As the Badawi case has shown, dissent in Saudi Arabia, as in many countries in the Middle East, is brutally suppressed. Yet Saudi Arabia is in fact a signatory to the Arab Charter on Human Rights in 2009, a document that guarantees the right to freedom of expression. Campaigners are asking Saudi Arabia to adhere to the standards it has set for itself.
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.
The problem with the freedom of speech debate is not only that those who advocate it co-opt it for negative use, or that those who use it think that exercising freedom of speech and being deserving of being listened to are mutually exclusive, but is that invective and hateful language is moulded into common vernacular with the play of society's very own Get Out of Jail Free card.
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.
We cannot stop being alive, we cannot stop noticing the harm religious extremism and hatred causes. We will point out what fundamentalists are trying to do. We will show the limits they try to impose. We will show how people give tacit let alone explicit support to those that wish atheists, apostates and blasphemers dead.
You aren't being censored. The times when freedom of speech is restricted are remarkably rare and they exist for the greater good, rather than to stop you insulting whoever you like. It's probably correct that the police get involved when someone tries to post bacon through the door of a mosque, even if they claim to be exercising their right to freedom of expression.
Students by and large support the idea of a university being a place for the free exchange of ideas, and generally have a low opinion of the wackier preoccupations of their elected representatives. But this regrettable affair is a reminder of the shallow commitment that many students have to free expression.
In the last few weeks EU and US talks have resulted in calls for internet providers to create a means for 'swift reporting' and removal of material that aims to incite hatred and terror - a 'reporting' mechanism which could be used to stifle legitimate, albeit often highly distasteful or offensive, speech without due process safeguards.