Now is a time to remember that tolerance has to be reciprocal or it is not tolerance at all
By Suzanne Moore|theguardian
Voltaire is being quoted everywhere at the moment, although some say his words were different to what we are being told. He actually wrote in a letter in 1770 to Abbot le Riche: “I detest what you write but I would give my life to make it possible for you to continue to write.” And of course lives have been taken rather than given for writing what many detest.
The arguments go back and forth between those who think Charlie Hebdo should not have published its latest cover image of Muhammad and those – and I am one – who think that they are publishing anything at all is amazing and heartening. The image of a crying man does not offend me. I am not a Muslim but I see that the cover has been read as yet more provocation, even an undoing of the unity of the marches in Paris and other cities. To certain scumbag preachers it is “an act of war”.
Equally disturbing is this talk of blasphemy. Jesus H Christ, remind me what year this is. At one end of the spectrum we have talk of blasphemy, then at the other a kind of liberal anxiety about bad manners – as if showing images was akin to bringing the wrong wine to a dinner party. To all of this, I must say I am pretty gobsmacked. There is a kind of faux respect floating around that I do not trust at all. For it is fearful.