What Fresh Hell Is This?

January 10, 2015

Charlie Hebdo - The What And More Importantly The WHY (NSFW)

First THE WHAT.

By now we all know what happened in Paris:
About 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, according to the French newspaper Le Monde, gunmen dressed in black and wearing bulletproof vests forced their way into a building two doors down from Charlie Hebdo, asking where to find the magazine.

They then headed to the correct building, where they killed an officer on security detail, officials said. They later encountered a Charlie Hebdo cartoonist who was on her way out of the building and demanded she lead them to the offices. Once there, she was told to enter a security code to open its fortified door, according to the newspaper.

The gunmen barged in during a lunchtime editorial meeting, separating men and women and calling out the names of employees they intended to kill, said Dr. Gerald Kierzek, a physician who treated wounded patients and spoke with survivors.
Then they killed 12 people.

For this:


If Google Translate can be trusted, the headline reads,"Muhammad overwhelmed by fundamentalists" and the word bubble reads,"It's hard to be loved by idiots..."

Huffingtonpost points out that Charlie Hebdo "gained notoriety" for this edition, noting that:
Within its pages, the magazine published 12 cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, bringing unprecedented condemnation from the Muslim world. The French Council for the Muslim Faith eventually sued the weekly for the cartoon. The issue has since been considered the one which positioned Charlie Hebdo as a target for terrorist attacks.
As a reminder to what happened in 2007 - from Reuters:
The row over Danish cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad will be replayed in a French court next week when two influential Islamic groups sue a Paris satirical weekly for inciting hatred against Muslims by printing the caricatures.

The two Muslim associations aim to show that reprinting the cartoons was a provocation equal to anti-Semitic acts or Holocaust denial that are already banned under French law, Dalil Boubakeur, rector of the Paris Grand Mosque, said on Friday.

The cartoons, originally published in 2005 in the Danish daily Jyllens-Posten, provoked violent protests in Asia, Africa and the Middle East that left 50 people dead. Several European publications reprinted them as an affirmation of free speech.

The weekly Charlie Hebdo, which put out a special edition with the cartoons, argued religions are not beyond criticism and letting Muslims censor the media would curtail a basic right.
And then later to illustrate the point:
During the cartoon controversy, offended Muslims demanded an apology and a ban on criticising Islam.
Got that?  No criticizing Islam!  Now let's go back to CNN:
The gunmen said they were avenging the Prophet Mohammed and shouted "Allahu akbar," which translates to "God is great," Paris Prosecutor Francois Molins said.
And there's THE WHY.  The shooting was a reaction by a few well-armed and well-trained people who took it upon themselves to avenge the Prophet because of some criticism of Islam - free speech be damned.



The impulse is to stop the criticism of some faith in the name of defending that faith.

But let's not think that this impulse is exclusively Islamic.  Setting aside the extreme violence and in no way proposing the idea that anyone else was ever thinking of yanking out an AK to respond to any religious criticism, there's been a few "You can't do that because it offends my religion" events in recent memory.

Like this one:
Florida's Capitol has displayed a Pabst Blue Ribbon Festivus pole, atheist banners and even a tribute to the Flying Spaghetti Monster. But a display showing an angel falling into flames with the message “Happy Holidays from the Satanic Temple” was too much for one woman.

Susan Hemeryck, 54, tried to remove the display Tuesday, and when the Capitol Police told her she couldn't, she began ripping it apart. She was arrested and charged with criminal mischief. The display had been erected as a satire by an atheist group to counter a Nativity scene, which was taken down the day the Satanic Temple installed theirs.

“It's just wrong, when you remove baby Jesus two days before Christmas and put Satan in his place — that just can't happen. I couldn't allow it to happen,” said Hemeryck, who said she was wearing a shirt that said “Catholic Warrior” when she arrived at the Capitol. “I was there at the right time and the right moment, and I needed to take a stand against Satan.”
That the display was there in the first place is a festivus miracle.  Only last year:
"There's no significance to it; it's just a display that we put up to counteract the Nativity scene," said Satanic Temple member John Porgal after setting up the display, adding "It's all or none, and this represents the other side of the manger scene."

Porgal was referring to the ongoing debate in Florida about the separation of church and state. The Temple's display was denied by the Department of Management Services last year for being "grossly offensive."
Free speech protesting a religious display denied for being "grossly offensive."  No violence in this story, of course (beyond the Catholic Warrior tearing down a display) but the impulse to restrict religious criticism is there just the same.

Then there's this local story:
Students at Carnegie Mellon say it’s freedom of expression, but the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh calls it inappropriate and disrespectful.

At an annual art school parade, a female student dressed up as the pope, and was naked from the waist down while she passed out condoms.

Even more, witnesses say the woman had shaved her pubic hair in the shape of a cross.
The National Catholic League chimed in on the naked She-Pope and demanded her immediate suspension from CMU.    Remember the Catholic League?  They're the same folks who, while condemning the recent slaughter in Paris none the less tsk-tsked on how the publisher of Charlie Hebdo didn't understand the role he played in his own murder, that National Catholic League.

Charges were filed.  But while the charges themselves were for public nudity, some guy named Dave had something different in mind:
“They needed to do what they needed to do and I’m grateful that they took it seriously,” says Bishop David Zubik of the Pittsburgh Diocese. “I did what I needed to do; and said hold on this is offensive to catholics and chiristians (sic) alike.”
Something needed to be done because this was just so offensive to Catholics and Christians.  Again no bloody violence, here - no one's asserting that.  No one's equating Davey Z. to anyone who shot up a magazine in Paris, but that same impulse to do something about a criticism of religion is plainly right there.

And more importantly Dave got the whole concept of "freedom of speech" just as plainly wrong.  As I blogged back then, The Bish wrote that:
...freedom of speech and freedom of expression do not constitute a freedom to dismiss or disrespect...the sacredness of anyone’s religious belief...
which is exactly wrong.  No one has the right not to be offended.

By the way, this is what offended The National Catholic League and the Pittsburgh Diocese:


Have a good Saturday.

2 comments:

Joy said...

First, there's no excuse for killing anyone, for any drawing. Clear. However, one should also know that the Hebdo cartoons were not limited to a weeping prophet, lamenting that his followers were such c*nts (which is a term commonly used in french for idiots, but…it means both things.) The, um, "riper" cartoons have a naked-ass prophet, seen from the rear, dripping genitalia on display, with a golden star in his butt-hole, and the phrase, "Mohammed: a star is born."

Sure, it plays on the idea of someone thinking that the sun shines out of his ass, but mostly it's one in a series of random crude digs towards muslims for having their butts up when praying. Even as someone who general enjoys a bit of low humor, I found the humor quotient practically zero, and the intentional offensiveness-for-its-own-sake painfully high.

Even worse is the gay-porn-star-pose Mohammed, asking the director anxiously, "and my ass? Do you like my ass?" (Literally the only alleged humor here comes from equating "butt fascination" with "Muslims.")

I'm glad the drawings are legal. I'm glad we don't believe in killing people for them. But (unlike the weeping prophet cover, or some of the inspired bits from Hebdo over the years) I do not, in any way, see these particular cartoons and think, "hey, I wish I'd thought of that." I'd feel like a total jerk to have drawn it. Seeing them wasn't a guilty pleasure, any more than stepping in dog poop would be. But it felt like a duty.

Why? Why does it matter? After all, grossness and humor-free mockery should be fair game, whether the target is your prophet or my mother. The cure for offensive speech is more speech, sure. Reasonable counter-argument. Love it.

But on some level, what the Prophet-porn cartoons feels like is harassment. Bullying. Sure, if the picture only "hit" the small number of Muslims who believe in shooting others, we could say, "how can you call it bullying? Trying to silence political commentary with the threat of guns--now that's bullying." But what about the vast majority of Muslims who would never take up arms over a cartoon, no matter how much they're taunted? Is bullying them inconsequential? Are their feelings collateral damage? And where, exactly, is the platform for them to spread their "reasonable counter speech" to the greater French public? If they don't have a mouthpiece, how should they "speak back" under the (frankly, daily barrage) of subtly or blatantly negative speech now directed to them from both the French Old Left (who presume them to be jihadist cultural conservatives) and New Right (who presume them to be freaky, foreign non-christians)?

To say that "muslims" (or even "fundamentalist muslims"...or even "out of control marginal terrorists") were set off simply because Mohammed "was depicted"--it happens, but that's not, I think, what happened here. Saying so is a way of making them seem just a bit more thin-skinned. Just a bit more irrational.

Yes, it's nuts to shoot people for being offensive. It's not OK to shoot people for being bullies, for that matter. But it's not nuts to find these particular cartoons offensive. It's not, in fact, nuts to feel bullied by them. In the name of honesty, we need to look that fact in the…face.

the rawer cartoons: http://gawker.com/what-is-charlie-hebdo-and-why-a-mostly-complete-histo-1677959168

Zeus0209 said...

Hebdo mocks religions wherein atrocities (in this case carrying out the death sentence for blasphemy) are encouraged in its texts.
The bullying argument requires that the majority of the religious are peaceful followers, wrongfully lumped in the same classification as those who interpret the texts literally and carry out atrocities.
As the “innocent” facet of the religion it must shed the texts and teachings that enable the atrocities. Until that occurs, the mocking or bullying if you want to call it that, will fail to cease. Further, its condemnation of the non-innocent facet, while perhaps truly heartfelt, can only be considered disingenuous.