(Salon) – The terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo by Muslim extremists, motivated by disapproval of the French magazine’s habit of depicting the prophet Mohammed in cartoons, has created some strange bedfellows. The free speech fans of the left now find themselves being joined by the same conservatives who normally spend their time complaining about rap lyrics and Internet pornography but who suddenly find themselves to be free speech absolutists when the proponents of censorship are radical Muslims. Suddenly, the right not only will defend your right to offend others, but often argue it’s a moral duty.
Matthew Continetti of the National Review wrote, “I am buoyed by the spirit of defiance in the face of terror, and by the avowals of Enlightenment principles such as freedom of religion and speech and press.” Fox News’s Stuart Varney implied that President Obama didn’t go to the Paris marches because he hates free speech. Ross Douthat of the New York Times wrote, “If a large enough group of someones is willing to kill you for saying something, then it’s something that almost certainly needs to be said, because otherwise the violent have veto power over liberal civilization, and when that scenario obtains it isn’t really a liberal civilization any more.”
Of course, Douthat, realizing his great affection for blasphemy will last only as long as needed to score this political point but wanting to reserve the right to denounce it when Christians are the ones being teased, tried to come up with an elaborate rationalization for why blasphemy is admirable when aimed at Islam but deplorable when the hurt feelings belong to Christians. It all goes to show how thoroughly phony this conservative enthusiasm for robust speech protections and a rowdy public discourse really is, because it will all be abandoned the second their own gods are mocked. Lest there be any doubt about that, here are some of the greatest hits of conservatives demanding censorship of what they believe are blasphemous messages.