The day after the massacre, I happened to be in Paris. The headline of Le Figaro was “LA LIBERTÃ‰ ASSASSINÃ‰E.” Le Parisien and Lâ€™HumanitÃ© also used the word libertÃ© in their headlines. Liberty was indeed under attackâ€”as a writer, I cherish the right to offend, and I support that right in other writersâ€”but what was being excluded in this framing? A tone of genuine puzzlement always seems to accompany terrorist attacks in the centers of Western power. Why have they visited violent horror on our peaceful societies? Why do they kill when we donâ€™t? (…) But it is possible to defend the right to obscene and racist speech without promoting or sponsoring the content of that speech. It is possible to approve of sacrilege without endorsing racism. And it is possible to consider Islamophobia immoral without wishing it illegal. Moments of grief neither rob us of our complexity nor absolve us of the responsibility of making distinctions. (…) The Charlie Hebdo cartoonists were not mere gadflies, not simple martyrs to the right to offend: they were ideologues. Just because one condemns their brutal murders doesnâ€™t mean one must condone their ideology.
Other quotes from Teju Cole.