Seven Shoddy Excuses Lefties Use to Justify the Paris Massacre

1. “You can’t shout fire in a crowded theatre.”

This hackneyed faux-truism is the Expecto Patronum of squishy liberal apologists. That is, when the going gets tough and they’re forced to do that difficult thing – defending free speech – they reach desperately for this magical formula, rather as Harry Potter does when faced with the Dementors. Once the phrase has been uttered, they seem to think, the argument has been made for them and the nasty, scary problem will go away – as no doubt the Lib Dems’ Vince Cable did when he used it in the most recent edition of BBC Question Time.

But the analogy just doesn’t work for at least three good reasons.

First, if the theatre wasn’t on fire, as seems to be implicit, why would anyone want to say it was? You just wouldn’t. Not unless you were mentally ill. So really, to observe that “you can’t shout fire in a crowded theatre” is a bit like saying “you can’t put your willy in a pit-bull’s mouth”. Trivially true. But so what?

Second, any legal restrictions there may be on shouting fire in crowded theatres which aren’t on fire have to do with protection of life and property rights. You might cause a stampede which could lead to fatalities; at best you would damage the theatre’s box office. These laws, therefore, are an expression of common consent. Not so the prescriptions on blasphemy which terrorists like the Charlie Hebdo murderers would like to impose on us. In order for them to become so, we would have all to agree that the precepts of Sharia law are something we should all obey, Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Currently we don’t, though it seems to be the case that people who wheel out the “crowded theatre” aphorism think that we should.

Third, as Mark Steyn argues here and here, the theatre is on fire.

2. “Offensive”

I see that in a Daily Guardiangraph leader today the Charlie Hebdo cartoons are described as “offensive.” Was this adjective really necessary? It seems subtly to concede the case that the French cartoonists had it coming. But last time I checked “offensiveness” in the West was not a capital crime. Indeed, freedom to cause offense is surely one of the defining qualities of a mature, socially liberal culture. It’s how we explore the boundaries of what is and isn’t acceptable, by testing ideas – good and bad ones alike – in the crucible of debate. If people are wrong, we are free to tell them so – and explain why they are wrong. If we simply decide that some things cannot be said simply because they are “offensive” this enables aggrieved minorities to close down any argument they dislike without its ever being aired in public. This is not freedom of speech, but the opposite.

3. “Provocative.”

The first time I heard this justification was – bizarrely – from an old university friend of mine in the aftermath of the brutal 2004 murder of Theo Van Gogh. Sure it was jolly sad and upsetting, she argued, but frankly the guy was an outrageous provocateur who deliberately courted controversy so we should hardly be surprised that he came to a sticky end.

Wow! I never met Theo Van Gogh but I’m pretty sure that, had I asked him, he would have said that being shot in the street was not part of his life plan. Nor was it for the Charlie Hebdo team. They did what they did not, I suspect, because they wanted to but because they felt they had to. Why? Because of precisely the kind of cultural surrender they would have recognised in my university friend’s response to Theo Van Gogh’s death.

4. “Islamophobia”

It’s a nonsense term, of course, because phobias are traditionally a fear of something irrational. But it’s also a classic example of something the progressives are forever enjoining us not to do: victim-blaming. Those millions who gathered in Paris and elsewhere yesterday at the Charlie Hebdo vigils: do we imagine that any one of them wants anything other than to live in peace and harmony with their Muslim neighbours? It’s really about time that lefty apologists like Owen Jones stopped responding to every new Islamist atrocity as if it were otherwise.

5. “Anders Breivik”

If Anders Breivik had never existed the left would have had to invent him. He is the (allegedly) right-wing bogeyman they can wheel out at every turn – as Vince Cable did on BBC Question Time – to ‘prove’ that modern terrorism is not an exclusively Islamic phenomenon. The correct response when they try to play this game is: “OK. Apart from Anders Breivik, name two more. Even one more….” (Note incidentally how Owen Jones goes for the double here: Islamophobia and Breivik)

6. “The spectre of the Far Right.”

Another favourite cliche of progressive apologists, as witness most BBC reports on the killings in Paris. Yes, all right, so it seems that most of the evidence – well, all the evidence, actually – points to the murders being the work of fanatical Islamist cells. But it never does any harm, if you’re a liberal, to spread the blame a bit by suggesting that Marine Le Pen and her resurgent Front National (aka “the spectre of the Far Right”) may have played their part in “stoking tensions…”

Oh and one more thing to be noted about “spectres”: being insubstantial, they lack the ability to kill people.

Actually, two more things: Owen Jones again. He’s gone for the treble! (“The favourite target of the Far Right in Europe is…Muslims”). Go on, my son! Back of the net!)

7. “Editorial foolishness”

This is quite similar to point 3, but let’s give a special paragraph of shame to the senior Financial Times editor Tony Barber for that disgraceful apologia for terrorist violence he published the day after the Charlie Hebdo massacre.

Charlie Hebdo has a long record of mocking, baiting and needling French Muslims. If the magazine stops just short of outright insults, it is nevertheless not the most convincing champion of the principle of freedom of speech. France is the land of Voltaire, but too often editorial foolishness has prevailed at Charlie Hebdo.

What Barber (and his craven ilk) don’t seem to realise is that are many, many of us out here who could produce any number of such niggling criticisms of Charlie Hebdo and who, too, secretly rather wish they’d never gone and published those bloody cartoons. But that’s really not the point. They did it to establish a principle. We may not agree with how they did it and few, if any, of us would have done it ourselves. But the principle for which they were fighting ought to be sacrosanct. Either you have free speech or you don’t. Any one trying to argue otherwise has no business being a journalist.

From Breitbart London

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One thought on “Seven Shoddy Excuses Lefties Use To Justify The Paris Massacre”

  1. CleanEnergyPundit says:30th January 2015 at 11:55 pmTo my earlier blog at http://tinyurl.com/pdy7eka about the effects of the “Nuremberg Meme Funnel”, I have added some points and extended bibliography in the light of Charlie Hebdo – which might be of interest.

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George Monbiot: The New Christopher Hitchens?

The road to soundness. . . .

George Monbiot's next incarnation

George Monbiot’s next incarnation

Many of the most brilliant Right-wing politicians, journalists and polemicists started out on the Left: Ronald Reagan, Christopher Hitchens, Peter Hitchens, Paul Johnson, David Horowitz, Martin Amis, Toby Young, Clive James, Rod Liddle… This isn’t a route I’ve taken myself because I never went through an egregiously stupid phase. But I quite understand and forgive those poor young whippersnappers who did – and really don’t blame them, especially if they were only doing it as a cynical bid to get into the knickers of hot hippie chicks.

So three cheers for another trot – George Monbiot – who has finally seen the light. Well, maybe one and a half cheers more like because our George still has some way to go before achieving Delingpolean levels of immense and unimpeachable soundness. But he’s definitely heading in the right direction. Just read what he says in his latest column for the Guardian’s Komment Macht Frei.

First some context. Monbiot is greatly exercised by the position taken by some members of the international Leftist brethren on the genocidal killing of 8,000 Bosniaks at Srebrenica in 1995 and of perhaps 800,000 Tutsis in Rwanda in 1994. He is disgusted at the way they have tried to play the significance of these massacres down, which he considers a betrayal of the kind of principles he always thought Lefties believed in.

So attempts to downplay or dismiss this crime matter too – especially when they emerge from the unlikely setting of the internationalist left. I’m using this column to pursue a battle which might be hopeless, and which many of you might regard as obscure. Perhaps I have become obsessed, but it seems to me to be necessary. Tacitly on trial beside Mladic in The Hague is a set of ideas: in my view the left’s most disturbing case of denial and doublethink since the widespread refusal to accept that Stalin had engineered a famine in the Ukraine.

I first raised this issue a year ago, when I sharply criticised a book by two luminaries of the left, Edward Herman and David Peterson. The Politics of Genocide seeks to downplay or dismiss both the massacre of Bosniaks at Srebrenica in 1995 and the genocide of Tutsis committed by Hutu militias in Rwanda in 1994. Their claims are extraordinary: that the cause of death of the “vast majority” of the Bosniaks at Srebrenica remains “undetermined”; that rather than 800,000 or more Tutsis being killed by Hutu militias in Rwanda, “the great majority of deaths were Hutu, with some estimates as high as two million”, while members of the Hutus’ Interahamwe militia were the “actual victims” of genocide.

What has changed since then is that the movement to which I thought I belonged has closed ranks: against attempts to challenge this revisionism, against the facts, in effect against the victims of these genocides. My attempts to pursue this question number among the most dispiriting experiences of my working life.

Monbiot feels especially let down by two men whom he considered to be heroes of the Left:

I wrote to Noam Chomsky, a hero of mine, who provided the foreword to Herman and Peterson’s book, asking whether he had read it and whether he accepted the accounts it contains of the Rwandan genocide and the massacre of Srebrenica. Watching that brilliant mind engage in high-handed dismissal and distraction has been profoundly depressing. While failing to answer my questions, he accused me of following the Washington script (I have posted our correspondence on my website).

John Pilger, who wrote a glowing endorsement of the book, volunteered this response: “Chef Monbiot is a curiously sad figure. All those years of noble green crusading now dashed by his Damascene conversion to nuclear power’s poisonous devastations and his demonstrable need for establishment recognition – a recognition which, ironically, he already enjoyed.” The leftwing magazine Counterpunch cited my article as evidence that I am a member of the “thought police”, and that the role of the Guardian is “to limit the imaginative horizons of readers”.

Thus has this infectious idiocy spread through the political community to which I belong. The people I criticise here rightly contend that western governments and much of the western media ignore or excuse atrocities committed by the United States and its allies, while magnifying those committed by forces deemed hostile. But they then appear to create a mirror image of this one-sided narrative, minimising the horrors committed by forces considered hostile to the US and its allies.

Yes, George. Quite, George. This is why Nick Cohen wrote his brilliant book What’s Left. It’s why Robert Conquest quit the Communist party in disgust and denounced all those fellow travellers and useful idiots – from George Bernard Shaw to Beatrice and Sydney Webb and Jean-Paul Sartre – who continued to support the Soviet system long after its barbarities had become evident. Hello, George? Duh, George! This is what the Left is like and always will be like. It’s why some of us are not on the Left, never have been on the Left and take an awful lot of flak from the Left when we point these small details of fact out.

Empiricism, that’s the thing. Things are either true or they’re not true. And if they’re not true it is clearly wrong to go on believing in them for the sake of ideological correctness. That’s what Lefties are doing all the time and, as you’ve rightly seen in this case, George – though sadly not yet on the issue of, ahem, “Climate Change” – it’s pernicious, corrupting and morally reprehensible.

Anyway, lecture over, dear Moonie Woonie. (I may call you Moonie Woonie, mayn’t I, now we’re on the same team, sort of? Or would you prefer Mooners? Or did you have a nickname at Stowe you’d rather I used instead?). Looking forward to meeting you at the next Ukip conference. Maybe we could do a double-header on a panel on – ooh, I dunno, let’s pluck a subject at random from the ether. Energy policy?

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