Let's start with the usual inane rattle from Nick, who appears to have convinced himself that a few French malcontents armed with 1940s weaponry are a "powerful" force to whom we must all speak truth in the precise terms that he demands. He even helpfully includes the exact words he wants to hear us say - "We loathe the murderers who enforce their taboos with Kalashnikovs".
His target, as ever, is a particular section of the UK press and a nebulous, non-specific "liberalism", neither of which have spent the week falling over themselves to heap praise upon the Paris killers and have, if anything, been really quite down on them.
As is ever the case with Nick though, a closer reading reveals that simply being against religious nutters killing people for insane reasons is insufficient for his purposes. His entire schtick this last ten years or so has been to hold hoops ever higher and demand that everyone jump through them on command, so we find yet again that even the strongest condemnation will not save us from denunciation. For Nick, refusing to publish images of Mohammed is "cowardice", making the British "the world's worst cowards".
(Nick himself has a personal blog that's currently quite untainted by images of any centuries-dead Arabian prophets, but we'll charitably assume that he's been far too busy calling out other people's cowardice to update it).
Some other goodies: Nick acknowledges that radical Islamists want to "create a civil war" and "encourage the white far-right so that ordinary co-existence becomes impossible", but doesn't then ask himself whether e.g. re-publishing the cartoons in question will help or hinder said Islamists in fostering chaos.
I'll answer that one by saying that this would probably help radical Islamists to stir up further grief and violence between Muslims and others, because it looks a lot like Nick doesn't intend to answer that question.
He also invites European liberals to question their attitudes towards Islam generally because the Saudi dictatorship are horrible and repressive, which is fun. There are certainly people in the UK who are overly soft on the Sauds, but I suspect it's not the liberals who are at fault here.
Anyway, some other observations on the week's awful events:
- The Paris killers' long-term goal was no doubt intimidation against criticism of Islam, and to set an example to like-minded fuckwits by doing so, but their immediate aim was to commit atrocities, then get their stupid faces on television to frighten the entire continent.
24 hour news, being what it is, immediately obliged, plastering their faces all over TV and newspapers under headlines screaming - These Terrifying Badasses Are Terrorising Us All.
During one particular exchange on Friday, a BBC presenter asked a guest what these terrorists actually wanted. Mystifyingly, the guest didn't point out that grown men who put on ridiculous special forces ninja outfits then run around killing people in broad daylight probably want television journalists to treat them like they're the second coming of Dillinger or something, and instead proceeded to treat them like they were Dillinger.
- In fact, the idea that these guys are just some poxy, small-minded little twats with big guns and ludicrous views was pretty much absent from coverage.
This continent has managed to survive the Mongol Horde, Nazi invasion and Soviet occupation, so I'd say it'll probably manage to endure a murder spree by a small gang of revanchist throwbacks. That being the case, it'd probably be a good idea if we all said so a bit more often.
- One way to avoid giving terrorists the perception that "they have won" is to not wave your arms and scream about how We must do (x) or the terrorists have won.
Because it didn't take long for this kind of thing to rear its head - essentially, calls for everyone to shut up and bend over for infinite intimate cavity searches by the security services, forever.
There's a lot of this Everyone who is not a belligerent, bellowing bell-end like me must now be silent stuff around, and it doesn't usually take us to good places.
By Friday night, I'd say that I'd seen somewhere around two hundred times as many screechy, handbag-clutching comments about the theoretical opinions of imaginary relativists and apologists than I'd actually seen daft comments by real people. The actual existence of such comments is clearly less important than demands that anything resembling them be immediately hunted down and exterminated, to prevent contamination of our fragile eggshell minds.
Let's just note that these pre-emptive strikes upon disagreement and anguished demands for absolute unanimity are always a feature of major terrorism stories. If there's a particularly nasty whiff of 2003 about their current volume and intensity, that's only because it's the same people pushing them, and because some folk are congenitally incapable of changing or learning lessons.
- Demands for unanimity also betray an utter lack of understanding of who we are and who the enemy is.
The fact that everyone disagrees about everything and that lots of us are basically idiots, is one of the defining characteristics of western societies*.
Meanwhile, there's a certain loopy misreading of reality in the idea that our own lack of singular purpose makes us weak, while the Islamist nutters' certainties make them strong.
You'd think that most people would've spotted that crazy, violent Islamists aren't exactly rocking all before them at the moment. Isis have spent months trying to capture one town on the Turkish border and have made a spectacular cock of the job, even though it's only protected by civilian militias.
Elsewhere, crazy militant Islam is failing utterly to convince even a sizeable minority of the world's billion-strong Muslim population. You might have spotted the massive intra-faith conflict going on in Syria and Iraq, for instance, and concluded that such things do not usually betoken unified collectives of like-minded thinkers. One wonders how it's managed to pass so many other people by.
- In the end, despite the hundreds of opinion pieces claiming that the Paris killings show the failings of, say, liberalism or multi-culturalism or whatever, they actually show us that two things are failing quite badly - Islamic radicalism itself, which has now been reduced to taking potshots at cartoonists rather than its stated goal of establishing a global empire of doom, and the idea of security through surveillance.
But then, neither of those ideas sell papers or butter any parsnips for wars, so they're not likely to be headlined.
But they are, you know, true.
*And societies in general, although nastier countries take steps to keep any public objections to a minimum.