Sam Harris on Charlie Hebdo and Islam in General

Sam Harris talking about Islam.
Sam Harris is an outspoken critic of all religions. But one religion in particular requires him to keep defending his position: Islam. Listen to the audio file below. It is a masterpiece of clarity and articulation. He makes many good points and makes them extremely well.

Listen to Sam Harris's monologue here: After Charlie Hebdo and Other Thoughts.

The first 15 minutes are all you need to listen to. Harris then goes onto other topics. In those first 15 minutes, he makes a huge number of important points, including these:

  • It doesn't matter if any particular terrorist is affiliated with a group or merely a "lone wolf." They are all motivated by the same ideology.
  • The one thing that would keep cartoonists safe is for everyone to immediately re-publish the cartoons. If newspapers and magazines had done that the first time, the staff of Charlie Hebdo would probably still be alive.
  • If someone asks the question, "What were the cartoons about?" they are entirely missing the point. People were murdered over cartoons. End of moral analysis.
  • There is no "trade off" between freedom of speech and freedom of religion. There's no balance to be struck here. Freedom of speech never infringes on freedom of religion. There's nothing I could say that would infringe on a Muslim's freedom to practice his religion. If your "freedom of religion" entails forcing those who don't share your religion to conform to it, that is not freedom of religion. We have a word for that: Theocracy.
  • The ISIS beheadings and torture and murders of journalists and aid workers and women are not examples of an excessive use of force by a few deranged individuals. This is entirely normal behavior within the context of standard Islamic doctrine. This is what they consider best about themselves. The butchery is what they use to advertise. Video footage of them cutting off the head of an aid worker is part of their recruiting materials. This does not cause them embarrassment. Quite the opposite. This is a bold expression of their worldview — a worldview fully supported by Islamic scripture. Not just supported, but demanded by their religious scripture. They consider their behavior entirely ethical.

Listen to these points and more, articulated in Sam Harris's inimitable style here: After Charlie Hebdo and Other Thoughts.

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