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[Play the brief clip above]

“This is what it’s like for peaceful people to gather in a cafe and attempt to have a conversation about our basic freedoms in an open society.

You have to ask yourself: what kind of a world do you want to live in? What kind of world do you want your kids to live in?

This is the world you’re living in now. And as someone who is spending a fair amount of time dealing with these issues, I can tell you that I no longer feel safe doing so… And this is not just me. I’m talking about those people in Copenhagen. I’m talking about those people in open societies everywhere, who have to deal with this growing menace of Islamic jihadism.

Unless we can speak honestly about this, unless we can resist the theocratic demands being placed on us, we will lose our way of life. In fact, we have already lost it in many respects.

We have to reclaim our freedom of speech. So if you care about living in an open society that doesn’t more and more resemble Jerusalem or Beirut, if you care about free speech, real freedom of speech, not just its political guarantee — the reality of being able to speak about what you need to speak about in public, without being murdered by some maniac or without having to spend the rest of your life being hunted by a jihadist mob…

If you care about my work, or the work of other secularists, or of other Muslim reformers like Maajid Nawaz or Ayaan Hirsi Ali; if you care about our ability to notice and criticize and correct for bad ideas, then you have to condemn [the dishonesty of the regressive left]. Please push back against this. Please lose your patience at shocking displays of intellectual dishonesty used to excuse it. Your response to this really matters.”


Sam Harris’s reflections on the shooting at the Krudttoenden cultural center in Copenhagen last February, in which 40 people had assembled to discuss the state of free expression in post-Hebdo Europe.

The audio clip records the horrific seconds when a gunman burst through the door, letting off a hail of bullets that would kill one and injure several others. The woman’s voice you hear in the opening is that of Inna Shevchenko, the Ukrainian feminist activist, who had just taken the stage and was discussing the excuses many Westerners make on behalf of those who kill because of cartoons.

Today is the one year anniversary of the Hebdo massacre, and Saturday will be the anniversary of the Hypercacher Kosher supermarket shooting (but who remembers that?). I’ve just ordered the posthumously published book — completed three days before the attacks — by Charb, with a forward from Adam Gopnik, Open Letter: On Blasphemy, Islamophobia, and the True Enemies of Free Expression.

Go on:

Freedom of Speech by Norman Rockwell