The freedom to offend is a priceless commodity | Kenan Malik

The particulars are nonetheless rising, however the horror is clear – the beheading of a instructor, Samuel Paty, in Paris, apparently in response to his utilizing Charlie Hebdo cartoons in a classroom dialogue on free speech.

After such assaults there are all the time claims that “free speech isn’t worth it”. Hardly had information begun filtering out in regards to the 2015 Charlie Hebdo murders than there have been options that the cartoonists had introduced it on themselves. The identical will little doubt occur once more.

But in such moments, we’d like to do the alternative: to reaffirm commitments to free speech and the freedom to offend.

What is referred to as “offence to a community” is often a wrestle inside communities. There are lots of of hundreds, inside Muslim communities within the west and in Muslim-majority nations the world over, difficult religious-based reactionary concepts and establishments – writers, cartoonists, political activists, day by day risking their lives in going through down blasphemy legal guidelines, standing up for equal rights and preventing for democratic freedoms.

The unwillingness of liberals to rise up for fundamental liberal ideas, their readiness to betray progressives inside minority communities, nurtures reactionaries, each inside Muslim communities and outdoors it. The extra society provides licence for folks to be offended, the extra folks will seize the chance to really feel offended. And the extra lethal their outrage will change into.

Liberal pusillanimity additionally nurtures anti-Muslim sentiment, feeding the racist concept that each one Muslims are reactionary, that Muslim immigration must be stemmed and Muslim communities extra harshly policed. We should reject each sorts of bigots. In a plural society, a lot of what we are saying, others will discover offensive. If we would like a plural society, we’d like to defend the freedom to offend.

Kenan Malik is an Observer columnist

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