Terror in France Highlights a Hard Bargain

The horrific acts of terrorism that took place last week in France serve to heighten the current, violent chapter in a bitter and ongoing struggle between those, on one hand, who believe human beings are inherently free, and that our freedoms must be recognized, respected and defended; and those, on the other hand, who believe we should not and must not be entrusted to determine the courses of our own lives.

These two views are diametrically opposed. And the extremists who committed murders at the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo were attacking not only individuals, but freedom itself. For without freedom of expression there is no freedom of thought, and vice versa. These are indelibly intertwined human rights from which all others flow.

They also seem the hardest to honor, because one man’s undeniable truth is often another’s egregious insult. Tolerance of this difficult reality is part of the bargain. It is a hard bargain, indeed, yet one well worth respecting and defending.

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