Thursday, January 8, 2015

Charlie Hebdo

Yesterday, at the magazine Charlie Hebdo (said Sharlee ebb doe as I understand), a number of artists and satarists, were massacred by religious extremists.  The magazine had in the past mocked the Islamic Prophet Muhammed, but also had mocked politicians, Jesus Christ, Jewish Orthodoxy, and really anyone they felt needed a friendly "poke" to remind them (those being mocked or elevating their sacred cow) that their sanctimony was unwarranted or their sacred cow had a splinter in its eye.

The artists killed were brilliant and they were courageous.  Had they been in the United States, they'd have been hated by the right-wing because they mocked Christ, but because they were in France and mocked Muhammad as well, the right-wingers here, to a small degree, applauded them (though not much).  Instead, they used Charlie Hebdo's publication of images mocking Muhammad and the reaction of the extremists in the Islamic world as a mechanism to condemn Islam as a whole, without seeing the enormous hypocrisy that existed.  That hypocrisy being that the far right here generally hates media outlets with the audacity to satirize anyone, including Christ, Sarah Palin, Ted Cruz, etc.. even if they also satirize people like President Obama, Harry Reid or Joe Biden (which John Stewart has done routinely).  In short, the right wing in this country is just about as tolerant as the other extremists in the world, though, to their credit, they mostly don't engage in violent reprisal.

Here's something you may not know.  Nothing in the Qu'ran forbids depicting Muhammad, in satire or otherwise.  There is a small number of  Haddith (subsequent teachings, not authored by Muhammad) to not portray any prophet (which includes Jesus and Abraham) in an unflattering way, but much Haddith are not universally accepted as holy or even as something which must be followed as a form of governmental policy, much like the Talmud (or Leviticus) isn't used to define law in many locations where Jews and Christians are in the majority.  No, it's not fundamental Islam which says that you cannot portray Muhammad, it's dictatorial governments (such as Saudi Arabia's) which don't allow for the criticism of itself or of images it wants to protect (such as Muhammad's) which do so, and those people who grew up in those nations certainly feel it is perfectly appropriate for "authorities" to stop the publication of images, including and especially satire, that the government or authorities do not want published.  Instead, this was the political action of extremists designed to intimidate and control those they don't agree with.

So, in France, and in various places, including at times in the United States, it becomes dangerous to mock those who deserve to be mocked.  It becomes courageous to do so.  I salute the workers at Charlie Hebdo.  I salute those who were slain and those who took the risk and I condemn those who would seek to squelch free expression, including those who seek to use US law to ban free expression or who seek to ban funding the arts, such as public television, because that form of art "offends" their political sensibility.  It is un-American at best (and deeply unethical at worst) to look to use the power of government to silence critics, including just threatening to "investigate un-American views" as "Frau" Michelle (tail-gunner) Bachmann did.  It IS American to stand up for those who take risks.  So I will stand up, Vive la Charlie   Je Suis Charlie,  Vive la Liberty.   I will stand up and poke fun at anyone in solidarity with Charlie and I encourage my friends in the "media" on the web to do the same rather than run and hide, as the UK's Guardian has suggested we do.

Decide for yourself whether you chose to SAY you are not going to be cowed or intimidated, or whether you are going to ACT like you are not going to be.  Those of you who will ACT, the best you can do is to publish images which will infuriate those who would seek to control you and show them they are impotent and their actions will have the exact opposite effect to that which they desire.  To those who would seek to control me, here is my reply:

"100 Lashes for anyone who doesn't die of laughter"

"I would rather die on my feet than live on my knees" - Charlie Hebdo editor and satirist, St├ęphane Charbonnier, killed by religious extremists Jan 7, 2015 

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