Yesterday in Paris, religious extremists murdered twelve people and critically wounded several others at the offices of a satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo, including the editor, cartoonists and writers, and police personnel. This morning a policewoman has died and a council road sweeper is wounded following another murderous attack in south Paris. The kalashnikov toting murderers in the first massacre shouted as they left that their god had been avenged.
The magazine has courted controversy over the years, with its deliberately provocative cartoons satirising and criticising politicians, nationalities, various religious faiths and boorish Frenchmen among others. Last night, many thousands including members of all faiths gathered in the Place de la Republique in a demonstration of solidarity and defence of free speech.
So why are we in the west so obstinate and determined to maintain our right to freedom of expression, and why do we hold those who use it provocatively but intelligently in such high regard?