The arrogance of those staying away is breathtaking. PEN exists to speak out for writers who are persecuted and threatened. As Salman Rushdie said, he hopes no one ever goes after the writers staying away. Still, it is easier to piss on dead cartoonists than to stand up to ISIS who crucify and behead.
What the liberal-left is practicing here is a worse form of Islamophobia - the fear of offending Muslim extremists. And White writers assuming that all Muslims get offended by Hebdo's cartoons - as if there are no secular, sober and sane individuals and political movements in the so-called Muslim world - is also a form of racism.
These rules aren't instructions on how to be funny. They certainly won't stop anyone taking offence. These rules are, however, a statement of what I hope is a reasonably clear moral position which preserves the right to criticise and caricature in such a way that the ideals of a liberal society are still upheld.
You can't win a war without taking away fertile grounds for conflict and upheaval. This is why we need to target the root causes of terrorism and radicalisation... Not more but better intelligence. Not less but more Europe. Not only fighting, but also preventing. Addressing the terrorism threat is a long haul - but it is a route we must take.