Amid the avalanche of commentary on Charlie Hebdo, here’s a thought provoking piece on the ‘false dichotomy fallacy.’

Like Richard White, I’ve been alarmed by many of the responses to the Charlie Hebdo attack. It should go without saying (but doesn’t, judging by Twitter and the media at large) that what happened in Paris is horrific, but my shock and horror have done nothing to slake my visceral and well-documented loathing of hypocrisy. Our government easily forsakes the ‘absolute’ value of free speech when al Sisi, our man in Egypt, chucks journalists in jail by the baker’s dozen, just as the West kept its eyes squeezed shut when the US bombed two Al Jazeera bureaux during the Iraq war. No talk of free speech then.

So while villagers in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen have their heads sliced off by unmanned drones operated from the Nevada desert, hunger striking Guantanamo detainees long declared innocent are force fed for objecting to their ongoing detention, and the bile that rose in our throats over the CIA Torture Report settles back in our cast iron guts, I find it difficult to hold hands in smug grief over a putative clash of civilisations. If we’re going to weep, let’s all weep for each other and not just for ourselves.

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