I also asked my most political friend what he thought and this is what he had to share:
"People who are offended by the thoughts/views/opinions of others are not victims, they are volunteers. However, I think it is incumbent upon anyone that publishes content for public consumption to understand the impact that content may have upon the public consciousness, with a caveat. That caveat is the truth. Truth must be represented in all it's ugly detail. So publications have a responsibility they take on IF they choose to write/editorial/offer commentary on the events. But along with that, comes the freedom of expression, free speech; which says you can spout lies and utter shit to the mountain tops if you please, which is as it should be.
People want clean answers and hard lines, and while it is ironic for the guy that sees everything in black and white to say so, reality is never so clean and clear cut. So, in my not so humble opinion; if you choose to write about the Charlie Hebdo attack, I think it is incumbent upon the author to clearly layout the facts, but free speech means they don't have to. This becomes a question for every publication to ask and answer for themselves.
Food for thought; does what the cartoons depict matter? Does any illustration/cartoon/story deserve such a response? Would it matter if the cartoons were depicting the violent rape of a child? Would that justify murder? No. At some point we cross over from the legal/illegal into the realm of public opinion. Strictly speaking; no matter the depiction, it doesn't justify murder, but we also all need to realize that just because something isn't illegal, doesn't mean it has to be accepted into the public realm. Legal doesn't necessarily mean "ok." We, the public, have a responsibility to each other to determine what we find offensive/objectionable and how we handle it. There has to be an understanding by the general populace on this point, but there is not.
For eg, I'm a non-smoker, but I don't support anti-smoking laws. If people don't want to eat/work in an establishment that allows smoking, they have a free association right to not frequent/work at that establishment. So the market would determine the fates of these businesses; business owners would have to make the balanced determination; do I continue to allow smoking while alienating a segment of my market base? And for the citizen; do I love the burger at my favorite burger joint enough to put up with the smoking? Do I need/want the job enough to accept the health risk that goes along with it? But people want to be alleviated of these free choice, free association dilemmas and so they look for laws to be passed so they don't have to be troubled. It is the same here. These are cartoons, no matter the depiction, the incident was not justified; so, is there any public benefit to re-publishing the cartoons?
In this case, publications are making a free choice regarding how they choose to exercise their first amendment rights, it is up to their readership/audience to determine if they continue to their association to the publication by reading it and if there was public value to the re-publication of the images. That's a problem for most people because they don't want to have to make these kinds of decisions.
To add to this, I think we do need to realize the cartoons are offensive to Muslims in general. Again; Does that mean radical Islamists are justified in committing murder? Certainly not, but that also doesn't mean that we need to splash those cartoons across the face of every publication in the world, and in the face of every Muslim on some mis-guided principle."