It’s an extraordinarily distressing phenomenon and very telling fact about Western culture now…
You know, the great battles over censorship and free expression in the course of Western history over the last three centuries have largely been about high art. The suppression of Ulysses, the suppression of Lolita. The jailing of Voltaire and Diderot. The mistreatment of Flaubert over Madame Bovary and Theodore Dreiser over Sister Carrie.
And now — a fascinating phenomenon — that it is this kind of gleefully sophomoric, you know, na-na-na stuff, that we’re now called upon to defend in the name of free expression.
But if this is where the war has been declared, we have to fight for it.
That’s why [the Hebdo massacre] was an unequivocal win for the bad guys, the whole episode. No matter how it plays out, it was a win.
Everyone’s talking about how galvanized Western Europe is, how they sold 3 million copies of the next Hebdo issue.
But there’s a reason Lenin’s philosophy was “The worse, the better.”
When you live in a moment where radicals can create a crisis mentality — and create actual crises — you force everybody to take extreme positions.
In a normal situation where Muslim terrorists weren’t murdering people, none of us would want to run the crap that Charlie Hebdo ran. But we’re left with no choice but to defend running it.
So now we all defend it and we all run to the ramparts, and I’m 100% on that side. But in a healthier society, we wouldn’t even have to do this because it is offensive.
But the problem is you simply cannot be held hostage by people who murder people over this kind of thing.
Though I don’t find myself aligning ideologically with them all that often, I’m a listener and fan of G’, Lo’, and P’ — they’re up to date, super well read, awash in cross-cultural references, and, probably more importantly, really funny.
For barely related riffs from both speakers, pick up Podhoretz’s short book on the Hillary Clinton presidential run Can She Be Stopped? or Jonah’s The Tyranny of Cliches: How Liberals Cheat in the War of Ideas.