ROSS DOUTHAT: Checking Charlie Hebdo’s Privilege. “Trudeau did not exactly say they had it coming, but he passed judgment on their sins — not the sin of blasphemy, but the sin of picking a politically unsuitable target for their jabs. . . . But on the contemporary left, the theory’s simplicity is becoming a kind of intellectual straitjacket. The Hebdo massacre is just one of many cases in which today’s progressives, in the name of overthrowing hierarchies, end up assuming that lines of power are predictable, permanent and clear. Which they are not, for several reasons.”

Yeah, if mocking savages who murder “blasphemers” is “punching down,” then I’m fine with punching down. Also shooting down, bombing down. . . .

Plus: “The terrorist’s veto on portrayals of Islam is itself a very real form of power, and as long as journalists who challenge it end up dead, the idea that they are ‘up’ and their targets are ‘down’ reflects a denial of life-and-death reality. Or, to take a related example, the hundreds of white women recently raped by Pakistani gangs in England’s industrial north were theoretically higher on a ladder of privilege than their assailants. But the gangs’ actual power over their victims was only enhanced by that notional ladder, because multicultural pieties were part of what induced the authorities to look the other way.”

Multicultural pieties are an ideological weapon, designed to paralyze societal defenders. They are not the unintended consequences of goofy good intentions, but deliberately honed tools of political power, wielded without good intentions of any sort.