I understand the desire to speak out against terrorist attacks. I think shooting people, in general, is bad. Guns freak me out. For some reason, my mother once had a fake gun (it could have been made out of soap, it was that fake) in our linen closet and even that freaked me out. What I don’t understand is why people are supporting an offensive magazine. So many people are (were? I’m not the assiduous blogger and things fall out of fashion while I mull) waving the “Je suis Charlie” flag: are they willfully ignoring just how needlessly antagonistic the magazine is? The magzine regularly features items which could easily be considered hate speech in North America.
Should people be gunned down for being assholes or supporting assholes? No. But that doesn’t mean I support their decision to be assholes. See this article in the Daily Beast which articulates this pretty well. And if you are going to identify with Charlie Hebdo, please take a long hard look at what you’re signing up for.
And speaking of Boko Haram (the cartoon above depicts the girls taken as sex slaves by Boko Haram as welfare queens), how is it that the Paris attacks gobbled up bold print while the massacre of hundreds to thousands in Baga, Nigeria sat below the fold. (I still, almost two weeks later, can’t get a solid number on the casualties.) I didn’t see any celebrities at the Golden Globes decrying the wanton destruction in Baga, nor the inactivity of Nigeria’s leader, Goodluck Jonathan. I didn’t see scores of world leaders and diplomats turn out to march for the residents of the 2, 275 destroyed buildings as counted by Human Rights Watch via satellite imagery. (NB: No link to the article in the Independent these numbers came from because there is information in that article which is so gruesome that I decided not to send unsuspecting readers there.)
While you’ll never go hungry betting on hypocrisy, it still galls me that France, within hours of marching to mourn the dead and celebrate free speech, arrested a man for an ugly comment he made on his Facebook page where he identified with the man who took and killed hostages in the grocery store in Paris. Again: was this a good idea? No. Was it an asshole move? Absolutely. Should he be arrested for it? I don’t know. What I do know (rather, what I believe) is that if he should be arrested, Charlie Hebdo should be forced to cease publication. Which is to say, if Charlie Hebdo is permitted to continue publishing material which is deeply offensive (and clearly meant to be offensive) to millions of people, then it should be okay for millions of people to say obnoxious things. Pick one: free speech or no free speech. Or clearly define what is hate speech and don’t give one group free reign while condemning another.
I’m an atheist (or agnostic or whatever) so I don’t have a horse in this race. I know a few people who get solace from their religion. I see millions on the news every single day who use religion to erode understanding between cultures.
Oh, how I despair some days.