The Defense of Satire Is the Defense of Free Expression


In response to the terrorist attacks on the offices of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, Business Insider has run a selection of sixteen of the magazine’s most provocative covers [].

The television coverage of the terrorist attack has been quite uniform in not showing the materials that led to the attack on the magazine’s offices, and that decision seems to me to be implicitly reinforcing the point that the gunmen were attempting to make, rather than asserting the opposite.

So I applaud Business Insider for reproducing a selection of the covers that have been most controversial not because I agree that all of the subjects necessarily warrant such treatment but because I don’t think that arguments about what might be offensive ought to be settled by gunfire. Indeed, although I am certain that the magazine has genuinely offended many groups, to some extent the effectiveness of satire…

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About martinkich

I am a Professor of English at Wright State University's Lake Campus, where I have been a faculty member for more than 25 years. I have now served multiple terms as the President of the WSU chapter of AAUP, which now includes all full-time instructional faculty, and as the Vice-President of the Ohio Conference of AAUP. I have also served several terms as an at-large member of the Executive Committee of AAUP's Collective Bargaining Congress. In addition to serving as co-editor of the Academe blog, I am also a member of the editorial board of Academe and have been a guest editor for an issue of the magazine on collective bargaining strategies. As co-chair of the Ohio Conference's Communication Committee, I began to do much more overtly political writing during the campaign to repeal Ohio's Senate Bill 5, which would have eliminated the right of faculty to be unionized. I have sustained that activism, and at the risk of stating the obvious, I have very much enjoyed contributing to the Academe Blog and to our chapter blog. I also maintain several other blogs to which I have re-posted, by topic, my posts to the Academe blog, as well as some other items.

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