I believe nothing should be sacred and beyond clearly identifiable bigotry, and that is often a matter of opinion, there is nothing which should be censored. I in fact would censor nothing because I believe, like banning drugs, it just drives it underground where it becomes extreme.
In a world without censorship you will always get fanatics but most people are not fanatical and their words or images will have little impact.
As one reads more about the Charlie Hebdo tragedy it becomes very clear that the magazine waged a rather bigoted ‘war’ against Islam, which, while never justifying in any way the horrifying retaliatory murders, does make one question why it was allowed to be so blatantly discriminatory when, previously, one of their cartoonists was sacked for a work which was, by comparison, minor in terms of mocking Judaism.
One presumes that Muslims were well aware of this selective censorship and therefore felt more angry at being singled out as an object of ridicule, at least those few Muslims who react to such situations with anger.
Charlie Hebdo mocked everyone, savagely, and Christians, Jews and others, including Muslims were enraged. Some of them sanctioned violence against the magazine and its cartoonists so the Muslims were not alone.
My view is that if you have censorship then you apply it equally and not selectively where mockery of one religion is silenced and not of another.
I also believe that satire is best left to the truly gifted in the craft because then, anything can be said, but so cleverly that offence is more difficult to prove or take. Looking at some of the anti-Muslim Charlie Hebdo cartoons it is very clear that they were not necessarily gifted and were in fact crass and easily seen as bigotry of the worst kind.
The lesson from Charlie Hebdo is that freedom of speech, a gift for those who live in the developed world, but also a potential curse and something to be used with discretion, grace and wisdom.
Those who murdered did not do so in the name of any religion because all religions have extremists and if we were to judge all Christians on the actions of nations which profess to abide by Christian values, as the US does and as do many of its allies as they wage war, particularly against Muslim nations; or those which profess to abide by Judaic values, as Israel does, as it maintains occupation, colonisation and apartheid in Palestine with the use of deadly military force; or those who profess to abide by Hindu values as they send suicide bombers against their enemies; or even Buddhists who use violence and murder as weapons of dissent, then we would be doing as much of a disservice by projecting this crime onto all Muslims.
Nothing happens in a vacuum and this crime is no exception. Neither can we believe all we read. Charlie Hebdo was poorly protected despite its active ‘war’ against religions in general and Islam in particular and the reality is that none of us have any way of knowing just who planned this series of terrorist acts, i.e. they do not have to be Muslims and various intelligence agencies have always been active in ‘false flag’ operations to foment agendas which serve their interests.
But what we can know is that we are all humans sharing this planet and that most Muslims like most members of all religions are moderate and that crimes like this cannot be blamed on everyone who follows the religion because that amounts to religious bigotry.
I would just add I have absolutely no time for any religion, having studied a few of them, but retain time for what I call God. All religions contain worthwhile wisdoms, hidden beneath a great deal of human, mostly male, stupidity, misogyny, violence and bigotry.
The biggest step toward enlightenment was the separation of ‘Church’ and State and the recognition that religions should play no official part in Government or society in general. Religion is a set of personal beliefs which should be kept personal and private and should never be inflicted on society in general.
The ‘best’ of religions, and it is always the same, because it comes from the same source, are the spiritual teachings which are innate in human consciousness and spirituality and which do not belong to any religion and have not come from any religious beliefs.
Most of the best of Christianity, Judaism and Islam, because they have the same source can be found in the much older and much more balanced Great Goddess spiritual belief system and those of countless saviour/redeemer figures scattered throughout human mythic and spiritual and religious history.