Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The Blasphemy We Need

by Ross Douthat

New York Times

January 7, 2015

In the wake of the vicious murders at the offices of the satirical French newspaper Charlie Hebdo today, let me offer three tentative premises about blasphemy in a free society.

1) The right to blaspheme (and otherwise give offense) is essential to the liberal order.

2) There is no duty to blaspheme, a society’s liberty is not proportional to the quantity of blasphemy it produces, and under many circumstances the choice to give offense (religious and otherwise) can be reasonably criticized as pointlessly antagonizing, needlessly cruel, or simply stupid.

3) The legitimacy and wisdom of criticism directed at offensive speech is generally inversely proportional to the level of mortal danger that the blasphemer brings upon himself.