“What did they expect?” I don’t know how many times I’ve heard this comment made about the massacre at Charlie Hebdo. “What the fuck did they expect?”
The implication is that since the editors and cartoonists knew that images of the Prophet Mohammed offended Muslim extremists, they should have expected a violent reaction from them. Because they knew Muslim extremists were capable of massive acts of immoderate and irrational violence, they should have expected to be firebombed or stabbed or shot. Because they knew something like this might happen, they shouldn’t publish cartoons of the Prophet.
In other words, Charlie Hebdo should let extremists decide what they ought to publish.
But let me actually answer the question. What did the editors and cartoonists and support staff of Charlie Hebdo expect? They expected people who were offended by their magazine would choose not to read their magazine. It’s that simple.
If you’re offended by rap music, don’t listen to rap music. If you’re offended by South Park, don’t watch South Park. If you’re offended by Sarah Palin, don’t listen to Sarah Palin. If you’re offended by photographs of naked people, don’t go to exhibits that show photos of naked people. If you’re offended by Charlie Hebdo, don’t buy or read Charlie Hebdo.
So let’s turn that question to the Muslim extremists? What the fuck did they expect? If they knew Charlie Hebdo published outrageous cartoons of the Prophet, they should have expected to be offended. So let’s consider their options.
Option 1 — Don’t buy or read Charlie Hebdo.
Option 2 — Gear up and slaughter as many people who work at Charlie Hebdo as they possibly can.
This is not a difficult decision. I don’t think it was unreasonable for the staff of Charlie Hebdo to expect folks to choose Option 1.