Would You Really Be Charlie?

JE SUIS WHO AGAIN? Google Trends: Je Suis Charlie [blue] and Kim Kardashian [red], April 2014-April 2015

JE SUIS WHO AGAIN? Google Trends: Je Suis Charlie [blue] and Kim Kardashian [red], April 2014-April 2015

"One morning last week, as Washiqur Rahman, a shy, boyish-looking twenty-six-year-old Bangladeshi, left his house in Dhaka and started walking to the travel agency where he worked, three men set upon him with machetes and hacked him to death." 

— George Packer, "Mute Button"  

I had never heard of Washiqur Rahman, a young blogger who was murdered for being "an anti-Islamic person," before reading George Packer's 1,200-word essay in this week's New Yorker.

But after reading it, I couldn't get a thought out of my mind: 

Would any of us really be Charlie? (Or Rahman and countless others?) Would you risk death to protect free speech and, if not, doesn't that mean free speech is already dead? 

Packer argues that self-censorship—wouldn't it just be safer to stop talking about Islam and the Prophet?—is as dangerous as censorship, and I agree. 

Unless we stand up to protect free speech, we are not Charlie. We are cowards.