So many people have been saying so much that is right about the atrocious killings by Islamic extremists of staffers at a French satirical magazine, I don't feel that I can add much to the 100% justified outrage.
This is what happens when religiosity goes over the brink.
For me, the big question is: who is responsible for the possibility, indeed obvious likelihood, given the course of history, that religious true believers will act in murderous, violent, oppressive, or other unacceptable ways?
On the whole, my sympathies are with those, like Sam Harris, who argue that "moderate" religion provides the foundation for "extreme" religion.
That is, once we accept that A, B, and C are the must-obey commandments of God, it isn't that much of a leap for true believers to consider that X, Y, and Z also are required actions to curry the favor of the Big Guy Upstairs.
Including killing those who make fun of the Prophet Muhammad by drawing cartoons of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Drawn.
This is an opportunity to remind people that if you can't take a joke about your religion, or hear criticism of it, you shouldn't be visiting a blog called Church of the Churchless. Or if you do, accept that you're gong to be offended.
And if commenters on a blog post wonder why I usually give the last word to the skeptical faithless in a "you're a jerk; no you're a jerk" series of comment interactions, it's because -- duh -- this is the Church of the Churchless, not the Church of the Churched.
Making fun of religion always will get priority here over respecting absurd dogma.
Here's a few commentaries from other people that I resonated with.
"The Blame for the Charlie Hebdo Murders," in The New Yorker. Excerpt:
A religion is not just a set of texts but the living beliefs and practices of its adherents. Islam today includes a substantial minority of believers who countenance, if they don’t actually carry out, a degree of violence in the application of their convictions that is currently unique.
Charlie Hebdo had been nondenominational in its satire, sticking its finger into the sensitivities of Jews and Christians, too—but only Muslims responded with threats and acts of terrorism.
For some believers, the violence serves a will to absolute power in the name of God, which is a form of totalitarianism called Islamism—politics as religion, religion as politics. “Allahu Akbar!” the killers shouted in the street outside Charlie Hebdo. They, at any rate, know what they’re about.
"The Blasphemy We Need," in the New York Times. Excerpt:
In the wake of the vicious murders at the offices of the satirical French newspaper Charlie Hebdo today, let me offer three tentative premises about blasphemy in a free society.
1) The right to blaspheme (and otherwise give offense) is essential to the liberal order.
2) There is no duty to blaspheme, a society’s liberty is not proportional to the quantity of blasphemy it produces, and under many circumstances the choice to give offense (religious and otherwise) can be reasonably criticized as pointlessly antagonizing, needlessly cruel, or simply stupid.
3) The legitimacy and wisdom of criticism directed at offensive speech is generally inversely proportional to the level of mortal danger that the blasphemer brings upon himself.