Charlie Hebdo ain’t my hero

There is such a thing as going too far…

Never heard of a Charlie Hebdo until two guys tried to blow it up. For one thing, my French isn’t that good anymore which means I don’t read French magazines. But more importantly, from what I’ve been able to piece together about the kind of publication this is, I suspect I wouldn’t have been what you might call a loyal subscriber even if Charlie Hebdo was free and published in Great Big English.

Je n’est pas Charlie Hebdo (I am not Charlie Hebdo).

I understand pushing past the edge and all that, and as a journalist for more than 30 years I certainly understand freedom of speech, but too many of the Charlie Hebdo cartoons  that I’ve seen are way past the edge and venture with glee into blatant racism and just plain cultural ugliness. Like the one of the naked woman who I’m assuming is supposed to be Muslim skipping down a street with what is supposed to be a burqa streaming from her ass.  This was Charlie Hebdo’s way of saying that when France outlawed the traditional head covering for Muslim women known as the burqa, it was a good thing for the country. Thus the woman with the burqa coming out of her ass.

The obvious,  the obligatory thing that must be said here is that mass murder is out of bounds as a response to twisted cartoons and warped socio-political commentary. Words and images can do immense damage and cause an equal amount of pain and suffering, but words and images can’t kill anybody. And life is sacred. So I feel like I shouldn’t even have to say that I don’t believe anyone should be murdered because of  a cartoon.

But I also shouldn’t have to say that it’s wrong to effectively defecate and urinate all over someone’s religious beliefs in public in the name of freedom of expression, and then invite the world to join you in your mockery and disdain as a form of sport. Or to hide your racism in plain sight on the front page of a magazine, using false and deceptive words such as ‘provocative’ and ‘stimulating’ to mask the true purpose and effect.

Do I think a law should be passed banning magazines like Charlie Hebdo? No. I don’t. Because legislating morality simply doesn’t work. Ain’t no law against ugly. But it’s amazing what employing a bit of common sense can do.

And speech has never been free. Just ask Charlie Hebdo.

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About the author
Writer and musician.



2015-01-18 21:44:46 Reply

Wow, what a perfect example of victim blaming! Do you think women with short skirts had it coming, too?


    2015-02-24 20:03:55 Reply

    No I don’t.

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