Defying the Assassin’s Veto

The massacre of Charlie Hebdo journalists in Paris on January 7 was an attempt to impose the assassin’s veto. Where the heckler’s veto says merely “I will shout you down,” the assassin’s version is “dare to express that and we will kill you.” Instead of the academic’s metaphorical “publish or perish” we have the Kouachi brothers’ “publish and perish.” In the quarter-century since the fatwa on Salman Rushdie, this has become one of the largest threats to free speech in the West, and certainly the most extreme.

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Alice Munro’s Magic

The slow-burning fuse that is an Alice Munro story frequently hides, then exposes, something violent, shameful, or sensational. Down-and-out characters struggling on the edges, psychopathic killers, vindictive children or vengeful old people, abused women, passionately self-abnegating lovers, irresponsible adulterers, horrible acts of cruelty, startlingly show up inside these domestic, realistic narratives.

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