Barely a month on from its debut issue, the reformist Mardom-e-Emrooz printed a front-page photograph of George Clooney, along with the headline "I Am Charlie Too". Though the Iranian government had earlier condemned the Charlie Hebdo killings, the country's culture ministry moved quickly to suspend the paper's licence in accordance with Islamic law, which bans depictions of the prophet Muhammed.
It's a sharp reminder - as if one were needed - of the difference between the West and the Islamic world, when it comes to free speech.
While I wouldn't for a second want to draw a direct parallel between what happened with Charlie Hebdo and debates about civil liberties, free speech and artistic expression in video games, that debate is - nonetheless - particularly prevalent in the games industry right now.
THE CENSORSHIP OF OZ
As we reported upon recently, an Australian supermarket chain pulled Grand Theft Auto V from its shelves, following a petition that raised nearly 45,000 signatures, and just last week the country's ratings board refused to grant an age rating to Hotline Miami 2, effectively banning it from sale.
And meanwhile, over in the US of America, Destructive Creations' Hatred - a game that was pulled from the Steam online game's service (following swiftly-denied allegations that one or more of the development team were neo-Nazi sympathisers), before being reinstated by Steam boss Gabe Newell - became only the second game in the country's history to be rated Adults Only (after GTA developer Rockstar's Manhunt 2).
Notably, in 2011, California passed a law banning the sale of violent video games to minors, making it a requirement that all violent games sold in the state be slapped with an '18' label - something that has been standard in the UK for years.
However, following an outcry, the ruling was passed to America's Supreme Court. Subsequently, they overruled the legislation, declaring that violent video games are protected under the First Amendment of the Constitution - the one which protects the freedom of speech.
"Disgust is not a valid basis for restricting expression,” said the Supreme Court's ruling. Violent video games are "as entitled to the protection of free speech as the best of literature."
Responsibility for whether or not minors would play violent games was essentially awarded to parents.
THIS IS NOT AMERICAN
Not being American, not living in a country that has a formal constitution, I confess that I struggle with elements of American legislation, and the prevailing resistance to Big Government interference. Yet British commentators have a tendency to regret it when casting their external eye on the way America is run - Piers Morgan basically fled the country with his tail between his legs after sticking his oar into the gun control debate.
That said, it seems that America's dedication to preserving the right to free speech only applies in certain circumstances - a 2009 YouGov poll suggested that the American population was split almost evenly when it came to whether or not those who publicly advocate genocide or hatred based on race, gender, religion, ethnic origin, or sexual orientation should be punished by law. In short, 50% of those polled seemed happy to ignore those First Amendment rights when it suited.
But whatever. As stated, it isn't really for me to get involved. I don't know what it's like to be American. I grew up in a country where the government nanny us, apparently. The only time I've seen an actual gun, let alone also handle one, was in Florida - visiting a shooting range, off to the side of a strip mall gun shop (next door to a dry cleaners). Two minutes after flashing my passport I was handling a chain-fed M60 and blasting away at targets shaped like Muslim "terrorists"...
However, following the debate in recent weeks as to whether or not violent games should be restricted or banned outright - with Australia on one side of the fence and America on the other - I no longer know how I feel when it comes to games that push at what some view as the boundaries of taste and decency.
What I am sure of is this: the night after the Charlie Hebdo attacks, I was playing GTAV and had to switch it off. I accidentally, ran over a couple of pedestrians - as it's all too easy to do - and couldn't shake the police tail. Frustrated, I ended up stopping the car, and blasted away at the pursuing cops with my grenade launcher.
And suddenly it was all a bit too real. Even though I was playing alone, it felt disrespectful and distasteful. It was a few days before I went back to the game - but that moment still lingers, at the back of my awareness, whenever I fire it up.
And what's really weird is that I've never previously been bothered by the killing in GTA, just its depiction of women and minorities. As I've stated before on here, I do, however, have some issue with the - admittedly brief - moment of apparent sexual assault in Hotline Miami 2 and some of the casual misogyny in GTAV. Does that make me a hypocrite? Or does it just mean something far simpler: that some things bother me, and other things don't, because that's how I'm wired? Y'know... basically, am I just dripping with latent liberal guilt?
As I said somewhere in the comments section of this site, it's probably as much to do with the fact that I've never known anyone who's been blown away by a shotgun, but, depressingly, I do know too many people - women - who've been victims of abuse. It's all a little too close to home, and at the end of the day we all draw our own personal lines in the sand. Having people I care about who - because of their first-hand experience - find such content bothersome, and affecting, I want them to feel safe and protected.
But is it enough to just make a personal rule, when there exist games, or other creative endeavours, which - quite evidently - do make other people feel less safe in the world? Should the right to be able to play any game, regardless of its content, be acceptable? Or should some games be restricted, or withdrawn? What if Hatred featured a Muslim lead character? What if it was a man being shot and raped in Hotline Miami 2? Or a child?
These aren't meant to be judgements. These are genuinely open questions, because I'm interested in the debate, and I'm finding my position less certain than it once was. I don't know where I stand.
When Grand Theft Auto V was pulled from Australia's Target and Kmart stores, the excellently-named Strauss Kelnick, CEO of Take Two Interactive, the game's publisher, said: "Interactive entertainment is today's most compelling art form and shares the same creative freedom as books, television and movies. I stand behind our products, the people who create them, and the consumers who play them."
Ultimately, that's seemingly what it boils down to - there are tens of millions of consumers worldwide who aren't remotely bothered by GTAV. Or, certainly, are not sufficiently bothered to want it banned. There are lots of people who want to play Hatred - and who will defend their right to be able to play Hatred (sometimes even if they don't want to actually play Hatred).
Whether or not you see either game as a work of art, or whether you're repulsed by them or not, it's feels important to accept the right of other people to want to play them, and of people to want to create them. I can see the point of view of those who feel it's a slippery slope, once you start venturing too far down the road of censorship.
By the same token, people have every right to be repulsed, disturbed or upset, and not want to be exposed to such games.
And that's where I'm struggling - there are elements of GTAV I find problematic. But that's so balanced out by what an achievement it is, that I want to play it. And, certainly, some of what I like about the game - I love that it's a sandbox shoot 'em up set in a convincingly real world - would, in the eyes of some, make me a massive hypocrite for not liking some of the other elements. I mean, what could be worse than shooting someone in the back, right?
By the same token, I'm pretty sure that a game like Hatred isn't for me. Again, I realise the hypocrisy - I wouldn't have a problem with it if there was some sort of softened, fantasy context for all the shooting: such as if you were blasting away at zombies, or such like. But how much of a difference does doing that actually make to any moral context?
NOT A DEVELOPER
I'm not a games developer, but I'm pretty sure if I were that the games I'd develop wouldn't be along the lines of Hatred. For me, there's enough grimness in the world as it is - I don't want to pretend I'm part of it, or contribute to it. And, for me, I'm uncomfortable that we exist in a Western society that could produce entertainment of that nature.
But then - as I type that - I'm already Gollum-ing back round to say... get over yourself. Just because you don't like it, doesn't mean you should impose that on others. I mean, I hate broccoli - but I can respect the rights of other people to eat it, even if the smell of it cooking makes me retch. If there were people out there who wanted to take away my right to play, I dunno, Monster Dash on my iPhone - because they once got roared at by a yeti - I'd probably feel pretty stoked up and irritated too.
So... that's it really. It's all a bit of a non-conclusive waffle, because that's where my head is at. Jury's out as far as I go, and I think it's time for me to step back and let the debates play out the way they play out. I don't feel sufficiently informed to come down on any one side of the fence. I just feel what I feel, and I don't think it's for me to impose that on others.
There's always going to be two camps to everything, and people are only ever going to come at things from their viewpoint - their own personal jumble of feelings, and experiences, and sense of self. Whether you want something banned, or object to something, or whether you want to exercise your right to do whatever you want do, I hope at least that respect for others comes into the equation. It's not much of an ask.