A controversy is brewing over the literary group PEN’s decision to honor Charlie Hebdo in their annual gala for rich people, which is bizarre given how uncontroversial that decision is. PEN’s award is for “freedom of expression courage,” and it’s hard to think of a starker example of this than the 18 Charlie Hebdo staffers who paid the ultimate price for their speech — and who refused to back down despite the death threats they received previously. One of them even predicted his own murder.
But some writers will have none of it, specifically because Hebdo dared to mock Muslims as well as Christians and Jews. Now, these writers could not care less if a publication mocks Christianity… but to challenge Islam, that special snowflake of a religion? Unacceptable!
It’s no surprise that these people wanted instead one of their own honored — Glenn Greenwald, who is fanatically anti-American, anti-Semitic and pro-Islamic. He is the avatar of a very specific strain of leftist thought that holds that Islam for some reason is forever beyond any sort of criticism, no matter how anti-liberal, misogynistic, homophobic and racist their extremists may get, and also no matter how much scorn these same sorts of leftists heap on Christian and Jewish fundamentalists for the exact same things.
Look: You are either for freedom of speech, or you are not. There are no grey areas here. Supporting speech you happen to agree with is meaningless. Refusing to even acknowledge people who literally died for their speech, just because you disagreed with the speech or found it “problematic,” shows what you think of the ideals of a free press or of free debate.
There are few speakers I find more dishonest or repugnant than Sean Hannity. However, if he were murdered by an Islamic terrorist simply for his speech — especially if he were first threatened, as Hebdo was, yet still refused to back down — then he should absolutely be honored by every free-speech award such as PEN’s. It takes an anti-intellectual bent to feel otherwise.