IN A MARKETPLACE SOCIETY, UNTIL TODAY, ONLY SOME OF US WERE CHARLIE
It's inspiring to see a global roster of cartoonists tweeting drawings in support of Charlie Hebdo, workers in the offices of the French news agency AFP holding up "Je Suis Charlie" signs, and ordinary citizens in Avignon doing the same -- but the fact is that people determined to intimidate satirists and others in the media have a natural advantage in a market culture: inevitably, a tiny number of them can effectively terrorize, but a small number of us simply can't back them down.
Freedom of speech, capitalist choice, and a rich, varied marketplace mean that we don't unite as a society around the sort of material Charlie Hebdo publishes -- consumers can buy it or pass it up, and if most people simply don't buy it, that means its consumers and (primarily) producers are an easy target for those who'd intimidate them, while non-consumers remain uninvolved. We saw that even with a mass-market Hollywood movie, The Interview, back when a lot of people of people believed that showing the film could lead to violence: it was just too simple to keep oneself safe by shunning The Interview, by not screening it, by not releasing it. If moviegoers were going to shun the film, that was understandable -- a trip to the theater might be fun, but did anyone actually want to die for a Seth Rogen movie, or, worse, a Seth Rogen movie other people were watching? Seeing the movie wasn't a unifying national ritual -- we weren't all going to do it in any case. So either we had to expand the alleged terrorists' target list (by making attendance a civic duty) or some of us had to stick our necks out. Eventually, the latter happened -- but most of the time it seems risky to make oneself the target, and easier to avoid the fight. That's why most of the media won't publish irreverent material about the Prophet Muhammad. Why endanger lives, including the lives of employees and fellow tenants of office buildings, when there's a choice not to? Why run the risk?
That's just the nature of this sort of asymmetric warfare. A nation-state isn't bombing a nation-state; instead, intimidators can pick their targets -- and sometimes they make clear how you can stay off at least one target list.
I don't have answers for how to deal with this. I'm just pointing out the fact that terrorists of this kind have at least one tactical advantage. Minimizing that advantage isn't easy, because someday there'll be another target, and we won't all be Charlie, and the haters of the next Charlie know that.