Sunday, January 11, 2015

Je suis Charlie & Charlie Brown

After all of the hubbub previously about the film, "The Interview", here we are again in a global discussion of the right of freedom of speech and the freedom of artistic expression.  This time it's a more serious topic, given the people who lost their lives for their right to express themselves without constraint.

First, I support the rights of the members of the Charlie Hebdo staff to publish what they wanted. France was the founder of the revolutionary idea of freedom of speech in the post ancient world.  In fact, a group of well read British colonials on the American continent used the French model to break relations with the English Crown.

Freedom of speech is just that - the freedom to say (and publish) whatever we like, and it includes the freedom of artistic expression.  Whether others find the work offensive is not taken into consideration in the law.

Actually, I have not seen the most vehement cartoons published by Charlie Hebdo.  I choose not to see them.  It is my understanding that not only Islam, but Judaism, and Christianity were also mercilessly lampooned.  I did see a cartoon of one of the past popes and the cover-up of sexual abuse by members of the Catholic clergy from Charlie Hebdo.  I am certain some Catholics were offended by that particular cartoon.

I applaud the bravery of the Charlie Hebdo staff in continuing to publish in spite of many threats and a previous fire bombing at their office.

I question the wisdom in doing so, but it was their decision to make, not mine.

Innocent people were tragic collateral damage in the coordinated attacks, simply by being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Honestly, like Charlie Brown, I would consider other people before putting out something offensive to anyone's religious beliefs or spirituality. People also have the freedom of religion along with the freedom of speech. I try to always consider my actions in light of others (no doubt a residual effect of my old career as a social worker.) However, as on 9/11, hindsight is very good at solving problems because no one prior to the act could conceive of anyone committing such infamy.

I have seen many editorial cartoons post the terror attacks that were lovely and thought provoking.  I saw the editor of Mad Magazine on television this morning discussing the events and his publication's response to them.  He was as torn as everyone else in the discussion of freedom of speech vs. offending people.  There is no easy answer.

So again we have media coverage of an appalling event where people died at the hands of nihilist zealots - and it should be noted here the terrorists do NOT represent Islam. Muslims by a wide margin do NOT support such actions. We can speculate that the event did not achieve the intended aims - It has not closed Charlie Hebdo. According to the surviving staff, the weekly paper will be published this next week in much greater numbers than ever before.

Instead of an exterminated periodical, the terrorists created martyrs, which no one will forget.

The terrorists themselves were exterminated, three of them, anyway.  The act will bring more views to their web sites, Twitter, and Facebook presence.  More disenfranchised young people will be drawn to the terrorist groups and more money will flow to the coffers of the group leaders...

Maybe that's the result their trainers wanted to achieve all along.

Until next time...


  1. Your final question is unsettling because it is probably true. Like a two year old who can't get attention by being good and chooses bad because any attention is better than none.

    1. I agree and sadly think there is no end of this kind of atrocity in sight.