The Conflict of Iconoclasts

France is holding huge rallies for free speech after the Charlie Hebdo murders, but they have arrested a comedian for his antisemitic speech.  Now the Pope, while condemning the terrorist attack, is underscoring that mocking religion is wrong in itself.  Issues of free speech are apparently more complicated than is often assumed.

Meanwhile, the sold-out new issue of the satirical magazine that was attacked makes clear its distinct ideological position, namely, a militant atheism.  The editors say how they laughed when the bells of Notre Dame would be rung in their honor, and that those who say “‘I am Charlie’ need to also know that that means, ‘I am secularism.’”  The point is, both the terrorists and their victims are iconoclasts.

After the jump, Stephen Richert, while condemning the killings and insisting that he is not blaming the victim, argues that freedom of speech is NOT the primary value of civilization and that leftist iconoclasts and Islamic iconoclasts have more in common than either of them realize. [Read more...]

The very model of a Biblical philologist

After the jump, Biblical scholarship by way of Gilbert & Sullivan’s “I am the very model of a modern major-general.” [Read more...]

The funny year in review

One of my long-time customs leading up to New Year’s is to read Dave Barry’s annual year in review.  I like the month-by-month survey of what happened in the previous year.  And that his commentary is hilarious. [Read more...]

Pun control

The Chinese government is forbidding the use of puns in state-supported media.  Alexandra Petri objects.  (If you are one of those, like Chinese communists, who can’t stand puns, do NOT read her punitive words after the jump.  I invite you, though, to respond in kind in the comments.) [Read more...]


Americans are panicking over Ebola, and authorities are concerned not just to stem the disease but to stem the panic.  They are saying the chances of any of us actually dying of Ebola is microscopically low, that we are more likely to die of a shark attack, bee stings, or falling out of bed.  Alexandra Petri says that if that’s true, we need to panic over those other things too! [Read more...]

Letterman’s replacement will be Stephen Colbert

David Letterman, the late night talk show host on CBS, announced his retirement the other day, as of 2-15.  And now we learn that he will be replaced by satirist Stephen Colbert.   That would mean the end of the Colbert Report on Comedy Central, which has been the bane of conservatives though a very funny bane.  Reportedly, when he takes over Late Night, Colbert will set aside his faux-conservative persona that he used to such withering effect.

I’ve got mixed feelings about this.  What do you think? [Read more...]