Re: Charlie Hebdo.

Re: Charlie Hebdo (I know, I know). Here’s the thing about causing offence that drives people to murder you. You never truly know the point at which you’ve crossed the line. We live in a world where writers and cartoonists are sent innumerable death threats every single day. When the threatened murder is finally committed, you may never know the precise point at which the attacker snapped. It could be an offhand remark or picture you’d tossed out into the ether a few months or years ago, which suddenly came to the attention of your would-be killer. It could be an article or image that you’d produced as part of a series of pieces criticising everyone. Or it could be a relentless campaign of mockery, of the most humiliating degree, conducted with merciless focus for months or even years on end.

A problem with trying to censor satirists by law is that what you are effectively trying to do is second-guess the mind state of a murderer, and that is an impossible exercise of itself. You can’t submit your proposed work to a committee of would-be killers before publication and say “hey mate, will this be OK with you? Will this provoke you to sufficient anger to fill up that chamber with bullets?” Another problem is beginning to think that the kind of people moved to murder over satire, regardless of how offensive it is, should have any kind of say in how or whether it is distributed.

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