I support the right to Free Speech.
Hell, I support the Ku Klux Klan’s right to say stupid stuff just as much as I support my right to call them stupid.
Allow me to go one step further—I even support racists posting ridiculous comments on my blog, even though no legal provisions exist for me to do so. I think the world should know how other people think, but the racists shouldn’t be surprised if they find their comments are not accepted well.
I am horrified by the deaths of the Charlie Hebdo staff members, police officers, and other civilians in France this week. NO ONE should be killed for drawing a cartoon, or shopping.
So, am I Charlie Hebdo? It depends. I think the answer is more complicated than yet another “Either you’re for us, or against us” moment.
I dig satire. The Onion’s 2008 branding of presidential candidate Barack Obama’s Change campaign as a Black, outspoken, trans-continental panhandler who’s raising the anxiety level of others—is satire. The story was enlightening, points out the irony—if not the stupidity—of prevailing ideas, and was funny.
The Colbert Report is satire.
But I can’t say that many of Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons are satire. Most of the covers I looked at are not even funny.
Tell me what’s so funny about the July 2013 Charlie Hebdo cartoon of a Muslim being shot several times with a headline that reads “THE KORAN IS S**T,” accompanied by a text box which, loosely translated, says “[Your Koran] can’t stop bullets”?
Would the Charlie Hebdo editors be able to sit in a room with the Nigerian parents of the girls who were abducted by Boko Haram terrorists, and comfortably explain the reasoning behind the cartoon of the kidnapped girls—depicted as pregnant—admonishing the government not to take away their welfare benefits? I don’t see a bit of satire here. In fact, I see no one laughing at this cartoon except for racists. If the point of the cartoon is to entertain racists while promoting the hidden goal of showcasing how no one but racists will laugh at it—thus highlighting the stupidity of it all…well…I’m not going to overthink this since I can’t imagine that any level of cerebral effort went into the creation of the cartoon…
Sure, I understand how the cartoon of the girls plays with the “Blacks are moochers” stereotypes held by many Europeans and Americans, but I still wonder if the magazine editors can explain this to the abducted girls’ parents in a room—and feel good about doing it.
Still, I support Charlie Hebdo’s right to be stupid, and I feel grief for the families of the murdered magazine staff members.
So I guess this means we can expect 20 more offensive Charlie Hebdo cartoons?
Followed by 20 more acts of terror?
Followed by nationwide police raids where anyone who said as much as “Good morning” to the terrorists will have their doors kicked in, and taken to unknown places for questioning and detention?
Followed by repeating this cycle 30, 40, or 50 more times? That’s a high level of bodycount.
This is the price of freedom, I guess…
Here’s a suggestion—take away three of the main recruitment tools of terrorists: the lack of social and economic opportunities, combined with the political spin generated as a result of the West’s involvement in the Middle East. I wouldn’t think that citizens of Yemen, Afghanistan or other places in the region would mind having the West around, if it meant gainful employment and an improved quality of life.
Teenagers and adults with nothing to do and even less to hope for could be ripe for joining an Islamic terrorist organization. The propaganda created locally is then used to recruit others around the world—even those who are middle class and college-educated.
This is why you defenders of freedom at home should promote true freedom overseas—and this can be done with some of the same money used to buy and distribute bullets.
But the work completed by the West in the Middle East to date tells me we will see additional threats to freedom everywhere…
Song currently stuck in my head: “i want you for myself” – george duke