I’ve seen a lot of my fellow liberals posting things to the effect of, “Yeah, it was horrible what happened in France. There’s no excuse for it. On the other hand, we should not be jerks, and the Charlie Hebdo guys were pretty jerky.”
Here’s my rebuttal:
1. Yes, try not to be a jerk.
2. When it comes to free speech, it’s the jerks you’ve got to defend, not the nonjerks, as you see it.
3. There’s always a glimmer of a chance that what you take to be jerky behavior was, in fact, not, that you’re missing context, subtext, or irony or otherwise plain don’t get it. Well, of course you are always right, but the other guy might not be. Right? Do you want him making a mistake about you?
Free speech is about the speech that pisses you off. Telling people not to be jerks is all well and good, but as a liberal political stance, it’s a nonstarter. There’s no mitigation for what those bastards did to those journalists.