In the United States, it’s more dangerous to offend the LGBT lobby than to provoke Muslims with what they consider blasphemy.
Never has the costless but self-affirming political gesture been easier or more prevalent than now, when a hashtag or an avatar passes for principled stand. But the principles on which free societies are based cannot, in the long run, be defended without taking on risk.
There is, to be sure, something charming about spontaneous online movements such as “Je suis Charlie.” Although there are legitimate concerns about the particular brand of speech Charlie Hebdo specializes in, on the whole public support for the magazine and its staff has been salutary—and better than the victim-blaming alternative. It is exactly this type of popular display that nurtures a culture of free expression.