-rolling statement about other groups outrage being taken more seriously than others. But as the incident in Birmingham showed, some groups are definitely considered to be more dangerous than others by the authorities, and therefore the laws to stop religious hatred aren’t based on the empathy of one groups feelings and beliefs, but are actually based on the consistent desire for the authorities to maintain peace and order. The events in Paris 10 years later show that they perhaps have a good, if somewhat prejudice point.

If there was ever an incident that could be labeled “When Cancel Culture Goes Too Far”, it would be the Charlie Hebdo massacre of 2015. 

During the late morning of the 7th January 2015, almost bang on 10 years after the broadcast of Jerry Springer: The Opera, the Kouachi brothers, Islamic extremists who identified themselves as members of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, forced their way into the offices of the French satirical weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris and murdered 12 people, plus injuring another 11. 

The brother's reason? In short, the newspaper had published cartoons of Muhammad, and the Kouachi brothers were very offended.

This was not the first time Charlie Hebdo’s brand of satirical humour had gotten them into a spot of bother. In 2011 their website was hacked and their offices were firebombed due to the newspaper featuring a cartoon of Muhammad on its cover. And back in 2006, Charlie Hebdo had been put on trial under anti-racism laws for reprinting the notorious Danish cartoons depicting Muhammad with a bomb strapped to his head that caused so much outrage in September 2005. 

the infamous Charlie Hebdo cover
four pregnant women in burkhas cartoon by Charlie Hebdo

Charlie Hebdo were use to backlashes from the outrage they caused, but up until that point, no-one had been murdered. The world condemned the attacks, and many would defend Charlie Hebdo’s right to freedom of speech, including two media outlets that you might not expect through the modern lens. 

A piece written for the Guardian by Jodie Ginsberg defended Charlie Hebdo’s “right to offend”. “If one good thing had come out of the horrors of Paris, it was a renewed interest in debating the value of free speech. I find the portrayal of women in much of the British Media offensive. These things make me angry. But the fact that I find them offensive or anger-inducing cannot, and should never, be used as an excuse for shutting down their speech what protects peoples rights to say things I find objectionable is precisely what protects my right to object.”

 Ginsberg would go on to point out that the threat of murder to silence any of those with whom we disagree is something that cannot be allowed to happen. The lady was correct, but just five years later, you couldn’t even dare to imagine The Guardian publishing anything that contains such dangerous thinking.

Another article published by Vox of all places, defended Charlie Hebdo’s “racist cartoons”. Writing for Vox, Max Fisher stated, “some argue that any questioning of Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons implies sympathy with the terrorists or is tantamount to criticism of free speech itself, but this is a fallacy. We, as a society, have all agreed that there can never be any justification for such an attack and free speech is an irreducible value.” Max Fisher goes on to question whether the cartoons were racist, but at no point condones the shutting down of Charlie Hebdo’s speech. 

Many at the time held the same attitude, that the Charlie Hebdo cartoons could be considered religiously offensive or even racist, but were in agreement that we should support Charlie Hebdo’s freedom of expression.

But for some, the staff at Charlie Hebdo had gotten what was coming to them. When Charlie Hebdo were honoured at the PEN American Centre gala, PEN being a literary and human rights organisation, a group of writers “virtuously” withdrew from the gala in protest. 

The writers were upset by Charlie Hebdo’s portrayal of Muslims and “the disenfranchised”. The writer Francine Prose said she was in favour of freedom of speech but the award would show “admiration and respect” for the work of Charlie Hebdo, thus condoning art that people find offensive. She does have a point, from what I heard, Paul Golding (leader of Britain First) finds the architecture of British mosques to be out-right offensive, and therefore they should never receive a grade I listing from the Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission for England.

Following the attack, the whole world would change their social media profile pictures to incorporate the Tricolour colours of the French flag and would write in their posts and bios the phrase “Je Suis Charlie”. This, it could be argued, was peal online virtue signaling, as it did not carry any weight. Many news outlets, particularly in the US, were criticised for not displaying the cartoons themselves whilst gushing sympathy for the victims and regurgitating the message that we must not let terror win. 

One big critic of this virtue signalling was Kim R. Holmes, the executive vice president for the defence and foreign policy think tank The Heritage Foundation. In a blog post on their website he called out the media’s “double standards”.

 “Some of the very same people outraged by the violence committed against Charlie Hebdo are all too happy to limit freedom of speech and inquiry on America’s campuses. Universities routinely use speech codes to limit what can be expressed on campus… It’s bad enough on America’s campuses, but illiberal shaming rituals of intolerance are coming to the workplace too”. Hi from the future Kim, it’s already in the workplace now…

Holmes continued to comment that the double standard is actually a core principle of the left ideology. “In their minds, to be inconsistent is absolutely necessary to be consistent, just as it is necessary to be intolerant of certain points of view supposedly to be tolerant… when an Islamist terrorist beheads or blows up an ideological ally such as Charlie Hebdo, they have a problem. Luckily, the problem only lasts until the first mosque is attacked by some un-hinged right-winger. Then it’s back to defending Muslims from ‘islamophobes’, often making the ridiculous charge that Islamophobia is a species of racism. They have difficulty keeping their enemies straight because their ethics are situational. It depends on how a particular situation fits into the broader ideological war on Christianity, Judaism, and Western culture”.

The double standard displayed by the media has continued to grow since 2015, a perfect example would be how they’ve reacted to the elections of 2016 and 2020. According to them, the 2016 election result was due to Russian interference and collusion, then roll on to 2020 and getting the president they preferred, any talk of election rigging has been dismissed as delusional right-wing conspiracy theories. 

This double standard isn’t just because they must maintain their ideological allegiances, it’s also because some groups aren’t as scary as others. 

Instead of standing up to all bullies, they choose to tread cautiously around the ones who pose a real threat. Hard line Christians picketing outside your offices aren’t too scary, but hard line fanatics who have no issue with killing every member of staff in the building are a little more spicy. They can support Charlie Hebdo’s right to say what they want, but you must be crazy if you think they’ll show the cartoons, they’ve got shareholders and advertisers, and a mass shooting inside the workplace tends to slow down productivity. 

picture of the Charlie Hebdo cover imposed over the CNN headquarters sign

In some ways this reaction, in particular by CNN, was a major contributor to the rise of a man who didn’t care too much for people’s feelings, so much so that it made him leader of the free world. Trump said the things that people were now all too terrified to say, he didn’t care about public shaming rituals or upsetting an Imam or two, and to a public that had seen so much cowardice from powerful institutions following Charlie Hebdo, and a public who were becoming more afraid themselves, this man was like a big, hard, older brother defending them at the school gates.

The Charlie Hebdo attacks happened during the last period of what I would say was the age of Islamic fear that was kicked off by the 9/11 attacks in 2001. In 2015 Isis had replaced Al Qaeda as the focus of fear, and Isis were far more terrifying. The Isis era was dominated by startling terror attacks.

 During the period between 2014 and the end of 2017, terror attacks across Europe seemed like they were occurring on an almost weekly basis. It wasn’t just the volume of attacks that scared us all, it was the variety of methods used and targets that really kept us on our toes. 

France experienced some of the most horrific and sensational attacks. Charlie Hebdo was followed by the blood bath of Paris in November, where 130 people were murdered in co-ordinated gun and bomb attacks across three different locations. This would be followed by the murder of 86 people in Nice by a Tunisian man who drove a truck into a crowd of people celebrating Bastille Day.

In 2016 attacks flourished across the rest of Europe. Suicide bombers would kill 33 (plus the 3 attackers themselves) in Brussels and Zaventem, Belgium. Another truck attack would close the year of 2016 in Berlin, which killed 12. 

 Then in 2017, it was the UK who would experience a spike in attacks, starting with the car attack at Westminster bridge where a 52-year-old Muslim convert ploughed his car into pedestrians, killing 4 before fatally stabbing a police officer. Two months later in April, 22 people were killed and another 512 were injured in a bomb attack at the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester. This would be closely followed by the London Bridge attacks in June, where 8 people were brutally stabbed and slashed by 3 men before they were shot dead by armed police. 

Then in September, a bomb would be detonated on a District Line train in London, luckily this only lead to 30 injuries and 0 deaths, mainly due to incompetent bomb-making skills. The incidents listed are just the most extreme and horrific ‘highlights’ of that period. 

What these incidents demonstrate is not that Islamist fanatics were committing such atrocities because they were offended, but that we have been through a significant period of constant fear, where we know that almost anything can ignite acts of terror. Our political leaders, security forces, and police have consistently demonstrated that they would rather have a peaceful and subdued environment than a lively and passionate environment full of debate. The laws they have passed since 9/11 have demonstrated this to be the case.

 Take this example from March 2018, when right-wing journalist Lauren Southern was denied entry into the UK. Southern said that she was given a notice of refusal of entry because she distributed racist materials. The document given to Lauren Southern said her acts “represents a threat to the fundamental interests of society and to the public policy of the United Kingdom.” This charge was in reference to a social experiment conducted in Luton, a hotbed for Islamic tensions, that involved passing around a fake “LGBT for Islam” poster saying “Allah is Gay, Allah is Trans, Allah is Lesbian, Allah is Intersex, Allah is Feminist, Allah is Queer, Allah is All of Us.” 

This was apparently in response to a Vice article asking whether Jesus was gay, and Lauren Southern's aim was to show how Muslims would react to similar claims made about Allah. In fact, Southern had been forced to take down the posters by Police as it was for her own safety, this can demonstrate the theory that the Police are more concerned with the reactions of one group as opposed to them caring about people's feelings being hurt.

 An article exploring the idea of whether Jesus could have been gay is very different to a musical depicting Jesus as a gay imbecile in a nappy, but the point is the same, there does appear to be a double standard when it comes to what is deemed to be religious hatred. 

picture of Jesus in the style of the rainbow flag

Jesus was depicted as gay by Vice, not to cause offence, but because Vice ran out of ideas in 2014

You will often hear the claim that satire should always be punching up and never down, I don’t know who came up with this rule and whether this should be followed or not, but I do see that this rule is not always applied equally. This was a criticism of Charlie Hebdo, that they were always attacking a supposedly oppressed and impoverished group, Muslims, and that was unacceptable. Charlie Hebdo would always refute this by claiming it was the religion they were poking fun at, and religion made up of over a billion people is not exactly a powerless minority. 

Also worth noting is that Islam is not the religion of the poor as it is often proclaimed to be, some of the richest men and nations on earth are Muslim, even Bin Laden himself was the son of very wealthy parents. It appears though, that when criticisms are made of, say, Catholics, they are fair game because the critics and satirists are punching up at the rich and powerful Catholic Church. Followers of any religion will be offended by criticisms and jokes made about their beliefs, how can they not be? It’s either all religious hatred or it’s not, you do not get to pick and choose who is fair game and who should be protected at all costs, but those kinds of rules do not apply to those who have double standards. And those double standards, I would strongly argue, are applied because of fear and the lust for power.

 The double standards, I believe, are not just some ideological trope that is synonymous with left-wing thought, it is something that has been allowed to flourish within our culture because of fear. We currently have a rampant cancel culture, that to be fair is not completely exclusive to the left, where everyone is very quick to point fingers at others for the offence they cause certain groups. 

Often the outraged mob are not even from that group and are outraged on their behalf. This may seem to be noble and many argue that this comes from a good place, but I disagree. This mob mentality looks more like deflection rather than empathy, and this deflection is fuelled by the culture of fear we have developed in the post 9/11 world. Having spent almost twenty years enduring the fear of the threat of Islamic terrorism, and the visceral rise of Isis, these people, like many of us, have been subjected to an almost daily bombardment of fear from the media, government, and social media. 

Seeing a world where just drawing a crude picture of a prophet can lead to your brutal demise can have quite the effect. These people are mainly those who pretend they care about the feelings and beliefs of Muslims, and any similarly vocal groups, not because of empathy, but because of fear. They don’t want to be set upon by an angry mob, being shot to death in your workplace is pretty horrendous, but most people in our pampered age are terrified of way less. 

Too many people like to be liked, regardless of how superficial it is, and therefore just being labeled a bad word is enough to turn their lives upside down. They don’t want the negative attention, they are the ones who see an old lady get mugged in the street and take a sigh of relief that it didn’t happen to them. I am not saying I am any better, but I don’t deflect, they do. Deflection is their go-to tactic for self-preservation. Psychological deflection is an ego-driven self defence tactic, which in turn leads to a negative perception of our reality. People can be delicate and helpless creatures and through the fear of losing respect, friends, and getting outright canceled (or alt-right canceled if you prefer puns), they will turn the blame and attention onto others. It’s the classic “yeah, but look what they did” attitude. 

Deep down they have opinions and have said things that can cause the outrage of fanatics, and the only way to preserve their safety is to join the mob every time someone else is chosen as a target. This would be similar to the actions of Stalin’s clapping crowds and Kim Jung Un’s sobbing masses. Keep clapping, and make sure you are clapping with bloody enthusiasm. Keep crying, and make sure you wail the loudest. These lot would be more familiar to you by their more common name, The Virtue Signaller. Just like the empty sentiment that was the “Je Suis Charlie” trend, these people will just follow the crowd. These people, one could strongly argue, are the very same regular nice people who would find themselves swept along by the notion that a final solution was ok.

 The double standard about freedom of expression and the right to offend is the most commonly used by the group of people now popularly labeled the “Woke”. Kim R. Holmes was very correct in his analysis of this left-wing ideology, as was demonstrated back in 2017 when another unhinged individual decided to plough his van into pedestrians near the Muslim Welfare House and about a hundred yards from the Finsbury Park Mosque, leading to the death of 1 man and a further 9 injuries. 

The attacker was a man named Darren Osbourne, who had become angered by the documentary Three Girls and the London Bridge attack. Darren was the epitome of the unhinged mosque attacker described by Holmes two years earlier, and many people were very adamant for this incident to be labeled a terrorist attack to defend Muslims, and appear as an ally and not become a potential target. The fact that Osbourne was outraged by the documentary Three Girls makes this incident even more interesting, and also leads to the most significant point about why a dangerous precedent has been set due to the double standard over religious hatred laws. 

Three Girls was a dramatised account of events surrounding The Rochdale child sex abuse ring run by British Pakistani men, which had led to discussions about whether the failure to investigate these men was fulled by the fear of being accused of racial and religious prejudice. These events occurred between 2008 and 2009, but rolling forward to 2020, and this incident is now one of many, with the numbers of victims estimated to be at least 19,000, and all victims of predominantly Muslim men of South West Asian descent. 

What is even sadder about this scandal is that the majority of these victims are from the most vulnerable group in our society, children in care, and the excuse given time and again for this to be aloud to happen was the authorities feared being labeled as bigots. A vocal survivor of one of these grooming gangs, Dr. Ella Hill, stated that victims were predominantly young white girls and that this was motivated by “race and religion”. She said that gang members viewed white girls as “easy meat” because they like to dance and drink alcohol and therefore commit immoral acts that are “worthy of punishment”.

cover art for the BBC 3 mini series Three Girls

 It is perhaps then no surprise that such a culture has been allowed to flourish when you have an ever-growing complacency of bigotry towards Caucasians and ever-growing fear of accusations of bigotry towards the Police. They can accuse certain members of the right, far right, or any white male with an opinion of being “snowflakes” (they do love appropriating slurs) and overly sensitive. Yet these groups don’t have the violent tendencies that more ideological faith based groups have, and therefore they are an easy target. 

Calling out any bigotry, whether real or concocted, towards any minority group in this era isn’t brave. We have come a long way since the murky days of skin heads bashing people in the streets for just having a better tan than them, society in general doesn’t stand for bigotry, and calling it out is as regular as drinking tea. It’s my belief that if white males actually became as dangerous as media and security services would have you believe they are and the bodies started piling up, then most people would keep their mouths shut. Because they are cowards, just like most of us, because most of us wouldn’t even dare show the Charlie Hebdo cartoon. And we have every right to be afraid to do so, as the recent murder of the French middle school teacher Samuel Paty in Paris goes to show that the cartoon is still a “legitimate” reason to kill.

It seems that following the rise of populism which spawned Trump and Brexit, the media became less interested in pumping the masses with the fear of Islam. When Charlie Hebdo got hit, it was clear it could happen to any of them. The fear of the far right, as vague and subjective as that is, was a much easier bogeyman to deal with, and it also served their self interests. Most of the media outlets and powerful institutions didn’t want Brexit or Trump to happen, so attacking them and stirring up fear about the far right was a double win for them. And the Police and security services liked it too, because now they could counter extremism that didn’t exist, and keep the peace by silencing every voice that could be deemed to be bigoted and inciting religious hatred. 

Oddly enough, they defeated the threat from extremism by policing its demands, thus ending the war on terror by silently surrendering and declaring war on the very people it was protecting. And the irony doesn’t even stop there, because every random lunatic like Darren Osbourne has been a product of the fear culture generated by the media, police, and security services. The threat of Islamic extremism didn’t just vanish, it has perhaps just been taking a well earned break and victory lap since 2018.

The paranoia and fear of the far right displayed by Muslims in the UK are completely justified, if a little out of date. The threat of the far right is minimal, but the fear is very real. The muslim community has gone from being the target of paranoid fear mongering news cycles to victims of the new threat that has replaced them, created by the very same media machine. They fear them the same way they once scared non-muslims, and despite the volume of terror attacks across the world since 9/11, the numbers pale in comparison to those of the 1970’s and 80’s, it was a mostly peaceful time (and the pun is somewhat intended, but holds more weight). They needn’t fear the far right bogeyman, and others needn’t fear them, because it’s a very small minority that would actually commit such cowardly acts as killing innocent children at a pop concert, it’s just unfortunate so many people in power have coward to this cowardly minority.

The victims who worked for Charlie Hebdo and Samuel Paty, died because of what they said, drew, or just showed, and being dragged through the court of poor public opinion doesn’t even compare to this consequence. Those who think they believe they are virtuous and just enough to cast stones wouldn’t do so if they thought the consequences of their actions would lead to their mortal demise. They most likely don’t believe in what they say and do enough to die for it, they’re crowd following lightweights who want to be as menacing and powerful as Islamic fundamentalist terrorists, but they lack the strength in their beliefs to go all the way. The terrorists who commit atrocities are cowards, and therefore these shouty extremists, call them SJW’s, woke, post-modernists, or whatever, are pale and more-cowardly imitations. They look up to how Islamic extremists silence their enemies, but they don’t even possess a 16th of their balls, and therefore should never be taken seriously.

mug shots of the Kouachi brothers

The Kouachi brothers are scary extremists

a picture of the hot mess that is modern millennials

These two are not scary

Sadly, it’s us who have become cowards too, and this how these small groups of loud lunatics have been able to grab so much power. Being called a racist is nothing, and responding to such a slur with a defence like “no I’m not” isn’t going to change the hearts of malicious people who throw these accusations around on a seemingly minute by minute basis. A better response is to tell them to shut up, laugh, and follow up with “nice try”. 

Those who choose to silence the things that offend their so-called values and beliefs shouldn’t be empowered by the law or public cowardice, they’re the ones who should be punished. But now here we are, propping them up and rewarding their bad behaviour. 

To allow the voices and actions of cowards to stop us from voicing our opinions is cowardice itself, a student without any clear cut goals or ambitions who doesn’t like a joke you told on Twitter isn’t going to storm your workplace with automatic weapons, and your employer should understand that too. Occasionally you will get the odd nutter who does something vicious, but these people are as rare as a side-splitting German comedian.

The slippery slope caused by hate speech laws, such as the one created in 2005, has lead us to where we are today. Fundamentalist Christians pointing to how their prophet being portrayed in a not-so flattering satirical light when another groups cannot was a point ahead of its time. The double standard that has become a tiresome and consistent habit used mainly by the left has lead to huge divisions across the whole of society. One rule for us, and another rule for them has never been a good idea, and to ignore this is irresponsible. When Charlie Hebdo happened, this was the big turning point, because the following year of 2016 completely flipped the world back to front. 

There are groups and regimes across the globe that find the very thought of homosexuality to be so offensive and morally reprehensible that they will execute those that practice what they naturally feel, let alone censor and ban anything remotely related to it. People can be offended by all kinds of things, and some people in supposedly liberal societies will be offended by something like homosexuality, but they don’t censor or kill people, and nor would they want to. If you want to cause offence for the sake of causing it, then that’s your right, as it was the right of Steward Lee over 15 years ago. 

Just like the BNP rallying side by side with hardline Christians, we now have far left activists rallying side by side with any group that has taken offence. The difference is that The Guardian nor the Daily Mail would be championing someone like Nick Griffin for being oh-so offended, but somehow they have turned 180 and think it’s fine to cheer along political extremists and their tiresome cries of offence. 

Charlie Hebdo is the day extremism won, but that’s only at this point in time, the future can tell a different story. It’s up to all of us to stand up to extremism, call out those who aren’t keeping us safe because they want to score political points, and laugh in the face of the cowardly extremists. And now, at the beginning of 2021, there has never been a better time, because if your biggest fear is being cancelled, then I got news for you. Everything’s been cancelled, even your morning jog, so what the hell have you got to lose exactly?

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