Why Sanctimony Is No Defense against Zealotry


To some extent, sanctimony is the “civilized” version of dogma enforced by social, religious, or political conformity and then, when that proves insufficient, the threat of force.

There is now a great deal of attention to the nature of the satire published in Charlie Hebdo, with some commentators finding it almost embarrassingly juvenile and others finding it relentlessly offensive and extremely and needlessly provocative.

But what is missing from most of those discussions is that this is a debate about taste, and as any freshman composition student knows, debates about taste are not fruitful topics for any sort of well-reasoned argument. Taste is always very personal, even if we happen to agree on some standards by which tastefulness might be judged.

Although the Internet has developed into an unprecedented source of information, it is also a cesspool of completely uncensored and often horribly offensive opinion. And nowhere is this…

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