Charlie? Moi, non


Nobody should have to die just because he’s an asshole. Talk about a holocaust. But Charlie Hebdo was a nasty bigoted shitrag, and I for one decline to join the stampede of righteous indignation — as if some great principle, like free speech for example, were at stake here.

Let’s start with that concept, actually. There is no such thing as free speech, never has been, and probably shouldn’t be. If I walk into a bar and inform the first plug-ugly I see that his mom was recently laid off from a house of ill repute, I’m likely to get pounded for my pains, and quite right too. If the Charlie massacre suggests to smug complacent humorists softly ensconced behind the police lines of the First World that they can’t rely on impunity if they make fun of lesser breeds’ religion, well then, perhaps the Carlists will not have died in vain. I hope Richard Dawkins is holed up in a secure undisclosed location somewhere, quavering like a Victorian soprano, and sporting a false beard and a turban.

We’ve been hearing a lot about the intrinsic charm and value of something called “satire”, as if it were all of a piece. Dean Swift wrote satire, and so did Der Sturmer, a satirical publication much given, like Charlie, to cartoons featuring big noses and bushy eyebrows(*). We can still read the one with pleasure and intense enthusiasm, but the other is pretty distressing. Perhaps the value of satire depends in part on who is being satirized, and why. Perhaps it even depends on who’s enjoying it. There are people with whom I would not care to share even a harmless taste — fly-fishing, say.

Of course what complicates the picture in the case of C-Hebdo is the strong whiff of provocateurism the thing gives off. When something is too good to be true, it probably isn’t.

(*) Its editor, Julius Streicher, was hanged at Nuremberg. So much for free speech.

18 thoughts on “Charlie? Moi, non

  1. ” There is no such thing as free speech, never has been, and probably shouldn’t be”

    Words have power – with power comes responsibility.

    But I’m not sympathetic to people who kill because of what someone said, wrote or drew up in a cartoon. They’ll be held responsible for their actions.

  2. Finally, a voice of reason. While I find this a senseless and criminal act that plays into the hands of the already bigoted and xenophobic Europeans, I am annoyed at the mass hysteria about the so called “free speech”. This in a country that brought charges against John Galliano for his anti-Semitic rants in a Paris cafe. This in a country that kicked out Lars von Trier out of Cannes for the same charge. I guess the speech is free so long as it mocks your second class citizens and the unfortunate inhabitants of the Third World. To me, satire is only funny when it pokes fun at the powerful and when it speaks to the power. What’s so funny about mocking the beliefs of a minority of only 8% of your population other than to please a majority that happens to be xenophobic and racist?

    Last year in Québec when the debate about the much racist and islamophobic Charter of Values was raging, it was so eye opening to see the true colors of people. Sadly, more than 50% of the population was in favor of it BECAUSE it was mostly targeting the Muslims. You’d hear things like “choose between your job or your religion” from the proponents who hid their intolerance by claiming to be against ALL religions. But they weren’t because this law was only going to impact low paid Muslim women who worked at daycares, schools, and government offices. The highly paid government workers such as doctors and nurses had been exempted due to the threat of leaving Québec that was voiced by the Jewish and Sikh doctors who wanted to continue wearing their yarmulkes and turbans. This law was so overtly discriminatory that even the Harper government threatened to take the Québec government to court if they were to pass such legislations. At the end, we were saved by the election of a new government which as corrupt and pro-business as it is, at least it’s not overtly xenophobic and racist.

    In short, this mass hysteria about the free speech is a cover for people’s prejudice the same way as the Québécois distaste for religion was a cover for their Islamophobia.

  3. Thanks for this. Actually, the same thought had occurred to me–that people are free to speak their mind, but it is possible they will reap the whirlwind for it.

    And then there is the fact that an earlier cartoonist at Charlie was fired for what was perceived to be an anti-semitic cartoon.

    • When I entered the Holocaust Cartoon Competition — one of only 6 Americans — I got more whirlwind than I knew what to do with, and it was a blast. Yeah, that’s right, it was actually fun listening to neocon Zionist cranks crapping their goddamn’ drawers and displaying their ignorance by screaming “anti-Semitism” over a cartoon that had nothing to do with Judaism and everything to do with Israeli state barbarity.

      The more I hear the US Left (spit) shrieking about the tone of the cartoons in Charlie Hebdo, the more I realize that if it seems that their cartoons are excessively outrageous and provocative, it’s only because US political cartooning today is generally tame’n’lame, and US audiences have a goddamn’ stick up their ass a mile long.

  4. i walked into work today & said “screw work,” i mean, “screw charlie hebdo” & was immediately fired.

    free speech? what? talking about this hebdo thing on the merits of some notional free speech absolutism….pfft.

    america won’t have 2 minutes hate. we’ll get 2 minutes free speech.

  5. After seeing Fadduh Smiff’s indignation about the nature of Charlie Hebdo’s satire, I shied away from commenting on this post, but as I’m a cartoonist — and one who entered the notorious Holocaust cartoon competiton — I definitely have a dog in this fight, and decided I need to take a whack at it.

    In a column at Al Jazeera entitled “Why Satire Is Holy To The French”:
    …Remi Piet writes:

    “Was Charlie Hebdo excessive? Absolutely. But political and social satire is in itself excessive and Charlie Hebdo’s cartoonists have proudly waved this excess as their coat of arms in the typical French tradition dating back to even before the French Revolution…

    …Charlie Hebdo has in the past been taken to court, but the magazine has always been cleared of charges levelled against it, whether from former French President Nicolas Sarkozy or by the leader of the extreme right, when the publication ridiculed the Front National’s xenophobia.

    This is in contrast to Dieudonne who targeted one specific religion and was perceived to be advocating for violence; Charlie Hebdo mostly treated all religions and ideologies alike. Every political party, minister or presidential candidate has regularly been a target of Charlie Hebdo – but never did the publication call for any sort of violence.

    Ironically, some of the members of the editorial staff killed last week were strong advocates of humanitarian efforts, support to Palestine or revolution against financial globalisation. The difference with Dieudonne who allegedly tweeted #JeSuisCharlieCoulibaly and supports an overtly xenophobic movement cannot be more obvious…”

    …and there you have it. Excess is my business. Anyone here familiar with my work ought to know that by now. I’ve always believed that if my work isn’t pissing people off, then I’m not doing my job.

    I’d never heard of Charlie Hebdo before this happened, and afterwards, I discounted all the PC raving in the US and took a look for myself — trying to understand the cartoons despite knowing next to no French — and discovered that far from being one-dimensionally xenophobic, Charlie Hebdo is, in fact, an equal-opportunity slagfest. One of my favorite covers features an outraged rabbi, priest and imam marching side by side and declaring their vehement dislike for Charlie Hebdo.

    • Comrade Flugennock, I strongly disagree with your comment. First off, you should be suspicious of the assertions made by anyone with the title of “the assistant professor of public policy, diplomacy and international political economy at Qatar University”, that is Remi Piet who you have quoted in your comment.

      Secondly, I cannot believe that Charlie Hebdo has ever been an equal-opportunity offender because if they were, they would have landed in jail or would have been shut down the minute they ridiculed the ban on Holocaust denial or published anything perceived as anti-Semitic. Admittedly, I didn’t bother going over their body of work but it’s only logical that in a country where derogatory remarks about a certain ethnicity or religion are outlawed, no publication would dare making fun of that ethnicity or religion, which renders the claim to equal opportunity satire null and void.

      • I’d go a bit farther even than Comrade Merkin. I don’t think equal-opportunity ‘satire’ is any defense at all. That just seems like nihilism to me. The value of satire depends among other things on who it’s directed at, and how well it hits the target. Given that the Empire seems committed to a clash-of-civilizations project, ‘satire’ directed at Muslims or Islam strikes me as war propaganda for the wrong side. Fuck it.

        • I agree. Is the “satirist” punching up or punching down?’ It’s abundantly clear which way the elitist smart-asses at CH were punching — and in service of power.

  6. I think the best thing that can be said in defense of Charlie Hebdo is that it didn’t technically violate French hate crime laws. Then again, neither did Jerry Lewis.

  7. First these French let all these Middle East Muslims in, then they hate them? Sounds like typical cynical political social engineering. Too bad the french have their convoluted election system and not simple score voting:

    Since it’s presumably just a stupid scam, it holds little interest for me. I don’t know if David Duke has a point about multiculturalism (separate but equal), or not. The Chinese get by pretty well with their nice exotic restaurants and laundries though.

    My latest Fake prediction: Everybody who went out and bought and hoarded the resurrected new Charley Hebdo collector’s item issue (out of all five million copies printed) will be looking at it with crossed eyes when the planned chaos sets in. (I’m not getting one myself.)

  8. I doubt anyone is reading this thread now, but this is just too good to ignore. It shows what a crock of shit the international circle jerk over “free speech” in France really is. This is what true satire looks like. I laughed my ass off at what is a beautiful demonstration of “turnaround is fair play” in action.

    I know, I’m a horrible person. Those who are not of The Body must be made to see Landru’s truth.

    There is no greater satire than to foist the target on its own petard, which this kid does beautifully. Of course, the satire-impaired French government only finds stuff like this acceptable when it’s directed against the Muslims it kills, and not the racist propagandists who turn that killing into a vulgar laugh track.
    They arrested the 16-year-old author and indicted him on charges of supporting terrorism, which is odd considering he is not old enough to have voted for Hollande.

    Already dozens have been arrested, convicted and sentenced to prison for comments perceived to be “supporting of terrorism” in a process that would make a Diplock court look righteous.

      • The Diplock courts were a type of court established by the Government of the United Kingdom in Northern Ireland on 8 August 1973 during The Troubles.

        The right to trial by jury was suspended for certain “scheduled offences” and the court consisted of a single judge. The courts were abolished in 2007.[1] However, the trial of Brian Shrivers and Colin Duffy for the murder of two British soldiers during a Real IRA gun attack on Massereene army base in Antrim town in 2009, was heard in a Diplock court in January 2012.[2]

        The courts were established in response to a report submitted to parliament in December 1972 by Lord Diplock,[3] which addressed the problem of dealing with Irish republicanism through means other than internment. Lord Gardiner’s Minority Report as part of the Parker Report in March 1972 found “no evidence of this or of perversity in juries”.[4] The report marked the beginning of the policy of “criminalisation”,[5] whereby the State removed legal distinctions between political violence and normal crime, with political prisoners treated as common criminals. The report provided the basis for the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Act 1973, which, although later amended (with the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1974 and subsequent renewals), continued as the basis for counter-terrorist legislation in the UK. Until recently the Diplock courts only tried Republican or Loyalist paramilitaries. In the first case in which a person not associated with the Troubles was tried and convicted, Abbas Boutrab, a suspected al-Qaeda sympathiser, was found guilty of having information that could assist bombing an airliner.[6] A sentence of six years was handed down on December 20, 2005.[7]

        Diplock courts were common in Northern Ireland for crimes connected to terrorism.[8] The number of cases heard in Diplock courts reached a peak of 329 yearly in the mid-1980s. With the Northern Ireland peace process that figure fell to 60 a year in the mid-2000s.[9] On 1 August 2005, the Northern Ireland Office announced that the Diplock courts were to be phased out, and in August 2006 they announced that the courts were to be abolished effective July 2007. This was achieved under the Justice and Security (Northern Ireland) Act 2007.[10]

        Non-jury trials, however, may still be used in Northern Ireland, as elsewhere in the UK, but only in exceptional cases.[8][11]

        From the Free Dictionary

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