Charlie and Theo

Democracies must make room for those who challenge social taboos by being deliberately impolite. But to equate such iconoclasts with “democracy” or “Western civilization” seems too grandiose.

AMSTERDAM – The Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh, who was murdered by a Muslim extremist in Amsterdam a little more than ten years ago, had much in common with the satirists of Charlie Hebdo. Like the French editors and cartoonists, he was a provocateur, a moral anarchist, a shock artist who never saw a taboo he did not wish to smash.