French left wing satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo attacked by extremists
January 7, 2015 7:26 AM   Subscribe

The French left wing satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo (currently blank, Wikipedia entry) was attacked by extremists this afternoon. At least 12 people were killed. Among those killed are the cartoonists Wolinski, Cabu, Charb and Tignous. Previously: the firebomb attack on Charlie Hebdo in 2011.
posted by Berend (1693 comments total) 63 users marked this as a favorite
 
More than any previous terror attack this one makes me feel sick to my stomach, also because there are several friends of friends of my among those killed.
posted by Berend at 7:29 AM on January 7, 2015 [40 favorites]


.
posted by Navelgazer at 7:29 AM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


.
posted by Artw at 7:31 AM on January 7, 2015


.
posted by haiku warrior at 7:31 AM on January 7, 2015


.
posted by valkane at 7:32 AM on January 7, 2015




Oh no.
posted by jokeefe at 7:34 AM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


My condolences, Berend.
posted by jokeefe at 7:35 AM on January 7, 2015 [8 favorites]


.
posted by Obscure Reference at 7:35 AM on January 7, 2015


............

#jesuischarlie
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:36 AM on January 7, 2015 [11 favorites]


.
posted by allthinky at 7:36 AM on January 7, 2015


.
posted by tychotesla at 7:37 AM on January 7, 2015


Guardian has live coverage
. x 12
posted by adamvasco at 7:38 AM on January 7, 2015


Be rend, I'm so sorry. This is such a tragedy.
posted by dejah420 at 7:38 AM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


.
posted by emmtee at 7:38 AM on January 7, 2015


.
posted by Foosnark at 7:38 AM on January 7, 2015


This really hard to take in.
posted by Nevin at 7:39 AM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Vile and horrifying.
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 7:39 AM on January 7, 2015 [7 favorites]


.
posted by triage_lazarus at 7:39 AM on January 7, 2015


.
posted by Cash4Lead at 7:40 AM on January 7, 2015


I saw the headline immediately after reading an article about growing anti-immigrant marches in Germany, so it was a poor start to the day. This is terrible news and for what little it is worth I hope they catch the perpetrators.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:41 AM on January 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


.
posted by Zarkonnen at 7:41 AM on January 7, 2015


Salman Rushdie with the Twitter tag #JeSuisCharlie.

Of course, he very nearly was ...
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:42 AM on January 7, 2015 [10 favorites]


This photo from Agence France-Press is hard to bear: the gentle faces of people whose only aim in life was to draw laughs. Meanwhile, those who only wanted to draw blood hid theirs.
posted by rory at 7:42 AM on January 7, 2015 [26 favorites]


Absolutely horrendous, both for the victims and the response this will likely provoke.

Be warned, the Guardian is currently headlining with a graphic (though slightly edited) video of a police officer being shot on the street. They cut away before the attackers walk up and shoot the man on camera, but he is pictured rolling on the ground after being shot in the initial volley.
posted by Happy Dave at 7:42 AM on January 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


Happy Dave, MSNBC has been showing that video as well, right up until the moment where the terrorist pulls the trigger. Extremely irresponsible, IMHO.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:44 AM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


.

I fear that this will only stoke anti-immigrant sentiments. I just don't get this sort of action by extremists. Their religion is mocked as violent so to prove the falsity of that, they murder a bunch of cartoonists?
posted by freecellwizard at 7:45 AM on January 7, 2015 [32 favorites]


Thanks to the Guardian for blurring the video of the cop being killed on their site. No thanks to CNN for showing it, unedited, to my wife before she could look away and presumably rerunning it over and over again for months.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:46 AM on January 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


So, so sickened by this. France has such a rich history of political cartooning going back to the revolution (and, of course, earlier still with a bit of digging). The idea that drawing funny pictures that mock people might be dangerous to your health needs to fuck right off back to the 18th century.
posted by the bricabrac man at 7:46 AM on January 7, 2015 [46 favorites]


I think it does the victims a disservice to say that they only wanted to draw laughs. They were political satirists who were trying to make people think.
.
posted by ChuraChura at 7:46 AM on January 7, 2015 [83 favorites]


Happy Dave, I saw that video on CNN this morning before they edited it and I was absolutely appalled at the lack of empathy for that man and his family and loved ones, never mind the general viewing public.

It might be a lack of character on my part but watching (and hearing, which was actually the hardest part) a man suffer is not something I can carry with me in any semblance of a healthy way.
posted by lydhre at 7:47 AM on January 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 7:47 AM on January 7, 2015


fear that this will only stoke anti-immigrant sentiments. I just don't get this sort of action by extremists.

Because they want more of that, because they want people to hate Muslims, because that furthers their goals.

The extremists on both sides are on collusion against the middle.
posted by Artw at 7:47 AM on January 7, 2015 [96 favorites]


.

Sorry, Berend.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 7:47 AM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


.

This is horrific. What the hell is wrong with people?
posted by arcticseal at 7:48 AM on January 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


> The idea that drawing funny pictures that mock people might be dangerous to your health needs to fuck right off back to the 18th century.

Extremists of most stripes seem to want to go further back than that.

.
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:50 AM on January 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


.
posted by Iridic at 7:51 AM on January 7, 2015


Very sorry for your loss Berend.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:52 AM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


.
posted by Gelatin at 7:52 AM on January 7, 2015


............
posted by Going To Maine at 7:52 AM on January 7, 2015


This is extremely upsetting.

.
posted by oceanjesse at 7:52 AM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


.
posted by tonycpsu at 7:53 AM on January 7, 2015


I just don't get this sort of action by extremists.

Remember. The enemy of the extremist isn't the opposite extremist, it's the moderate. This sort of thing is done to provoke an extreme reaction to move the moderates to the extreme. These guys *actively want* war, but they're not going to get it with "Great Satan" talk. They are banking on an overreaction, which will drive more Islamic moderates towards the extremist position, and more French moderates to the "Islam is Evil Must Destroy" extreme.

When everybody's an extremist, then you can start really fighting.

The right answer is to handle this as a police matter. The wrong answer is to handle it as a military matter and create ISIS mark II.
posted by eriko at 7:54 AM on January 7, 2015 [204 favorites]


Reaction from Australian cartoonist David Pope.
posted by jokeefe at 7:56 AM on January 7, 2015 [45 favorites]


The right answer is to handle this as a police matter.

I agree with this approach. Treat them as common criminals and murders, deny them the excuse of their religion.
posted by arcticseal at 7:57 AM on January 7, 2015 [59 favorites]


I'll never understand why people who are convinced that they have an omnipotent deity on their side would care in the least about mockery or piss-taking. Surely it should be a matter of - literally - supreme indifference.

What a tragedy.
posted by sobarel at 7:57 AM on January 7, 2015 [20 favorites]


My condolences Berend for your losses.

An excellent post by the way, thank you.
posted by infini at 7:57 AM on January 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


France has such a rich history of political cartooning

Classic examples
posted by gimonca at 7:57 AM on January 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


Has anyone claimed responsibility yet?
posted by infini at 7:58 AM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Hatred is still the best recruiting tool for war and barbarity still the best way to generate hate.
posted by fullerine at 8:00 AM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


Salman Rushdie condemns the attack: ”I stand with Charlie Hebdo, as we all must, to defend the art of satire, which has always been a force for liberty and against tyranny, dishonesty and stupidity.”
posted by Termite at 8:00 AM on January 7, 2015 [37 favorites]


.

LIBERTÉ, ÉGALITÉ, FRATERNITÉ.

All three are needed more than ever today.
posted by kewb at 8:01 AM on January 7, 2015 [24 favorites]


.
posted by thegirlwiththehat at 8:01 AM on January 7, 2015


.
posted by Meatbomb at 8:04 AM on January 7, 2015


This was a very specifically political set of killings - Charlie Hebdo ran a long series of cariacatures of Mohammed, produced an issue supposedly edited by Mohammed, reprinted some of the Danish cartoons that caused so much controversy, etc. Charlie Hebdo is a left-wing and secular publication, enmeshed in a lot of conflict within France over Islam, French Muslims and secularism generally. This is an intentional escalation of an ideological conflict - it's not just hostility, it's saying "you have this secular and satirical critique of aspects of Islam* and instead of keeping this conflict at a verbal/political/intellectual/social level, we are escalating this to killing".

It's a terrible, terrible thing that is going to make things so much harder for Muslims in France, and also make it much harder to sustain a secular and anti-racist left. It's not just that these attacks are intended to exacerbate the divisions between Muslims and others in France; I think they're also intended (or at least very effective at) breaking up the left, making it much easier for the left to become racist and Islamophobic.

I don't understand any of this at an emotional level, why anyone would ever want to do such a thing.

*I am uncomfortable with what has been Charlie Hebdo's approach, especially in the very particular context of French Islamophobia.
posted by Frowner at 8:04 AM on January 7, 2015 [111 favorites]


.
posted by drklahn at 8:05 AM on January 7, 2015


Here's a longer Rushdie quote in case Termite's link doesn't work for you either:

"Religion, a medieval form of unreason, when combined with modern weaponry becomes a real threat to our freedoms. This religious totalitarianism has caused a deadly mutation in the heart of Islam and we see the tragic consequences in Paris today.

I stand with Charlie Hebdo, as we all must, to defend the art of satire, which has always been a force for liberty and against tyranny, dishonesty and stupidity.

‘Respect for religion’ has become a code phrase meaning ‘fear of religion’. Religions, like all other ideas, deserve criticism, satire, and, yes, our fearless disrespect."
posted by mareli at 8:06 AM on January 7, 2015 [91 favorites]


freecellwizard: "I fear that this will only stoke anti-immigrant sentiments. I just don't get this sort of action by extremists. Their religion is mocked as violent so to prove the falsity of that, they murder a bunch of cartoonists?"
I sadly haven't been able to find it again, but a while back I saw a satirical cartoon (sic) depicting a radical islamist and a neo-nazi sitting down at a bar for an after-work pint. It's spot on - they feed off each other's hate, and no extremists are interesting in peace and tolerance.

(Edit: what Artw said.)
posted by brokkr at 8:06 AM on January 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


La Trahison des Clercs:

Bruce Crumley (then Time's bureau chief in Paris) gave his thoughts on freedom of expression subsequent to the firebombing of Charlie Hebdo's offices in 2011. According to Wikipedia, Time was founded in 1923 and remains the most popular blog to be printed in hard copy.
Okay, so can we finally stop with the idiotic, divisive, and destructive efforts by “majority sections” of Western nations to bait Muslim members with petulant, futile demonstrations that “they” aren’t going to tell “us” what can and can’t be done in free societies? Because not only are such Islamophobic antics futile and childish, but they also openly beg for the very violent responses from extremists their authors claim to proudly defy in the name of common good. What common good is served by creating more division and anger, and by tempting belligerent reaction?
[...]
But do you still think the price you paid for printing an offensive, shameful, and singularly humor-deficient parody on the logic of “because we can” was so worthwhile? If so, good luck with those charcoal drawings your pages will now be featuring.
Via Harry's Place.
posted by Joe in Australia at 8:06 AM on January 7, 2015 [21 favorites]


I would further add that "Les mères, les filles, les soeurs" are of course not excluded from the concept of common feeling and mutual dignity linked to that old word "fraternité," nor are any people of any culture or creed who support the other two terms.
posted by kewb at 8:06 AM on January 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


Has anyone claimed responsibility yet?

If I had to guess, I'd say it was a small group of lunk-headed tools looking to impress some other group of lunk-headed tools who wouldn't have given them the time of day before this went down.
posted by item at 8:06 AM on January 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


I'll never understand why people who are convinced that they have an omnipotent deity on their side would care in the least about mockery or piss-taking. Surely it should be a matter of - literally - supreme indifference.

Their beliefs must be secretly quite fragile, for them to fear dissent so much.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 8:07 AM on January 7, 2015 [10 favorites]


I'll never understand why people who are convinced that they have an omnipotent deity on their side would care in the least about mockery or piss-taking. Surely it should be a matter of - literally - supreme indifference.

because it has nothing to do with that deity and everything to do with humans using the specter of the supernatural to brainwash the weak and vulnerable to gain power, money and respect for themselves.
posted by any major dude at 8:08 AM on January 7, 2015 [34 favorites]


.

Reprehensible.
posted by mistersquid at 8:09 AM on January 7, 2015


Has anyone claimed responsibility yet?

Some of the French media are quoting witnesses at the scene as saying that the attackers claimed to be from Al Qaida in Yemen, but we should bear in mind the usual swirl of rumor and disinformation that surrounds the first few days after these sorts of high-profile attacks.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 8:10 AM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


.
posted by Wordshore at 8:10 AM on January 7, 2015


Has anyone claimed responsibility yet?

If I had to guess,


I'm letting the professionals do that for me, for now.

Remember: Breaking News Consumer's Handbook
posted by chavenet at 8:11 AM on January 7, 2015 [9 favorites]


via NYTimes: A Twitter user who calls himself Abu Obaida al-Libi, borrowing an alias used by militants who have been killed in Libya or Syria, shared a photograph that appeared to show one of the Paris attackers pointing an automatic rifle at a victim, with the hashtag in Arabic, #WeAvengedTheProphet.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:12 AM on January 7, 2015


I think it does the victims a disservice to say that they only wanted to draw laughs. They were political satirists who were trying to make people think.

I agree with this. As terrible as these actions were, as reprehensible, as murderous, as criminal, they did not target cartoonists and humorists because the murderers' beliefs are fragile, but because humor is so powerful it can dismantle empires.
posted by maxsparber at 8:12 AM on January 7, 2015 [35 favorites]


.
posted by Mister Bijou at 8:13 AM on January 7, 2015


I have come to the conclusion that what the world needs is a Religious Extremist Olympics.

Every two years, religious extremists of all denominations will send their best and brightest to a global summit at which they will compete in various events such as literary criticism, gladiatorial combat, chess, the javelin, Team Fortress 2 and gurning. The winning factions get official My Deity's Genitals Are Larger And More Swollen Than Your Deity's points until the next REO, the losers swear revenge and have motivation to raise their game for the next time, and everyone else on the planet who is NOT sufficiently devolved as to believe that their religious beliefs are the only allowable way for others on the planet to live their lives can carry on with what they need to do.

.
posted by delfin at 8:14 AM on January 7, 2015 [21 favorites]


.
posted by a complicated history at 8:15 AM on January 7, 2015


If I had to guess, I'd say it was a small group of lunk-headed tools looking to impress some other group of lunk-headed tools who wouldn't have given them the time of day before this went down.

The guns, however, imply connections and possibly training. This may be more than idiots indoctrinated via YouTube.
posted by Artw at 8:16 AM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


A car reportedly exploded (caught fire?) outside a synagogue in Paris. It's being described as a mechanical failure, which must be one hell of a coincidence.
posted by Joe in Australia at 8:17 AM on January 7, 2015


CNN blurs the cop once he's been shot at close range, but they're running a still of the gunman a frame or two before he executes the cop. Classy.
posted by Sunburnt at 8:18 AM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


roomthreeseventeen: "via NYTimes: A Twitter user who calls himself Abu Obaida al-Libi, borrowing an alias used by militants who have been killed in Libya or Syria, shared a photograph that appeared to show one of the Paris attackers pointing an automatic rifle at a victim, with the hashtag in Arabic, #WeAvengedTheProphet."
It's a still from the cop execution video discussed upthread.
posted by brokkr at 8:18 AM on January 7, 2015


We are all satirists now
posted by any major dude at 8:21 AM on January 7, 2015 [10 favorites]


Because they want more of that, because they want people to hate Muslims, because that furthers their goals.

That's the key point to remember: the people behind this do not care about French Muslims, or any other Muslims living in Europe, don't care that they endanger their co-religionists. Their only goal is to "heighten the tensions": the more islamophobia spreads through Europe and America, the stronger their movement will be, or so they believe.

It's scary and awful but what we've also seen, in Pakistan for example with their brand of the Taliban, is that such groups often only resort to such high profile and outrageous attacks when they're isolated and without broad support. As in any organisation group think sets in and wishful thinking takes over: if only we slaughter enough infidels our people will rise up in support.
posted by MartinWisse at 8:23 AM on January 7, 2015 [24 favorites]


Is Charlie Hebdo actually left-wing? I guess I mean, is that where it's positioned within the French social context? I suppose it must be, given that Berend is posting from within that social context.

The majority of their material I am seeing reposted today relies on the use of stereotype in ways that I associate with the right. It's unclear to me if that's because the reposters are selecting material that appeals to thier audience (The Independent, for example) or because it's representative of Charlie Hebdo's editorial sensibility.
posted by mwhybark at 8:24 AM on January 7, 2015 [13 favorites]


Remember: Breaking News Consumer's Handbook

What if there is a group of MeFites who are willfully colluding to ignore the handbook?
posted by stbalbach at 8:25 AM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]




This seems a good time to recall the history of the Grande Mosquée de Paris, built as a token of gratitude to Muslims who died fighting for France in the First World War, and whose rector Si Khaddour Bengghrabit helped save Jewish people during the Nazi occupation in the next war. Its current rector, Dalil Boubakeur, is a moderate integrationist.
posted by kewb at 8:27 AM on January 7, 2015 [25 favorites]


The majority of their material I am seeing reposted today relies on the use of stereotype in ways that I associate with the right.

If Seth Rogan's latest spectacle taught us anything, it's that racism and nationalism are subversive and hip.
posted by gorbweaver at 8:27 AM on January 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


Is Charlie Hebdo actually left-wing?

Actual humour is unclassifiable and does not reside anywhere on the political spectrum. Dogma is not funny.
posted by Nevin at 8:28 AM on January 7, 2015 [10 favorites]


(unless you're making fun of it)
posted by Nevin at 8:28 AM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


.

The extremists on both sides are on collusion against the middle.

People like Marine Le Pen have been carefully drying and stacking tinder for years, just waiting for assholes like today's gunmen to show up with the matches.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 8:29 AM on January 7, 2015 [27 favorites]




Is Charlie Hebdo actually left-wing?

The sense I've always had is that there are elements of "left" in it and it's put together by people who were of the sixties/seventies left. But the left in France groups together a different set of concerns than the Anglophone left, including things that we would not group with "left" ideas at all - I think that's where some confusion (for me, actually) always comes in. As I understand it, there's this strain of "secularism" that isn't what we associate with secularism, ie it's not mostly about getting the Christian right off people's backs, it's about creating a collective "French" identity that is supposed to be free of religion, or with religion kept private and rendered invisible. Unfortunately, this seems to be used either naively (by some) or intentionally (by others) as a way of attacking both Muslims and Jews. (When people say "French political cartoons", I think of the Dreyfus case.)

The French communist left has been very socially conservative since the fifties, too, which is part - I think - of the 1970s conflict between various other left formations (radical Marxists, continental philosophers) and the French CP and its followers. The communist part of the left has often been basically the right-wing part of the left in terms of tolerance for people of color, women's rights, immigration, GLBTQ stuff, etc, that we would normally associate with the left.

As I understand it, "secularism" in France is also interwoven with the French colonial project - so basically, people were taught to hate Muslims and Islam as part of colonial control of Algeria and other places. Islam was "barbaric" and "not modern" and so on - ostensibly because of a secularist/civic critique but really because it helped justify the exploitation of Muslim people.

This is why I am uncomfortable with the Charlie Hebdo/satire approach in this context - the very specific context of contemporary France. It's kicking people who are already being kicked by the rest of French society, and then saying "but I'm not kicking you because I hate Muslims, I'm kicking you because I hate religion".

Just to be clear since this is such a difficult issue: I would never, never think that this justifies violence or the suffering of those poor people who were killed and their friends and family - and violence only makes things much, much worse. This is such a terrible thing, done by terrible people.
posted by Frowner at 8:39 AM on January 7, 2015 [162 favorites]


I think it does the victims a disservice to say that they only wanted to draw laughs. They were political satirists who were trying to make people think.

Fair enough; I retract the "only". But first and foremost, their aim was drawing laughs, and drawing for laughs. Writers and performers can make people think, laugh, or both, but only cartoonists do both with a drawing. If all you're interested in is getting the laugh or airing the point, tweeting it is easier.

I was reacting instinctively to the look in their eyes, I admit. I've met a lot of cartoonists, and recognised it.
posted by rory at 8:40 AM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


I like Salman Rushdie's statement at englishpen.org :

"Religion, a medieval form of unreason, when combined with modern weaponry becomes a real threat to our freedoms. This religious totalitarianism has caused a deadly mutation in the heart of Islam and we see the tragic consequences in Paris today."

"I stand with Charlie Hebdo, as we all must, to defend the art of satire, which has always been a force for liberty and against tyranny, dishonesty and stupidity."

"‘Respect for religion’ has become a code phrase meaning ‘fear of religion’. Religions, like all other ideas, deserve criticism, satire, and, yes, our fearless disrespect."

posted by jeffburdges at 8:41 AM on January 7, 2015 [15 favorites]


because it has nothing to do with that deity and everything to do with humans using the specter of the supernatural to brainwash the weak and vulnerable to gain power, money and respect for themselves.

Yeah. The actual shooters are likely jughead, macho idiots easily lead by cynical fanatics. Religion is their particular flavor of violence to secure their egos, bloodlust and unearned sense of superiority.
posted by spaltavian at 8:42 AM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


We mourn those who were murdered, and we affirm our unwavering support for the freedom of of thought and expression without which civilization is not possible.
posted by VikingSword at 8:42 AM on January 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


Devastating.
posted by artlung at 8:42 AM on January 7, 2015


I am uncomfortable with what has been Charlie Hebdo's approach, especially in the very particular context of French Islamophobia.

Me too.

Charlie Hebdo is of course a product of what you might call the 1968 generation, secular, leftist and forged in the struggle to overcome the repressive Catholic climate that of postwar France. They've been just as insulting and shocking against Catholics and Jews over the decades, have been fiercely aggressive in defending secularism, but perhaps slow to recognise or wanting to recognise that using the same sort of weapon against Islam is likely to harm more innocent people than it offends those that need offending. However noble their intentions, Charlie Hebdo has played some role in helping fan the flames of Islamophobia.

But as far as I can tell, they've never acted out of Islamophobia themselves, but from the principle that nobody should be save from satire when they deserve it and personal safety be damned. They got firebombed back in 2011 after all and that didn't stop them.
posted by MartinWisse at 8:45 AM on January 7, 2015 [41 favorites]


This is why I am uncomfortable with the Charlie Hebdo/satire approach in this context - the very specific context of contemporary France. It's kicking people who are already being kicked by the rest of French society, and then saying "but I'm not kicking you because I hate Muslims, I'm kicking you because I hate religion".

No, let us be clear on this, satire hurts ideas, not people. People only feel hurt because they refuse to let go of ridiculous notions long after they have been exposed. A person is still a person with inherent value even if their beliefs are worthless.
posted by Thing at 8:49 AM on January 7, 2015 [49 favorites]


fear that this will only stoke anti-immigrant sentiments. I just don't get this sort of action by extremists.

As someone said above, the extremists benefit from anti-immigrant sentiments because more young men will become marginalized and alienated and potentially drawn to their "cause", which as far as I can tell is to commit violence against unarmed civilians and look pathetic and disgusting.

I was not a fan of what Charlie Hebdo was doing with some of these cartoons. But this is just atrocious, and I hope 100 Charlie Hebdos sprout up out of this and continue on in that tradition.
posted by Hoopo at 8:51 AM on January 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


This is shocking.
posted by Carillon at 8:51 AM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


No, let us be clear on this, satire hurts ideas, not people.

Thing, that's only true when people can tell it is satire. Unrecognizable satire can still hurt a repressed population if it reinforces the prejudices of the majority.
posted by maryr at 8:52 AM on January 7, 2015 [14 favorites]


maxsparber: I agree with this. As terrible as these actions were, as reprehensible, as murderous, as criminal, they did not target cartoonists and humorists because the murderers' beliefs are fragile, but because humor is so powerful it can dismantle empires.

Further in my defence, I didn't write "only wanted to draw laughs" to dismiss it as some silly, trivial thing. I grew up drawing cartoons and comics, tried to get somewhere it as a cartoonist before life took me in other directions, and see it as an important and worthwhile way to spend a life, not least for the very reason you've given.

Humour is even more powerful than that. Whether or not it brings down empires, it dismantles us as people. Every time we laugh, it's at something unexpected, some new idea that challenges our existing ones. Whether jokes are satirical or not, they help us see ourselves and the world in new ways.
posted by rory at 8:52 AM on January 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


.
posted by What'sAPedantWalter? at 8:52 AM on January 7, 2015


Charlie Hebdo's website is no longer blank — it is displaying a black square with the words "JE SUIS CHARLIE HEBDO". It can be posted as a Facebook or Twitter profile picture in solidarity.
posted by beagle at 8:53 AM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yes, there was a lengthy discussion of Charlie Hebdo satire in the context of Islam, in the earlier thread mentioned in the FPP, and I continue to reject, absolutely, treating Islam any differently from other religions which were satirized by Hebdo. It strikes me that treating Islam like a special snowflake is exactly the wrong thing to do - it alienates it from the mainstream by implying that one needs to walk on eggshells when dealing with it, and therefore is not part of the European landscape on the same plane as any other religion. Islam is not some fragile faith that needs special handling, and Muslims are not ticking bombs one has to take special measures not to set off. The more we treat people differently, the more different they'll feel. And this was the ultimate aim of these terrorists - to make the French - or indeed everyone - feel differently about Muslims. They must not succeed.
posted by VikingSword at 8:53 AM on January 7, 2015 [49 favorites]


This is shocking.

I think what's important here is that it's NOT shocking. France believed this was coming, and some of the journalists who died today believed this was coming. They had security detail.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:53 AM on January 7, 2015 [11 favorites]


I would never, never think that this justifies violence or the suffering of those poor people who were killed and their friends and family
Frowner

But you implicitly are. You and MartinWisse and gorbweaver and that Bruce Crumley piece Joe in Australia link to above are all engaging in blaming the victim and tacitly saying Charlie Hebdo deserved what they got when you bemoan how horrid these publications were.

"Of course violence is bad, but really, what they were publishing was so coarse and offensive..."

Until the day anything can be published without fear of being murdered, what Charlie Hebdo does is badly needed. If that's "kicking" anyone, let them be kicked.
posted by Sangermaine at 8:54 AM on January 7, 2015 [88 favorites]


we should bear in mind the usual swirl of rumor and disinformation that surrounds the first few days after these sorts of high-profile attacks

Perhaps what's most disturbing here, in a large sense, is that these events happen so often that there is a usual pattern.

Their poor families, their friends. This is awful.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:57 AM on January 7, 2015


No one murdered because of this image. (NSFW, Onion)
posted by empath at 8:58 AM on January 7, 2015 [70 favorites]


Fantastic, thoughtful answer, Frowner. Merci.
posted by mwhybark at 8:58 AM on January 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


But you implicitly are. You are and MartinWisse and gorbweaver and that Bruce Crumley piece Joe in Australia link to above are all engaging in blaming the victim and tacitly saying Charlie Hebdo deserved what they got.

I would rather not have a big ugly fight about this on such a sad day, so I guess the short form answer would be: no, trying to talk about the specific political context in which something happens is not the same as justifying it. It is very difficult to talk about specific political context in order to fully understand something precisely because discussing it is always seen as justifying events.
posted by Frowner at 9:01 AM on January 7, 2015 [80 favorites]


I agree completely with the statement that "satire hurts ideas, not people", thanks for being so succinct Thing. If you're hushing up comics then you're a fascist. And arguably indirectly contributing to this sort of violence. And that applies equally to anyone complaining about Charlie Hebdo's satire of Islam, Dieudonné M'bala M'bala's mocking of Islam, Catholicism, Israel, etc., the Onion, etc.
posted by jeffburdges at 9:02 AM on January 7, 2015 [10 favorites]


Je suis Charlie
posted by tyllwin at 9:03 AM on January 7, 2015


It is very difficult to talk about specific political context in order to fully understand something precisely because discussing it is always seen as justifying events.

Maybe discussing the political context just hours after a massacre happens is inappropriate.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:04 AM on January 7, 2015 [6 favorites]


They were political satirists who were trying to make people think.

If anything can be said to be universally true of human nature, it is that most if not all of us are afraid to think about things we hold dear.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:05 AM on January 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


This is one of the great issues facing the left - what passes for the left in the United States.

On one hand, being on the left means that you strongly support tolerance of people regardless of religion, race, gender... On the other hand, one of the great targets for intolerance in the West are Muslims, some prominent subset(*) of which is deeply and violently intolerant.

I don't see a good solution here.

But let me make one thing absolutely clear. Charlie Hebdo had and has my complete support for their work. If you live in a modern pluralist society, it is your responsibility NOT to get pissed off by words - no matter how extreme the words are.

This clip of an atheist comedian making fun of Christianity in a Swedish church is inspirational. The comic goes way over the top. I, a pretty hardcore atheist, find him pretty offensive - but the camera keeps cutting to the priest of the church, who's watching this and cracking up. That's confidence in your beliefs - that's tolerance. My hat is off to them. These cowardly, evil bombers have only my contempt.


(* - I have no idea of the size of this subset. I've met a very large number of Muslims, mostly NYC taxi drivers, and they have uniformly been civilized, educated and friendly people. The closest I ever came to anything in thousands of such encounters was one driver in the 80s who explained to me - politely - that all the bankers involved in the Ivan Boesky scandals were Jewish, which was a little disturbing but does run into the "truthfulness" defense.

But this is all anecdote. I really have no idea how widely supported violence against people who mock "the prophet" really is in the Muslim communities of the world.)
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:06 AM on January 7, 2015 [14 favorites]


I'm glad that people are discussing it because it helps me understand the event better.
posted by Drexen at 9:06 AM on January 7, 2015 [14 favorites]


This is horrible.

.
posted by homunculus at 9:07 AM on January 7, 2015


.
posted by From Bklyn at 9:08 AM on January 7, 2015


> Maybe discussing the political context just hours after a massacre happens is inappropriate.

I can't imagine the victims of this bombing would shrink from discussing the political context - if they weren't dead, that is.

Everyone supports appropriate speech. You're only really for free speech if you support inappropriate speech.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:08 AM on January 7, 2015 [81 favorites]


It was a politically motivated crime.

.
posted by Drinky Die at 9:09 AM on January 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


I've been trying to think about what to say — and there's so much to say — but I think tyllwin has it for today: Je suis Charlie.
posted by ob1quixote at 9:09 AM on January 7, 2015


> Unfortunately, this seems to be used either naively (by some) or intentionally (by others) as a way of attacking both Muslims and Jews. (When people say "French political cartoons", I think of the Dreyfus case.)
Yes, because laicity is very important in France. Militant Christianity has more or less been muzzled, and less than 10% of the population considers itself practicing. The Catholic demonstrations before the legalisation of same-sex weddings were surprising, not because anyone thinks there aren't fundamental Catholics, but because there was a public show of religion trying to influence lawmaking. I can only remember one other example of that, Christine Boutin in the parliament, and she was widely mocked for it. Now, militantism mostly comes from other religions, and will be equally mocked and satirised.

There are two ways of pushing equality, trying to make everyone a special snowflake, and making sure no one is. Charlie Hebdo exists in one form or the other since the 60s, I'm pretty sure they aren't in fact naive or racist. Please try to avoid patronising and imposing American-only ethics onto other countries, it smacks of imperialism.
posted by Spanner Nic at 9:10 AM on January 7, 2015 [12 favorites]


On one hand, being on the left means that you strongly support tolerance of people regardless of religion, race, gender... On the other hand, one of the great targets for intolerance in the West are Muslims, some prominent subset(*) of which is deeply and violently intolerant.

I don't think there's any conflict between standing up strongly for the right of people to be offensive, while also strongly condemning the offensive speech. Words should be opposed with words, not weapons.
posted by empath at 9:12 AM on January 7, 2015 [13 favorites]


.
posted by Small Dollar at 9:12 AM on January 7, 2015


Maybe discussing the political context just hours after a massacre happens is inappropriate.

I think Frowner has been aware and careful in framing points — which hasn't been the case for everyone in this thread. There are a number of haphazard and sorely disappointing responses here, but it's not fair to group in responses which are clearly separating the context from being a justification or excuse for violence.
posted by pokermonk at 9:13 AM on January 7, 2015 [16 favorites]


[A couple comments removed, please cool it a little. Making a hard thread harder by digging on why you don't like someone else's comment isn't helping anything.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:13 AM on January 7, 2015




Although Voltaire didn't really ever write "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.", its spirit is as important day as ever.
posted by Doktor Zed at 9:15 AM on January 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


Every newspaper in the world needs to reprint these cartoons and articles in solidarity. This is a clash of values, and the forces of theocratic fascism need to lose.
posted by shivohum at 9:16 AM on January 7, 2015 [14 favorites]




Voltaire didn't really ever write "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."

No, it was Evelyn Beatrice Hall.
posted by MartinWisse at 9:18 AM on January 7, 2015 [6 favorites]


You're only really for free speech if you support inappropriate speech.

Supporting someone's right to inappropriate speech is not the same thing as supporting that speech. I should be willing to support a Nazi's right to spew Nazi propaganda; I should also do everything in my power to encourage them to change their toxic beliefs and to cease (willingly) their propagandistic efforts.

Trying to excuse the deaths, which is what's happening here

No one in this thread is "trying to excuse the deaths." It's fair to ask if this is the right time or place to criticize Charlie Hebdo's publication record, but it's just a lousy ad hom to accuse anyone who has so far participated in this thread of deliberately seeking to excuse today's ghastly murders.

An event like this sets everyone's nerves on a raw edge; best if we all try to take it down a notch rather than seeking to ratchet everything up.
posted by yoink at 9:19 AM on January 7, 2015 [48 favorites]


Every newspaper in the world needs to reprint these cartoons and articles in solidarity.

yes, let's do something that the overwhelming majority of perfectly peaceful Muslims find offensive so that we can piss off a tiny fringe of radical extremist Islam, that's a brilliant goddamn idea, nothing like deciding to make this "media v. Islam," that's great
posted by mightygodking at 9:20 AM on January 7, 2015 [45 favorites]


The French military and intelligence organizations have in recent years been more active overseas (e.g. Mali, Libya). Which leads me to this prediction: France will spin up their own version of the "Wrath of God" group.

Unfortunately, we already know how this movie ends, and how tragic mistakes get made.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:21 AM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


I suspect t we are going to see a lot of jerky borderline-racist Dawkinist nonsense "in solidarity" from people who were prone to posting that kind of thing anyway.
posted by Artw at 9:22 AM on January 7, 2015 [29 favorites]


"Left" does not solely consist of identifying certain identity groups as more or less victimised than others (and restricting criticism to "punching up"). That's a recentish American innovation. France has a positive commitment to secularism.

I would like newspapers to print the cartoons, but not on the front cover: Mohammed pictures should have trigger warnings. The press demonstrates they're not cowed, but it's then open to people who would be hurt by seeing them not to do so.
posted by pw201 at 9:24 AM on January 7, 2015 [11 favorites]




[T]here is already an enormous pressure, in this context, to defend Charlie Hebdo as a foreful exponent of 'Western values', or in some cases even as a brilliantly radical bastion of left-wing anti-clericalism. (This pressure will be even more keenly felt if, as I am hearing, some of the journalists are themselves members of the organised French left.) Now, I think there's a critical difference between solidarity with the journalists who were attacked, refusing to concede anything to the idea that journalists are somehow 'legitimate targets', and solidarity with what is frankly a racist publication.
[...]
We have been reminded of the perils of such "you're with us or against us" campism throughout the 'war on terror'. Now, unfortunately, I suspect we're going to see more of this, and many who know better capitulating to the political blackmail. The argument will be that for the sake of 'good taste' we need 'a decent interval' before we start criticising Charlie Hebdo. But given the scale of the ongoing anti-Muslim backlash in France, the big and frightening anti-Muslim movements in Germany, and the constant anti-Muslim scares in the UK, and given the ideological purposes to which this atrocity will be put, it is essential to get this right. No, Charlie Hebdo's offices should not be raided by gun-wielding fucknuggets, whatever the reason for the murder. No, journalists are not legitimate targets for killing. But no, we shouldn't line up with the inevitable statist backlash against Muslims, or the ideological charge to defend a fetishised, racialised 'secularism', or concede to the blackmail which forces us into solidarity with a racist institution.
Richard Seymour: Charlie Hebdo
posted by RogerB at 9:28 AM on January 7, 2015 [43 favorites]


What makes people change their mind about what's offensive is exposure. The more something is presented as normal, the more it is considered normal, so, yes, reprinting would be a good idea. And I strongly dispute your assertion that the overwhelming majority of peaceful Muslims is offended by cartoons mocking fundamentalism. Especially from a publication that has mocked just about everything trying to tell other people what to think.
posted by Spanner Nic at 9:28 AM on January 7, 2015 [9 favorites]


Maybe discussing the political context just hours after a massacre happens is inappropriate.

Yes, and in this thread certainly. However, an FPP at a suitably appropriate later moment on this broad topic would be much welcome. Here, for example, are anecdotes and pointed commentary that touches upon the issue from a different perspective.
posted by infini at 9:29 AM on January 7, 2015


yes, let's do something that the overwhelming majority of perfectly peaceful Muslims find offensive

If they're perfectly peaceful they're also plenty smart enough to understand why newspapers would take this action, peaceful enough to applaud this non-violent response to violence, and peaceful enough to understand that their notions of offensiveness do not trump free speech, particularly in non-theocratic countries.

Bill Maher looks righter every day. Either the West is going to stand up for Enlightenment values, or it's going to cower in fear and attempt to placate.
posted by shivohum at 9:30 AM on January 7, 2015 [31 favorites]


But you implicitly are. You and ... [other names etc] ... are all engaging in blaming the victim and tacitly saying Charlie Hebdo deserved what they got when you bemoan how horrid these publications were.

"Of course violence is bad, but


Quoting some graffiti I noticed a long time ago, "It's all bullshit for the but."
posted by philip-random at 9:31 AM on January 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


Not sure how related this is, but security has in fact been beefed up in the US. My brother just texted there are police/military with M16s guarding the New York Fed, who are not normally there.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:32 AM on January 7, 2015


If they're perfectly peaceful they're also plenty smart enough to understand why newspapers would take this action

At best as a kind of jerky low grade collective punishment and at worst to fan the fires of racial hatred?
posted by Artw at 9:33 AM on January 7, 2015 [16 favorites]


Either the West is going to stand up for Enlightenment values, or it's going to cower in fear and attempt to placate.

An interesting French look at the "clash of civilizations" bit

Where did you get the idea for a presidential election, in 2022, that came down to Marine Le Pen and the leader of a Muslim party?

Well, Marine Le Pen strikes me as a realistic candidate for 2022—even for 2017 … The Muslim party is more … That’s the heart of the matter, really. I tried to put myself in the place of a Muslim, and I realized that, in reality, they are in a totally schizophrenic situation. Because overall Muslims aren’t interested in economic issues, their big issues are what we nowadays call societal issues. On these issues, obviously, they are very far from the left and even further from the Green Party. Just think of gay marriage and you’ll see what I mean, but the same is true across the board. And one doesn’t really see why they’d vote for the right, much less for the extreme right, which utterly rejects them. So if a Muslim wants to vote, what’s he supposed to do? The truth is, he’s in an impossible situation. He has no representation whatsoever. It would be wrong to say that this religion has no political consequences—it does. So does Catholicism, for that matter, even if the Catholics have been more or less marginalized. For those reasons, it seems to me, a Muslim party makes a lot of sense.

posted by infini at 9:34 AM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


shivohum: Bill Maher looks righter every day. Either the West is going to stand up for Enlightenment values, or it's going to cower in fear and attempt to placate.

That's a rather Manichean and dogmatic viewpoint. Theocracies don't tend to see shades of gray, so the solution is... a false dichotomy between enlightenment values and Islam???
posted by tonycpsu at 9:35 AM on January 7, 2015 [29 favorites]


yes, let's do something that the overwhelming majority of perfectly peaceful Muslims find offensive so that we can piss off a tiny fringe of radical extremists Islam, that's a brilliant goddamn idea, nothing like deciding to make this "media v. Islam," that's great

The FT have an article up (surely soon to be widely excoriated) saying basically that murder is wrong (!) and that Charlie Hebdo had the right to print, but that they were stupid to do so. To which I would reply: so it would appear.

I would like newspapers to print the cartoons, but not on the front cover

I'm a consequentialist and Less Wrong reader myself, but the people this would attempt to protect from offence are neither. It's the publication rather than the actual viewing of blasphemy that offends them – and really, 'offence' is too Western-liberal a concept fully to cover their response.
posted by topynate at 9:35 AM on January 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


RogerB,

From your link:

A detour. During the 'Troubles', one of Mrs Thatcher's most infamous acts was to send the SAS to shoot three unarmed IRA members in Gibraltar. Amnesty International considered this an outrageous case of extrajudicial killing and announced that it was launching a probe. The howls of scandal from the Tory benches were ably channeled by Mrs Thatcher, who sneeringly and cynically suggested from the dispatch box: ''I hope Amnesty has some concern for the more than 2,000 people murdered by the IRA since 1969".

Because the publication of objectionable, even racist material is exactly like the extra-judicial killing of three people. This is what I mean, these attempts to set up equivalence between what Charlie Hebdo did and what happened to them in the guise of "context" or analysis.
posted by Sangermaine at 9:36 AM on January 7, 2015 [7 favorites]




"Freedom is what you do with what's been done to you."

Jean-Paul Sartre

VIVE LA FRANCE!
posted by clavdivs at 9:41 AM on January 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


If they're perfectly peaceful they're also plenty smart enough to understand why newspapers would take this action

These cartoons weren't published in the first place because Muslims need to grow up and learn about free speech. Ignoring the very obvious truth that white Europe is growing more anti-Islamic every day (and anti-Semitic, and anti-Roma, and basically anti-everything that isn't Old White Europe, more or less) ignores the fact that Charlie Hebdo printed a lot of cartoons that, while perhaps not malicious in intent, were still pretty goddamned racist and punch-down fodder in a country that's been treating Muslims like shit for decades regardless of whether said Muslims are extremists or the nice kind who run the kebab shop one likes.

Yes, the magazine had the right to print them; yes, nobody deserved to die over them. Those are obvious truths as well, which do not conflict with the additional truth that many of the cartoons themselves were racist, offensive, and more often than not unfunny as well. Republishing them because You Have Decided Islam Needs To Learn A Lesson About Tolerance is just putting the boot to Muslims in service of a paternalistic worldview.
posted by mightygodking at 9:42 AM on January 7, 2015 [84 favorites]


.
posted by cotton dress sock at 9:44 AM on January 7, 2015


Republishing them because You Have Decided Islam Needs To Learn A Lesson About Tolerance is just putting the boot to Muslims in service of a paternalistic worldview.

How about republishing them because they are worthy of being seen?
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:45 AM on January 7, 2015 [17 favorites]


. . . . . . . . . . . .

Toutes mes condoléances, Berend.
posted by fraula at 9:45 AM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


. . . . . . . . . . . .
posted by So You're Saying These Are Pants? at 9:46 AM on January 7, 2015


Arab Spring activist Iyad el-Baghdadi's statement is worth circulating: "As a Muslim, killing innocent people in the name of Islam is much, much more offensive to me than any cartoon can ever be." Not because it's unique, but because it's representative of many.
posted by Doktor Zed at 9:46 AM on January 7, 2015 [48 favorites]


I'm a consequentialist and Less Wrong reader myself, but the people this would attempt to protect from offence are neither. It's the publication rather than the actual viewing of blasphemy that offends them – and really, 'offence' is too Western-liberal a concept fully to cover their response.

I suspect you're right about the matter of fact, but the point is for the newspapers to do what is moral. If some Muslims are foolish enough to get upset about Mohammed in the centrefold, that's no longer the papers' moral problem: they've gone to reasonable lengths to avoid hurting people while demonstrating their commitment to free speech (another moral value).

As a bonus, it also puts the "allies" in a bit more of a conundrum: what other publications whose contents (rather than covers) Muslims find blasphemous should be not/un-published, would they say? You can see why Rushdie has taken an interest.
posted by pw201 at 9:46 AM on January 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


How about republishing them because they are worthy of being seen?

I've seen them, because it's not hard to find them. They're not particularly clever, just as the last batch of cartoons that pissed off Muslims weren't particularly clever.
posted by mightygodking at 9:47 AM on January 7, 2015 [14 favorites]


How is 'Muslims have no agency' not the paternalistic worldview, again?
posted by Spanner Nic at 9:48 AM on January 7, 2015 [15 favorites]


I suspect you're right about the matter of fact, but the point is for the newspapers to do what is moral. If some Muslims are foolish enough to get upset about Mohammed in the centrefold, that's no longer the papers' moral problem: they've gone to reasonable lengths to avoid hurting people while demonstrating their commitment to free speech (another moral value).

They are not upset about seeing images of the prophet, they are upset that they exist at all.
posted by ymgve at 9:48 AM on January 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


Islam is a religion, not a race; doesn't make any sense to keep calling all secularist opponents of Islam racists.
posted by resurrexit at 9:49 AM on January 7, 2015 [19 favorites]


I've seen them, because it's not hard to find them. They're not particularly clever, just as the last batch of cartoons that pissed off Muslims weren't particularly clever.

The Cradle Will Rock wasn't particularly clever, either, but it's one of the most important pieces of theatre ever performed.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:50 AM on January 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


Yeah, part of the problem is one person's clever, biting satire is another person's gratuitous gut-punch, and there's no real empirical way to decide where on the continuum any particular work is other than getting a general sense of whatever audience is discussing it at the time.
posted by tonycpsu at 9:50 AM on January 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


............

I'm most familiar with Wolinski, he was a gifted satirist.
posted by bouvin at 9:51 AM on January 7, 2015


I don't know whether this is just too obvious to mention or whether I have a different perspective from living in Israel, but one reason to republish or publish this sort of material is to spread the risk. It's currently rare enough for any sizable publication to print images offensive to Islam that anyone who does is in a small and easily targetable group.
posted by topynate at 9:51 AM on January 7, 2015 [24 favorites]


yes, let's do something that the overwhelming majority of perfectly peaceful Muslims find offensive

Honestly, so what if they find it offensive? Being offended is not the worst thing in the world, not by a long shot. Violent religious extremists cannot be allowed to dictate what is and what is not acceptable to think and say. That the cartoons weren't clever or were offensive to people's sensibilities or whatever else is completely immaterial.
posted by seymourScagnetti at 9:52 AM on January 7, 2015 [59 favorites]


Not sure how related this is, but security has in fact been beefed up in the US. My brother just texted there are police/military with M16s guarding the New York Fed, who are not normally there.

I'm not sure if the Federal Protective Service guards the Fed or not, but the FPS, the NYPD and other police agencies active in NYC have roving "show of force" patrols that means you might just have a coincidence here, where there was a preplanned show of force outside the Fed for today. This happens regularly at other federal office buildings at random, not in response to any threat.

Now the Hercules team outside the French Consulate that sounds like it might be security reaction.
posted by Jahaza at 9:53 AM on January 7, 2015


FWIW, Vox has republished a ton of the cartoons today.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:53 AM on January 7, 2015


Islam is a religion, not a race; doesn't make any sense to keep calling all secularist opponents of Islam racists.

The Venn diagram may be thin on one edge.
posted by Artw at 9:54 AM on January 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


Spanner Nic: How is 'Muslims have no agency' not the paternalistic worldview, again?

You know what? A whole lot of the ones that end up getting radicalized don't have anything one could call true "agency". Many Muslim theocracies and tribal institutions radicalize the populace by subjugating them, so even if the inertia of centuries of doing things a certain way weren't enough, the threat of having their livelihood or life taken away from them by the theocractic power structures would be. That doesn't mean you give the radicals who do control the levers of power in these places a free pass, but it needs to be looked at more systemically than many including Bill Maher and Sam Harris are.
posted by tonycpsu at 9:54 AM on January 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


This is frightening and terrible. We were in Paris a few months ago and currently live in Qatar. Expat teachers have already received one warning from the U.S. embassy. In 2010 an Egyptian programmer tried to drive a car bomb into a theater frequented by Westerners. My fear is that this will encourage other freelancers eager to align themselves with ISIS.
posted by craniac at 9:55 AM on January 7, 2015


It would be a lot easier to swallow these "guys, violence is wrong and free speech is great but these comics are racist so let's take the high road" comments if there weren't a gun against the head of anyone who does publish them.

It seems like a pretty convenient rationalization for caving to a threat of violence.
posted by Sangermaine at 9:57 AM on January 7, 2015 [42 favorites]


"Pierre, we face double average unemployment, widespread housing and employment discrimination, persecution from the state and beatings from neo-fascist thugs. What can we do?"

"Easy, Abdul, we kill some cartoonists!"
posted by klangklangston at 9:58 AM on January 7, 2015 [6 favorites]


Is Charlie Hebdo actually left-wing?

None of their Islam cartoons have ever been remotely left-wing, or indeed funny. They were awful, and that they are about to be held up as the reason why we should have a free press just makes all this terrible event even more depressing.

.
posted by colie at 10:00 AM on January 7, 2015 [18 favorites]


R. E. S. P. E. C. T.
posted by Twang at 10:02 AM on January 7, 2015


By contrast, the UK's 'Private Eye' magazine has consistently published cartoons that wittily mocked the craziness of fundamentalist Islam, with no trouble at all. Just this xmas they had one entitled 'Jihad-vent Calendar', which was an advent-calendar style card that just had a really angry bearded guy behind each flap.

Made Charlie Hebdo's cartoons look very much like the 30s anti-Jew cartoons we are all familiar with.
posted by colie at 10:03 AM on January 7, 2015 [22 favorites]


No one deserves to die for a satirical cartoon, even if it's "awful".
posted by tommasz at 10:03 AM on January 7, 2015 [15 favorites]


But you implicitly are. You are and MartinWisse and gorbweaver and that Bruce Crumley piece Joe in Australia link to above are all engaging in blaming the victim and tacitly saying Charlie Hebdo deserved what they got.

Bollocks.

The idea that you should fully support whatever the loudest voices say is what the victims of a terrorist attack would've wanted is how we got the War on Iraq. That you can't criticise US foreign policy because 9/11.

I found the original 2005 Danish cartoons stunt juvenile and likely to do more harm than good, while Charlie Hebdo's jumping on that bandwagon a couple of years afterwards seemed to me at the time as a misguided attempt by an aging satirical magazine to become relevant again. There was a racist, Islamophobic undertone to their satire, their efforts made Islamophobia that little bit more respectable ("even the leftist Charlie Hebdo..") and this isn't changed because they were murdered.

It's not victim blaming to say this. I can be shocked and outraged by this atrocity and still dislike some of what Charlie Hebdo did.
posted by MartinWisse at 10:03 AM on January 7, 2015 [65 favorites]


I would like newspapers to print the cartoons, but not on the front cover: Mohammed pictures should have trigger warnings.

Oh man charlie hebdo would have run with that double entendre BIG TIME.
posted by lalochezia at 10:03 AM on January 7, 2015 [15 favorites]


Actually...
posted by infini at 10:04 AM on January 7, 2015


This is such a terrible thing, done by terrible people.

Yeah, your posts probably need to be highlighted and have red circles drawn around them, as they summarize a lot of the context that the FPP and most comments are missing. Charlie Hebdo does have a history of being inflammatory/borderline-Islamophobic, the Houellebecq novel sounds intentionally inflammatory/borderline-Islamophobic and French society in general right now seems to lean a bit in that direction, so. Urk. Violence will only escalate the horribleness, but it's not exactly the US vs. Naked Lunch. I'm not really shocked that this happened; just vaguely fearful that it will of course result in more intense Islamophobia, and more intense reactions to same.

On satire, no. Satire can be hurful to people. It can harm groups of people. It very much depends on context, and is something that can be wielded to promote racism, sexism or any other sort of bigotry. We had a cool thread on turn of the century satire of the women's rights movement not that long ago. A lot of those have been reversed by the flow of time and now feel kind of awesome (all those la Maupin types sitting around smoking and playing cards? those are some role models!) but that's a clear example of satire aimed at not-good goals. Satire is not itself a good or on the side of justice. Sometimes, even if you have good intentions, your satire ends up damaging the cause you want to strengthen. It's fickle.

Also: I am so weary of people making dumb statements about "Religion." If your working definition is, "archaic unreason" or "some stupid way of explaining the world before we had Science™" or some other flavor of kneejerky and you have strong opinions on the role of religions within societies and you want to keep those opinions, you desparately need to actually do the work and study the history, thought and subtance of world religions. Stop pretending that an enormous part of human thought and history is somehow beneath you to know the first thing about. Because your concept of what religions are and what they are intended to do is foolish and inaccurate, and you blind yourself to the ways in which all human organizations--religious, secular, political, satirical--can be infected by institutionalism and dogma. You run the risk of emulating all the things you ostensibly hate about religions, but as atheists.
posted by byanyothername at 10:05 AM on January 7, 2015 [81 favorites]


None of their Islam cartoons have ever been remotely left-wing, or indeed funny. They were awful

Could someone link to a representative repository of these cartoons? I can't say I paid much attention to the magazine in the past and I really don't have that much of a sense of what the general tone of their comments on Islam was. I think some of the comments I've read are conflating their work with the Danish cartoons (which I think we've all seen), but I'd be interested to know what their own material actually was.
posted by yoink at 10:05 AM on January 7, 2015


I can be shocked and outraged by this atrocity and still dislike some of what Charlie Hebdo did

Absolutely, and that is an important opinion to try and keep alive during the media deafening we are about to go through.
posted by colie at 10:05 AM on January 7, 2015 [9 favorites]


Statement from Maryam Namazie (who does good work with her colleagues in England opposing both xenophobic & racist anti-Muslim sentiment and those who undermine liberty in the name of Islam):
The Islamists who killed today said they were “avenging” Islam’s prophet but Mohammed cartoons are merely an excuse. The aim of such acts of terrorism – whether in Paris or Afghanistan – are to defend their theocratic and inhuman values. They must know that we too will defend our human values – secularism, equality, citizenship, the right to religion and to be free from religion, the right to criticise and mock religion… which are not “western” values but universal ones.
posted by audi alteram partem at 10:08 AM on January 7, 2015 [34 favorites]


The people who did this heinous act were using "Islam" as a mask for their intolerance.

And the victims were using "satire" as a mask for theirs.

This should not have had a body count, and you just plain don't murder people you disagree with. But let's not pretend CH was gently poking fun at authority. This was a clash between two differen types of intolerant fervors.
posted by Legomancer at 10:11 AM on January 7, 2015 [8 favorites]


Because your concept of what religions are and what they are intended to do is foolish and inaccurate, and you blind yourself to the ways in which all human organizations--religious, secular, political, satirical--can be infected by institutionalism and dogma. You run the risk of emulating all the things you ostensibly hate about religions, but as atheists.

You're wearing your indoctrination on your sleeve, and have a very interesting view of what "religions are intended to do" when they've been "intended" to do everything under the sun at one point or another by their adherents and leaders all throughout recorded human history. The "intended" use for religion has been for good, for evil, for the silly, the strange, the noble, the vain.
posted by chimaera at 10:12 AM on January 7, 2015 [19 favorites]


And the victims were using "satire" as a mask for theirs.

Yo, hi, can we stop victim blaming here. Including the fact that two police officers who had nothing to do with the magazine were shot dead.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:12 AM on January 7, 2015 [50 favorites]


Charlie Hebdo does have a history of being inflammatory/borderline-Islamophobic, the Houellebecq novel sounds intentionally inflammatory/borderline-Islamophobic and French society in general right now seems to lean a bit in that direction, so. Urk. Violence will only escalate the horribleness, but it's not exactly the US vs. Naked Lunch. I'm not really shocked that this happened; just vaguely fearful that it will of course result in more intense Islamophobia, and more intense reactions to same.

This really is victim blaming. And I think it might be nice to be also afraid that if these murderers get the reaction they want - even more Islamophobia - more and more of them will try this sort of specific actionbecause it worked. And it working also includes blaming people for publishing things that they have a perfect right to, even if you don't like it, and more or less implying that if you do that sort of thing this is the reaction you should expect.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 10:14 AM on January 7, 2015 [22 favorites]


The people who did this heinous act were using "Islam" as a mask for their intolerance.

And the victims were using "satire" as a mask for theirs.


Yeah! It's kind of like when people make fun of David Foster Wallace on MetaFilter and cause a flame war!
posted by Nevin at 10:15 AM on January 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


The people who did this heinous act were using "Islam" as a mask for their intolerance.

And the victims were using "satire" as a mask for theirs.

This should not have had a body count, and you just plain don't murder people you disagree with. But let's not pretend CH was gently poking fun at authority. This was a clash between two differen types of intolerant fervors.

Legomancer

At least you're open about blaming the victims for their deaths. A refreshingly honest post in this thread.
posted by Sangermaine at 10:17 AM on January 7, 2015 [24 favorites]


Legomancer, without any suggestion that you not make whatever argument about Charlie Hebdo that you want to, the parallelism between them and the people who murdered them is really ill-advised.
posted by topynate at 10:17 AM on January 7, 2015 [10 favorites]


Personally, I think the most salient observation in the entire thread is that this attack by Islamic purists against a French satire magazine is actually a proxy attack on all liberal and moderate muslims, attempting (and we'll see how effective it is) to inflame and use the anti-Islam factions as their catspaw, with the purpose of bringing the liberals/moderates to heel and increasing the influence of the purists.
posted by chimaera at 10:18 AM on January 7, 2015 [18 favorites]


Agence France-Presse @afpfr ·
#JeSuisCharlie L'hommage des personnels de l'AFP #AFP
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:20 AM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yoink, Charlie Hebdo's take on Islam is indeed offensive. Their take on Christianity, Judaism, the far-right, capitalists, communists, drug-takers, anti-drug-takers, Gerard Depardieu, beauty shows, football, and everything else is offensive. They are an unbendingly anti-authoritarian, anti-ideological publication, deride everything, and love everyone. You can see a lot of recent covers with a simple Image Search. Anyone calling them 'racist' shows a flabbergasting ignorance of the context.
posted by Spanner Nic at 10:21 AM on January 7, 2015 [40 favorites]


I think there is a place for discussing the quality of satire the magazine produced, and the implications of their particular brand of satire. But I also think, just now, that this discussion is inevitably going to seem like victim blaming, and is, in fact, an entirely different discussion than the one concerning the shooting.
posted by maxsparber at 10:21 AM on January 7, 2015 [7 favorites]


And the victims were using "satire" as a mask for theirs.

This should not have had a body count, and you just plain don't murder people you disagree with. But let's not pretend CH was gently poking fun at authority.


Of course they were poking fun at authority. Authority does not necessarily mean the government or the privileged majority group. "Authority" in this context is a nebulous group of fanatics who have expressed the desire and the capability to kill you for publishing things they don't like. The fact that Charlie was willing to stand up to these barbaric threats speaks to their extraordinary bravery and moral strength.
posted by seymourScagnetti at 10:23 AM on January 7, 2015 [31 favorites]


I think there is a place for discussing the quality of satire the magazine produced

Why not here? I think we all agree that tooling up with AK47s and blowing people away is wrong - but the media will give us nothing else but that for the next month.
posted by colie at 10:24 AM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


Why not here?

For the same reason you don't discuss what somebody was wearing when they were assaulted, even when they could use a few fashion pointers.
posted by maxsparber at 10:25 AM on January 7, 2015 [11 favorites]


Why not here?

Maybe we could wait until the people killed were buried, or at least cold.
posted by zabuni at 10:26 AM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


One of the cartoonists killed, Cabu, wrote Mon Beauf, a comic so savagely skewering the average Frenchman's racism, pettiness, and self-satisfaction that the word 'Beauf' entered common language. Anyone calling him racist can only be referred to as an ignorant prick.
posted by Spanner Nic at 10:27 AM on January 7, 2015 [41 favorites]


It is an act of political violence rather than anything else. It is coated in religion, of course, but I read it as polical violence. And a dot from me before I say more..

.

It is an act designed to provoke even more polarisation which in turn will create further acts of political violence etc. It is a very sad spiral of events and one which the media coverage is perpetuating. I am yet again reminded of Charlie Brooker's take on responsible media coverage of mass shootings.
posted by kariebookish at 10:28 AM on January 7, 2015 [6 favorites]


"Maybe we could wait until the people killed were buried, or at least cold."

To be fair, these are cartoonists known for transgressive humor. Treating their deaths with too much solemn reverence seems to be out of character.
posted by klangklangston at 10:28 AM on January 7, 2015 [11 favorites]


Spanner Nic: Anyone calling them 'racist' shows a flabbergasting ignorance of the context.

QFT.
posted by bouvin at 10:28 AM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


21 responses to the shooting by fellow cartoonists.

At first I was reluctant to link this, but to their credit Buzzfeed doesn't appear to have placed any advertising on the page.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:29 AM on January 7, 2015 [11 favorites]


To be fair, these are cartoonists known for transgressive humor. Treating their deaths with too much solemn reverence seems to be out of character.

Exactly - and if you want hand-wringing, you'll get that 24/7 everywhere else.
posted by colie at 10:31 AM on January 7, 2015




There's a big difference between solemn reverence and victim blaming.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:32 AM on January 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


They are not upset about seeing images of the prophet, they are upset that they exist at all.

Yeah, I know, and I said that's just bad luck for them, because free speech is also a good.

I agree that the cartoons should be republished not because they're particularly amazing examples of satire, but in an "I'm Spartacus!" way (though hopefully not with the same outcome).

As to whether criticism of Islam is racist, I liked Russell Blackford's take:
After all, there are reasons why extreme-right organizations have borrowed arguments based on feminism and secularism. These arguments are useful precisely because they have an intellectual and emotional appeal independent of their convenience to extreme-right opportunists. Regardless of who uses these arguments, they plausibly apply to certain elements of Islam, or at least to attitudes and practices associated with it. Whether or not they are put in good faith by organizations such as the BNP, nothing precludes them being put sincerely, and perhaps cogently, by others who are genuinely passionate about the issues.
posted by pw201 at 10:33 AM on January 7, 2015 [7 favorites]


There is a difference between blaming the victims and pointing out that what they were publishing was not pointed satire but outright racist caricature. Should they have died for it? Not at all. Did they have a right to publish it? Sure. They are the victims of this crime, full stop.

But that also doesn't make them Mark Twain or Salman Rushdie. They were not taking shots at the entrenched majority to the benefit of a voiceless minority. They were not putting a fine point of criticism on Islam as a way to start a discussion. They were basically punching down with the majority on a widely hated group using ugly, racist stereotypes.

I am not sentencing them to death for doing so. I'm not saying they deserved what they got. By all means we need to condemn the crime. But getting unjustly murdered does not suddenly elevate this stuff into nuanced satirical art.

But hey, keep talking about the savage barbarians who did this. There's no racist element at all.
posted by Legomancer at 10:36 AM on January 7, 2015 [20 favorites]


What I'm not seeing mentioned, and AM seeing overlooked, is that this is a bit more nuanced than a simple matter of "it was a mocking/satirical/offensive picture" - because in Islam, it was a problem that there was a picture at all, as I understand it. It is considered blasphemous to make any kind of graphic representation of Muhammed, even a flattering one.

I keep seeing responses like the Onion cartoon empath linked here - where people are all, "hey, here's a nasty picture of Jesus and ain't no one gonna shoot us for it." And that's as may be, but as Christianity doesn't have any kind of rule in place prohibiting people from making ANY picture of Jesus, it's also a false equivalence. There's satire which mocks religion - and then there's satire which mocks religion by mis-using a sacred part of that religion, and the two are not equivalent.

But even so - using a gun is NOT the appropriate way to respond when your religion has been mocked, even to that extent.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:37 AM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


"Pierre, we face double average unemployment, widespread housing and employment discrimination, persecution from the state and beatings from neo-fascist thugs. What can we do?"

"Easy, Abdul, we kill some cartoonists!"


I'm seeing a lot of cartoons along this line on twitter and they kind of bother me. It makes the implication that the motivation of fascist jihadist mass murderers has something to do with the motivations of average people fighting against racism and bigotry. Or sometimes they make the implication that jihadist fascists would be somehow bothered by their mass murders causing more anti-Islamism and creating more religious conflict, when that is clearly part of their intention. I would like to see harsher cartoons targeting jihadists and nazis and less cartoons offending Muslims generally. Cartoons promoting social equality should preferably not involve any mass-murderers.

@yurybarmin: Paris. Now. #CharlieHebdo

@NickCohen4: "French protesters at the Je suis Charlie demo in Trafalgar Square cracking everyone up by singing La Marseillaise"
posted by Golden Eternity at 10:37 AM on January 7, 2015


What Legomancer said.
posted by colie at 10:38 AM on January 7, 2015


*puts hand in sock puppet*: I hate progress and wish death to free speech!
*puts other hand in sock puppet wearing glasses*: Save your politically correct pieties for the rainbow gumdrop feelings hour, this is the real world and people are dead.
posted by gorbweaver at 10:38 AM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


But that also doesn't make them Mark Twain or Salman Rushdie.

It doesn't? I would argue that it actually does. Anyone who is cut down for free speech or free thought or free press is Salman Rushdie.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:38 AM on January 7, 2015 [7 favorites]


There's satire which mocks religion - and then there's satire which mocks religion by mis-using a sacred part of that religion, and the two are not equivalent.

Nothing is sacred. When you make a box and mark it "sacred", you're making a box and marking it "unfree".
posted by Thing at 10:40 AM on January 7, 2015 [35 favorites]


"Most famous cover."
posted by mareli at 10:40 AM on January 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


[A couple more comments removed. Folks, you know the moment you click into this thread that it's a hard, charged subject that is not going to get better with dismissiveness or rhetorical escalation. Make the effort, whatever your specific angle on this discussion, to take a step or two back as necessary to avoid contributing to that. If there's any reason for there to be a thread about this, it's not that we need to holler at each other.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:41 AM on January 7, 2015 [7 favorites]


There's satire which mocks religion - and then there's satire which mocks religion by mis-using a sacred part of that religion

I'm not sure what satire looks like if it's not mocking something that its adherents don't think should be mocked. Jay Leno?
posted by spaltavian at 10:42 AM on January 7, 2015 [26 favorites]


There's satire which mocks religion - and then there's satire which mocks religion by mis-using a sacred part of that religion, and the two are not equivalent.

This.

And that that is seperate from the actuality of what happened, a driveby shooting of innocent bystanders.

When conflated due to the horrific nature of the act and the deliberate usage of it by the perpetrators, it denies the insult to the moderate peaceful majority, who are then asked to accept it as the price of western values. Is this different from the vans driving through UK with banners saying Go Home?
posted by infini at 10:43 AM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]




.
posted by Renoroc at 10:44 AM on January 7, 2015


I'm somewhat skeptical of all these claims about victim blaming.

Victim blaming, as it's generally talked about, is talking about context. For certain crimes which are condoned by the dominant power structure, people focus on the context rather than the crime as a way of say "and that's why we don't really need to do anything about this".

Does anyone really think anyone in this thread is secretly apathetic to the actual crime here? Talking about context, talking about the victim's part in a crime isn't universally a bad thing, it's a bad thing in certain ways and in certain contexts. I don't think that's the case here.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 10:44 AM on January 7, 2015 [17 favorites]


I don't think that's the case here.

Sure it is. Plenty of comments here are saying that if the cartoons were less "racist, offensive, anti-Muslim" then the attacks wouldn't have happened. That's the exact definition of victim blaming.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:46 AM on January 7, 2015 [15 favorites]


"I admire Salman for his work and his courage, and I respect his stand. Does that answer the larger debate which continues to this day?"
posted by clavdivs at 10:46 AM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


the victim's part in a crime

The victims' part in this crime was getting shot and nothing else. The culpability for the crime lies entirely with the people doing the shooting.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 10:47 AM on January 7, 2015 [45 favorites]


I think the best word to use here is not "intolerant" but instead "irreverent" (kind of like Monty Python's Life of Brian created a storm of controversy a generation ago).

I think it would be one thing to do this sort of thing within a culture where it is inappropriate (theoretically an Islamic country, although I think the "intolerance" for irreverence in those countries is wildly overstated).

In this case, it's France, the birthplace of free speech. I think if people want to be irreverent, and also demand that free speech be protected in France, then they have the right to say whatever they want (bearing in mind that France, unlike, say the US, actually has hate speech legislation).
posted by Nevin at 10:47 AM on January 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


@Legomancer: reading what you write about Charlie Hebdo ("what they were publishing was not pointed satire but outright racist caricature"), I wonder if you ever read their magazine or even saw the cartoons the outrage started over. Did you see the link to Vox @mareli provided? Are those cartoons "outright racist caricature" to you?
posted by Berend at 10:48 AM on January 7, 2015 [7 favorites]


And that's as may be, but as Christianity doesn't have any kind of rule in place prohibiting people from making ANY picture of Jesus, it's also a false equivalence. There's satire which mocks religion - and then there's satire which mocks religion by mis-using a sacred part of that religion, and the two are not equivalent.

The rule against depiction is what is being mocked by that, specifically. And there have been times when depictions of Jesus have been banned by Christians. I'm sorry, but blasphemy is not a crime in most western nations, nor should it be.
posted by empath at 10:50 AM on January 7, 2015 [22 favorites]


Or sometimes they make the implication that jihadist fascists would be somehow bothered by their mass murders causing more anti-Islamism and creating more religious conflict, when that is clearly part of their intention

Clearly? I'm sure there are some theocrats with that intention, but I think it's giving too much credit to most of them. I feel like many if not most of them are thugs attracted to a cause that gives them an excuse to be violent hateful in power. If they lived in a different time or place, these same people might have become Christian fanatics, Klan members or racist police.

Of course there are true believers, giving the intellectual or philosophical fig leaf for murder and oppression, but I think when we are talking about terrorist, we are generally talking about violent young men, who are indoctrinated.

This is to say that these murderers' earnest intention may have be to silence people they think insult Islam and frighten those who might do the same. I don't think it's a given they're more sophisticated than that.
posted by spaltavian at 10:50 AM on January 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


It is considered blasphemous to make any kind of graphic representation of Muhammed, even a flattering one.

It's not blasphemous to all Muslims everywhere. Let's just say it's complicated.

The Quran does not explicitly forbid images of Muhammad, but there are a few hadith (supplemental teachings) which have explicitly prohibited Muslims from creating visual depictions of figures.[citation needed]

Most Sunni Muslims believe that visual depictions of all the prophets of Islam should be prohibited[3] and are particularly averse to visual representations of Muhammad.[4] The key concern is that the use of images can encourage idolatry.[5] In Shia Islam, however, images of Muhammad are quite common nowadays, even though Shia scholars historically were against such depictions.[4][6] Still, many Muslims who take a stricter view of the supplemental traditions will sometimes challenge any depiction of Muhammad, including those created and published by non-Muslims.[7]

posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:52 AM on January 7, 2015 [18 favorites]


, I wonder if you ever read their magazine or even saw the cartoons the outrage started over.

The one of Muhammad with a bomb in his turban? Yeah that was funny.
posted by colie at 10:52 AM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm not sure what satire looks like if it's not mocking something that its adherents don't think should be mocked. Jay Leno?

You've misread my point. Let me repeat:

"There's satire which mocks religion - and then there's satire which mocks religion by mis-using a sacred part of that religion."

And what I mean by that is: it's the difference between an atheist standing up in a Swedish church and heckling during the service, and an atheist secretly going undercover as a priest, actually getting into a Mass, going through with the Mass as normally, but then at the moment he has to start distributing the communion wafers, he pulls a can of Cheez-Whiz out from under his robe and gives each wafer a squirt like it's a canape.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:53 AM on January 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


RIP.

Every free press on earth should consciously link to Charlie Hebdo's publications. Following, every Christian, Islamic, or any other religious person preaching violent revolution in any free country on earth should be jailed for inciting violence, with no connection to the outside world permitted.
posted by Vibrissae at 10:53 AM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


keep talking about the savage barbarians who did this. There's no racist element at all.

It's more like squares and rectangles. Any racist will them savage. Not everyone who calls them savage is racist.

I mean, I understand that "savage" and "barbarian" have historically been terms used by imperials against so-called "primitives", but I think you know very well those words are used in the common parlance to described particularly horrifying crimes.
posted by spaltavian at 10:54 AM on January 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


I'm sorry, but blasphemy is not a crime in most western nations, nor should it be.

Absolutely. Sadly, it is in other nations. And complex problems arise when values from one context are dragged in through the front door into another context in an attempt to spread those very same values irregardless.

As a side note, I have been wondering why all the surveilance in the world today, put in place for exactly these kinds of things, didn't help?
posted by infini at 10:55 AM on January 7, 2015 [3 favorites]




The one of Muhammad with a bomb in his turban? Yeah that was funny.

But that wasn't one of theirs, was it? That was one of the Danish cartoons.
posted by yoink at 10:56 AM on January 7, 2015 [8 favorites]


it's the difference between an atheist standing up in a Swedish church and heckling during the service, and an atheist secretly going undercover as a priest, actually getting into a Mass, going through with the Mass as normally, but then at the moment he has to start distributing the communion wafers, he pulls a can of Cheez-Whiz out from under his robe and gives each wafer a squirt like it's a canape..

That makes absolutely no sense.
posted by Fidel Cashflow at 10:56 AM on January 7, 2015 [38 favorites]


I'm sorry, but blasphemy is not a crime in most western nations, nor should it be.

Tell that to Jesse Helms and Rudy Giuliani.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:57 AM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


The one of Muhammad with a bomb in his turban? Yeah that was funny.

That wasn't originally one of theirs. They reprinted it specifically as a free speech protest.
posted by Thing at 10:57 AM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


The poll about French support for ISIS seems strange. The population is maybe 10% Muslim. It's extremely disheartening hearing they have a 40% unemployment rate, though (as well as the reliably racist Facebook comments afterwards).

It is up to the the community and the mods to determine what is appropriate discussion, and racist/extremist statements do derail conversations, but it's my personal wish that good-faith discussion becomes part of the cherished practices after death, and that we can appreciate people fully, both good and bad, while loving them.
posted by halifix at 10:57 AM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


That makes absolutely no sense.

Why not?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:58 AM on January 7, 2015


That was one of the Danish cartoons.

Apologies - but didn't they reproduce them? If they had drawn them, there would have been a sexual element.
posted by colie at 10:58 AM on January 7, 2015


it's the difference between an atheist standing up in a Swedish church and heckling during the service, and an atheist secretly going undercover as a priest, actually getting into a Mass, going through with the Mass as normally, but then at the moment he has to start distributing the communion wafers, he pulls a can of Cheez-Whiz out from under his robe and gives each wafer a squirt like it's a canape..

The latter would be a hell of a lot funnier.
posted by empath at 10:59 AM on January 7, 2015 [19 favorites]


> They were not taking shots at the entrenched majority to the benefit of a voiceless minority.

Well, by all accounts, they were doing that also, but we're indulging in the same narrow focus that the killers were.
posted by Sunburnt at 10:59 AM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure what satire looks like if it's not mocking something that its adherents don't think should be mocked. Jay Leno?

You've misread my point. Let me repeat:

"There's satire which mocks religion - and then there's satire which mocks religion by mis-using a sacred part of that religion."


I believe I got your point, and I stand by my statement. The scenario you go on to describe makes no sense: there's a difference between actually disrupting a religious service and saying something about it.

You can't "misuse" something that's sacred. First of all, that's circular logic. I'm not Muslim, nothing in Islam is sacred to me. Secondly, if there's a part of a religion that's okay to mock, mocking that part really isn't satire, or not really the point of satire. Pretty sure no one has said "Behead those who make observational slice-of-life jokes about Islamic life in a respectful, approachable way".
posted by spaltavian at 11:00 AM on January 7, 2015 [8 favorites]


Mocking anything in a paper, in a country explicitly founded around ideas supporting the mocking and the subject of the mockery, as well as offering the opportunity to ignore said mocking or seek redress, is in fact not equivalent at all to any Swedish atheist or canapes.
posted by Spanner Nic at 11:01 AM on January 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


> it's the difference between an atheist standing up in a Swedish church and heckling during the service, and an atheist secretly going undercover as a priest, actually getting into a Mass, going through with the Mass as normally, but then at the moment he has to start distributing the communion wafers, he pulls a can of Cheez-Whiz out from under his robe and gives each wafer a squirt like it's a canape..

The first one is parody, the second is parody with pastiche. (on reflection, possibly farce)

Satire would be eating flesh and drinking blood and calling it wafers and wine.
posted by Sunburnt at 11:03 AM on January 7, 2015 [7 favorites]


Why not?

Because to me it seems like a completely arbitrary distinction; I'm not sure of which is supposed to be worse. Is the implication that because the communion wafer is considered 'sacred' where the mass is not that it makes the second act worse? I don't think that making fun of certain religious traditions should be off-limits because they're somehow 'scared'.
posted by Fidel Cashflow at 11:03 AM on January 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


Juan Cole: Sharpening Contradictions: Why al-Qaeda attacked Satirists in Paris:

“Sharpening the contradictions” is the strategy of sociopaths and totalitarians, aimed at unmooring people from their ordinary insouciance and preying on them, mobilizing their energies and wealth for the perverted purposes of a self-styled great leader.

The only effective response to this manipulative strategy (as Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani tried to tell the Iraqi Shiites a decade ago) is to resist the impulse to blame an entire group for the actions of a few and to refuse to carry out identity-politics reprisals.

For those who require unrelated people to take responsibility for those who claim to be their co-religionists (not a demand ever made of Christians), the al-Azhar Seminary, seat of Sunni Muslim learning and fatwas, condemned the attack, as did the Arab League that comprises 22 Muslim-majority states.

....

Extremism thrives on other people’s extremism, and is inexorably defeated by tolerance.

posted by longdaysjourney at 11:04 AM on January 7, 2015 [21 favorites]


.
posted by doctornemo at 11:05 AM on January 7, 2015


How long will this go on?
posted by infini at 11:05 AM on January 7, 2015


Why not?

In addition to the whole scenario not really being analogous to what Charlie Hebdo does, I'm pretty sure communion wafers are not sacred unless they are given to you by an actual priest at an actual communion. You can actually buy a bag of communion wafers at certain grocery stores in Quebec as a snack.
posted by Hoopo at 11:05 AM on January 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


> How long will this go on?

Another 150 comments or so, I'd imagine.
posted by Sunburnt at 11:06 AM on January 7, 2015 [8 favorites]


Unsurprising but no less depressing: while #JeSuisCharlie is currently trending at the top on Twitter, #KillAllMuslims is not too far behind it.

Also, unsurprising, you can find use of both hashtags in A LOT of tweets.
posted by Kitteh at 11:06 AM on January 7, 2015


Kitteh, where are you living? #KillAllMuslims is not trending in the United States at all.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:08 AM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


I live in Canada. But it's not hard to find trending hashtags for a lot of other places other than where you live.
posted by Kitteh at 11:09 AM on January 7, 2015


It's not trending in Canada at the moment, either.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 11:10 AM on January 7, 2015 [3 favorites]




.

Ted Rall: Political Cartooning is Almost Worth Dying For.
posted by immlass at 11:10 AM on January 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


#KillAllMuslims is not too far behind it

Yeah, that's BS. What seems to be happening is this: Peaceful, somber vigils.
posted by gwint at 11:11 AM on January 7, 2015 [7 favorites]


Juan Cole: Sharpening Contradictions: Why al-Qaeda attacked Satirists in Paris

Welp, I'm glad Juan Cole has identified who's behind this.

But seriously, his point about Breivik is food for thought:

We have a model for response to terrorist provocation and attempts at sharpening the contradictions. It is Norway after Anders Behring Breivik committed mass murder of Norwegian leftists for being soft on Islam. The Norwegian government launched no war on terror. They tried Breivik in court as a common criminal. They remained committed to their admirable modern Norwegian values.

What can't be known, though, is how admirable Norwegian values would have handled it if Breivik had been an immigrant, a Muslim, a member of Al-Qaeda or something other than a white male born-and-bred Norwegian.
posted by chavenet at 11:12 AM on January 7, 2015 [10 favorites]


Apologies - but didn't they reproduce them?

Um, so? They were reproduced all over the place. It was quite an important story at the time, you might remember--and particularly so to an outfit like CH. That they reproduced them hardly makes them useful examples of the kind of work they did.

It is considered blasphemous to make any kind of graphic representation of Muhammed, even a flattering one.


It is by some Muslims, but by no means all. There is actually a fairly rich historical strain of representations of Muhammad by Muslim artists (Wikipedia has a pretty good page on the subject) . In the Shia world today, representations of Muhammad are not completely taboo. Nor is it the case that this represents some sort of vast schism between Christian and Muslim worldviews; there have been plenty of intense periods of iconoclasm in Christian history where blood has flowed over the issue of representing God and Christ and the saints.

But more importantly, while it is perfectly reasonable for a religion to impose restraints about what can and can't be depicted on its adherents, it is not reasonable for them to impose those restraints on nonadherents. It is offensive to many Muslims and many Christians to see women walking around in short skirts and tank-tops: but while it is perfectly O.K. for a church or a mosque to say "if you want to come in to this sacred building you have to adhere to our dress codes" it is not O.K. for any member of those faiths to dictate what female nonbelievers wear in their everyday lives.
posted by yoink at 11:12 AM on January 7, 2015 [13 favorites]


Satire would be eating flesh

Actually, that would literally be sarcasm.
posted by yoink at 11:14 AM on January 7, 2015 [13 favorites]


> Unsurprising but no less depressing: while #JeSuisCharlie is currently trending at the top on Twitter, #KillAllMuslims is not too far behind it.

Both hashtags are cheap to type, and a bit more pricy to back up with action. Action will not be forthcoming, for the most part, in either direction.
posted by Sunburnt at 11:14 AM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


Um, so? They were reproduced all over the place.

They should not have reproduced those cartoons, which were hate speech.
posted by colie at 11:14 AM on January 7, 2015


I'm going to copy one of the Arab feminists I follow on Twitter's timeline, re: the awful things being said to her and if you will look carefully at the right, you will see worldwide trending hashtags.

Then I am out because I knew this thread would be heartbreaking and at turns mean-spirited, but I cannot deal with people being awful today. I just can't.
posted by Kitteh at 11:18 AM on January 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


They should not have reproduced those cartoons, which were hate speech.

Do you really want to be doubling down on this issue when you've just revealed you know so little about Charlie Hebdo that you thought they were the magazine that created those cartoons? I mean, leaving aside the rights and wrongs of reprinting those cartoons a decade ago, if your go-to example of why-Charlie-Hebdo-deserved-what-they-got is work they didn't even create you should really be asking yourself what you're trying to achieve in this thread.
posted by yoink at 11:20 AM on January 7, 2015 [36 favorites]


You can't "misuse" something that's sacred. First of all, that's circular logic. I'm not Muslim, nothing in Islam is sacred to me.

But it IS to the Muslims, so they would have a different opinion of whether you've misused something than you would have.

NOW do you get it?

But more importantly, while it is perfectly reasonable for a religion to impose restraints about what can and can't be depicted on its adherents, it is not reasonable for them to impose those restraints on nonadherents.

I agree with you there; I was speaking more to the sort of "pffft, so we drew a nasty picture of Mohammed, what babies" kind of attitude I've seen. While I agree that the non-adherants of a religion shouldn't be expected to be held to the same code of conduct, conversely it strikes me that the non-adherant of a religion flaunting a transgression of that code of conduct, just to get someone pissed off, isn't such a great thing to do either - and maybe understanding that would help the bystander who is wondering "why are they so bent out of shape over that? It's just a cracker/picture/[insert specific act here]".

Reiterating, though, that I think we can ALL agree that none of this is a justification for murder.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:20 AM on January 7, 2015 [8 favorites]


Berend: "@Legomancer: reading what you write about Charlie Hebdo ("what they were publishing was not pointed satire but outright racist caricature"), I wonder if you ever read their magazine or even saw the cartoons the outrage started over. Did you see the link to Vox @mareli provided? Are those cartoons "outright racist caricature" to you"

Charlie Hebdo republished the Danish Muhammad cartoons, several of which are, yes, outright racist caricature. You can read descriptions and explanations of them here.

And people bringing up Mon Beauf: That cartoon was created in the 60s. It was probably easier for the cartoonists to rail against racist, xenophobic, conservative French society back when they were young radicals themselves. It has little bearing on what Charlie Hebdo represents today.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 11:24 AM on January 7, 2015 [8 favorites]


#JeSuisCharlie

Jesus is Charlie? That's certainly a new spin on It's Always Sunny.
posted by Sangermaine at 11:25 AM on January 7, 2015 [5 favorites]




But it IS to the Muslims, so they would have a different opinion of whether you've misused something than you would have.

The point is it doesn't matter what they think. It's no different for Muslims than it is for Catholics or whatever other religious group you care to mention.
posted by Fidel Cashflow at 11:26 AM on January 7, 2015 [14 favorites]


It would be so easy for Islamists to rob the mocking infidel of this power to outrage them. All they'd have to do is shrug and say "my religion says I may not make any representations of the Prophet. It says nothing about what infidels may do." Or they could say "that is not a representation of the Prophet, because you do not know the Prophet. That is a meaningless scribble." But my guess is that the seriously militant Islamists don't actually want it to stop, because it's useful.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:27 AM on January 7, 2015 [20 favorites]


You can't "misuse" something that's sacred. First of all, that's circular logic. I'm not Muslim, nothing in Islam is sacred to me.

But it IS to the Muslims, so they would have a different opinion of whether you've misused something than you would have.

NOW do you get it?


This isn't an issue of "getting it". I disagreed, and I still disagree. Satire- almost by definition mocks- something someone things is too sacred, important, etc to be mocked.

In fact, "you shouldn't get bent out of shape by us mocking something that is sacred to you" or even " you shouldn't hold this to be sacred" may very well be the point of a particular piece of satire.
posted by spaltavian at 11:27 AM on January 7, 2015 [15 favorites]


if your go-to example of why-Charlie-Hebdo-deserved-what-they-got is work they didn't even create you should really be asking yourself what you're trying to achieve in this thread.

The cartoons were hate speech; the magazine is not left-wing; I don't have to be an expert on third-rate satire to comment here. RIP to these poor people horribly murdered.
posted by colie at 11:27 AM on January 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


chavenet: "What can't be known, though, is how admirable Norwegian values would have handled it if Breivik had been an immigrant, a Muslim, a member of Al-Qaeda or something other than a white male born-and-bred Norwegian."

As a Norwegian, I've also pondered that. And while I think the reaction would have been better than it would have been in most countries, it sure as hell would not have been as nice as it was this time.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 11:27 AM on January 7, 2015 [6 favorites]


Frowner, let's be less vague in talking about the history of the French left. What party was resolutely, presciently, against holding onto the colonies, and defied racism before it was fashionable to do so? The communists. Which party is least likely to carve out exemptions for religious quibbles? The communists. They have persistently held the feet of French people to the fire on issues of equality where others were ok with leaving things as they were. To tax them with intolerance and veiled racism seems a bit much.
posted by homerica at 11:27 AM on January 7, 2015 [9 favorites]


But it IS to the Muslims,

I get that. And, yes, it's a jerky thing to do to mock people's closely held beliefs. You are perfectly free to think less of someone for doing so. But it is neither hate speech nor a crime to do so.
posted by empath at 11:31 AM on January 7, 2015 [12 favorites]


Never has silenced all my life come to have such meaning.
posted by infini at 11:32 AM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


from the Ted Rall article

I heard NPR’s Eleanor Beardsley call Charlie Hebdo “gross” and “in poor taste.” (I should certainly hope so! If it’s in good taste, it ain’t funny.) It was a hell of a thing to say, not to mention not true, while the bodies of dead journalists were still warm.

NPR in the last 10 years is the perfect embodiment of Democratic ideals move further to the center to placate the Republicans move to the right. The constant nothingness they straddle on the political front is an embarrassment.
posted by any major dude at 11:32 AM on January 7, 2015 [19 favorites]


This isn't an issue of "getting it". I disagreed, and I still disagree. Satire- almost by definition mocks- something someone things is too sacred, important, etc to be mocked. In fact, "you shouldn't get bent out of shape by us mocking something that is sacred to you" or even " you shouldn't hold this to be sacred" may very well be the point of a particular piece of satire.

Do you at least acknowledge that there would be a degree of difference in magnitude of potential-offensiveness-to-a-believer between a work of satire that simply mocks something, and a work of satire that actually USES the thing it is attempting to mock in some fashion?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:32 AM on January 7, 2015


Gotta say the one where they're making out with Mohammed is kinda funny tho'.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:33 AM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


It doesn't really matter what the offended person is offended by. It's all happening inside their head. People get offended by all kinds of stupid shit, and the only person in control of it is them.
posted by empath at 11:33 AM on January 7, 2015 [27 favorites]


.
posted by buzzman at 11:33 AM on January 7, 2015


There's a video going round of somebody at a protest ripping up a Koran. Anger really needs to be directed against the extremists and for the freedom of speech, not against Islam as a whole.
posted by Thing at 11:34 AM on January 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


Buzzfeed's tribute
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:35 AM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


.

Frowner, Thank you for putting in words my thoughts about Charlie. I've been quite uncomfortable with their stance on Islam, but they are also very familiar figures to me, some of them in the personal sense as friends of friends, but also as people I've read and enjoyed for many years. I feel devastated - both on a personal/emotional level, but also because I know nothing good will come out of this. It's just horrible at so many levels...
posted by motdiem2 at 11:36 AM on January 7, 2015 [6 favorites]


I think the ridiculous over-reaction to depictions of mohammed is actually itself based on a misunderstanding of the purpose of the ban on images to begin with. The whole point of the ban was to prevent people from worshiping idols. They didn't want people parading around statues of mohammed or god and praying to them the way that Arabs had in their pre-Muslim pagan past, or the way that Christians did with their crosses and icons and relics of saints. The point was that the physical forms were *not* sacred. I think someone creating profane depictions of the prophet is probably being truer to Islam than those who are offended by them.
posted by empath at 11:37 AM on January 7, 2015 [33 favorites]


is actually itself based on a misunderstanding of the purpose of the ban on images to begin with

It's kinda tricky business to try and tell people what aspects of their faith they're basing on a misunderstanding
posted by Hoopo at 11:39 AM on January 7, 2015 [6 favorites]


the non-adherant of a religion flaunting a transgression of that code of conduct, just to get someone pissed off, isn't such a great thing to do either - and maybe understanding that would help the bystander who is wondering "why are they so bent out of shape over that?

Very true. The cartoons I've seen from CH today have been simply puerile rather than challenging.
posted by colie at 11:39 AM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


between a work of satire that simply mocks something, and a work of satire that actually USES the thing it is attempting to mock

I can see how one particular set of words can be more offensive than another, and I can see one particular tenet of a religion may be more sensitive to a follower than another. I do not see how any set of words "uses" any part of a religion.

Your wafer example above is an actual physical event that forced people to participate in something without their knowledge or consent. So would, say, throwing paint on the black stone: that actually destroys or damages a holy object. That would be "using" a religious thing to make a point.

Are you talking about misrepresenting a religion? I mean, I can see how the Protocols of the Elders of Zion would be more offensive, but I'm not going to call that work "satire". That's propaganda.
posted by spaltavian at 11:42 AM on January 7, 2015


I was speaking more to the sort of "pffft, so we drew a nasty picture of Mohammed, what babies" kind of attitude I've seen. While I agree that the non-adherants of a religion shouldn't be expected to be held to the same code of conduct, conversely it strikes me that the non-adherant of a religion flaunting a transgression of that code of conduct, just to get someone pissed off, isn't such a great thing to do either - and maybe understanding that would help the bystander who is wondering "why are they so bent out of shape over that? It's just a cracker/picture/[insert specific act here]".

If someone were to say "I'd appreciate if you wouldn't mock my religious beliefs, as it offends me", the polite thing to do would be to honor that request. If someone says "mock my religious beliefs and I will murder you", then mocking those beliefs becomes an act of moral courage.
posted by seymourScagnetti at 11:42 AM on January 7, 2015 [33 favorites]


mocking those beliefs becomes an act of moral courage.

That is true, but doesn't make the mockery less hurtful to those who didn't make any threats.

Maybe another analogy (maybe a bad one) is: "Mock fat people and I will murder you". Shouldn't you then mock the murderer-threateners for being assholes rather than for being fat? Otherwise its just a bunch of innocent fat people getting mocked.

This is a tricky issue. Painting bright lines between sides on this issue seems like a bad idea.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:49 AM on January 7, 2015 [9 favorites]


The polite thing for the first fellow to do would be to silently acknowledge to himself that he shouldn't expect others to consider his sacred beliefs unmockable.
posted by the bricabrac man at 11:49 AM on January 7, 2015 [10 favorites]




Internal CNN memo: 'We are not at this time showing the Charlie Hebdo cartoons'

Well why in the fuck not? Again, I don't like these cartoons much but since you're already going ahead and running with footage of a cop getting shot all day, what's your issue here?

CNN, man.
posted by Hoopo at 11:53 AM on January 7, 2015 [18 favorites]


It's kinda tricky business to try and tell people what aspects of their faith they're basing on a misunderstanding

I think most Muslims understand the reason for the ban on images of Muhammed (and really all people). It's not exactly an obscure theological topic. Only fundamentalist morons like these shooters are grossly offended by it, for all the wrong reasons.
posted by empath at 11:54 AM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]




If someone were to say "I'd appreciate if you wouldn't mock my religious beliefs, as it offends me", the polite thing to do would be to honor that request. If someone says "mock my religious beliefs and I will murder you", then mocking those beliefs becomes an act of moral courage.

And re-stating that murder is unacceptable no matter what anyone's said about your religion.

But I also don't share your optimism that a polite "I'd appreciate if you wouldn't mock my religious beliefs, as it offends me" would be sufficient to make the satirists comply - it's more likely that the satirists would laugh that politesse off as prudery.

And I'm also not sure that mocking beliefs under the threat of murder is universally a sign of moral courage - it could also be a sign of ignorance, false bravado, or just plain cussedness.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:54 AM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


@jessicaelgot: #thepenismightier #jesuischarlie
posted by Golden Eternity at 11:55 AM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


But I also don't share your optimism that a polite "I'd appreciate if you wouldn't mock my religious beliefs, as it offends me" would be sufficient to make the satirists comply - it's more likely that the satirists would laugh that politesse off as prudery.

What else besides religion should be off-limits for satirists?
posted by Fidel Cashflow at 11:56 AM on January 7, 2015 [27 favorites]


The polite thing for the first fellow to do would be to silently acknowledge to himself that he shouldn't expect others to consider his sacred beliefs unmockable.

And the polite thing for the second fellow to do would be to second-guess whether, just because he CAN do something, whether he SHOULD.

Your wafer example above is an actual physical event that forced people to participate in something without their knowledge or consent. So would, say, throwing paint on the black stone: that actually destroys or damages a holy object. That would be "using" a religious thing to make a point.

And so would drawing a picture of Mohammed, in the eyes of some. I'll admit that I now know that not everyone in Islam agrees, but it IS a thing in the eyes of some, certainly.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:57 AM on January 7, 2015


What else besides religion should be off-limits for satirists?

Don't be obtuse.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:58 AM on January 7, 2015 [6 favorites]


The cartoons were hate speech;

If you have formed that opinion then I assume you've seen them. If you saw them then I assume you chose to look at them to find out what the fuss was about. If you did that then you must, presumably, be grateful to whatever publication you looked at so as to be able to form your opinions of the cartoon. So why the double standard with regard to Charlie Hebdo?
posted by yoink at 11:59 AM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


Don't be obtuse.

What's obtuse is putting arbitrary restrictions on speech for certain categories of people.
posted by Fidel Cashflow at 11:59 AM on January 7, 2015 [17 favorites]


And so would drawing a picture of Mohammed, in the eyes of some. I'll admit that I now know that not everyone in Islam agrees, but it IS a thing in the eyes of some, certainly.

You seem to be incapable of making a distinction between words and ideas and actual physical objects and people.
posted by empath at 12:00 PM on January 7, 2015 [6 favorites]


Don't be obtuse.

So what, exactly, is your point, EmpressCallipygos? If you're not saying that satirists shouldn't monkey with things that certain adherents of certain religions hold sacred, out of respect for their beliefs, what are you saying? If it's simply that they should be aware that it will piss certain people off then surely the CH guys can't be accused of failing to be aware of that.
posted by yoink at 12:02 PM on January 7, 2015 [22 favorites]


.
posted by cazoo at 12:02 PM on January 7, 2015


All this talk of offensiveness and politeness and etiquette is just bizarre to me. I understand that no one is saying the victims deserved it, but I don't care if they literally printed COME AT ME, BRO. Extremists gonna extreme - if it wasn't cartoons it would be something else. There is no placating them by tiptoeing around their sensibilities.
posted by desjardins at 12:03 PM on January 7, 2015 [41 favorites]


.
posted by marimeko at 12:03 PM on January 7, 2015


So what, exactly, is your point, EmpressCallipygos? If you're not saying that satirists shouldn't monkey with things that certain adherents of certain religions hold sacred, out of respect for their beliefs, what are you saying? If it's simply that they should be aware that it will piss certain people off then surely the CH guys can't be accused of failing to be aware of that.

I am saying that we, the bystanders, should not fall into the rapidly growing trend to miscategorize Muslims as being too sensitive to handle nasty cartoons, the way the Onion and other markets have done, because there is far too much fucking intolerance in the world as it is.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:06 PM on January 7, 2015 [9 favorites]


And I'm also not sure that mocking beliefs under the threat of murder is universally a sign of moral courage - it could also be a sign of ignorance, false bravado, or just plain cussedness.

The distinction has more to do with one's perspective than the quality of the satire itself.

Count me among those profoundly shocked by all the instances of "Terrible tragedy; but..." in this thread, implicitly condoning violence and murder because of the transgressive nature of the satire.
posted by aught at 12:07 PM on January 7, 2015 [15 favorites]


But I also don't share your optimism that a polite "I'd appreciate if you wouldn't mock my religious beliefs, as it offends me" would be sufficient to make the satirists comply - it's more likely that the satirists would laugh it that politesse off as prudery.

And I'm also not sure that mocking beliefs under the threat of murder is universally a sign of moral courage - it could also be a sign of ignorance, false bravado, or just plain cussedness.


No, of course it wouldn't. And that makes them impolite, which they have every right to be in a free society. And if Charlie hasn't demonstrated moral courage, then moral courage doesn't exist. They received death threats, and they continued to publish offensive cartoons. Their offices were firebombed and they continued to publish offensive cartoons. Today, many of them paid with their lives for their right, as well as yours and mine, to say whatever the hell they damn well pleased. To quote the article by former Onion editor Joe Randazzo: "this was what an actual attack on freedom looks like."
posted by seymourScagnetti at 12:09 PM on January 7, 2015 [32 favorites]


Count me among those profoundly shocked by all the instances of "Terrible tragedy; but..." in this thread, implicitly condoning violence and murder because of the transgressive nature of the satire.

And since my repeated statements in-thread that "none of this should be considered any justification for murder no matter what" are clearly being flat-out ignored, I'll jog on.

Hurrah for free speech having pushed me out of a conversation.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:10 PM on January 7, 2015 [7 favorites]


A bit more context on CH as left-wing, courtesy of this 2013 English-language rightist blog post.

The author includes a cite from Wikipedia in which Charb is quoted embracing a leftist identity ('According to its editor, Charb, the magazine's editorial viewpoint reflects "all components of left wing pluralism, and even abstainers".') and then reprints an English translation of a piece by Charb which calls for the dissolution of the FN on French constitutional grounds. The author is displeased by this.
posted by mwhybark at 12:10 PM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Hitchens! thou shouldst be living at this hour:
Mefi hath need of thee

The case for mocking religion, republished:
Islam makes very large claims for itself. In its art, there is a prejudice against representing the human form at all. The prohibition on picturing the prophet—who was only another male mammal—is apparently absolute. So is the prohibition on pork or alcohol or, in some Muslim societies, music or dancing. Very well then, let a good Muslim abstain rigorously from all these. But if he claims the right to make me abstain as well, he offers the clearest possible warning and proof of an aggressive intent. This current uneasy coexistence is only an interlude, he seems to say. For the moment, all I can do is claim to possess absolute truth and demand absolute immunity from criticism. But in the future, you will do what I say and you will do it on pain of death.

I refuse to be spoken to in that tone of voice, which as it happens I chance to find "offensive." (By the way, hasn't the word "offensive" become really offensive lately?) The innate human revulsion against desecration is much older than any monotheism: Its most powerful expression is in the Antigone of Sophocles. It belongs to civilization. I am not asking for the right to slaughter a pig in a synagogue or mosque or to relieve myself on a "holy" book. But I will not be told I can't eat pork, and I will not respect those who burn books on a regular basis. I, too, have strong convictions and beliefs and value the Enlightenment above any priesthood or any sacred fetish-object.
posted by pw201 at 12:12 PM on January 7, 2015 [52 favorites]


I am saying that we, the bystanders, should not fall into the rapidly growing trend to miscategorize Muslims as being too sensitive to handle nasty cartoons

Is anyone in this thread saying "Muslims, in general, are too sensitive to handle nasty cartoons"?

I mean, I think you're actually coming closest to making that claim by saying "but jeez, guys, just think how upsetting it must be to see your sacred emblems mocked!" You're suggesting that that really is the motive for this attack. That somehow the guys who perpetrated this horror were just pretty much regular muslims pushed that little bit over the edge by the appalling nature of these cartoons. But that's not at all the case. The vast majority of the world's muslims weren't aware that Charlie Hebdo existed and couldn't give a damn that it did. The most extreme action likely to be taken of the small number who were aware of the magazine was to write a sternly worded letter to the editor.

The people who carried out this attack were choosing CH as a convenient symbol in a war that for them is a world-encompassing clash of civilizations. They're not sitting around going "you know, the West is by and large pretty cool and all but Oh my God have you seen this cartoon of the prophet!!!!" and suddenly being pushed into picking up a gun.

I think your motives are entirely good, by the way, and I think you're genuinely trying to fight on the side of the angels here, but I also think you're inadvertently misreading the nature of the situation in ways that are ultimately unhelpful.
posted by yoink at 12:16 PM on January 7, 2015 [50 favorites]


implicitly condoning violence and murder because of the transgressive nature of the satire

I have yet to see a single post in this thread condoning violence or murder either implicitly or explicitly. Reading "this is a terrible thing that happened, but that doesn't make the cartoons that instigated it less grody" isn't an implicit (or explicit) approval of murder and violence. It's being capable of holding the dual idea that

(a) the cartoons, in the first place, could be read as horribly racist caricatures, down-punching a wide group of people, most of whom were not extremists, with great mean-spiritedness hiding behind a thin veil of "freedom of the press";

(b) murder and violence are wrong, wrong, wrong, regardless of what the rationale given for the murder and violence is.

(a) does not excuse (b).

The point is being made, repeatedly, that one possible negative outcome of this is (a) being held up as acceptable discourse because it resulted in (b).

People that don't want horrible racist caricatures that down-punch a wide group of people who are not extremists to become the norm for "satire" and the standard expression of"freedom of speech" because of this are trying to express that.

Saying that is not victim-blaming.

Nobody is saying that Charlie Hebdo is at fault here.

You can disagree about whether or not the cartoons are racist, or down-punching, or about whether or not they're legitimately offensive, but reading "I don't like the tone, nature and spirit of this work, and I hope it doesn't become the flag-bearing standard of 'freedom of expression' moving forward" as "I blame the victims and condone murder and violence" is a very shallow reading of what people are trying to express.
posted by Shepherd at 12:18 PM on January 7, 2015 [49 favorites]


The part of the video where they casually shoot a fallen man before they escape is absolutely chilling. I'm heartbroken and I hate the xenophobia such attacks always unleash.

.
posted by ersatz at 12:18 PM on January 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


Frowner, let's be less vague in talking about the history of the French left. What party was resolutely, presciently, against holding onto the colonies, and defied racism before it was fashionable to do so? The communists. Which party is least likely to carve out exemptions for religious quibbles? The communists. They have persistently held the feet of French people to the fire on issues of equality where others were ok with leaving things as they were. To tax them with intolerance and veiled racism seems a bit much.

I admit, since the 90s, the French CP is a lot better than it was - but it was the French CP who acted - as far as they could - against the students and workers in 1968; it was the French CP which was actively against both feminism and homosexuality through the 1970s and mid eighties; it was the French CP which was anti-immigrant in the seventies and eighties. I assume, in fact, that the "turn" of the nineties was less about a change in old school French communists than about the party's tremendous decline in numbers and substantial decline in influence. I seem to run across news items every so often which suggest that the party still has enough die-hard anti-Muslim members like Andre Guerin to make trouble. And in terms of the colonies, the FCP was weirdly equivocal, did not come out against torture in Algeria and made up to the state for nominally strategic reasons. The party was issuing apologetics for the USSR through the early nineties.

This seems to me to be the result of the FCP being a truly mass party which really did organize a very broad range of white French working class men, and thus had more to lose, more factional struggle (hence internal struggle about Algeria) and more need to strategize to keep the power it had. In terms of 1968, this seemed to be about fearing loss of FCP control in the factories more than they wanted to act against De Gaulle; in terms of the racism, anti-feminism and homophobia, this seems fairly common for parties with a white working class male base. (And as the party's base has changed, its character has changed.)

It's not to specifically critique the FCP - it's that from in US context (precisely because we don't have a history of mass left parties and most people have almost no awareness of platformist CP politics in the US) that I think it's harder for us to understand that the FCP is not a far left party and has often held rather socially conservative positions. There is nothing analogous to the FCP in the US, no analogy at all for its mixture of communist economic policy, intermittent social conservatism. For me, when reading about French intellectual history, it's been really helpful to have some of this spelled out, because otherwise I tend to read US-style assumptions about left social formations onto France. To bring it back to the matter at hand, you would not have a left US paper like Charlie Hebdo - it wouldn't be nearly as far to the left on many matters, and it would not deal with Islam as CH has.

posted by Frowner at 12:19 PM on January 7, 2015 [24 favorites]


Hurrah for free speech having pushed me out of a conversation.

It's pretty lame that you're implying people are silencing you rather than just disagreeing with you.
posted by Fidel Cashflow at 12:20 PM on January 7, 2015 [64 favorites]


And since my repeated statements in-thread that "none of this should be considered any justification for murder no matter what" are clearly being flat-out ignored, I'll jog on.

Well, one of the most valuable lessons I learned for handling disagreements with partners and friends is NEVER to follow a statement/concession with a "but" clause - to do so is essentially to retract what you previously said.
posted by aught at 12:21 PM on January 7, 2015 [12 favorites]


An email to the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain (screenshot; partial transcription follows)
As an agnostic humanist and an Exmuslim I feel sick today. Sick with horror and repulsed by what happened in Paris. Sick of the response of some still in denial about the issues we face, who would rather apologise for this menacing belief, and betray those who criticise it, than honestly look it in the eye....

I feel sick for the innocent Muslims who may be subject to abuse because of this, and held to be collectively guilty....

I just hope that wise heads prevail, that Muslims and non Muslims seriously introspect, and that people in France and Britain have a conversation about the issues now, a conversation with words, without any violence.
posted by audi alteram partem at 12:24 PM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Has any known organization taken responsibility for it? Because right now it's just guys with masks who also added the additional provocation of murdering a surrendering policeman who was not presumptively a blasphemer.

I don't want to be one of those assholes who yells "false flag", but right now it is unattributable, which at least suggests the possibility of particularly murderous shit-stirrers.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:27 PM on January 7, 2015


@L0gg0l: "French police has apparently identified Paris attackers: Said Kouachi, Sherif Kouachi and Hamid Mourad ”
posted by Golden Eternity at 12:27 PM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


It's pretty lame that you're implying people are silencing you rather than just disagreeing with you.

Repeatedly leveling false accusations of confining murder at people is in fact kind if a shitty and assholish thing to do and does rather tend to cause people to wander on.
posted by Artw at 12:27 PM on January 7, 2015 [8 favorites]


Frowner...but they are also very familiar figures to me, some of them in the personal sense as friends of friends, but also as people I've read and enjoyed for many years. I feel devastated - both on a personal/emotional level, but also because I know nothing good will come out of this. It's just horrible at so many levels...

I know this thread is getting pretty fraught, but I did want to say that I am as distressed by this as someone removed from it can be, and I'm sorry about the many kinds of loss that people are feeling. It's awful

I think this kind of thread gets this way because no one really knows what to do - something so big has gone wrong and something so bad has happened, and it can't be fixed.
posted by Frowner at 12:28 PM on January 7, 2015 [15 favorites]


Hurrah for free speech having pushed me out of a conversation.

are. you. serious.

No one has pushed you out, just disagreed with you, sometimes strongly. I believe your sentiments are wrong. The solution to combating extremism isn't more tolerance of extremist ideologies. Now you can disagree with me. I cannot allow or disallow that, because I am not you and I am not a moderator.
posted by desjardins at 12:29 PM on January 7, 2015 [32 favorites]


And since my repeated statements in-thread that "none of this should be considered any justification for murder no matter what" are clearly being flat-out ignored, I'll jog on.

If you felt the need to add disclaimers to your comments you probably already knew where they would lead. Disclaimers or no there's quite a bit of thinly veiled victim blaming in this thread.
posted by MikeMc at 12:31 PM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]




people are all, "hey, here's a nasty picture of Jesus and ain't no one gonna shoot us for it." And that's as may be, but as Christianity doesn't have any kind of rule in place prohibiting people from making ANY picture of Jesus, it's also a false equivalence.
One, this is not necessarily the case. Have people forgotten the death threats against Martin Scorsese for "Last Temptation of Christ?"
Two, no matter what the rule for Muslims is, it doesn't apply in a country that's not a theocracy. If some religion banned eating oranges, that doesn't make it in anyway defensible for the adherents of that religion to kill anyone who was caught eating an orange.


There's satire which mocks religion - and then there's satire which mocks religion by mis-using a sacred part of that religion, and the two are not equivalent.
This is a distiction without a difference. If I mocked Passover in a cartoon and it showed someone eating yeast-based bread, it would be missing the point of Passover, but that's not likely the issue that the cartoon would be concerned with.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 12:33 PM on January 7, 2015 [5 favorites]






I'm sorry, but blasphemy is not a crime in most western nations, nor should it be.
Interestingly, it is illegal in Denmark where the Mohammed cartoons originated.
posted by brokkr at 12:38 PM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


[If you want to complain about moderation, you can write to us or take it to metatalk; posting a complaint about having a previous comment deleted and expecting that to stay around is unreasonable.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:46 PM on January 7, 2015


"I'm seeing a lot of cartoons along this line on twitter and they kind of bother me. It makes the implication that the motivation of fascist jihadist mass murderers has something to do with the motivations of average people fighting against racism and bigotry. "

The thing is, though, that the extremists recruit as explicitly addressing those concerns by restoring the dignity and power of disenfranchised young men. It's a bait and switch, but it's an effective one and an attractive one if you feel like all other avenues of ending disrespect and impotence are closed to you.

I think it's worth making fun of that contradiction between ostensibly noble goals and the nihilistic idiocy used by these groups in their pursuit.
posted by klangklangston at 12:47 PM on January 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


Ireland has laws against blasphemy as well.

And -- digging through my memory here -- but in reading The Tyranny of Silence (outstanding book about the Mohammed Cartoons, btw), there was mention of anti-blasphemy motions being pushed through in the UN by Muslim nations, via the Human Rights Council.
posted by gsh at 12:47 PM on January 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


What depresses me is that this sort of action, though tragic, seems just more and more normalised.

Thats the frightening part.
posted by Middlemarch at 12:50 PM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]




Two of the killers are brothers born in the 10th arrondisement in Paris (Charlie Hebdo's office is in the 11th), the third is a teenager of unknown nationality. Not at all what I had assumed.
posted by Flashman at 12:51 PM on January 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


>great mean-spiritedness hiding behind a thin veil of "freedom of the press";

The freedom of the press is not a thin veil, no matter where you hang it. If freedom of speech doesn't include the freedom to say things that some people will find distasteful, then we are all in a great deal of trouble.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 12:52 PM on January 7, 2015 [16 favorites]


………..

Going home from work, I saw people gathering in front of the French Embassy here, and decided to look up what had happened. My roommate told me before I even opened the computer. He is scared of Muslim immigrants and expressed his fear that we are next.

So now, I am curled up in a little ball in the corner of the kitchen, crying for the victims and their families. I hate this escalation of violence and fear.
This morning, I looked at the reviews and comments about the Houllebec-book, which was caricatured in the latest issue of Charlie Hebdo, and went to work thinking about how we can change the discourse about Europe and it's future from one based on fear and ignorance to one based on hope and knowledge.
With this terrible hate-crime, reason has no argument.

Those terrorists are banking on our fear. And so are the hate mongers, politicians and activists who are going to use this crime for it's every last drop of hate. The terrorists certainly know what they are doing: by attacking Charlie Hebdo rather than Marine le Pen, they are confusing us, their real enemies. Those of us who stand up for our Muslim neighbors and resent the racist right.

In my view, Charlie Hebdo sometimes confused the fight against the alliance between Christianity and Conservatism back in the day with the rise of Islam among immigrants into the EU. There is no way Islam will be a powerful force in Europe for the next century, and if it was, it would be because people in Europe thought is should be. Which is not at all in any way likely. It is not reasonable to conflate the effect of a religion integrated with the dominant economic power with the religion of poor immigrants. To the contrary, this situation reminds me so much of the Europe Joseph Roth described in his journalism, linked by the man of twists and turns Monday.

Or, to turn it all around, for the point of view of Charlie Hebdo, and many other European freedom of speech activists: If you have spent your youth supporting your female/gay/trans friends against the Catholic Church, how can it be wrong to support women and gay Muslims against their religion? If you grew up admiring and listening to Martin Luther King, why can't you use the word Negro? If you supported Spanish activists during Franco, how can the Pope suddenly be a voice of progress? Well it can, because the world is changing.

A young woman wearing a scarf can be suppressed, just like your Christian great-grandmother was. But she can also be a political activist who is fighting on your side of the barricade for equal rights and better daycare. You'll only know if you ask, and engage.

What happened today will make it much more difficult to engage, to listen and to hope.
posted by mumimor at 12:54 PM on January 7, 2015 [36 favorites]


The point is being made, repeatedly, that one possible negative outcome of this is (a) being held up as acceptable discourse because it resulted in (b).

I don't think anyone is proclaiming it was 'acceptable' because someone murdered them over it. The people that think it was acceptable speech most likely thing that it was, whether or not there were negative consequences for making it.

I guess it depends on what you mean by 'acceptable'. If you mean 'legally allowed', then it should have been both before and afterwards. If by 'acceptable', you mean 'laudable' or 'agreed with' or 'encouraged', then that's a different question and up to some debate by reasonable people.
posted by empath at 12:56 PM on January 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


Two of the killers are brothers born in the 10th arrondisement in Paris (Charlie Hebdo's office is in the 11th), the third is a teenager of unknown nationality. Not at all what I had assumed.

I hope for everyone's sakes that the names and identities given in that piece are actually correct.
posted by yoink at 12:57 PM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


"If one way of stopping obscenities like today is providing the security services a bit more access to our e-mails, we must give it to them. If it means internet providers handing over their records, the records must be handed over. If it means newspapers showing restraint the next time an Edward Snowden knocks on their door, then restraint will have to be shown. Because look who came knocking at the door today. "

Comments like this - and the inevitable government capitalization on the sentiment behind them - always have me struggling in the wake of events like this to keep the volume up on the rational part of my brain and drown out the little voice saying: "false flag, false flag, false flag ..."
posted by ryanshepard at 12:58 PM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


delfin: "Every two years, religious extremists of all denominations will send their best and brightest to a global summit at which they will compete in various events such as ..."

Lighting bulls on fire...

Elijah tried it. Baal was too busy taking a shit, apparently:
22 Then Elijah said to the people, “I, even I only, am left a prophet of the Lord, but Baal’s prophets are 450 men.

23 Let two bulls be given to us, and let them choose one bull for themselves and cut it in pieces and lay it on the wood, but put no fire to it. And I will prepare the other bull and lay it on the wood and put no fire to it.

24 And you call upon the name of your god, and I will call upon the name of the Lord, and the God who answers by fire, he is God.” And all the people answered, “It is well spoken.”

25 Then Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “Choose for yourselves one bull and prepare it first, for you are many, and call upon the name of your god, but put no fire to it.”

26 And they took the bull that was given them, and they prepared it and called upon the name of Baal from morning until noon, saying, “O Baal, answer us!” But there was no voice, and no one answered. And they limped around the altar that they had made.

27 And at noon Elijah mocked them, saying, “Cry aloud, for he is a god. Either he is musing, or he is relieving himself, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened.”
I mean absolutely no disrespect for the people who were killed today, or their families, but I really just don't know how I feel about this. I mean, the murders, they are 100% absolutely wrong, and of course, if choosing between satire or murder, obviously "satire" is the "lesser 'evil'" (or rather, "lesser 'being a dick'"). Looking up thread (as I type, there's already "155 new comments" so I'm sure more has been said), but I agree with the commenters who both disagree with the killings but aren't comfortable with what Charlie Hebdo was doing.

My own reasons are two-fold. Primarily, it's an issue of power. I can't remember where I read it, but I think it was in the context of "rape jokes" (and that dickhead Tosh... speaking of dicks), and someone said that good, satirical comedy should "punch up". Otherwise it's just bullying.

Of course in one context it's punching "up" at people who would repress women and literally enslave people, and use their power to behead people and condemn them to death and brutally torture and execute them, but in another context it's punching down... You are attacking a large portion of the planets population and their sincere beliefs by doing this. That doesn't mean you can't. Of course you can, especially in a secular, "free speech" loving country (except, for you know, banning religious speech/expression (via, say, burqahs/niqabs, etc...)). But as I've said over and over in many of these discussions "Just because you can, doesn't mean you should."

Now - one could say that they were, in particular, attempting to target the bullies and thugs and extremists, those who would murder and kill people for publishing an image of Mohammed (not even just a cartoon mocking him, but a likeness of him)... But if that were the case, then why target the large easy target that means more to a lot more people than the extremists? Why not target the extremists by showing an image of their current leaders having gay sex or shoving dildos up their ass, as an example... Why target the founder of the religion as a whole, which includes many followers who are NOT extremists?

"Free Speech" of course it goes back to free speech.

And being a dick.

Too many fucking dicks in the world.
posted by symbioid at 1:00 PM on January 7, 2015 [14 favorites]


[I know the NAACP bombing is fucked up too, but it would probably be best for folks not to try and bring it into this thread; all good intentions aside it mostly reads as a "yeah, but..." sort of hijack.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:01 PM on January 7, 2015 [7 favorites]


Why target the founder of the religion as a whole, which includes many followers who are NOT extremists?

Why target anything? Because you're a satirist. That's what you do.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 1:03 PM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yeah but you are not doing great satire if you don't target well.
posted by Drinky Die at 1:06 PM on January 7, 2015 [8 favorites]


Yeah but you are not doing great satire if you don't target well.

The quality of the satire is completely irrelevant.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 1:07 PM on January 7, 2015 [10 favorites]


Why target anything? Because you're a satirist. That's what you do.

Similarly, I swing my foil around willy-nilly, not even even facing my opponent, because I'm a fencer, and that's what I do.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 1:07 PM on January 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


If freedom of speech doesn't include the freedom to say things that some people will find distasteful, then we are all in a great deal of trouble.

Harassment, threats, stalking, abuse, isolation and bullying in the virtual... arson and snipers IRL, yet there's a common thread somewhere here.
posted by infini at 1:08 PM on January 7, 2015


Similarly, I swing my foil around willy-nilly, not even even facing my opponent, because I'm a fencer, and that's what I do.

Don't be daft.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 1:08 PM on January 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


showing an image of their current leaders shoving dildos up their ass

Why did CH do this? What is the meaning of cartoons of people shoving dildos up their asses?
posted by colie at 1:09 PM on January 7, 2015


Charb's last, ominously/absurdly prescient cartoon, just published in today's issue.

Approximate translation: Still no terrorist attacks in France - "Wait! We've got til end of January to send our greetings!"
posted by progosk at 1:09 PM on January 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


If satirizing the world's second largest religion isn't "punching up," I'm not sure what is.
posted by kelborel at 1:10 PM on January 7, 2015 [21 favorites]


If you are in DC, there's going to be a support vigil in front of the Newseum building at 7 PM EST.

https://www.facebook.com/events/857291827625602/?pnref=story
posted by longdaysjourney at 1:10 PM on January 7, 2015


colie: I think you have misread.
posted by ODiV at 1:11 PM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yeah but you are not doing great satire if you don't target well.

The quality of the satire is completely irrelevant.


On the question of, "Do you deserve to be murdered?" Yes, irrelevent. On the question of, "Why target the founder of the religion as a whole, which includes many followers who are NOT extremists?" Relevant.
posted by Drinky Die at 1:11 PM on January 7, 2015 [7 favorites]


No, it isn't relevant. Just because you don't understand an artist's intent or reasoning, that doesn't make it bad.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 1:13 PM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


Why target the founder of the religion as a whole, which includes many followers who are NOT extremists?

He wasn't just a religious leader, he was a political leader, and a military leader, and if you can't satirize military and political leaders, then there's really no point to free speech, is there.
posted by empath at 1:13 PM on January 7, 2015 [23 favorites]


There is a big difference between saying "Those cartoons should not be published" and "Those cartoons can be published but we are all free to condemn them" Only the latter can happen in a society with freedom of speech.

I haven't read every word of this thread, but I didn't see any links to specific cartoons that people were calling racist? Only a lot of people saying that "Charlie Hebdo cartoons are racist"
posted by gwint at 1:13 PM on January 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


Why target the founder of the religion as a whole, which includes many followers who are NOT extremists?

So you can satirize a religion, just not it's founder, beliefs, anything that it deems sacred or anything that would affect it's non-violent followers.
posted by spaltavian at 1:17 PM on January 7, 2015 [19 favorites]


Yes - colie, I mean, showing people like Khaled Meshal or Bin Laden or al-Bagdadi or Abu Hamza or whoever the radical extremist jackoff of the day is. Pick on THOSE assholes, since they're the ones being assholes. They're the ones who are really dragging the Islamic world to the dark ages...

Not the majority of Muslims who probably don't appreciate Mohammed being depicted, but still decry these attacks today. Why create more discord and strife, is my point. If you really want to do good, find ways to show that you're better than the fuckers who are complete assholes. Being "less asshole" isn't particularly inspiring, ya know?

I'm not saying drawing an image of an orgy of the above listed radical Islamist leaders is necessary "less asshole" but it certainly hits "up" (against those who do the repression) instead of down (poor immigrants in Western Europe or Women in Afghanistan (or Saudi Arabia or other reactionary Muslim countries, for example).
posted by symbioid at 1:18 PM on January 7, 2015 [6 favorites]




Don't be daft.

Don't you be daft. Why target anything? Because your target, if you're worth being called a satirist, is bad, not because you're compelled to target something by virtue of being a satirist. So aim carefully.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 1:22 PM on January 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


No, it isn't relevant. Just because you don't understand an artist's intent or reasoning, that doesn't make it bad.

I'm not looking at what the intent actually was. We are talking about a hypothetical that presumes the goal was to mock extremists.

Now - one could say that they were, in particular, attempting to target the bullies and thugs and extremists, those who would murder and kill people for publishing an image of Mohammed (not even just a cartoon mocking him, but a likeness of him)... But if that were the case, then why target the large easy target that means more to a lot more people than the extremists? Why not target the extremists by showing an image of their current leaders having gay sex or shoving dildos up their ass, as an example... Why target the founder of the religion as a whole, which includes many followers who are NOT extremists?


If that is the intent but instead the satirist mocks the extremists along with the non-extremists then they have failed to convey the message they intended. That is not good satire, it is a failure of communication.

If the intent was to mock the religion itself, then the satirist is probably a dick to one degree or another.
posted by Drinky Die at 1:22 PM on January 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


If satirizing the world's second largest religion isn't "punching up," I'm not sure what is.

The context of Islam with regards to France (or the other way around) makes that calculation very, very different. There's a massive wave of anti-Islamic xenophobia coursing across Europe, and in some ways the problem is more intense in France.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:22 PM on January 7, 2015 [27 favorites]


(not just Europe, the world really, but I don't want to range too far afield)
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:23 PM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


If the intent was to mock the religion itself, then the satirist is probably a dick to one degree or another.

Or maybe they weren't. There are lots of people who pock and mock Christians. They don't get murdered for it anymore.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 1:24 PM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


but I didn't see any links to specific cartoons that people were calling racist

Well, here's one depicting the captured girls of Boko Haram in a less than flattering manner.
posted by Kitteh at 1:24 PM on January 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


empath: "Why target the founder of the religion as a whole, which includes many followers who are NOT extremists?

He wasn't just a religious leader, he was a political leader, and a military leader, and if you can't satirize military and political leaders, then there's really no point to free speech, is there.
"

No point to free speech if I can't satirize religious leaders, either. I'm not saying you can't. Do what you want. Fuck - I have a comic at home showing a guy shitting in someone's mouth saying "he (person whose mouth is being shat in) thinks I'm the Virgin Mary"... that's certainly mocking the hold of religion on a person's mind (and "way too much acid!")

But I'm also saying context matters. Just because, GLOBALLY, Muslims make up a billion+ members of the human population, doesn't mean they aren't a minority of people coming to your country. In fact, some may even be coming to flee precisely the persecution that you, in your satire, are decrying... So sure, go be a dick. I'm not saying you can't. You have every right. And killing people for speaking their mind is absolutely wrong.

I'm not questioning the RIGHT to do something, I'm questioning the WISDOM of doing something.
posted by symbioid at 1:24 PM on January 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


If the intent was to mock the religion itself, then the satirist is probably a dick to one degree or another.

Would you say this about someone who satirized capitalism or communism itself?
posted by spaltavian at 1:26 PM on January 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


I'm not questioning the RIGHT to do something, I'm questioning the WISDOM of doing something.

But your statement only makes sense in the context of "because it could get you killed."
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 1:26 PM on January 7, 2015 [15 favorites]


If the intent was to mock the religion itself, then the satirist is probably a dick to one degree or another.

It's okay to mock religion. It doesn't make you a dick for doing so. If we cannot mock religion, then what the hell is the point of free speech?
posted by Thing at 1:27 PM on January 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


I'm still reading through a lot of this but this stuck out to me from The Guardian. I can't imagine how awful she must feel. I feel for her. I wish i had a stronger word. I wish i could give her a hug.


6h ago10:25
Eyewitness account: 'They claimed to be al-Qaida'

Corinne Rey, a designer known as Coco, has told L’Humanité that she was forced to let the attackers into the Charlie Hebdo building. She said:

I had gone to pick up my daughter from daycare. Arriving at the door of the newspaper building, two hooded and armed men brutally threatened us.

They wanted to enter, go up. I typed the code. They shot Wolinski, Cabu ... it lasted five minutes ... I had taken refuge under a desk ...

They spoke French perfectly ... claiming to be al-Qaida.

posted by sio42 at 1:27 PM on January 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


So in a thread about the murder of three cartoonists, we're now having a debate over whether their satire was well-aimed?
posted by empath at 1:28 PM on January 7, 2015 [18 favorites]


So aim carefully.

I'm kind of shocked at the wording of this advice to satirists.
posted by ODiV at 1:28 PM on January 7, 2015 [12 favorites]


I realize that a lot of the massive trolling that takes place on MetaFilter involves people trying to isolate and assess the moral value of something without taking all the facts into account, on purpose, as some kind of borderline anti-social, intellectual "peacocking," in such a way that explaining all the facts to said person represents an unbearable chore.

I seriously do not give a flying fuck what your take is on civilian cartoonists that have dedicated their lives to the humiliation of foreign idolatry - these people did not deserve to be assassinated. It is not justified or understandable. Watering this down to a question of poor taste is fucking bullshit. Please, I'm begging you, get some fucking perspective.
posted by phaedon at 1:28 PM on January 7, 2015 [41 favorites]


If the intent was to mock the religion itself, then the satirist is probably a dick to one degree or another.

Or maybe they weren't. There are lots of people who pock and mock Christians. They don't get murdered for it anymore.


There are degrees of being a dick that fall short of being considered enough of a dick to justify murder. I would rate all "created satire" related dickishness in that grouping.
posted by Drinky Die at 1:29 PM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


There is a difference between blaming the victims and pointing out that what they were publishing was not pointed satire but outright racist caricature. Should they have died for it? Not at all. Did they have a right to publish it? Sure. They are the victims of this crime, full stop.

But that also doesn't make them Mark Twain or Salman Rushdie. They were not taking shots at the entrenched majority to the benefit of a voiceless minority. They were not putting a fine point of criticism on Islam as a way to start a discussion. They were basically punching down with the majority on a widely hated group using ugly, racist stereotypes.


I think turning up with guns and shooting 12 people dead is pretty much the definition of 'punching down' in the most dramatic way possible.

I just don't understand this thread.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 1:29 PM on January 7, 2015 [19 favorites]


So in a thread about the murder of three cartoonists, we're now having a debate over whether their satire was well-aimed?

That's right. If you want ZOMG Islamic fundamentalist killings are so so so bad, then you can get there ANYWHERE ELSE IN THE WESTERN MEDIA.
posted by colie at 1:30 PM on January 7, 2015 [7 favorites]


It is not justified or understandable.

I've read every comment in this thread and not one is suggesting either of those things.

these people did not deserve to be assassinated

There is no disagreement on this point in this thread.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:30 PM on January 7, 2015 [19 favorites]


They wanted to enter, go up. I typed the code.

Oh God. That poor woman. How do you not endlessly replay that moment over and over for the rest of your life?
posted by yoink at 1:30 PM on January 7, 2015 [16 favorites]


[This is a very fast-moving thread; if you are worried the mods missed something, more helpful to drop us a line about it at the contact form than to snark about it in thread.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:33 PM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


(I guess I should clarify one thing then take a break on this one. When I say "If the intent was to mock the religion itself, then the satirist is probably a dick to one degree or another," I should have made it clear I was still talking in context of conflating the Muslim population with extremists, not literally all religious satire.)
posted by Drinky Die at 1:34 PM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


I really hope she has access to a truly excellent counselor, yoink. She's a solid reminder that there are far more victims here than the bodies laying on the ground; families, friends, witnesses.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:35 PM on January 7, 2015 [10 favorites]


Well, here's one depicting the captured girls of Boko Haram in a less than flattering manner.

That is one of the shittest cartoons I have ever seen in my entire life. And it's on the front cover.
posted by colie at 1:35 PM on January 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


That mockery of the pain and trauma of still not found kidnapped young schoolgirls is dickish.

I agree that cover is wrong and hurtful as they're mocking specific people who are victims. But unless there is a context I don't know about, it doesn't even read as satire.
posted by Thing at 1:36 PM on January 7, 2015


Coco is a cartoonist herself, by the way, not a "designer" which seems to be a mistranslation of dessinatrice.
posted by brokkr at 1:36 PM on January 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


That is one of the shittest cartoons I have ever seen in my entire life. And it's on the front cover.

Should only tasteful satire be protected speech?
posted by Fidel Cashflow at 1:37 PM on January 7, 2015 [8 favorites]


I think that it's worth looking at the cartoon about the kidnapped girls that infini links above. It shows some of what is meant by "mocking religion" and I think it's not what a lot of mefites have in mind. I am not saying this because I think folks should change their minds about defending satire - I think "all satire even the horrible should be defended" is an intellectually consistent position even if it's not one I share - but it's worth looking at the cartoon. I get the sense that it's a style that is more accepted in Western Europe than here, but I found it very startling.
posted by Frowner at 1:38 PM on January 7, 2015 [14 favorites]


There is no disagreement on this point in this thread.

So we're in agreement that there is no "invisible line" when it comes to vile cartoons as it relates to whether or not they warrant a violent response. Great. Because I find the conversation attempting to determine whether this was "wise" very troubling. I'll just go ahead and make your points for you from now on, since your thing seems to be breaking my comments up into sentences and shutting them down one at a time.
posted by phaedon at 1:40 PM on January 7, 2015


But unless there is a context I don't know about, it doesn't even read as satire.

They're satirizing popular reaction to child benefit cuts with the suggestion that even Boko Haram's sex slaves don't want it messed with. When people call Charlie Hebdo 'scurrilous', this is the sort of thing they're talking about.
posted by topynate at 1:41 PM on January 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


That is one of the shittest cartoons I have ever seen in my entire life. And it's on the front cover.

Still, even A. Wyatt Mann doesn't deserve to die because of his drawings.
posted by ymgve at 1:41 PM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm kind of shocked at the wording of this advice to satirists.

I understand and apologize, both for my wording and for contributing to a pedantic derail objecting to one aspect of roomthreeseventeen's comment.

For the record: For a variety of reasons, I think the cartoons are bad satire, but the people who made them had every right to make them and the people who published them had every right to publish them. Today's killings are appalling and deeply horrible in themselves. They are not justified. That's my opinion.

.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 1:43 PM on January 7, 2015 [10 favorites]


So we're in agreement that there is no "invisible line" when it comes to vile cartoons as it relates to whether or not they warrant a violent response. Great. I'll just go ahead and make your points for you from now on, since your thing seems to be breaking my comments up into sentences and shutting them down one at a time.

You made a couple of statements that didn't seem to have any bearing on what actual people are saying here, so I responded to them. I am sorry that the manner of my response offended you.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:43 PM on January 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


When people call Charlie Hebdo 'scurrilous', this is the sort of thing they're talking about.

Or when they talk about it 'punching down'. There's not much further down than kidnapped schoolkids or benefit-dependent mothers. 'Satirised' by wealthy white guys.
posted by colie at 1:43 PM on January 7, 2015 [10 favorites]


Let me repeat that these are not acceptable excuses for violent actions or speech! But they are also not without a factual base. If “we” are going to expect of “them” to abide by freedom of speech, than this freedom of speech should either be totally free or protect all groups equally (which, I believe, is impossible). If “we” want “them” to abide by the (not “our”!) democratic rules of the game, “we” should also accept “them” as equal citizens. Too often Islam and Muslims are treated as foreign, either linked to immigration or to a foreign country/region. But the majority of Muslims in most European countries are citizens, born and raised in Europe. In other words, “they” are “us”! So, as much as “they” have to come to terms with living in “our” country, “we” have to come to terms with the fact that it is “their “ country too! Via
posted by infini at 1:44 PM on January 7, 2015 [6 favorites]


Ok, maybe not 'scurrilous'. Vulgar.
posted by topynate at 1:45 PM on January 7, 2015


It shows some of what is meant by "mocking religion"

It doesn't seem to have any "religious" significance at all, that I can see. Mostly I don't understand it. I have a feeling that it's not actually "about" the Boko Haram thing so much as using it to comment on something else. I assume there was a controversy in France at the time about "allocations familiales" (per-child welfare payments to families, right?). So it would seem to be a kind of deliberately shocking "hey, even those Boko Haram girls are going to get in on this protest!" kind of gag. Callous and deliberately "shocking" but not, so far as I can see, remotely related to "religion."

But I'd be happy to be better informed by someone who was actually steeped in the particular social/cultural context that informed the joke.
posted by yoink at 1:45 PM on January 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


roomthreeseventeen: "I'm not questioning the RIGHT to do something, I'm questioning the WISDOM of doing something.

But your statement only makes sense in the context of "because it could get you killed."
"

No - it makes sense in the context of : We have a bunch of people in our country who are of the same religion we are mocking. Some of these people are NOT rabid killers. By using a specific target that offends them, we can turn them away. Instead of working to integrate them and bring them into our country and welcome them as fellow members of humanity with the right to practice their beliefs, let's stick a big old FUCK YOU middle finger to their faces and make them feel even MORE resentful of us natives in our land.

I think the problem is that we're discussing two different aspects here. The global and the local. My "wisdom" is not about "being killed by a large number of radical religious ideologues", but about "accepting the persecuted minorities who aren't a native of our land" (and hopefully making them feel more welcomed, less threatened, and THEN... In the long term... maybe we can have a more peaceful co-existence, and that might include LESS murder of us natives.)

In this particular context, in France, (and in places like Amsterdam or London) there are issues with regards to how Muslim immigrants are being treated/perceived, and causing resentment. That doesn't justify everything the Muslim population does or calls for. I think the right of Abu Hamza to speak out calling for the death of kuffar(infidels) is just as foolish as publishing these cartoons... Well - not merely foolish, but wrong and dangerous, and frankly, evil... The Brits have decided that that's not free speech, but incitement to terrorism.

But, of course, this goes beyond the issue of immigration, but that is one of the factors I'm trying to bring out on why this issue is so fraught with much more than "free speech" and "brutal barbarians". I think there's a lot of perspective that we in the US, don't have quite as much of, because we don't exist in those particular countries with those particular aspects. Nothing exists in a vacuum, and there are multiple issues at play in any given context, and if all you want to do is scream "FREE SPEEEEECH!" go right the fuck ahead.

I'm arguing that there's plenty of other considerations that one can take into account on whether a particular action is wise or not...

And of course, there are Native Muslims (non-immigrants) who, by nature of being Muslim, also are being discriminated against in France (and the Netherlands) and other Western European countries. Look at the uprising in Germany right now with the extreme anti-immigrant (in particular, anti-Muslim) rallies... The antidote they are showing is that other people are speaking out against it. I think the Germans might have a good idea about the dangers of rabid xenophobia.
posted by symbioid at 1:45 PM on January 7, 2015 [15 favorites]


I think that it's worth looking at the cartoon about the kidnapped girls that infini links above. It shows some of what is meant by "mocking religion" and I think it's not what a lot of mefites have in mind.

I suspect that is not one of the cartoons the murderers used to justify their actions today.
posted by spaltavian at 1:47 PM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


symbioid, I guess my point is that it's not the job of a satirist to integrate anyone or make them feel better about anything.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 1:48 PM on January 7, 2015 [6 favorites]


While I agree that the non-adherants of a religion shouldn't be expected to be held to the same code of conduct, conversely it strikes me that the non-adherant of a religion flaunting a transgression of that code of conduct

Except I don't think you would apply this analysis to, say, Pussy Riot's actions in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior. Which is clearly and unambiguously flaunting a blasphemous transgression of a code of conduct.

Personally, I think every newspaper in the western world should reprint at least one of these cartoons on their front page tomorrow to show that we cannot be intimidated.
posted by Justinian at 1:48 PM on January 7, 2015 [14 favorites]


Or when they talk about it 'punching down'. There's not much further down than kidnapped schoolkids or benefit-dependent mothers. 'Satirised' by wealthy white guys.

So only speech that meets your political litmus test should be protected? Got it.
posted by Fidel Cashflow at 1:49 PM on January 7, 2015 [7 favorites]


Extremists are not extremists because someone published a mocking cartoon of their religious leader.

Was it nice of C-H to publish the cartoon? No.
Was it tasteless? Arguably.
Can you draw a direct line between publishing it and extremists deciding to kill? No.

They were going to attack and kill someone. Maybe not today or tomorrow, but someday, because that's what they do [they = extremists, not Muslims, to be clear]. Don't pretend like there's any rhyme or reason to it. Extremists shot up a Pakistani school full of children, for fuck's sake. It's just not logical to say "they shouldn't be provoked with cartoons."
posted by desjardins at 1:49 PM on January 7, 2015 [14 favorites]


Well, here's one depicting the captured girls of Boko Haram in a less than flattering manner.

See that's some racist cartooning, and though I don't know much about the history of Charlie Hebdo I'm not that surprised I've seen nasty stuff along those lines from other sources in Western Europe. I don't find it hard to believe they published things I would not care to defend. But at the same time I think people fixated specifically on the offensiveness of intentionally violating the Mohammed taboo are barking up quite the wrong tree - it seems pretty clear to me that it's actually the other side of having one's religious practice tolerated that one cannot insist on much at all from nonbelievers except that they will let you do your thing. Plus about Charlie Hebdo's specific choice to hammer upon that point I can't help but see it to some extent as them standing up to a particular ideology that repeatedly and directly threatened their lives over that point and eventually took them rather than attacking ordinary Muslims for the hell of it.
posted by atoxyl at 1:49 PM on January 7, 2015 [6 favorites]


No - it makes sense in the context of : We have a bunch of people in our country who are of the same religion we are mocking.

You're lumping a lot of people together here who don't and shouldn't have the same motives. Yes, absolutely, the French people (and everyone) should in general be welcoming of minorities and tolerant of each other's beliefs. But satirists should be free to target who ever they feel like, including minority groups. Holding those two positions is not contradictory.
posted by empath at 1:50 PM on January 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


Punching up and punching down is only a metaphor used to describe one way that comedy can work. Its not a black and white thing.

For example, the Westboro Baptist Church may be loud and offensive, but they're really a small, marginalized group of people, many of whom are pretty obviously damaged or brainwashed. We acknowledge this but at the same time we accept satire and comedy aimed at them because their behavior is so egregious that it deserves a response. The purpose of comedy aimed at WBC isn't to mock and suppress the damaged and brainwashed members of that group, though that might be how they feel when they hear the mockery. The purpose of it is sometimes to make it clear that their views and techniques are not acceptable or sometimes just because they're an easy stand-in for intolerance in general.

But on the other hand, they are damaged people and they're really a pretty small and powerless group. Isn't that punching down? Should we stop mocking them because they're a minority belief?

There are other groups in the United States that appear to be more powerful than they actually are whom are quite correctly mocked for their views all the time. I'll use the KKK as an example. They were once a pretty powerful group of racists but now they're almost universally a punch line in the United States. Being associated with them can ruin your career in most places. Are we not, in fact, punching down when we parody them? Are they not deserving of mockery and satire for all the pain and horror they've inflicted over the years?

Or maybe we are punching up at these groups because they've set themselves up as somehow superior to the rest of us and we're knocking them off their high horse.

But, see, that's the problem with the "Punching up" and "punching down" metaphor. Its based on an individual's perception of where up and down are located. I mean, MRA's truly believe they are punching up when they create image macros about feminists - to the sane world, that looks like bullying.

Mel Brooks' famous "tragedy is when I hurt my thumb. Comedy is when you fall into an open manhole and die" is an apt way of looking at things - its about perspective, and usually a very selfish perspective.

If we look at comedy as part of conversation in general, it can be used as a rhetorical tool in the same way that any other kind of communication is used. In the political and social world, comedy is often used to make specific rhetorical points. It might be more fruitful to look at comedy in this way and perhaps analyze it based on sound reasoning.

To whit, a cartoon that attacks a group of people with little or no point beyond "lol dumb people" is essentially an ad hominem attack - in a debate, we'd dismiss it outright.

A cartoon that makes a specific point about how bullies use the threat of violence (or the actual performance of violence) to silence critics might communicate that idea in a much more instant and visceral way than 500 words on the same subject.

Looking at the work of Charlie Hebdo in the last few hours, I note that some of the cartoons do seem to be little more than Jay Leno-esque "hey, aren't these people dumb" images, but most of them seem to have quite a bit more thought than that behind them. The visceral reaction they provoke in the service of ideas is part of their power (indeed, that is the power of an image over a word - we can get into semiotics here, but a word is already pretty far removed from the thing a word represents - an image is much closer).

Punching up and punching down are kind of besides the point. My opinion is that we are not served as a society if we conflate respecting people with respecting the terrible, terrible ideas and beliefs those people sometimes hold.
posted by Joey Michaels at 1:50 PM on January 7, 2015 [54 favorites]


I think most Muslims understand the reason for the ban on images of Muhammed (and really all people). It's not exactly an obscure theological topic. Only fundamentalist morons like these shooters are grossly offended by it, for all the wrong reasons.

I'm not sure what I'm supposed to take away from your link. It cites examples of Hadith that say Muhammad condemns images of Allah, Muhammad, the Prophets, and the people who make them will be condemned on the Day of Resurrection. There is a lot of disagreement over interpretation of Hadith, and even which Hadith collections are recognized as authentic throughout the branches and sects of Islam. While you assume to know the definitive "reason for the ban," Hadith can be interpreted in any number of ways by people of different faiths, and this can lead to any number of practices. No one's claiming faith and religious practice are totally rational things, and faith is not something you can really tell people they are getting wrong. It's what they believe.
posted by Hoopo at 1:50 PM on January 7, 2015


I understand and apologize, both for my wording and for contributing to a pedantic derail objecting to one aspect of roomthreeseventeen's comment.

Thanks for addressing it. I don't mind the derail so much, I don't think the victims would mind a spirited debate, but the wording of it just hit me unexpectedly in the gut.
posted by ODiV at 1:51 PM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


So only speech that meets your political litmus test should be protected? Got it.

Hate Speech is a thing.
posted by colie at 1:52 PM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


I think that it's worth looking at the cartoon about the kidnapped girls that infini links above. It shows some of what is meant by "mocking religion" and I think it's not what a lot of mefites have in mind.

Um, how is religion being mocked, or a target in any way in that (shitty) cartoon?
posted by VikingSword at 1:53 PM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


So only speech that meets your political litmus test should be protected? Got it.

Hate Speech is a thing.


Wait, I kind of thought Fidel Cashflow was misrepresenting you, but it seems like here you are saying this speech shouldn't be protected?

Hate speech isn't a "thing" to everyone. This is a complex and difficult issue, and people will argue about the lines between "hate speech" and "incitement"; but this response is chilling.
posted by spaltavian at 1:55 PM on January 7, 2015 [12 favorites]


symbioid, in a context other than this one you'd have a good and valid point.

But when a bunch of people just got killed by religious fanatics because they blasphemed said fanatic's religion then it is time to scream FREE SPEEEEECH as loud as you can.

I've got my own arguments with Charlie Hebdo, and in other circumstances I'd elaborate on them. But here? Now? In the context of a bunch of religious assholes murdering people for daring to speak ill of their religion? In that context I can do nothing but stand with Charlie Hebdo and give an unqualified condemnation of the evil, barbaric, people who committed this terrible crime and act of terrorism.

In this context one cannot be loud enough in their shouts of FREE SPEEEEECH, nor their condemnation of the religious people who did this.
posted by sotonohito at 1:55 PM on January 7, 2015 [24 favorites]


Focusing on whether the cartoons were appropriate or inflammatory in the face of this attack is no different than focusing on whether what someone is wearing was appropriate after they got attacked. It is irrelevant. The cartoonists, no matter what they drew or published, were the only victims here. Everything else is victim blaming.
posted by Justinian at 1:55 PM on January 7, 2015 [29 favorites]


Hate Speech is a thing.

Hate speech is generally considered to be incitement to violence or some sort of action, not simply offensive speech.
posted by empath at 1:56 PM on January 7, 2015 [14 favorites]


to show that we cannot be intimidated

I think turning this into an "us" vs. "them" thing ("we" cannot be intimidated) is, in that hackneyed phrase, "letting the terrorists win." That is exactly the response they want.

This is where I think so much of the responses, on both sides, in this thread are wrong. The assholes who perpetrated this vile act are not ordinary muslims who were pushed over the edge by CH's over-extreme cartoons. Ordinary muslims in France and elsewhere would place scurrilous satirical cartoons pretty fucking low down on the list of things that they're deeply worried about. We talking about a really, really small sect of deeply destructive and lunatic radicals here who chose CH in order to provide a convenient kind of break point that would encourage an "us" vs. "them" mentality. We're playing directly into their hands when we respond to this either with a "we'll show them we're not cowed" response OR with a "gee, maybe we should be nicer to those c-r-a-z-y muslims because you never know WHAT will push them over the edge!" response.
posted by yoink at 1:56 PM on January 7, 2015 [19 favorites]




Good for BZ.
posted by Justinian at 1:58 PM on January 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


arcticseal: I agree with this approach. Treat them as common criminals and murders, deny them the excuse of their religion.
Oh, come on. It's not like "They were devout muslims!" is going to be part of the defense.

Obscurity is what I'd love. Naming them once, for clarity, and thereafter "gunman (suspect) #1", "terrorist organization #24", etc.

"John Wayne Gacy (hereafter Serial Killer #195) was arraigned today..." So much for going down in glory, loser (#91234).
posted by IAmBroom at 1:59 PM on January 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


Um, how is religion being mocked, or a target in any way in that (shitty) cartoon?

My point was that I think that if we examine what folks are defending as "it's okay to mock Islam", it's very often stuff like this, that is racist and deals with international issues involving Muslims rather than something along the lines of "ha ha stupid Martin Luther and his "Diet" at Worms" or "ha ha what a stupid theological point". My sense is that because a lot of people - including me - don't look at this kind of thing regularly, we assume that satire that offends Muslims is always "religious" in some way that is equivalent to "yeah, look at the Pope's stupid custom socks, what an entitled jerk*".


*Many popes actually do wear special custom socks; I'm not sure if the current pope is carrying on with the tradition. It's always pushed me towards the "poverty of Christ" side of the debate.
posted by Frowner at 1:59 PM on January 7, 2015 [6 favorites]


I think the duality of the attributions "It is wrong to blame the victim" versus "But, they were punching down" can be understood in terms of an is-ought distinction. Of course free speech ought to be protected, but elements of a heterogeneous global audience may not in actuality respect this as a human right. I.e., throughout history people saying the Wrong Thing was sufficient for various entities to kill them, and that's the pragmatic aspect of it. So it becomes an individual/social choice as to how to deal with this:

Charbonnier said he didn't fear retaliation for the magazine's controversial work. He explained to Le Monde in 2012, "I have no kids, no wife, no car, no credit. This may be a bit pompous what I'm saying, but I prefer to die standing up than live on my knees."

That's Charbonnier talking, maybe not your or my own stance. One outside view is basically you have two factions thinking of themselves as having nothing left, and the cognitive resources (or lack thereof) concomitant with that, and thus a volatile recipe for disaster. The productive question for the left is what can we learn from this event?, asking ourselves if the way we approach things needs any adjustment, etc.
posted by polymodus at 2:00 PM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Hate Speech is a thing.

Where I am hate speech is a thing that mostly covers incitement to violence or attempts to intimidate - certainly the definition of hate speech that applies to the press anyway. I don't think the cartoonists were the ones doing either of those things in this case.
posted by atoxyl at 2:00 PM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Fidel Cashflow: " That is one of the shittest cartoons I have ever seen in my entire life. And it's on the front cover.

Should only tasteful satire be protected speech?
"

Who the fuck is saying "BAN IT!" There's a huge difference between us talking about the issue on the blue, questioning whether something is a good thing to do in light of many factors and contexts, and calling for a BAN on free speech. Who said it shouldn't be protected? I said in a few different comments : GO FOR IT! Do whatever the fuck you want. The freedom to do something also comes with the freedom to not do it, and ideally it comes with a certain amount of responsibility, but we don't live in an ideal world, so we get to deal with people working to divide and disenfranchise people and harden the divide rather than working to bring people together.

Interestingly, I think this thread is almost an example of this - no matter how much I say you have the right to do this, and merely question the wisdom of it (with neither any power or even fucking WILL to do anything to prevent you from not doing it), you scream free speech over and over without talking about the other issues at play. And this is why I say there are many factors, because you want it to be 2 issues: Murder and Free Speech. But it's more than that, it's about oppression, it's about regionalism, division, factionalism, immigration, nationalism, ethnic and religious divides. It's about given cultures and the definition of "free speech" and "free religious expression"...

Why would this thread be so long and difficult if we could all just say "yeah, go draw Mohammed bombing an airplane free speech!" and "murder is bad, mmmkay"... Because some of us believe that the issue isn't clear cut.

If this was supposed to just be a "." thread, then I guess I'm in the wrong place, since I thought we were here for discussion of something deeper than the surface issues.

(oh, and I guess since I didn't say it enough, YES I AM AGAINST THE MURDER OF THE 12 INNOCENT CARTOONISTS AND I HOPE PEOPLE SEE THIS IN BOLD BECAUSE CLEARLY IF I DIDN'T MAKE SUCH AN OBVIOUS DENUNCIATION PREVIOUSLY IN OTHER COMMENTS IT MUST MEAN THAT BY QUESTIONING THE WISDOM OF THE ACT OF THE VICTIMS I'M CLEARLY VICTIM BLAMING AND MORE THAN THAT, APPARENTLY JUSTIFYING THE BRUTAL, WICKED AND EVIL ACTS OF THOSE WHO PERPETRATED THESE CRIMES AGAINST INNOCENTS WHOSE ONLY "CRIME" (note the quotes!) WAS SAYING SOMETHING OFFENSIVE)
posted by symbioid at 2:00 PM on January 7, 2015 [22 favorites]


Sincere Kirabo - "On Charlie Hebdo: the Defenseless Gods & the Underlings Who Fight Their Fights"
I will not resort to hasty generalizations and conflation. These heinous events will not force my tongue to form absolute statements, resulting in unqualified, indiscriminate denouncements. I will not say such things as “This proves that all religions are evil!” or that “‘Religion of peace’? Ha! Look at what they do!”

That said, these and like events – which vary, but have been a recurring theme since early human recorded history to present day – cause me to think a bit more about the ideation behind such homicidal motivations.
Heina Dadabhoy - "Graven Images of Muhammad Should Lead to No Graves"
Back in 2005, I was a Muslim. Here in 2015, I’m an ex-Muslim atheist. My feelings about the cartoons are the same: They’re trashy pieces of arguable race-bait not worth killing or dying for, and the right to publish trashy race-baiting cartoons is definitely worth dying (and maybe killing?) for.

In that way, I was in a minority among the Muslim students at UC Irvine. It certainly felt like I was the only one to both see the problems with the cartoons and the far more frightening and pressing problems with the violent reactions to the cartoons.
posted by audi alteram partem at 2:00 PM on January 7, 2015 [15 favorites]


Hate speech is generally considered to be incitement to violence or some sort of action

Can also be interpreted as incitement to prejudice.

But I think yoink's comment above is very accurate and I will back away from the rage-y bits of my comments.
posted by colie at 2:00 PM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Regarding the Boko Haram-themed cartoon, French Wikipedia's bio for Riss reports that he was wounded in the attack.

I've spent a fair amount of the last hour trying to combine the efforts of Google Translate and my very rusty French to understand the context of that cartoon better. It does appear a lot of people took it at the time as Islamophobic and/or misogynistic in the 'punching down' mode discussed above, but it's interesting, I think, that the NegroNews.fr article states that Riss réussit l'exploit selon ses détracteurs de réunir tous les fantasmes de l'extrême droite (islam, voile, assistanat, violences envers les femmes…), which seems to mean that he was satirizing the reaction of the extreme right by "uniting their fantasies -- Islam, the veil, welfare, and violence against women". Which is to say that the person being poked may not be what we, not in France, take it to be. In short, it may be that the point is to suggest quite the opposite, i.e. that the National Front types have been throwing out the spectre of Islamic, non-Westernized, and specifically non-Caucasian women dependent on benefits might actually be something more like these kidnapped women than supposed. I'm also making a broad assumption that the right wing in France has similarly to that in the US co-opted the kidnapping event as another opportunity to criticize Islam in general.

I'm not standing on this interpretation, I'm only throwing it out there for discussion and more (human-)bean-plating. I do know that the specifically ethnic features of blacks have been taboo in American cartooning (with some careful relaxation allowing for caricature of President Obama) but have not been similarly in European cartooning, which might also be coloring (ahem) reactions.
posted by dhartung at 2:04 PM on January 7, 2015 [17 favorites]


But unless there is a context I don't know about, it doesn't even read as satire
Here's the context. It's a satire of the usual, tiring, decades-old right wing complaint about immigrants coming to France only to get welfare. That's pretty obvious if you're French anyway. The extreme-right wing Front National is one of the usual targets of Riss (see for instance this one about the Mediterranean sea "carrying out" the FN political program by drowning African immigrants). It may be tasteless for some, but this mixture of dark humour (often using actual tragedies) and political satire is a CH trademark.
posted by elgilito at 2:08 PM on January 7, 2015 [31 favorites]


I do know that the specifically ethnic features of blacks have been taboo in American cartooning (with some careful relaxation allowing for caricature of President Obama) but have not been similarly in European cartooning

You would never see that kind of cartoon in the UK. And my God it's not witty or clever.
posted by colie at 2:08 PM on January 7, 2015


My point was that I think that if we examine what folks are defending as "it's okay to mock Islam", it's very often stuff like this, that is racist and deals with international issues involving Muslims rather than something along the lines of "ha ha stupid Martin Luther and his "Diet" at Worms" or "ha ha what a stupid theological point".

How is your French? Because what I see is CH using these figures to make a political point that has nothing to do with mocking of the figures depicted. Please be more careful - we don't need more disinformation, especially in a sensitive situation such as this.
posted by VikingSword at 2:14 PM on January 7, 2015 [13 favorites]


Here's the context. It's a satire of the usual, tiring, decades-old right wing complaint about immigrants coming to France only to get welfare. That's pretty obvious if you're French anyway.

Whoa, whoa!!! Let's not impede the CH Blame Train by putting any of these drawing in their proper context.
posted by MikeMc at 2:15 PM on January 7, 2015 [18 favorites]






colie, what dhartung is saying is that the cover is depicting a right-wing fantasy in the worst way possible, and that it is not as straight-forward as it seems-- similar to this New Yorker cover. The New Yorker was obviously not saying that the Obama's were muslim terrorists, even though that is what is being depicted.
posted by empath at 2:18 PM on January 7, 2015 [17 favorites]


I also actually think it would be a disservice to the victims here and what they stood for not to discuss the political context of their work, so I'm not saying at all that people should just shut up and be shocked and don't talk about whether they did anything racist. I just can't get behind the "well they really shouldn't have done the Mohammed thing that's offensive to innocent people" thing which I think is way off base for several reasons.
posted by atoxyl at 2:18 PM on January 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


Only a slight comfort, but it was great to see US foreign secretary John Kerry actually speaking out about the attack in French; such a difference from the "freedom fries" nonsense of a decade ago.
posted by MartinWisse at 2:18 PM on January 7, 2015 [21 favorites]


How is your French? Because what I see is CH using these figures to make a political point that has nothing to do with mocking of the figures depicted. Please be more careful - we don't need more disinformation, especially in a sensitive situation such as this.

Okay, granted. I admit that I found the image so shocking and unacceptable as an image that I only read the first couple sentences of the article. (French is okay, but I need to concentrate to read news articles of any length.) I take back my comment; I was wrong and hasty.
posted by Frowner at 2:20 PM on January 7, 2015 [7 favorites]


Steve Bell.
posted by Artw at 2:20 PM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


. . . .
. . . .
. . . .

I hope they catch the criminals who did this.
posted by Kevin Street at 2:22 PM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Here's the context. It's a satire of the usual, tiring, decades-old right wing complaint about immigrants coming to France only to get welfare.

Thank you, that makes a lot of sense. I understand it as satire now.
posted by Thing at 2:23 PM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


My issue with that Boko Haram cartoon is not ideological, but technical. I don't like to see black people depicted in stereotyped ways, even if the intent is good, anymore than I like to see Jewish people depicted in with hooked noses etc., even if the intent is good. That's why I'd call it a shitty cartoon - as in, "the cartoonist should reach beyond lazy tropes". The intention of the cartoon was not objectionable; the execution was lacking.

On preview: no prob. Frowner, it's a fast moving thread, and we're all probably too shaken to think 100% clearly, myself included.
posted by VikingSword at 2:23 PM on January 7, 2015 [10 favorites]


According to Buzzfeed, French police are conducting searches in Charleville, near the border with Germany.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 2:23 PM on January 7, 2015


Someone on NPR was just saying that Charlie's cartoons often depicted the Prophet in a friendly way while depicting the terrorists worshipping him in a bad light. Seems to be the case in a couple of these.

Charlie Hebdo and its biting satire, explained in 9 of its most iconic covers
"I am the prophet, asshole!"

"It's hard to be loved by idiots"
posted by Golden Eternity at 2:28 PM on January 7, 2015 [11 favorites]


.
posted by SisterHavana at 2:28 PM on January 7, 2015


.
posted by newdaddy at 2:29 PM on January 7, 2015


EmpressCallipygos: There's satire which mocks religion - and then there's satire which mocks religion by mis-using a sacred part of that religion, and the two are not equivalent.
Like hell they aren't equivalent.

Larry Flynt's right to show penises penetrating vulvas in Hustler.
Madame Chatterly's Lover
The Catcher in the Rye.
Black Like Me.
A cartoon depicting Mohammed wearing a bomb with a lit fuse as a turban.
An article in The Onion, purportedly written by First Lady Laura Bush, about her constant troubles with explosive, bloody diarrhea.
The dream sequence in The Last Temptation of Jesus Christ in which he decides to abandon humanity's salvation in favor of having a sex life with Mary Magdalen.
Robert Maplethorpe's Piss Christ.

Each and every one of these is a simple example of a human being's right to freedom of expression, without regard to context.

I would love to live in a world where the "context that provoked" murder was inadmissable in court, aside from ideas like "in order to save another human's life" (which makes it not murder). Is it a murder trial? Yes? OK, then: no more discussion allowed of what the victims did before the crime started. Just evidence about the killing. Period.
posted by IAmBroom at 2:33 PM on January 7, 2015 [18 favorites]


I'm not questioning the RIGHT to do something, I'm questioning the WISDOM of doing something.

Yuck. "Sure you have the right to drink as much as you want at a frat party, but I question the wisdom of it." It's not wrong, exactly, but it's gross.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 2:46 PM on January 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


An anti-terror raid is in progress in Reims, according to AFP.
posted by topynate at 2:46 PM on January 7, 2015


empath, thanks, that's pretty much exactly what I was saying in a roundabout way.

Also, I don't think that cartoons are necessarily trying to be witty or clever, if they are about calling out something that needs to be called out. One isn't picking up the tabloid with the cartoons just for a chuckle. It's pretty much de rigueur for the right in the US to dismiss e.g. Jon Stewart as unfunny, but the jokes aren't the point.
posted by dhartung at 2:47 PM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Juan Cole: Sharpening Contradictions: Why al-Qaeda attacked Satirists in Paris

Al-Qaeda wants to mentally colonize French Muslims, but faces a wall of disinterest. But if it can get non-Muslim French to be beastly to ethnic Muslims on the grounds that they are Muslims, it can start creating a common political identity around grievance against discrimination.
posted by Elizabeth the Thirteenth at 2:51 PM on January 7, 2015 [18 favorites]


empath: " But satirists should be free to target who ever they feel like, including minority groups. "

I am not disagreeing with your 'free to' as clearly, some people are misunderstanding my point to think I'm calling for banning publication of the cartoons or that the cartoons somehow justify the artists/publishers being killed (that is, to say "not free to..." which is not the case)

I am however, disagreeing with your perception of the target of satire being "anyone they feel like" (and yes, I realize we're now entering a semantic debate, but fuck, if we're going to talk about whether there is or isn't a "proper" target for satire, I think we'd best figure out what, exactly, satire is):

Good ol' Wikipedia:
Satire and irony ... provide the keenest insights into a group's collective psyche, reveal its deepest values and tastes, and the society's structures of power.

Historically, satire has satisfied the popular need to debunk and ridicule the leading figures in politics, economy, religion and other prominent realms of power... [it is] playing as a public opinion counterweight to power (being political, economic, religious, symbolic, or otherwise), by challenging leaders and authorities.
Now we can certainly argue on whether or not these cartoons are a "public opinion counterweight to power" or not... But I don't think any of the above justifies "punching down" at those who aren't on the top. You can make the claim (and on a local level, in certain regimes, I certainly would make the claim) that cartoons against Islam as a dominant ideology is "punching up" (for example, I would fully support a Saudi Arabian satirist to mock that country's implementation of Shariah -- hell, I support any satirist that mocks those wielding the power of the state to implement such a system).

Now - we could ask whether it would be "wise" in the sense of this satirist being beheaded by the Saudi Arabia... But since my point isn't about whether the wisdom lies in being killed or not being killed , since it's about who has the reigns of power, who is seen as "the outsider", and who is persecuted... The difficulty of the discussion comes, not just from questions of "individual rights" or "collective beliefs" but interpretations of inter- vs intra- groups rights and responsibilities, and how those groups (and members of those groups) relate to each other on a local/regional level.

Choosing a target for satire relies upon context, in one's social standing, in a political system, in one's cultural systems, and their national/collective identity(identities).

This is why I said if you satire the particular people doing these horrific acts, then that might be more pertinent. Because clearly, these people are doing things and holding power in regions, and they deserve mockery, scorn and much worse, IMO, if there is a hellfire. ISIS, House of Saud, Yemen, Taliban, al-Qaeda, etc...

But making a blanket target like Mohammed in general, which affects not just those of particular subsets of Islamic ideology (many Muslims might even consider a pronouncement of Takfir upon them if it were within their rights to do so), but also it hits those who are being repressed by those very tyrants we should be striking out against, that is - striking out at the victims and their sincere beliefs.

Muslim women who are being oppressed by extremist Muslims who prevent them from going out and driving (or having a job, or doing anything outside the house, or having male friends, or having an education, etc...) In this sense, it victimizes those who are already victims and works in the service of the dominant, xenophobic narrative. It perpetuates a view of Islam as monolithic, and in doing so - reinforces the view that all Muslims are targets, including those who are most repressed within an extremist Islamic system.

I absolutely understand the desire to lash out against Islam as being a reactionary force, certainly most all institutionalized religions are, IMO, reactionary. Would I have the power I would love to see us all embrace a future Star Trek secular global utopia without religion to divide us. But we don't live in that world. And I support discussing the nuances of these things, but the defense of "Free Speech", in a reactive manner, as if "the barbarian muslim hordes are at the gate and we MUST offend if we are to defend (our freedom of speech)" is trite, simplistic and disturbing, because without critical thinking, with reflexive defense we only hasten and further radicalization amongst some subset of the population who will feel targeted (justly or not) by our offensive maneuvers.

I think I'm almost done with this comment, and probably done adding more to this thread, because I've clearly said a pamphlets worth, already...

And yes while I screamed it above in a comment, I do want to make it clear, not only that I condemn these murderous attacks, and hope the perpetrators are caught, I also extend my sympathy to the loved ones of those who were killed, and also - to those of the families of the murderers if they are now dealing with the fallout of their "bad seeds"... To the citizens of France, to the defenders of "Free Speech" to the victims of Islamic radicals in whatever country, as an act of solidarity against the aggressive death-cult that weaves its way amongst certain populations of Muslims. Victims of a virus that commands people to kill in the name of their ideology. A big fat...

.
posted by symbioid at 2:57 PM on January 7, 2015 [17 favorites]


Juan Cole

Good for Juan figuring out who was responsible and what their motives were. I'm sure the French police will find his input particularly valuable in capturing those responsible and figuring out their motives.
posted by Joey Michaels at 2:59 PM on January 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


>Mostly I don't understand it. I have a feeling that it's not actually "about" the Boko Haram thing so much as using it to comment on something else.

Yoink, my take was that the cartoon was directed less on French allocations familiales (allocs) as the presumed lack of such benefits in the realm of Boko Haram. "Don't touch our [non-existent] allocs!"

But that's just a guess. I've not heard of any problems with the allocs in France per se, though I expect you can find the Gallic equivalent of Welfare Queen talk in the expected places if that's your thing. Others on the site assumed it was a genuine combination of misogyny and anti-Islam, or alternatively just a tasteless melange of right wing prejudice. Presumably to be edgy.

Pretty cold, no matter how you look at it.
posted by IndigoJones at 3:13 PM on January 7, 2015


> I'm sure the French police will find his input particularly valuable in capturing those responsible and figuring out their motives.

Likewise, I'm sure Juan Cole will wither under your condescension.

The French cops/judiciary can have their trial, and Superior Court of Public Opinion will have its own. You and I and Juan Cole are witnesses and jurors, which is why this court is so utterly fair and just and self-deluded. The value of an opinion is not limited to its evidentiary value; if it were otherwise, we'd all just have to shut the hell up, wouldn't we?
posted by Sunburnt at 3:18 PM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


Meanwhile, some takes are so moronically predictable they don't even rise to the level of self-parody.
posted by George_Spiggott at 3:19 PM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


We'll probably have to just wait and see. When the French authorities get the terrorists/murderers/losers we'll find out what their motivations were. (And I really hope the French authorities get them.) It sounds like something is going on in Reims right now.
posted by Kevin Street at 3:22 PM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]




The French cops/judiciary can have their trial, and Superior Court of Public Opinion will have its own. You and I and Juan Cole are witnesses and jurors, which is why this court is so utterly fair and just and self-deluded. The value of an opinion is not limited to its evidentiary value; if it were otherwise, we'd all just have to shut the hell up, wouldn't we?

Juan Cole is a journalist. You and I are just assholes on the Internet.

In theory, journalists should be reporting on facts - even opinion columnist who purport to be journalists - should be basing their opinions on facts. Inventing facts to support an opinion you already have is lousy journalism and deserves as much scorn as can possible be mustered..

Inventing facts to support an opinion by assholes on the internet should be met with "LOL BUTTS."
posted by Joey Michaels at 3:30 PM on January 7, 2015


I wish all these "zomg free speech" defenders coming out of the woodwork right now would be as passionate about free speech when Muslims are being the target of suppression of speech.
posted by divabat at 3:31 PM on January 7, 2015 [10 favorites]


NBC is reporting one of the suspects is dead, other two are in custody.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 3:33 PM on January 7, 2015 [6 favorites]


symbioid, I totally disagree with you that Charlie Hebdo's cartoons were punching down, but I think I understand where you are coming from. You'd be right if they were satirizing everyday French Muslims, who face discrimination and high unemployment, much like the African-American population here, but that's not who C-H is after. They are after the extremists who are exploiting those everyday Muslims. They are after people who are seeking to undermine secular French culture. It's not as simple as rich white people vs. poor brown people.

This article might help a bit: The deep roots of French secularism
Secularism is the closest thing the French have to a state religion. It underpinned the French Revolution and has been a basic tenet of the country's progressive thought since the 18th Century.

To this day, anything that smacks of official recognition of a religion - such as allowing Islamic headscarves in schools - is anathema to many French people.

Even those who oppose a headscarf ban do so in the name of a more modern, flexible form of secularism.

This tradition can be seen as a by-product of French Catholicism, as progressives have always seen the pulpit as an enemy, rather than a platform, unlike in some Protestant countries.

French Enlightenment thinkers such Voltaire, Diderot and Montesquieu regarded religion as divisive, benighted and intolerant.
posted by desjardins at 3:34 PM on January 7, 2015 [13 favorites]


In any case, I still think that criticizing the content of the cartoons comes too close to "those animals can't control themselves, don't provoke them."
posted by desjardins at 3:36 PM on January 7, 2015 [6 favorites]


Juan Cole is a journalist.

No, he's a tenured professor of history at the University of Michigan, and has been blogging on the Middle East and the relationship between Islam and the West since 2002. He has a column at Truthdig, but he's an academic first and foremost.
posted by longdaysjourney at 3:37 PM on January 7, 2015 [8 favorites]


Great link, neroli.

After a few hours of processing and thinking about who CH identified as and with in the context of my limited knowledge of contemporary French culture, I think they must see themselves as acting in accordance with Voltaire's dictum, “écrasons l'infâme”.

This has allowed me to see the magazine's use of stereotyping as descended from such sources as the work of Robert Crumb, who also has employed stereotypical imagery in his work (which is admittedly quite distinct from that seen in CH).
posted by mwhybark at 3:37 PM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


I just think it'd be good to be wary of the attitude that aggressively making transgressive fun of Muhammad/Islam is the brave and constructive way to respond to a horrific event like this.
posted by prize bull octorok at 3:39 PM on January 7, 2015 [13 favorites]


No, he's a tenured professor of history at the University of Michigan, and has been blogging on the Middle East and the relationship between Islam and the West since 2002. He has a column at Truthdig, but he's an academic first and foremost.

Ah, I stand corrected. Since he's a professor, he's welcome to make up any unsupported thing he wants.
posted by Joey Michaels at 3:40 PM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


If, say, David Duke published a cartoon of, say, Barack Obama in full-on racist witch-doctor regalia, having sex with the Pope, I would find this racist, religiously intolerant, and stupid piece of "satire" offensive on many levels.

But shooting him for it would be a far, far worse thing.
posted by Cookiebastard at 3:42 PM on January 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


I wish all these "zomg free speech" defenders coming out of the woodwork right now would be as passionate about free speech when Muslims are being the target of suppression of speech.

Whom are you talking about as "zomg free speech" defenders? Because all your links are to the suppression of speech in Malaysia; I don't think anyone on Metafilter has ever been OK with free speech being suppressed anywhere, and we regularly have people decrying human rights violations in countries like f.ex. Saudi Arabia. That said, it is understandable that the "zomg free speech" defenders in the West emphasize threats to these rights here in the West, as that's what they can impact most readily - their own political space. Or am I misunderstanding you?
posted by VikingSword at 3:43 PM on January 7, 2015 [16 favorites]


VikingSword: Those are some quick links that I found; there's been more. What I am seeing is a certain type of dynamic that tends to get more attention by the wider world - non-Muslims in non-Muslim-dominant countries getting support when attacked violently for "free speech" by Muslim extremists. In contrast, when Muslims themselves are being suppressed for speech, it doesn't get as much attention unless it's a backbone to spreading more Islamophobia (see FEMEN's "omg Muslim women are oppressed" responses). It's hypocrisy.
posted by divabat at 3:45 PM on January 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


I wish all these "zomg free speech" defenders coming out of the woodwork right now would be as passionate about free speech when Muslims are being the target of suppression of speech.

I'm not sure where you're going with this. Muslims living in a predominately Muslim country are having their speech suppressed by other Muslims. What are we, as Westerners, supposed to do or say without being accused of trying to force "Western Values" on a non-Western society?
posted by MikeMc at 3:48 PM on January 7, 2015 [19 favorites]


The best way to respond to an attack like this is to continue doing whatever you were doing before and not let it influence your thinking in any way. This kind of violence should be treated as the infection it is: abhorrent, disgusting and not part of any legitimate discussion of free speech. When the attackers are caught and no longer a danger to others (which may be the case already), attention should shift to the victims. I mean, as a society (definitely not talking about anyone in this thread), we give way too much attention to the perpetrators of violence.
posted by Kevin Street at 3:49 PM on January 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


MikeMc: Follow the lead of these Muslims, listen to what they need, and support them. They'll tell you.
posted by divabat at 3:50 PM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


I completely disagree, divabat, I don't think it's hypocrisy, it's lack of awareness. I think it's a bit much to expect people to know what's going on everywhere. I mean, I could say that I think you're hypocritical because you haven't expressed any concern about the 13 month old child that was shot in Milwaukee a few weeks ago. Why don't you care about dead children?

See? It means nothing. But if you can provide links to mefi threads where people say they don't care about Muslim speech suppression, go ahead.
posted by desjardins at 3:50 PM on January 7, 2015 [10 favorites]


I thought the comment was about the wider media response and not MetaFilter members specifically, but maybe I read it wrong.
posted by ODiV at 3:52 PM on January 7, 2015 [6 favorites]


ODiV is right.
posted by divabat at 3:52 PM on January 7, 2015


I agree with Juan Cole's assessment, that we need to recognize that a strategy of polarization is in effect with this attack. As with the FLN's massacres of Pied Noirs in the 1950s, or with other attacks, emotional and visceral reaction is the desired outcome of this action.

The men who perpetrated this atrocity want more 'Global War on Terror'. They want more discrimination against Muslims. They want more journalists and leftists to denounce satire, and implicitly assume the premises of their paradigm- that there are some things that cannot be mocked.

You do not populate a pluralistic and free society with multicultralist boddhisattvas of harmony and nuance. Having a free society means a certain tolerance for the asinine, the idiotic, and the intolerant, so long as their idiocies and biases are curbed at the border of the voting booth. Victims of terrorism are going to be people you don't like as well as people you like. Did the policemen deserve this death? What about the visiting festival planner, Legomancer? Necessary collateral damage as a consequence of these putative hatemongers?

We are advancing the agenda of these atrocitaires when we react to hate, to fear, to anger, whether it is against the journalists, or against the terrorists, though I by no means intend to suggest any parity between these two. What we need is to proceed with lucidity and reason; to persecute and deter the enemies of civility within our existing framework of law; to let Charlie Habdo sail on within their juvenalia.

To retaliate in rage or to censor in cowardice, either way is ceding oneself to the twisted logic of the fundamentalist's paradigm.
posted by LeRoienJaune at 3:54 PM on January 7, 2015 [35 favorites]


"Inventing facts to support an opinion by assholes on the internet should be met with "LOL BUTTS.""

The hell are you even on about?
posted by klangklangston at 3:55 PM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


NBC's "two senior U.S. counterterrorism officials" may have helped them scoop the entire world, if their information is accurate. Looks like everybody else is waiting for confirmation.
posted by Kevin Street at 4:00 PM on January 7, 2015


"...retaliate in rage or to censor in cowardice, either way is ceding oneself to the twisted logic of the fundamentalist's paradigm."
posted by clavdivs at 4:06 PM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


See what a lot of people are saying and what is pissing off nearly everybody else is that it's not necessarily a choice between examining the historical and current context surrounding the murders and condemning them. You can do both! Obviously murdering people for publishing shitty cartoons is horrible and frankly indefensible. In fact, many of the people killed were likely innocent of all but association and the murderers themselves were probably using shitty cartoons as a mere excuse. That doesn't mean you have to throw away all nuance and thought though. Every comment I've seen here going into more detail about CH's history with Islam and race, France's history with Islam and race, etc. has in addition expressed contempt for the murderers as well. There is a lot of ignorance of that context and history, of Islam and world religions generally and non-American concepts of free speech in this thread and most comments covering that seem to be coming from a place of educating. No one is saying, "Here's why these murders are okay." That'd be horrible. Some people are saying, "Here is more stuff to know about these horrible murders."

Maybe it is inappropriate to discuss these things just now. I suspect our feelings on that as a site are too wide and varied to hope for a consensus.
posted by byanyothername at 4:06 PM on January 7, 2015 [11 favorites]


Jacobin: On Charlie Hebdo
No, the offices of Charlie Hebdo should not be raided by gun-wielding murderers. No, journalists are not legitimate targets for killing. But no, we also shouldn’t line up with the inevitable statist backlash against Muslims, or the ideological charge to defend a fetishized, racialized “secularism,” or concede to the blackmail which forces us into solidarity with a racist institution.
posted by Corinth at 4:06 PM on January 7, 2015 [12 favorites]


Kevin Street, Slate is reporting that now as well.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 4:06 PM on January 7, 2015


(via NBC, though)
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 4:07 PM on January 7, 2015


The editors and producers of the world probably feel like dogs straining at the leash right now. They really want to run with the NBC story and not get scooped by rivals, but they have to wait for confirmation from independent sources.
posted by Kevin Street at 4:11 PM on January 7, 2015


Fox News is running a chyron saying that two of the suspects are in custody and 1 other is dead. But they are not actually discussing that story. Very frustrating.
posted by phaedon at 4:15 PM on January 7, 2015


Jacobin: On Charlie Hebdo

Wasn't this linked further up? Anyway: analysis of the deep causes of this atrocity should start with the event and proceed outwards, through the killers, their history, and so on. That Jacobin piece navigates as swift a path as possible away from that. Also, they're wrong in point of fact: it emerged quite early on that one of the killers claimed responsibility as Al Qaeda in Yemen before entering the CH offices.
posted by topynate at 4:20 PM on January 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


Via The Guardian: Banksy’s take on #CharlieHebdo
posted by Kevin Street at 4:36 PM on January 7, 2015 [11 favorites]


.

#NotAllMuslims
posted by jayder at 4:38 PM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


Here's a report from The Algemeiner that has a photo of an arrest warrant, allegedly in the terrorists' names: Identities of Islamist Terrorists in Paris Attack Revealed
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:41 PM on January 7, 2015


This via The Guardian:
There is still significant confusion about the nature and significance of the police raid in Reims.

French TV images are showing live pictures of armed anti-terrorism unit officers surrounding an apartment in the northern city.

Some police have been seen leaving the apartment block.

The Guardian’s Kim Willsher, in Paris, says:

>> There is a rumour that one of the gunmen has been killed in the police raid. I cannot confirm this. The France 2 journalist Hugo Clément who is at the scene says there has been NO information given about arrests or deaths. “The only certain thing is that there’s a raid”, he writes.

iTele, a French news channel, have said that the police raid is not a full-scale assault seeking to make arrests, but a search for DNA samples and other evidence.

posted by dhartung at 4:42 PM on January 7, 2015


Apparently the Instagram account named for Banksy (which is the best confirmation of legitimacy you'll get) has a terrific image in response.
posted by dhartung at 4:45 PM on January 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


Maybe it is inappropriate to discuss these things just now. I suspect our feelings on that as a site are too wide and varied to hope for a consensus.

What's the point of having a discussion if you do have a consensus?

Anyway I'm repeating myself a bit at this point but - I'm well aware of the thorniness of this subject in context, in fact I was quite opposed to the hijab ban &c., it's just - as far as punching up or down goes there's a certain amount of punching at a movement that literally inspired somebody to firebomb your office that I can't help but respect. But fundamentally I do think that what France really needs is more people making friends with Muslim immigrants (and their children) than enemies, and I'm afraid that's not what's going to happen.
posted by atoxyl at 4:47 PM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


#NotAllMuslims

I'm not understanding your point. #NotAllMen - the hashtag - is making fun of guys who butt into every conversation about rape/assault to say "not all men are like that!" Are you making fun of people who are suggesting that Muslims (as a group) should not be blamed for this attack?
posted by desjardins at 4:47 PM on January 7, 2015 [13 favorites]


@NeinQuarterly: "Thank you, satirists everywhere. Please offend us again soon."
posted by Golden Eternity at 5:08 PM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


#NotAllMen - the hashtag - is making fun of guys who butt into every conversation about rape/assault to say "not all men are like that!" Are you making fun of people who are suggesting that Muslims (as a group) should not be blamed for this attack?

Seems like poking fun at people who butt into every conversation about jihadist terrorism to say "not all Muslims are like that!" Transgressive, for here anyway, humor perhaps?
posted by MikeMc at 5:10 PM on January 7, 2015 [5 favorites]






Nothing funny about making fun of something Muslims are expected to do every single time something gets perpetrated in their name, to a level that Christians, White people, and other demographics where other killers come from don't get expected to fulfil.
posted by divabat at 5:12 PM on January 7, 2015 [13 favorites]


Yeah, divabat, that was my thought. Men who do the "not all men" thing are lampooned because of course no one thinks all men are rapists, they're being ridiculous. So they're fair game to make fun of. But there are plenty of people who really do think that all Muslims are violent extremists, so Muslims (or others) who feel the need to differentiate themselves should not be laughed at.
posted by desjardins at 5:19 PM on January 7, 2015 [6 favorites]


Nothing funny about making fun of something Muslims are expected to do every single time something gets perpetrated in their name, to a level that Christians, White people, and other demographics where other killers come from don't get expected to fulfill.

As an example of that, I haven't heard any calls for apologies from white men, and arguments for white men's collective guilt, and, in fact, not much of anything at all, regarding the fact that an NAACP headquarters was bombed yesterday by a white man.
posted by maxsparber at 5:20 PM on January 7, 2015 [15 favorites]


............
posted by dbiedny at 5:25 PM on January 7, 2015


Actually the #NotAllMuslims analogy to #NotAllMen analogy fits perfectly, desjardins.

#NotAllMen = #NotAllMenWhoComplainAboutRapeConversations
#NotAllMuslims = #NotAllMuslimsWhoComplainAboutMuhammadCartoons

Both critique people trying to avoid justified criticism of an ideology by claiming personal injury : aspects of rape culture and Islamic fundamentalism.
posted by jeffburdges at 5:28 PM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]




A history of racist and xenophobic cartoons does not "justified criticism of an ideology" make.

Especially since Muslims themselves have come under fire from Muslims and non-Muslims alike for critiquing their religion without this much solidarity.
posted by divabat at 5:29 PM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


@AFP: "#BREAKING: Youngest of three suspects in Paris attack surrenders to police, sources say"
posted by Golden Eternity at 5:32 PM on January 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


Maybe that underlines just how pointless and brutal this attack was, roomthreeseventeen. They weren't really making a point about anything or defending Islam, they just wanted to killkillkill.
posted by Kevin Street at 5:32 PM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]




Nothing funny about making fun of something Muslims are expected to do every single time something gets perpetrated in their name, to a level that Christians, White people, and other demographics where other killers come from don't get expected to fulfil.

Perhaps because Pew reports only 57% of Muslims worldwide have an unfavorable view of Al Qaeda, and only 51% have an unfavorable view of the Taliban.

So nearly half don't particularly mind.

It's not shocking, then, that denuciations of these vile organizations and their tactics is consistently called for.
posted by shivohum at 5:33 PM on January 7, 2015 [11 favorites]


Oxfam in France has expressed its sorrow at the shooting of Charb, one of the cartoonists, and points out that Charb had designed an anti-Israel poster for them in 2002. In other words, "please shoot us last."
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:34 PM on January 7, 2015 [5 favorites]




As an example of that, I haven't heard any calls for apologies from white men, and arguments for white men's collective guilt, and, in fact, not much of anything at all, regarding the fact that an NAACP headquarters was bombed yesterday by a white man.

All white men are guilty of the attempted bombing of a building that housed the Colorado Springs NAACP and Mr. G’s Hair Design Studios by an unknown man with unknown motives. Fortunately no one was injured or killed and no damage, beyond scorched paint, was done to the structure. I accept my share of the guilt for this act whatever that share might be. Happy?
posted by MikeMc at 5:36 PM on January 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


whhoooooosssssssssssshhhhhhhhh
posted by desjardins at 5:38 PM on January 7, 2015 [15 favorites]


#NotAllWhiteMen
posted by Golden Eternity at 5:38 PM on January 7, 2015


.
posted by taff at 5:39 PM on January 7, 2015


Fuck this shit, I'm out.
posted by divabat at 5:39 PM on January 7, 2015 [10 favorites]


Nothing funny about making fun of something Muslims are expected to do every single time something gets perpetrated in their name, to a level that Christians, White people, and other demographics where other killers come from don't get expected to fulfil.

Stop asking Muslims to condemn terrorism. It's bigoted and Islamophobic.
posted by homunculus at 5:41 PM on January 7, 2015 [19 favorites]


Charlie Hebdo cartoons mock Mohammed, that's not racist, divabat. And neither are feminist cartoons sexist.
posted by jeffburdges at 5:41 PM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


First, here's a great roundup of Muslim satirists attacking ISIS. Satire is sometimes the only recourse people have against atrocity.

Second... I'm really upset. Partly by the attack. I love French comics. I have a book by Wolinski on my shelves; I have another collection with some Cabu cartoons. It just seems insane that these guys have been murdered by terrorists.

And also by this thread. Such a display of victim blaming. How many people who are attacking Charlie Hebdo read French and have read the paper? It's hard to believe that people have even read Vox's summary and continue to maintain that CB's targets were "Muslims". They were attacking extremists, such as the extremists who bombed their offices, such as the extremists who murdered them. If this was "unwise", well, I hope you'll also explain to the Muslim satirists mentioned above how "unwise" they're being.

It's good to understand other people's cultures, and that includes France. French humor is far fiercer than American humor. The CB type of humor is closest to the underground cartoonists of the '60s, like Gilbert Shelton and Robert Crumb, but it's far more mainstream in France. It attacks everybody (including itself), it's deliberately provocative and obscene. It doesn't take well to people telling them to tone it down.

But do they actually hate people? I think this was best answered today by the Algerian cartoonist Ali Dilem:

"It's joking around. There's nothing nasty about it. It's not weapons that we're carrying; we're not there to do evil. When there were drawings on Muhammad, I was one of those who defended the Danish cartoonists, saying that there's no need to cut people's throats because they drew a caricature. There's things in life that are a little more serious than that. Here [Algeria], there have been massacres, including in editorial offices. In the paper "l’Hebdo libéré", people killed the editorial staff in 1994. I knew that they were capable of that, of such an extremity. But to hit cartoonists like Tignous... you can't hurt someone like Tignous. Cabu, he's the one who made me want to take up a pencil, who made me dream of being a cartoonist."
posted by zompist at 5:42 PM on January 7, 2015 [90 favorites]


A tribute to his friends, from the former Charlie Hebdo publisher Phillipe Val:
“They were so alive, they loved to make people happy, to make them laugh, to give them generous ideas. They were very good people. They were the best among us, as those who make us laugh, who are for liberty ... They were assassinated, it is an insufferable butchery.

“We cannot let silence set in, we need help. We all need to band together against this horror. Terror must not prevent joy, must not prevent our ability to live, freedom, expression – I’m going to use stupid words – democracy, after all this is what is at stake. It is this kind of fraternity that allows us to live. We cannot allow this, this is an act of war. It might be good if tomorrow, all newspapers were called Charlie Hebdo. If we titled them all Charlie Hebdo. If all of France was Charlie Hebdo. It would show that we are not okay with this. That we will never let stop laughing. We will never let liberty be extinguished.”
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:43 PM on January 7, 2015 [8 favorites]


Catholic League: Muslims Are Right To Be Angry

If the Catholic League agrees with you you're even more likely to be wrong.
posted by Justinian at 5:50 PM on January 7, 2015 [13 favorites]


whhoooooosssssssssssshhhhhhhhh

I got what he was saying. But I really don't see how the NAACP bombing is at all relevant to this thread. Particularly since I believe a mod already mentioned upthread that it wasn't.
posted by MikeMc at 5:51 PM on January 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


Blows my mind Ayaan Hirsi Ali is on Anderson Cooper right now. She's also on the wanted poster being discussed on the news.
posted by phaedon at 5:52 PM on January 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


I'm sad beyond the capacity for rational thought.
posted by humanfont at 5:55 PM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


I hope divabat decides to come back. We seem to be losing a lot of great MeFites :(
posted by Golden Eternity at 5:55 PM on January 7, 2015 [8 favorites]


Looks like NBC was right about the identities of the suspects, but wrong about their status. At the time of their report none of the suspects were in custody. Now one may be, and the other two are still at large.
posted by Kevin Street at 5:56 PM on January 7, 2015


Yes, sorry, NBC has now walked back on their earlier statement. Stupid news.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 6:12 PM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


I hope divabat decides to come back. We seem to be losing a lot of great MeFites :(

Seconded. divabat, I hope you come back too.
posted by homunculus at 6:26 PM on January 7, 2015 [3 favorites]




Well, this is horrifying. Deeply upsetting, and I feel very sad for twelve families right now.

I find comments like "Maybe discussing the political context just hours after a massacre happens is inappropriate" thoroughly asinine. Is this 'courtesy' ever extended to the anonymous brown people whose bodies litter the news? Is anyone ever like "woah, guys, let's not discuss Iraq policy for a while, 14 people died the other day in a market explosion in Tikrit"? And I put courtesy in scare quotes because establishing a freeze on discourse is not politeness, it's stupidity and creeping fascism.
posted by threeants at 6:31 PM on January 7, 2015 [20 favorites]


(Kindness is avoiding a rousing political debate with a victim's grieving partner. Stupidity is freezing discussion on an online discussion forum.)
posted by threeants at 6:42 PM on January 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


Perhaps because Pew reports only 57% of Muslims worldwide have an unfavorable view of Al Qaeda, and only 51% have an unfavorable view of the Taliban.

That link also said only 13% of respondents have favorable views of both of those groups, so y'know, way to bury the lede there.
posted by jackflaps at 6:46 PM on January 7, 2015 [10 favorites]




Suspects in Paris attack were on police radar for years
The older brother was arrested in Paris in January 2005 when he was caught trying to fly to Damascus, Syria, on his way to join the Iraqi insurgency, according to a 2008 Bloomberg report. ...

He was convicted in 2008 of terrorism charges for helping funnel fighters to Iraq's insurgency and given a three-year sentence, half of which was suspended.

[...]

Ironically, in 2008, his name again surfaced in an International Herald Tribune story detailing how security analysts decided their fears over foreign fighters returning to Europe were "overblown."
French Iraq Insurgents Get Up to 7 Years in Prison
The court said Kouachi had wanted to attack Jewish targets in France, but Benyettou had told him that France wasn't a "land of jihad" but Iraq was.

Kouachi, who alternated between periods of smoking marijuana and attending Benyettou's classes, said he's now working in a supermarket and his main interest is rap music.
Return of jihadists: Europe's fears subside
Another, Thamer Bouchnak, now a taxi driver, was described by his lawyer as a simple man, and easily swayed. Far from craving suicide, he bought a round-trip ticket to Syria, where he was to meet a contact, and had applied for a job working for the Paris Métro.

"He was a bit crazy - he wanted to go to the war in Iraq as an adventure, like you'd go on vacation," said Dominique Many, his lawyer.

He was arrested along with Cherif Kouachi, now a fishmonger, as they were about to leave France for Syria.

Their point man in Damascus was Salla Touré, an ethnic Malian from their Paris neighborhood who was 13 at the time and is now a fugitive. He had received his parents' permission to head to Syria to study at a Koranic school.

[...]

Defense attorneys for some of the accused have argued that their clients were "freedom fighters" not unlike partisans in Spain's civil war, and that a desire to fight in Iraq was logical, given France's opposition to the war and its declarations that an American-led war would violate international law.
Apparently the eighteen-year-old suspect turned himself in to the police station after seeing himself on the news.
posted by Golden Eternity at 7:17 PM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


homunculus: "Nothing funny about making fun of something Muslims are expected to do every single time something gets perpetrated in their name, to a level that Christians, White people, and other demographics where other killers come from don't get expected to fulfil.

Stop asking Muslims to condemn terrorism. It's bigoted and Islamophobic.
"

I turned on the radio on my way home, and the BBC presenter literally fucking started the conversation with a Muslim dude by asking about whether the preachers in the Mosques were really speaking out against violent extremism enough.

"AND THERE IT IS! OF COURSE!" I shouted at the radio...

Every single mother fucking time. Christ, you should be glad they're not blowing you up all the time just because they're fucking tired of having to answer the same old goddamned question and speak for someone else who isn't them.
posted by symbioid at 7:21 PM on January 7, 2015 [13 favorites]


Sorry, one more post and then I'll stop. Ross Douthat wrote an opinion column in the New York Times today that very capably addresses the issues that many Mefites in this thread have also been discussing. The Blasphemy We Need

Basically, his central argument comes in three points:
1) The right to blaspheme (and otherwise give offense) is essential to the liberal order.

2) There is no duty to blaspheme, a society’s liberty is not proportional to the quantity of blasphemy it produces, and under many circumstances the choice to give offense (religious and otherwise) can be reasonably criticized as pointlessly antagonizing, needlessly cruel, or simply stupid.

3) The legitimacy and wisdom of such criticism is generally inversely proportional to the level of mortal danger that the blasphemer brings upon himself.
Making fun of Islam or drawing cartoons of Muhammad isn't normally a very nice thing to do. It can usually be seen as an aggressive behavior, something that stupidly attacks people who are already persecuted and causes trouble for no particular reason. ("Punching down," as some here have said.) But when a fanatic says that you should die for for making fun of their beliefs the right to make fun suddenly becomes very important. As Douthat says, "If a large enough group of someones is willing to kill you for saying something, then it’s something that almost certainly needs to be said, because otherwise the violent have veto power over liberal civilization, and when that scenario obtains it isn’t really a liberal civilization any more."
posted by Kevin Street at 7:23 PM on January 7, 2015 [34 favorites]


Joe in Australia: That'll show 'em: Associated Press Takes Down “Piss Christ” Image After Complaints About Censorship Double Standard

If I can't be the first to post this disgusting turn of events, at least I can tell IAmBroom it's Andres Serrano, not Robert Mapplethorpe.

But, goddamn, AP. Fuck you.
posted by Guy Smiley at 7:36 PM on January 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


Great article Kevin. Provoking violent extremists is a heroic act.

More broadly, I'm amazed how easily some people have discarded the famous Voltaire maxim; the notion that a certain idea shouldn't be voiced because it might shock or hurt or offend someone is deadly to liberal society. Stormfront or anti-vaxers or Scientology or even jihadist clerics should all be allowed to present their ridiculous platforms.
posted by nicolas léonard sadi carnot at 7:37 PM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


As a frequent mefi reader, but unfrequent commentor I must admin that I am shocked at the amount of victim-blaming, both openly and passively (ex: CB was 'unwise', I am 'uncomfortable' with CB) both here an in the general media.

Honestly I find the tone of so much the response mentioning the CB cartoons were 'mean-spirited' and 'racist' so odd I feel as if I am in some type of bizarro world.
posted by seesom at 9:07 PM on January 7, 2015 [23 favorites]


I disagree. Those examples cited above refuse to extend to us the right to exist and think freely. Instead they want us murdered. This refusal justifies silencing them. I don't think society should grant rights to those unwilling to reciprocate those rights to their fellow humans.
posted by humanfont at 9:12 PM on January 7, 2015


This event is tragic, and I'm sad for these deaths.

Hearing the righteous anger behind the chants for 'freedom' gives me the same shiver I felt in 2001, when Bush first addressed Americans. I fear we'll be even sadder for France, soon.
posted by cotton dress sock at 9:19 PM on January 7, 2015 [7 favorites]


I too am shocked/dismayed by the victim-blaming in the thread, but I suspect it is the result of MeFites who identify politically as progressive not wanting to get lumped in with the Islamophobes and security-state flag wavers who clearly will exploit this event for their own purposes. I further suspect that this is especially the case for some American MeFites, who exist in a highly polarised political climate.

There's even people in thread trying to argue that Charlie Hebdo is "not a left wing" magazine, for crying out loud, as though it's inconceivable that one could be a leftist but mock islamic beliefs. Again, I think this is the product of the bipolar American political system, and a failure to understand that not all nation-states divide along the same socio-cultural/political lines.
posted by modernnomad at 9:26 PM on January 7, 2015 [45 favorites]


crying out loud, as though it's inconceivable that one could be a rightist but mock vauge indictments. Again, I think this is the product of

"I disagree."
posted by clavdivs at 10:03 PM on January 7, 2015


The cartoons are extreme, over-the-top, offensive, sophomoric, childish, blasphemous, degrading, insulting, obscene, and remind me greatly of Mad Magazine in their whimsically absurd beauty. In short I love them, I love Charlie Hedbo, and I love that they were published. Continue to publish them. Rushdie is absolutely right. Religion is a medieval form of unreason.
posted by ReeMonster at 10:09 PM on January 7, 2015 [7 favorites]


.
posted by misterbee at 10:15 PM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


nicolas léonard sadi carnot: “Provoking violent extremists is a heroic act.”

Provoking violent extremists through the exercise of freedoms might be a heroic act. Doing so in other ways might be a desecration of everything we hold dear.

I point this out because I worry that very soon we'll see a lot of folks on a lot of street corners in France and all over Europe taking it into their heads to "provoke violent extremists" through other means - chiefly the victimization of people who happen to be Muslims.

I hope that my worry proves unfounded. And I hope people continue holding fast to the ideals which we liberal democracies have clung to for so long: the ideals of peaceful freedoms and mutual respect thereof.
posted by koeselitz at 10:42 PM on January 7, 2015 [8 favorites]


The people who do this are not at all religious, they're barbaric. What's truly horrifying is how many others there are.
posted by carping demon at 10:42 PM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Definitely koeselitz, peacefulness is the foundation of all civil discourse. That's why political violence of any kind is so disgusting.
posted by nicolas léonard sadi carnot at 11:02 PM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Artw: "In summary:

Nobody should have been killed over those cartoons.

Fuck those cartoons
"

Jesus, those examples of Charlie Hebdo cartoons in that link. If anyone doubts it's a racist publication, they should go take a look at those.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 11:15 PM on January 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


Those killed:

Charb – whose real name was Stephane Charbonnier, 47, artist and publisher of Charlie Hebdo.

Cabu – whose real name was Jean Cabut, 76, Charlie Hebdo’s lead cartoonist. He had been honoured with the legion of honour, France’s highest decoration, in 2005.

Georges Wolinski – Tuinisian-born artist, 80. Had been drawing cartoons since the 1960s, and worked for Hara-Kiri, a satirical magazine considered a forerunner to Charlie Hebdo.

Tignous – whose real name was Bernard Verlhac, 57, was a member of a group of artists called Cartoonists for Peace.

Bernard Maris – known as “Uncle Bernard”, 68, was an economist and wrote a regular column for Charlie Hebdo.

Honoré – Philippe Honoré, 73, was a cartoonist who had worked for Charlie Hebdo since 1992. He was the artist who drew the last cartoon tweeted by the weekly only moments before the massacre. The cartoon shows the leader of Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, presenting his New Year message saying “and especially good health!”

Michel Renaud – a former journalist and political staffer who founded a cultural festival. He was visiting the Charlie Hebdo offices from Clermont-Ferrard.

Mustapha Ourrad – a copy-editor for Charlie Hebdo. Of Algerian descent.

Elsa Cayat – Charlie Hebdo analyst and columnist.

Frederic Boisseau – building maintenance worker.

Franck Brinsolaro – 49-year-old policeman appointed to head security for Charb. He was the father of a one-year-old daughter.

Ahmed Merabet - 42 and a French Muslim. A police officer and member of the 11th arrondissement brigade.
posted by Mister Bijou at 11:31 PM on January 7, 2015 [29 favorites]


That link also said only 13% of respondents have favorable views of both of those groups, so y'know, way to bury the lede there.

Oh, I'm sorry, instead of saying that half of Muslims worldwide don't seem to have a problem with Al Qaeda and the Taliban, it improves the situation to say mention that "only" 1 out of 8 of those actually favor them instead of being merely neutral -- that's burying the lede?

And hey, only 25-45% of young Muslims in America, France, Britain, and Germany think suicide bombings are justified. No biggie, right?

Only 80% of Egyptian Muslims favor stoning adulterers, only 80% of Pakistani Muslims favor amputations as punishments, and only 50% of Nigerian Muslims favor death for apostates. Practically nobody!

It's the kind of thinking Charlie Hebdo might memorably have mocked. I love the idea of Muslim moderates, but they are sadly far from being the large majority.
posted by shivohum at 11:47 PM on January 7, 2015 [6 favorites]


I'm pretty sure the vast majority of Americans support the death penalty.

Suicide bombing is just a warfare tactic, like drones.
posted by colie at 11:52 PM on January 7, 2015


About 60% favor the death penalty. Which is 60% too high, sure, but even as a staunch opponent of the death penalty for murderers I think it's ridiculous to equate that to support for stoning adulterers, amputations, or the death penalty for apostates. It's like saying that we jail people for armed robbery so we have no basis to criticize places which jail people for political expression.
posted by Justinian at 11:55 PM on January 7, 2015 [8 favorites]




There are so many things I want to say and am not sure how to say them. I'll cut to the chase and say I would really hate to see the "terrorists win" and provoke people into insulting all Muslims with more prophet-drawings. It's always easy to sacrifice someone else's sacred cow. I seem to remember an Israeli newspaper that responded to the Danish Muhammad controversy by running a bunch of antisemitic cartoons. I don't consider it a matter of "victim blaming" but of selecting the proper tactical and principled approach to the future.

On that note, there are many exceptions to the first amendment in the U.S. One of them is "obscenity"; as far as I know the standard in Miller v California is still the relevant one. I use the term loosely because it's not much of a standard and I've heard there's an incredible amount of incoherence in U.S. law on the subject. Among other things it requires judges to try to figure out the local community standard of decency. A person wearing a t-shirt with a clever, pointed political satire printed on it that includes the word "fuck" might run afoul. I should say I'm not defending the idea of "obscenity" as an exception to free speech, just noting it exists in the law and who's to say a picture of Muhammad isn't it? That's quite the mote in our American eye.

In summary, if you want to show your commitment to the principle of free speech please do it by insulting your own prophet, whoever or whatever that is. And if you want to take a real stand, draw your own community's version of Muhammad: draw something legally obscene.
posted by traveler_ at 12:40 AM on January 8, 2015 [8 favorites]


shivohum: “And hey, only 25-45% of young Muslims in America, France, Britain, and Germany think suicide bombings are justified. No biggie, right?”

That is flatly not what your link says. Your link says 15% of young American Muslims believe that suicide bombings can often or sometimes be justified. That's much smaller than 25%; and the overall proportion of American Muslims who believe that suicide bombings can often or sometimes be justified is actually 8%. (This is on pages 11 and 12.) Pew itself says that this is small. They are right.

I'm open to correction here, but as far as I can tell even if there's something I've missed you've distorted the report by lumping a bunch of countries together when the primary country being studied has a much lower proportion of Muslims who believe what you say they believe.
posted by koeselitz at 12:42 AM on January 8, 2015 [4 favorites]


I love the idea of Muslim moderates, but they are sadly far from being the large majority.

My experience of Christians and other religious folk is that very few of them are moderates, either, when it comes to their beliefs and the institutions that reinforce those beliefs.

Hell, Christians are waging war against the rights of women to have personal autonomy in the United States right now, and I expect if you quizzed American Christians about that barbarism you'd find roughly equivalent support to the cherry-picked examples you present about islam.

Our justice system and especially our prisons are hell on earth if you are not rich and white. And yet our society is so vested in perpetrating this that to even utter doubts means you cannot get elected. That public support does not seem much different to me than some of the examples you cite. To claim our justice system, where the rubber actually meets the road, is in actual fact better is to speak from a position of privilege.

Some of CH's work makes me uncomfortable. But one small thing I've learned is that intellectual discomfort can sometimes be because something is actually vile--or sometimes because it causes me to realize something I assumed isn't actually so, or I dismissed something as unimportant that's important, or perhaps I had no actual knowledge of an issue I thought I was conversant about.

I can deal with uncomfortable.

It's so ridiculous. People killed over words. I'm so sorry for the folk in Paris, their families, and the inevitable witch hunt which will follow. Possibly with statistics and links to justify it.
posted by maxwelton at 12:43 AM on January 8, 2015 [8 favorites]


That is flatly not what your link says

Look at the first table on page 60. Among American Muslims 18-29, 26% consider suicide bombing ever justified. That breaks down into 15% considering it often/sometimes justified, and 11% considering it rarely justified.
posted by shivohum at 12:50 AM on January 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


I think it's because it's actually vile, like the "Boko Haram sex slaves as welfare queens" cartoon, or the time Charlie Hebdo portrayed France's black justice minister as a monkey. This is straight-up racism, and it's a pattern.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 12:52 AM on January 8, 2015 [7 favorites]


shivohum: “Look at the first table on page 60. Among American Muslims 18-29, 26% consider suicide bombing ever justified. That breaks down into 15% considering it often/sometimes justified, and 11% considering it rarely justified.”

First, note that your phrasing is pretty imprecise. You said before that 25%-45% of young Muslims in these countries believe suicide bombings are justified. This is crucially different from saying that suicide bombings can ever be justified.

Pew, much more sanely, does not share your methodology in reading these results. On page 12, they say:
Moreover, more than twice as many Muslim Americans under age 30 as older Muslims believe that suicide bombings can be often or sometimes justified in the defense of Islam (15% vs. 6%).
... and I want to respond further to your about Islam being (in your apparent view) largely radicalized:

I think Juan Cole's piece was rather hasty, but it provided some good background, and part of that background was this useful link concerning the state of Islam in Paris and France and the views of Muslims there about terrorism. I suggest you peruse it; you will find that it contradicts what you've been saying about the nonexistence of a significant block of moderate Muslims. Less than 2/3 of French Muslims (68%) say that religion is an important part of their daily lives; this seems to bear out Cole's claim that French Muslims are perhaps more secular than any other population of Muslims in the world. Also, 77% rate the acceptability of political violence for a noble cause as low or very low.

It seems to me from reading this that, at least in France, there is in fact a very large proportion of Muslims who are moderate.
posted by koeselitz at 1:06 AM on January 8, 2015 [5 favorites]


I suggest you peruse it; you will find that it contradicts what you've been saying about the nonexistence of a significant block of moderate Muslims.

I haven't said such a block doesn't exist, I've simply denied that they are a large majority of Muslims worldwide. I'm rebutting the claim the conventional wisdom that extremists are tiny bands of thugs completely unrelated to mainstream Muslims. Yes, moderates exist in significant numbers. Extremists do too, very much so. And many moderates have at least some extremist views even if they are moderate on the whole.

Less than 2/3 of French Muslims (68%) say that religion is an important part of their daily lives; this seems to bear out Cole's claim that French Muslims are perhaps more secular than any other population of Muslims in the world.

But it's still about three times the rate in the general population, as the next sentence says.

Also, 77% rate the acceptability of political violence for a noble cause as low or very low.

So nearly a quarter consider it ok. That is not good.

Another number for perspective: a recent poll reports that one in six French citizens supports ISIS. That seems almost too high to believe, but even given a margin of error -- say the number were one in ten instead -- it would be like saying one in ten French citizens supported child sex trafficking. It's horrifying. The percentage jumps to 27% of 18-24 year olds.
posted by shivohum at 1:27 AM on January 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


Shivohum, I find your pushing this barrow in this thread quite offensive and I do wish most fervently you would stop. I suspect you have had very little contact with Muslims in the real world and know even less about Islam and is practice.

You are demonstrating exactly the kind of equivalency and racism people have alluded to being afraid of. A better question to Muslims might be, "are you planning a suicide bombing or massacre, or would you?"

The answer is, self evidently, 99.999999% "no". Your willingness to lump all Muslims together is both ignorant and racist, I feel. A global population of nearly one point seven billion people do not deserve to be vilified by you - especially when the vast majority of Anglo crime escapes such explanations as "it's their culture and religion."

I find this ancient prejudice and ignorant hate far, far more offensive than anyone assessing the magazines output as racist - a fairly bland observation which has promoted several expeditions up the high horse already.
posted by smoke at 2:00 AM on January 8, 2015 [19 favorites]


Another shooting in Paris, with a police woman killed and a passerby wounded. Not known if there is a link to yesterday's attack.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 2:13 AM on January 8, 2015


It's the loudest and most vile voices that are heard. I was going to say on both sides of the fence but that's bullshit because there is no fence, not really. I find it hard to justify religious intolerance because I find it hard to justify religion but that's just me. I despise generalisations, and that's why I hate it when people like Bill Maher are all "this is what they believe!" and why I also hate people who feel justified in killing other people because they believe that what they draw and write is "wrong". These people want to start a war, they want to make people believe that there are "others" are amongst us.

I hope the people who shot and killed these people are caught and tried as murderers. I hope people stop waiting for reasons to despise other people based on a generalisation or stereotype and then feel justified in continuing this bullshit.

We need to stop extremists, every lazy moderate one of us.
posted by h00py at 2:32 AM on January 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


Another shooting in Paris, with a police woman killed and a passerby wounded. Not known if there is a link to yesterday's attack.
According to Le Monde, a car pulled up at the scene of a traffic accident, and the driver got out carrying a hand gun and a weapon of "première catégorie" (high-capacity automatic weapons) and started shooting. A female traffic cop was killed and a municipal roadworker wounded.

Meanwhile, RT reports that four grenades were thrown at a mosque in Le Mans overnight.
posted by brokkr at 3:09 AM on January 8, 2015


With basic school French and google translate I'd hesitate to say I totally understand the context of cartoons which depend on things in the French news cycle which I never knew about in the first place eg. cartoons which appear to be responses to insults printed by right wing magazines which seem to be using some of their own tropes to satirise their racist attitudes. If I had better French and knew the entire context I might be in a position to say, but even with my crap French and google I can see that some of the cartoons being waved about as proof of 'racism' don't seem to be so simple to interpret. Just maybe, if you have never read this magazine before, it would be a better idea not to rush to the most uncharitable construction possible. Hopefully we can hear more from some of the French or Francophile mefites who do have the context.
posted by Flitcraft at 3:11 AM on January 8, 2015 [19 favorites]


There's even people in thread trying to argue that Charlie Hebdo is "not a left wing" magazine, for crying out loud, as though it's inconceivable that one could be a leftist but mock islamic beliefs. Again, I think this is the product of the bipolar American political system, and a failure to understand that not all nation-states divide along the same socio-cultural/political lines.

As I mentioned above, what passes for Leftism in America and in her cultural sphere of influence (i.e. the Guardian) seems to be the the establishment of a ordering of identity groups and the promotion of the interests of those groups lower down the order over those groups higher up. (The claims that there are multiple orthogonal pecking orders or that there's no strict total ordering in people's heads seem false: there are only two directions one can "punch", and, whenever there's a debate, it's about who is really higher or lower).

What you're seeing, on this thread and elsewhere, is the dissonance that arises when Leftists-of-this-sort have to deal with members of a group whose interests they would naturally promote carrying out heinous crimes against people higher up the ordering. Suddenly, those LOTS who in other contexts would be assiduous in calling out any implication, however subtle, that "she was asking for it, dressed like that" or "maybe it was a bad idea to drink so much at the frat party", are using those same tropes and hoping that a big disclaimer will do the trick. How would you expect that to work for you in one of those other contexts?

I guess what's happened is that the ordering was established as an instrument to promote the positive values of some sort of Leftism, but has now become almost an end in itself. I grew up in the 1980s reading the Daily Mirror, but it's fair to say I'm not an "ally" of LOTS. Which isn't to say I haven't learned anything from reading Mefi, LJ and even Tumblr (the shocking prevalence of street harassment, to take one example).
posted by pw201 at 3:21 AM on January 8, 2015 [23 favorites]


the dissonance that arises when Leftists-of-this-sort have to deal with members of a group whose interests they would naturally promote

I can't really follow this, but what leftists here would naturally promote Islamic Fundamentalists?

It's usually the left that calls out these guys first - while the right wing and liberals and media are supporting governments that actually fund and create these organisations as a preferred alternative to class consciousness/nationalism (see Hamas, Mujahedin, ISIS...)
posted by colie at 3:27 AM on January 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


In summary, if you want to show your commitment to the principle of free speech please do it by insulting your own prophet, whoever or whatever that is. And if you want to take a real stand, draw your own community's version of Muhammad: draw something legally obscene.

I've been beating this drum repeatedly, so I'll give it a rest after this, but a couple of points. First, the existence blasphemous or otherwise offensive images has never actually physically hurt anyone. Really. If a group of Christian extremists had just staged a massacre in a museum that was exhibiting Piss Christ I very seriously doubt anyone would be doing this "well, it doesn't excuse the violence but..." false equivalence bullshit.

Secondly, it would be a mistake to make this about the west vs. Islam, or French secularists/Christians vs. French Muslims. This is about a publication that, by all informed accounts, was committed to nothing so much as their right to say whatever the hell they wanted to say vs. a small group of violent extremists who believe that right simply doesn't exist.

The fact that the cartoons were offensive and needlessly provocative was precisely the point of their existence. If one person says "I will kill anyone who says the word Jehovah" and, as a result, no one says the word Jehovah, then everyone has ceded their freedom of speech to the whims of that one person. It apparently wouldn't have made a difference to CH if it was a picture of Muhammed or a picture of a roast beef sandwich. Someone said "you cannot publish this or I will kill you" and it became a moral imperative for CH to publish it. That the staff of CH was literally willing to die in defense of their right to do so ought to be proof that they were, in fact, making a "real stand".
posted by seymourScagnetti at 3:32 AM on January 8, 2015 [45 favorites]


Cowardly mainstream media won’t show cartoons of Muhammad

Appears worth remembering next time the chicken hawks at Fox, CNN, etc. talk about the necessity of some military action that'll kill thousands of innocent people.
posted by jeffburdges at 4:05 AM on January 8, 2015 [5 favorites]


While this is still ongoing and terrifying for those of us in Paris, I would love it if the theoretical arguments could hold off. Where is the fast moving mefi I love, throwing up links to information rather than arguing about free speech.
posted by ellieBOA at 4:13 AM on January 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


TITANIC (Das Engültige Satiremagazin), in a truly rare moment of seriousness...

Rough translation, for the understandably German-impaired:

In the wake of the terrible murders in Paris, it seems necessary to review some fundamentals on Humor and Satire. Because our experience at TITANIC has been that it's not only islamic terrorists who lack the basic equipment. First and foremost, humor is a tool to counteract, ideally to conquer, the seriousness of life, which, even without rocket launchers being fired in editors' offices, weighs heavily on most of us. Humor creates distance to events that worry us; it allows us to speak indirectly about the actually unbearable, and thus to fight the horror.

Many of those untutored in the art of humor, whether they are islamists, racists, or average German journalists, commit the error of trying to reduce a joke to an un-funny, serious (and mostly inaccurate) core point. Some do this because they want to extinguish the joke; others, because they believe that jokes about serious topics are appropriate only if they are "valuable", "thoughtful", or whatever.

Of course it's nice if humor conveys a meaningful message, but without it it is still very valuable. Most people should know this, because they practice it themselves. For example: Yesterday, about 100 journalists asked me for interviews and comments, and phrases like "we didn't mean to ambush you" or "OK, shoot" kept coming up - and what did those people do when they realized what they had said, accidentally and out of habit? They laughed. Not because they were making fun of murdered satirists, but because their usual phrases, in a new context, had suddenly acquired unwanted new meaning. There's no valuable message in that; it simply takes the power away from a moment of seriousness.

This is probably the reason why fanatics, particularly religious ones, despise humor. They represent a dead-serious, single, eternal truth. Jokes, no matter how thoughtful or funny, threaten that truth. Religion (along with plenty of other world views) is madness in the guise of rationality. Satire and humor are rationality in the guise of madness. The former must misunderstand the latter, which is why representatives of the sacred and serious must react to humor with anger. And it is their right to do so. As long as they do it with the same weapons satirists use: words and pictures. Not automatic weapons.

Since yesterday, more than ever: Long live the joke. The smart joke, the dumb joke. Any joke that finds enough people who laugh. And to all who don't like it, more than ever: Bear it, or ignore it. You will not conquer it!
posted by kleinsteradikaleminderheit at 4:34 AM on January 8, 2015 [73 favorites]


Yes, yes. Thank you, kleinsteradikaleminderheit and TITANIC.
posted by rory at 4:39 AM on January 8, 2015


Opposing view: An editorial in USA Today by someone whose bio notes is a radical Muslim cleric who lectures on Sharia law.
posted by emelenjr at 4:45 AM on January 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


Re: or the time Charlie Hebdo portrayed France's black justice minister as a monkey. This is straight-up racism, and it's a pattern.

Context: this image was a satirical defence of Christiane Taubira and an attack on the Front National after a FN mayoral candidate posted a Taubira-is-a-monkey photomontage on her facebook page. Taubira's party sued her for hate speech.
Context 2 : After the CH image, the extreme right-wing mag Minute did a cover with a Taubira-is-a-banana-loving-monkey unsubtle subtext and Taubira sued again. She won both cases in 2014 (France have rather strict hate speech laws). Taubira didn't sue CH about this image because she understood the context. (Christiane Taubira knows a couple of things about racism. One can also follow her on Twitter to read what she has to say about Charlie Hebdo.)
In a rather touching display of shared hate for Charlie Hebdo, islamophobic extreme-right wingers and radical islamists, however, have since used this image as a "proof" of "double standard". Indeed, the blog hosting the copy of the image is a racist, islamophobic website that should have not been linked to on Mefi in the first place.
posted by elgilito at 5:05 AM on January 8, 2015 [109 favorites]


Note that the USA Today editorial is by Anjem Choudary, not a person whom I would normally expect a national newspaper to approach for a contribution unless it was particularly hard up for ad revenue. It would be understating the case to say that Choudary's views aren't representative of those of the majority of Muslims. Pinch of salt.
posted by Zeinab Badawi's Twenty Hotels at 5:17 AM on January 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


Google translation of Christiane Taubira's first tweet on the CH news: "#CharlieHebdo first wall and the last bastion of democracy, the free press is the enemy of obscurantism and violence. ChT"

elgilito, thank you for providing important context on these cartoons.
posted by rory at 5:19 AM on January 8, 2015 [11 favorites]


Charlie Hebdo... next issue (Wednesday, 14 january 2015) will have a print run of 1,000,000 copies.

To be financed by "Presse et pluralisme" (fund of an organisation of French editors) to the tune of 250,000 euros... and matched with another 250,000 euros from Google's "innovation numérique de la presse" (press digital innovation) fund. Presstalis, distrubutor of newspapers and magazines, is doing the distribution for this coming edition gratis.

source: Les Echos
posted by Mister Bijou at 5:25 AM on January 8, 2015 [12 favorites]


elgilito completely has the dope here.
posted by Wolof at 5:35 AM on January 8, 2015 [4 favorites]


Zeinab Badawi's Twenty Hotels--I concur 99% with your comments re: the editorial, Choudry's views and the extent it represents the broader Muslim community--However I would take it with a bit more than a pinch of salt. The simple fact is that radical preachers such as him do have a small, but devout, following whose stated beliefs are anathema to the communities in which they live. It is statements like his that give momentum to the far right, stir the right, unsettle the middle and confuse the left. While there certainly is no problem in holding these beliefs in a pluralistic secular society there is everything wrong with acting on them. Period.
posted by rmhsinc at 5:41 AM on January 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


(fund of an organisation of French editors)

Publishers, not editors.
/editor
posted by Wolof at 5:42 AM on January 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


Publishers, not editors.

Merde!

Wolof... Je vous remercie pour la correction.
posted by Mister Bijou at 5:49 AM on January 8, 2015


Faux ami. De rien.
posted by Wolof at 5:51 AM on January 8, 2015


No capes, dahlink.
posted by Wolof at 5:55 AM on January 8, 2015


I've been bothered by the "Fuck those cartoons" post that ArtW linked above since reading it last night. The author seems to have the wrong end of the stick on several points, but particularly when it comes to the response to the news by the world's cartoonists (or "hack cartoonists", as he sneeringly calls them). For once, the comments are worth reading, because several commenters there call him on it, but to highlight just one of his points:

A call “TO ARMS” is gross and inappropriate. To simplify the attack on the Charlie Hebdo offices as “Good, Valiant Westerners vs. Evil, Savage Muslims” is not only racist, it’s dangerously overstated. Cartoonists (especially political cartoonists) generally reinforce the status quo, and they tend to be white men. Calling fellow cartoonists TO ARMS is calling other white men to arms against already marginalized people. The inevitable backlash against Muslims has begun in earnest.

He's talking there about an image that I happened to retweet yesterday, by Chilean illustrator Francisco Javier Olea. There is nothing in that image that "simplifies the attack as Good, Valiant Westerners vs. Evil, Savage Muslims". It's an obvious call to fellow cartoonists to pick up their pens and pencils in response to armed violence, not Islam. It's a fundamentally pacifist message, the entire point being that these "arms" aren't arms. Miscontruing it as a racist call to physical violence is deeply obnoxious. Does he seriously want to suggest that cartoonists shouldn't be speaking out in defence of their profession and the human right that makes it possible on this of all days?
posted by rory at 6:06 AM on January 8, 2015 [33 favorites]


More than anything I feel like the sudden offence we're seeing at the content of CH is symptomatic of the narcissism of a certain sliver of the left.
posted by nicolas léonard sadi carnot at 6:21 AM on January 8, 2015 [11 favorites]


More than anything I feel like the sudden offence we're seeing at the content of CH is symptomatic of the narcissism of a certain sliver of the left.

And I read it more generously than you: I think people are genuinely concerned about the content of the cartoons, and genuinely want to discuss the ethics of representing a minority group as a subject of satire and humor. And that's a totally valid discussion, although I think, at the moment, it is one that won't be appreciated, because it feels like bad timing.

But it's a discussion that is worth having at some time, whereas whether or not a certain sliver of the left are narcissists seems to exclusively be an ad hominem charge against a vaguely defined group, and I don't see how it forwards any discussion at all.
posted by maxsparber at 6:28 AM on January 8, 2015 [15 favorites]


I think there might have been a point in doing that at the time of publication, but revisiting the content as a consequence of the massacre is effectively victim-blaming - or worse, an ingratiating attempt to be one of the good Westerners.
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:35 AM on January 8, 2015 [14 favorites]


revisiting the content as a consequence of the massacre is effectively victim-blaming

The victims' spokespeople want us to revisit their work, don't they? That's what all these cartoons on Twitter are about.
posted by colie at 6:42 AM on January 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


The victims' spokespeople want us to revisit their work, don't they? That's what all these cartoons on Twitter are about.

Memorializing someone by republishing their work is not the same thing as posting something to criticize it.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 6:46 AM on January 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


I really don't think these guys minded people commenting on their cartoons negatively. That was half the reason they drew them in the first place.
posted by colie at 6:55 AM on January 8, 2015 [9 favorites]


The victims' spokespeople want us to revisit their work, don't they? That's what all these cartoons on Twitter are about.

For pity's sake... I know I'm taking your obnoxious and disingenuous bait here, but it bears stating that it's smug moralistic pronouncements about the CH cartoonist's true motives (like suggestions of racism against all Arabs or Muslims with satire of fundamentalist Islamist attitudes) and what such oh-so-mean and -disrespectful folks might deserve for writing such biting satire, ignorant of political and cultural context and heavily equivocating on the freedoms of expression that I thought were, or at least that used to be, taken as a freaking given in western democracies, that are the problem -- not increased exposure the murdered cartoonists' work might be getting.
posted by aught at 6:57 AM on January 8, 2015 [18 favorites]


maxsparber, I agree that the vast majority of people raising their problems with the content of CH are coming from a well-intentioned place.

Maybe the problem is not viscerally understanding the awfulness of political killings, or perhaps distance from the victims - which I can sort of understand.

But it's still behaviour with which I have a huge problem. It feels gross in the same way as the "if only they had guns" garbage from Trump - though I'm not quite so willing to assume he's being sincere.
posted by nicolas léonard sadi carnot at 6:59 AM on January 8, 2015 [2 favorites]




I really don't think these guys minded people commenting on their cartoons negatively. That was half the reason they drew them in the first place.

I'm sure that they could only hope that after they were gunned down for publishing a few tasteless cartoons, that western liberals would take time out of their day to trash their life's work.
posted by empath at 7:11 AM on January 8, 2015 [10 favorites]


Bullshit, I didn't trash anyone's life's work.
posted by colie at 7:14 AM on January 8, 2015


The context of criticizing their work has shifted more than slightly since they were murdered yesterday.
posted by malocchio at 7:17 AM on January 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


"The cartoons must be reprinted on every newspaper cover, for free speach!" and "the xenophobic content of the cartoons must not be discussed" are fundamentally incompatible positions.
posted by Artw at 7:21 AM on January 8, 2015 [13 favorites]


Maryam Namazie - "A defence of Charlie Hebdo must also turn into defence of other blasphemers and apostates"
I don’t think there are many atheist, ex-Muslim or secular activists (including Muslims) like myself who have spoken up publicly and not faced some form of threat or intimidation.

So for us, Charlie Hebdo’s refusal to back down when so many have has meant a great deal over these years. Also, though, in addition to the rage one feels at any such tragedy, the massacre is personal for us.

It could really have been any of us. We are truly all Charlie Hebdo.

With the focus now on Charlie Hebdo and the crucial need and right to criticise Islam and religion, though, let us not forget the many across the globe who face execution or imprisonment for “insulting the prophet” and criticising Islam. Below you will find some examples which include Muslims, believers and atheists; the charges aim not to protect “Muslim sensibilities” as we so often hear in the west but to protect the status quo and the political power of Islamists.
posted by audi alteram partem at 7:24 AM on January 8, 2015 [19 favorites]


I really don't think these guys minded people commenting on their cartoons negatively. That was half the reason they drew them in the first place.

I completely agree... while in another context the criticism of CH would elict howls of 'stop the victim blaming', I seriously doubt that the cartoonists would want to be shielded by that piece of rhetoric (which is much overused in these parts IMHO). Their work is obviously an integral part of the conversation, and that includes being open to criticism, even if the timing might be judged bad taste by some.

What's really the issue here is the many knee-jerk reactions from those viewing the cartoons and immediately jumping to 'racist!' and 'islamophobic!'. I'm guessing most of those reactions are from people who don't speak french, aren't intimately familiar with the history of satire in the french/european context, and plain just didn't get the satire, to the point of being exactly wrong interpreting it. I fully support CH's mission, for if nothing else they are a canary-in-the-coal-mine for whether we are actually able to exercise the rights that we supposedly have.
posted by amorphatist at 7:27 AM on January 8, 2015 [13 favorites]


Via Alex Massie's article in The Spectator I have learned that today is the 318th anniversary of the execution of Thomas Aikenhead, the last person in Britain to be executed for blasphemy.
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:30 AM on January 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


While this is still ongoing and terrifying for those of us in Paris, I would love it if the theoretical arguments could hold off. Where is the fast moving mefi I love, throwing up links to information rather than arguing about free speech.

Maybe because there are not a lot of French-speakers or otherwise informed MeFites in this thread? I just follow AFP, Le Figaro, and Le Monde for breaking updates, not MetaFilter.
posted by Nevin at 7:31 AM on January 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


More than anything I feel like the sudden offence we're seeing at the content of CH is symptomatic of the narcissism of a certain sliver of the left.

The New Yorker on the attack after Charlie Hebdo's 2011 cover:

With its offices under police protection, Charb said that mocking Islam must continue “until Islam is just as banal as Catholicism.”

I just don't understand how to take this goal other than as a kind of hubris. It strikes me as naive and irresponsible, in the way it seems it did to the French, as reported above.

Will Self (via Kitteh's link above):

The trouble with a lot of so-called "satire" directed against so-called religious extremists is that it's not clear who it's afflicting, or who it's comforting. This is in no way to condone the shooting of the journalists, which is evil, pure and simple, but our society makes a fetish of the 'right to free speech' without ever questioning what responsibilities are implied by this right.

They were sitting on a tinderbox, filled with racially inflected tensions between a local population of immigrants and a Le Pen-loving majority. Lighting the match has to involve a certain level of perversity.

I don't know, I do feel that those whose words and images have power and reach should feel responsible for what they put out.

(To be clear, I am not suggesting this attack was "deserved".)
posted by cotton dress sock at 7:33 AM on January 8, 2015 [5 favorites]


I don't know, I do feel that those whose words and images have power and reach should feel responsible for what they put out.

There's no indication that these artists were not responsible for their work. They signed their pieces.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:34 AM on January 8, 2015 [11 favorites]


I don't know, I do feel that those whose words and images have power and reach should feel responsible for what they put out.

"This may be a bit pompous what I'm saying, but I prefer to die standing than live on my knees." - Charb

I don't know if you can feel any more responsible than that.
posted by amorphatist at 7:40 AM on January 8, 2015 [17 favorites]


NYTImes: A Postcard From Paris
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:45 AM on January 8, 2015


They were sitting on a tinderbox, filled with racially inflected tensions between a local population of immigrants and a Le Pen-loving majority. Lighting the match has to involve a certain level of perversity.

This seems to suggest that their murder (or at least a violent attack), while a horrible crime, was to be expected.

But why would their murder or a violent attack be expected? And who are you anticipating would pull the trigger? The "local population of immigrants"? Because that would suggest this is some sort of "clash of civilizations" which it was not.

The people who did this do not have legitimate war aims. If this is a war, whose side would you be on? That of Charlie Hebdo, or the assassins?
posted by Nevin at 7:46 AM on January 8, 2015 [9 favorites]


But why would their murder or a violent attack be expected? And who are you anticipating would pull the trigger? The "local population of immigrants"? Because that would suggest this is some sort of "clash of civilizations" which it was not.

Some feel that in today's context, radicalization of immigrant (and not-so immigrant, second-generation) youth might be expected when they are rejected by a dominant majority.

If this is a war, whose side would you be on? That of Charlie Hebdo, or the assassins?

I like to think I'm on the side of the kind of tolerance and inclusion that might prevent these kinds of horrors.
posted by cotton dress sock at 8:00 AM on January 8, 2015 [5 favorites]


me: “Also, 77% rate the acceptability of political violence for a noble cause as low or very low.”

shivohum: “So nearly a quarter consider it ok. That is not good.”

But I consider it okay! Don't you?

Seriously, think about this for a moment.
posted by koeselitz at 8:07 AM on January 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


What's really the issue here is the many knee-jerk reactions from those viewing the cartoons and immediately jumping to 'racist!' and 'islamophobic!'. I'm guessing most of those reactions are from people who don't speak french, aren't intimately familiar with the history of satire in the french/european context, and plain just didn't get the satire, to the point of being exactly wrong interpreting it. I fully support CH's mission, for if nothing else they are a canary-in-the-coal-mine for whether we are actually able to exercise the rights that we supposedly have.

When I read some posts with links here and other that I found it's also makes a big difference in understanding the politics they're in context with. I've found that what seems on the face of it to be 'wow, what the?' isn't so much when you get that part of the context as well as the cultural context you spoke of.

I'm in Canada and heck even people next door to the south, which share cultural stuff even more closely don't get some of my political humour or general humour, especially if it refers more detailed political goings on here.

Transfering humour and especially satirical types of humour cross culture and political isn't always easy.
posted by Jalliah at 8:07 AM on January 8, 2015 [5 favorites]


I am 100% on the side of tolerance and inclusiveness in general, and practice it myself whenever possible, but not everyone needs to be tolerant and inclusive all the time.

I don't accept at all that satirizing Islam is 'punching down', btw. It's one of the largest religions in the world, and there are incredibly powerful and wealthy Muslim dictatorships and theocracies that are funding terror and mayhem all over the world in the name of their faith, and brutally repressing their own people. Taking the piss out of religion of any kind, but particularly large and powerful religions, while annoying and hurtful to the genuinely faithful, can be only good for humanity in the long run.

Yes, it's 'easier' to do it from a western country like France or the US where are the protections for free speech, but as we see, it's not without its risks even here. People wouldn't dream of doing it in a place like Saudi Arabia because they'd be thrown in prison or beheaded for it. If anything, punching down is attacking a bunch of cartoonists for daring to poke fun at a guy that's been dead for over a thousand years while their bodies are still warm.
posted by empath at 8:09 AM on January 8, 2015 [27 favorites]


If this is a war, whose side would you be on? That of Charlie Hebdo, or the assassins?

I like to think I'm on the side of the kind of tolerance and inclusion that might prevent these kinds of horrors.


I'm not sure the gunmen would be persuaded by "tolerance and inclusion". If fact, I think people who murder others over cartoons may actually be against tolerance and inclusion.
posted by spaltavian at 8:10 AM on January 8, 2015 [18 favorites]


shivohum: “Another number for perspective: a recent poll reports that one in six French citizens supports ISIS. That seems almost too high to believe, but even given a margin of error -- say the number were one in ten instead -- it would be like saying one in ten French citizens supported child sex trafficking. It's horrifying. The percentage jumps to 27% of 18-24 year olds.”

I am not really willing to trust a poll done for Russia Today and reported in Vox. You may feel differently.
posted by koeselitz at 8:12 AM on January 8, 2015 [10 favorites]


I'm not sure the gunmen would be persuaded by "tolerance and inclusion". If fact, I think people who murder others over cartoons may actually be against tolerance and inclusion.

You're using this as an argument against tolerance and inclusion?
posted by Artw at 8:19 AM on January 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


Do 1 in 6 French citizens really support Islamic State? (Washington Post)
posted by tykky at 8:23 AM on January 8, 2015 [5 favorites]


I'm not sure the gunmen would be persuaded by "tolerance and inclusion". If fact, I think people who murder others over cartoons may actually be against tolerance and inclusion.

You're using this as an argument against tolerance and inclusion?


Yes, that's a fair and logical reading of what I said. I am against tolerance and inclusion. I am history's greatest monster.
posted by spaltavian at 8:25 AM on January 8, 2015 [10 favorites]


The journalists were shot while they were having a meeting to organise a conference against racism, which is hysterically funny. Who will apologise to the memory of good people who never harmed anyone and died in the name of equality and freedom from oppression?
posted by Spanner Nic at 8:26 AM on January 8, 2015 [10 favorites]


The demands that we choose a side of either being with or against and then commit to murdering the opposition is the extremists game and we shouldn't play it.
posted by humanfont at 8:26 AM on January 8, 2015 [4 favorites]


Note to self: next time, wait for Jim C. Hines to pretty much tweet what you were trying to say because he said it better.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:28 AM on January 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


I'm not sure the gunmen would be persuaded by "tolerance and inclusion".

How do you know? Not sure it's really been tried with any conviction. They were boys before they were men.
posted by cotton dress sock at 8:30 AM on January 8, 2015 [4 favorites]


Also, 77% rate the acceptability of political violence for a noble cause as low or very low.

So nearly a quarter consider it ok. That is not good.


The other day I was behind a pickup truck at a light. That's when I noticed the bumper sticker. "Where's Oswald when you need him?" Ann Coulter famously said we should invade Muslim countries and forcibly convert their citizens to Christianity. The Iraq War (and, for that matter, Afghanistan) was frequently sold as political violence for a noble cause. Nobody thinks to poll Christians on this, though.

Anyway, what are you wanting us to do with this information?
posted by dirigibleman at 8:32 AM on January 8, 2015


They were sitting on a tinderbox, filled with racially inflected tensions between a local population of immigrants and a Le Pen-loving majority. Lighting the match has to involve a certain level of perversity.

I don't know, I do feel that those whose words and images have power and reach should feel responsible for what they put out.

(To be clear, I am not suggesting this attack was "deserved".)


You may not be saying this attack was "deserved",* but you are saying that it was deserved. I can't see any other way this comment can read and tacking on the last sentence doesn't change that.


*I'm not sure if the scare quotes give the word a different meaning somehow, so I left them in.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 8:32 AM on January 8, 2015 [4 favorites]


Taking the piss out of religion of any kind, but particularly large and powerful religions, while annoying and hurtful to the genuinely faithful, can be only good for humanity in the long run.

But this is it, the "long run", "equality", "freedom", even "religion" - these are dangerous abstractions. It's the medium-term, micro-processes, particular contexts and dynamics that that make them live or die. Frowner and others have spoken about the context here. It matters.
posted by cotton dress sock at 8:34 AM on January 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


while in another context the criticism of CH would elict howls of 'stop the victim blaming'

At the same time, in other contexts, saying "you just don't understand their culture, this thing which looks racist or homophobic or misogynist to you is actually totally acceptable, don't be intolerant" would be viewed as a bad argument. "You just don't understand France, this looks racist but it's not" is given much more weight than "You just don't understand [an African country, for example], this is totally acceptable". We grant a lot of weight to "national traditions" and "national intellectual life" for certain nations and very little for others - which is why I think that kind of argument has to be handled very carefully. I think it's a rhetorical shortcut which almost always ends up in a marsh rather than at the intended destination, because it suggests that "they" are a unified culture - that there is a "France" (or any nation) which can be "understood" as one thing, one context.

I feel like most of us are flailing around for a "universal" explanation/viewpoint/cause/fault about this terrible crime - "this is censorship!" "French intellectual life is accepted this way by all French people" "This is clearly and universally racist" "They were clearly being Islamophobic" - when it seems like this is a muddy and horrible thing with muddy and horrible roots.

~~~
When we talk about the importance of reading these cartoons in a French context: the context of these cartoons is vigorous and direct French political satire which is very different from American, yes, but it's also French support for banning hijab, the isolation of Muslim immigrants in the banlieux, police harassment of Muslim youth, a rise in hate crimes against Muslims, ridiculous pronouncements by politicians about Muslim school children....(Much the same stuff that I see in Minneapolis, actually, now that we have a meaningful Muslim population - day to day harassment of Muslims takes place throughout the West.) It's important to read the cartoons in a French context, yes, but the French context is not just vigorous, boundary- pushing satire; it's also active discrimination against and harassment of Muslim citizens. There's a "French national character" and a "French intellectual tradition" just the way that there's an "American national character" and an "American intellectual tradition" - these terms try to unify what is actually diverse, conflicted and divided against itself, even though there is some truth to them.

What I'm trying to say is that it's both, and other things besides, and putting this all together is very, very difficult - saying that these cartoons are a complicated matter and that it's not clear whether publishing them was the best choice is one thing; blaming cartoonists is another thing, and a bad one, because most of the time no one makes the "best choice" in complicated situations.

posted by Frowner at 8:35 AM on January 8, 2015 [25 favorites]


You may not be saying this attack was "deserved",* but you are saying that it was deserved. I can't see any other way this comment can read and tacking on the last sentence doesn't change that.

No, I'm saying it could be expected.
posted by cotton dress sock at 8:36 AM on January 8, 2015


It has been interesting how the images all decried as instantly racist have, with context, more than just the meaning proscribed by, at best, looking at a picture and throwing a few words through Google Translate.

Satire is a context-heavy medium. It doesn't really work to apply only your own context to what's happening half a world away, with a different country, different language, different demographics and hot-button issues.

I agree that a lot - not all, but a lot - of the discussion has been in good faith and an attempt to tease out the complexities of the issue. However, it does look an awful lot like concern trolling, the emphasis on not focussing so much on the dozen murders that have already taken place than the unknown, unperformed potential acts of violence that might be inspired by them.
posted by gadge emeritus at 8:37 AM on January 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


> Frowner and others have spoken about the context here. It matters.
Frowner and others have spoken about the context they like to imagine, while ignoring everything of the context in France and of Charlie Hebdo. I do agree with you that it does matter a lot, though.
posted by Spanner Nic at 8:38 AM on January 8, 2015 [16 favorites]


No, I'm saying it could be expected.

It wasn't unexpected. The editor of CH had a bodyguard. No one is debating this.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:40 AM on January 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


No, I'm saying it could be expected.

To quote your comment about publishing the cartoons: "Lighting the match has to involve a certain level of perversity." It is hard to see how that doesn't roll the blame back onto the cartoonists as perversely doing this to themselves in some way. (Unless you have a different, less morally problematic meaning of the word in mind.)
posted by lesbiassparrow at 8:41 AM on January 8, 2015 [13 favorites]


Out of interest, can anyone point me in the direction of a CH Islam-based cartoon which is actually funny? (with or without the context explained).

I mentioned upthread that the UK's Private Eye seems to have no trouble featuring cartoons with Islam themes such as jihad and burkas etc.
posted by colie at 8:49 AM on January 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


Out of interest, can anyone point me in the direction of a CH Islam-based cartoon which is actually funny? (with or without the context explained).

Funny to who? Just because you don't find them funny doesn't mean they aren't funny.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:50 AM on January 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


Funny to anyone on the thread? I liked the recent Private Eye ones.
posted by colie at 8:51 AM on January 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


France's original hijab ban originated with France's educators, Frowner. And the ban enjoyed major support from French Muslim women.

American's preaching about the hijab ban sounds like right-wing Americans claiming that affirmative action is reverse discrimination, i.e. tone deaf and flat wrong. Ya know, Turkey banned headscarves for ages, while absolutely not seeking to stop being Islamic.

Also, I'd hope this kills the "racism" victim blaming :
“They were killed during a meeting discussing a conference on the fight against racism. Voila."
posted by jeffburdges at 8:52 AM on January 8, 2015 [10 favorites]


Frowner and others have spoken about the context they like to imagine, while ignoring everything of the context in France and of Charlie Hebdo.

"You can't call our particular brand of racism out because you don't understand our context" is something I got sick to the teeth of hearing when I was dealing with overt racists in Quebec, more sick to the teeth when dealing with white racists in the American South, and am getting thoroughly sick to the teeth of hearing here.
posted by Shepherd at 8:53 AM on January 8, 2015 [8 favorites]


It is hard to see how that doesn't roll the blame back onto the cartoonists as perversely doing this to themselves in some way. (Unless you have a different, less morally problematic meaning of the word in mind.)

Charlie Hebdo's 2011 cartoon promised that its loose spoof of The Intouchables film was "sure to “set the Muslim world ablaze.” " Beyond the self-satisfaction I'm seeing in it, I read that as a perverse indifference to consequences.
posted by cotton dress sock at 8:54 AM on January 8, 2015


And "I know nothing of what's going on but that won't stop me from pontificating" is something I got sick to the teeth of hearing from just about everywhere.
posted by Spanner Nic at 8:58 AM on January 8, 2015 [13 favorites]


The cartoon thing is a pointless distraction. ISIS etc have been calling for attacks in France and elsewhere for some time. If it hadn't been Charlie Hebdo it would have been something else. Indeed, just last month, the targets were in Dijon, in Joue-les-Tours, and in Nantes.

I expect there will be more.
posted by IndigoJones at 9:03 AM on January 8, 2015 [11 favorites]


"You can't call our particular brand of racism out because you don't understand our context" is something I got sick to the teeth of hearing when I was dealing with overt racists in Quebec, more sick to the teeth when dealing with white racists in the American South, and am getting thoroughly sick to the teeth of hearing here.

When the level of ignorance about the cartoons reaches the equivalent level of being angry at Jonathan Swift for his callous indifference to the plight of Irish babies ( oh my God! Eating them?!), then it's a very fair criticism. So far in this thread specific criticism of Charlie Hebdo comics has amounted to A) a persistent misconception that they were the originators of the Danish cartoons that became a worldwide cause celebre in 2005 and B) the Boko Haram cartoon that turns out to have been wildly and absurdly misread.

If people want to make the claim that the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists regularly perpetrated genuinely racist attacks on muslims (or anyone else) it would behoove those people to provide some examples AND to show that they understand the context of those examples well enough so as not to make the Jonathan-Swift-supported-cannibalism level of misreading we've witnessed thus far.
posted by yoink at 9:05 AM on January 8, 2015 [58 favorites]




Post-September 11: "They hate us for our freedoms"
Post-Charlie Hebdo attack: "They hate us for our freedom of speech."
posted by FJT at 9:13 AM on January 8, 2015


Post-September 11: "They hate us for our freedoms"
Post-Charlie Hebdo attack: "They hate us for our freedom of speech."


This is not even remotely a good or appropriate comparison.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:16 AM on January 8, 2015 [6 favorites]


I'm seeing a similar level of people turning their brains off. Hitchens has been invoked, for fucks sake. When do we invade Iraq?
posted by Artw at 9:19 AM on January 8, 2015 [6 favorites]




Hitchens has been invoked, for fucks sake. When do we invade Iraq? Your ultimate shutdown quip. Nothing else he said or advocated for can be mentioned when you invoke that one. Tiresome.
posted by feste at 9:28 AM on January 8, 2015 [10 favorites]


> Out of interest, can anyone point me in the direction of a CH Islam-based cartoon which is actually funny? (with or without the context explained).

Humor is but one standard for measuring satire, and quite frankly it's not the important one here. Was Charlie Hebdo polemical? Yes. Were they constructive? I dunno, possibly so.
posted by Sunburnt at 9:34 AM on January 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


IndigoJones, the killers apparently asked for some of their victims by name, and you reckon "the cartoon thing is a pointless distraction"? This was a political assassination.
posted by rory at 9:36 AM on January 8, 2015 [5 favorites]


Columbia Journalism Review: The missing Charlie Hebdo cartoons
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:37 AM on January 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


All the talk about cartoons is premised on this idea that a group of people who happened to be sitting on a bunch of guns and bombs were totally not planning on using them were it not for these nasty cartoon images, but then they just had no choice.
posted by Space Coyote at 9:37 AM on January 8, 2015 [7 favorites]


IndigoJones, the killers apparently asked for some of their victims by name, and you reckon "the cartoon thing is a pointless distraction"? This was a political assassination.

Do you honestly think that had Charlie Hebdo done nothing that these two would not have found some other French target?
posted by IndigoJones at 9:44 AM on January 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


"You can't call our particular brand of racism out because you don't understand our context" is something I got sick to the teeth of hearing when I was dealing with overt racists in Quebec, more sick to the teeth when dealing with white racists in the American South, and am getting thoroughly sick to the teeth of hearing here.

I'm not reading that being said. What I read being said is more people are calling out that this or that one is racist without enough info or understanding of the particular context to make the determination that it is indeed racist within that particular culture and yes context.

It's relatively easy for me to get what is racist in Quebec because I live within the culture it exists in. With all the exposure to American culture we get up here it's also relatively easy to 'see' racism in the American south.

Transfering my cultural experience to France and making the determination 'yes' or 'no' without a deeper look is just asking to be wrong.

Heck. I can give numerous examples of how humor and satire translate super badly even with communities in my own country. I have some pretty intimate experience with some First Nations communities and there is humour that I just would not even bother bringing outside of it because people just don't get it. Stuff that sounds to outsiders as being really offensive and plain wrong.
I can barely even explain for instance why my nickname, which comes directly from a white racist joke is part of a reversal of that joke and was given to me as a term of endearment and respect and that when there I wear it proudly because it's a joke and satire of a joke, within a joke.

That people think it's hilariously funny but get down right pissed if anyone says it's a bad thing to call me because...it's a joke and satire and we all get it, in that group. And yes it has been humorous when out as a mixed group because I have had well meaning people freak out for a number of reasons and lecture me about it. Which then leads to even more joking that people without the group(community) context just don't get.
posted by Jalliah at 9:46 AM on January 8, 2015 [11 favorites]


FJT: Post-September 11: "They hate us for our freedoms"
Post-Charlie Hebdo attack: "They hate us for our freedom of speech."


The Charlie Hebdo attackers didn't target a symbol of France, or a military/financial/administrative target. They apparently targeted cartoonists whom they deem to have committed blasphemy. I feel fairly confident guessing that they think cartoons mocking Islam should not be allowed.

So, yes, these particular murderers do seem to hate "our" freedom of speech.

The perpetrators of 9/11 very likely do hate western-style freedom, but that is not why 9/11 was comitted, as they did attack a target symbolic of America, and military/financial/administrative targets. They did not target Larry Flynt, or NOW or the ACLU.

Your comparison is insulting.
posted by spaltavian at 9:51 AM on January 8, 2015 [12 favorites]


Humor is but one standard for measuring satire

I'm not measuring it, I'm just genuinely curious as to what anyone French or otherwise got out of the CH type of cartoons, which apart from anything else, seem incredibly dated to my eyes. I am happy to be educated.
posted by colie at 9:57 AM on January 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm not measuring it, I'm just genuinely curious as to what anyone French or otherwise got out of the CH type of cartoons, which apart from anything else, seem incredibly dated to my eyes. I am happy to be educated.

A lot of people find them funny. I'm not sure what you don't get about this.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:00 AM on January 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


> All the talk about cartoons is premised on this idea that a group of people who happened to be sitting on a bunch of guns and bombs...

It's not. Stockpiling is a thing, because acquiring weapons requires one or more opportunities and a supply chain to steal, smuggle, or build weapons, while getting angry happens all the time.

This could've just been a coincidence of the two events, with cartoons as the tipping point or just the latest outrage, or maybe it was the target before the weapons arrived. We won't know unless these guys talk or we find their twitter accounts. Maybe this was a deep-seated plot going to the highest levels of the Paris-based Islamosphere. Or maybe it was someone getting angry at some clickbait they saw on facebook just when they had the tools to do something about it.
posted by Sunburnt at 10:02 AM on January 8, 2015


But nobody here finds them funny. Who are all the laughers?
posted by colie at 10:02 AM on January 8, 2015


People who speak French and understand their context.
posted by enamon at 10:03 AM on January 8, 2015 [11 favorites]


But nobody here finds them funny.

How do you know that? (It's simply not true.)
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:03 AM on January 8, 2015 [4 favorites]


IndigoJones, the killers apparently asked for some of their victims by name, and you reckon "the cartoon thing is a pointless distraction"? This was a political assassination.

I think this is a fundamental misreading of the situation. You seem to imagine these guys as basically peaceful, well-adjusted citizens who, because they are such deeply devout and engaged Muslims find themselves profoundly shocked and hurt every time they see a Charlie Hebdo cover on the newsstand, to the point where eventually something just snaps and they go on this killing spree.

I will bet anything you like that this doesn't end up being at all the case. That is, I'm very confident that it will turn out that these guys are like the Boston Marathon bombers--not particularly devout, not particularly ardent believers, unlikely to have been genuinely and personally driven to distraction by Charlie Hebdo, but, rather, disaffected and alienated young men who took up a cause because it seemed to provide some kind of grander purpose and meaning to their lives and who selected Charlie Hebdo because it was a convenient symbol ("So, who should we target? The Prime Minister? A synagogue?" "Hey, what about that magazine that everyone got so worked up about a few years back...what was it's name again?"). Yes, having opted to make Charlie Hebdo their target the killings become a deliberate "assassination" from that point forward, but reading that as evidence as to how profoundly the magazine's cartoons distressed the killers is like reading the selection of the Boston Marathon as a target as evidence that those guys were profoundly distressed by the sight of people in running clothes.
posted by yoink at 10:05 AM on January 8, 2015 [19 favorites]


I'm not measuring it, I'm just genuinely curious as to what anyone French or otherwise got out of the CH type of cartoons, which apart from anything else, seem incredibly dated to my eyes. I am happy to be educated.

But nobody here finds them funny. Who are all the laughers?

Your participation in this thread is starting to be distasteful, colie. You've gone from stating that their comics were outright racist and xenophobic, and after being corrected, you're falling back on them being merely not funny. Okay, we get it, you don't find them funny. You don't need to keep repeating yourself. Maybe we can have a thread about relative quality of the creative output of these dead cartoonists after their bodies are in the ground.
posted by empath at 10:05 AM on January 8, 2015 [35 favorites]


A couple of the cartoons as explained in the Vox piece gave me a chuckle. I assume they're funnier if you are a fluent French speaker and are well-versed in the French political context. Certainly they seemed much, much less offensive than some of the descriptions of them on this thread.
posted by crazy with stars at 10:05 AM on January 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


I will bet anything you like that this doesn't end up being at all the case. That is, I'm very confident that it will turn out that these guys are like the Boston Marathon bombers--not particularly devout, not particularly ardent believers, unlikely to have been genuinely and personally driven to distraction by Charlie Hebdo, but, rather, disaffected and alienated young men who took up a cause because it seemed to provide some kind of grander purpose and meaning to their lives and who selected Charlie Hebdo because it was a convenient symbol ("So, who should we target? The Prime Minister? A synagogue?" "Hey, what about that magazine that everyone got so worked up about a few years back...what was it's name again?")

According to the news, they were known to police, had been arrested previously, and had attempted to go to Iraq to join ISIS.
posted by empath at 10:06 AM on January 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


Yes, the French news report one of the brothers had spent time in jail for funneling warriors to the ISIS precursor. They're professional terrorists.
posted by Spanner Nic at 10:09 AM on January 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


Colie, No they are not clearly racist. At least not in many people's opinions. And they've posted tons to try to explain to you why they think that coming in from the outside and making such a decree about them and their authors is fraught with problems of cultural communication.

You disagree. I doubt you're going to find what your after here.

I don't get why the French seem to love Jerry Lewis so much. I don't get what they find so funny about him. It's a mystery to me. I'm sure there are things that they would not understand about me finding funny or bad or offensive. It's not my culture and appears not yours either. People see things differently.
posted by Jalliah at 10:13 AM on January 8, 2015 [8 favorites]


According to the news, they were known to police, had been arrested previously, and had attempted to go to Iraq to join ISIS.

Yes, and also according to the news they came from secular backgrounds, were not notably devout muslims (ardently committed to jihad, yes, but not ardently committed to their religion). Their motivations were largely political (according to the NYT: "Chérif’s interest in radical Islam, it was said at the 2008 trial, was rooted in his fury over the United States’ invasion of Iraq in 2003, particularly the mistreatment of Muslims held at Abu Ghraib prison.") So, again, the notion that this was stimulated by profound psychological distress at the very idea of someone creating pictorial representations of the prophet just doesn't hold water.

Their motivation was the sense of belonging to the jihadist cause. The selection of Charlie Hebdo was simply a conveniently symbolic one.
posted by yoink at 10:14 AM on January 8, 2015 [13 favorites]


You've gone from stating that their comics were outright racist and xenophobic, and after being corrected, you're falling back on them being merely not funny.

I haven't changed my mind on this and I'm not the only person who feels that way.
posted by colie at 10:14 AM on January 8, 2015


I haven't changed my mind on this and I'm not the only person who feels that way.

But you're the only person that's insisting that nobody could find these cartoons funny.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:15 AM on January 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm really not seeing how context makes ethnic caricatures and deliberate stabs at minorities funny or defensible. I can see how aspects of French culture might make that sort of thing more acceptable to some French people, but that is not the same thing.
posted by Artw at 10:16 AM on January 8, 2015 [7 favorites]


I mean let's think about this for one second, why on earth would an "Islamophobic" magazine, as you and others called them take pot-shots at a group of most-likely-Christian girls that were kidnapped by Muslim terrorists. You don't even need to understand the cultural context to get your first-impression of the cover makes no sense.
posted by empath at 10:17 AM on January 8, 2015 [5 favorites]


I asked who found them funny and indeed one poster said they did, so yes, I was wrong on that.
posted by colie at 10:17 AM on January 8, 2015


I haven't changed my mind on this and I'm not the only person who feels that way.

Great! Now let's move on.
posted by futz at 10:17 AM on January 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


deliberate stabs at minorities

For example?
posted by yoink at 10:17 AM on January 8, 2015


Great! Now let's move on.

I agree. :-)
posted by colie at 10:19 AM on January 8, 2015


The perpetrators of 9/11 very likely do hate western-style freedom

You mean the ones who went to strip clubs and drank alcohol? Which freedoms did they hate, exactly?
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:19 AM on January 8, 2015 [5 favorites]


Colie, I'm not sure how to say this. The cartoonists spent all their life fighting racism, discrimination, and the oppression of anyone from all institutions. One of them, in particular, was probably the most influential cultural force to make racism appear crass and vile. When people wade in with a pursed mouth and a wagging finger and screech 'they were racists! RACISTS!' they are in fact pissing on the grave of heroes - and I never use that word - who died for what the waggers profess to care for. And then they take a shit on it, for good measure. Please give it up.
posted by Spanner Nic at 10:20 AM on January 8, 2015 [43 favorites]


#JesuisAhmed
posted by naoko at 10:27 AM on January 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


If we really want to get to the roots of the Islamic rage against 'the West', let's look at the break-up of the Ottoman empire, the division of the Islamic world into complete artificial territories, the propping up of dictatorial regimes, the billions of oil dollars that goes to funding Sunni extremism, the overthrow of democratic governments, illegal invasions of sovereign countries, drone campaigns that murder innocents, black prisons where we literally tortured innocent people to death.

The idea that illogically violent responses to insults to islam are the cause of Islamic terrorism is fucking laughable on its face. These people have perfectly legitimate rage that they're taking out on whatever targets are available. I'm amazed muslims aren't burning down everything every fucking day until it stops, honestly.

You want the Islamic world to discover peace? Maybe we should stop fucking murdering and torturing them and destroying their countries. Maybe we could prosecute the people who set up torture prisons and committed crimes against humanity.
posted by empath at 10:28 AM on January 8, 2015 [7 favorites]


The cartoons aren't meant to be haha funny.

They're satire. Colbert is satire. Swift is satire.

They are showing an ugly reality. Swift didn't think people should eat Irish babies, he was drawing attention to the ugly reality that not giving a damn was about as awesome as eating them.

The boko haram girls cartoon, to me, says that all these people who want to take away support for welfare are treating women no better than the captors.

It's not haha funny. It's absurd.

I am sick right now so this wasn't the best comment but I couldn't not say anything anymore.
posted by sio42 at 10:29 AM on January 8, 2015 [25 favorites]


Yeah, the thing that bothers me about the #JeSuisAhmed hashtag is that it implies a lot of things about Ahmed Merabet that we just don't know.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:29 AM on January 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


There's not enough attention being put on the killers and too much attention on the cartoons, imo. We don't know exactly who did it, but I have heard there are a lot of young wanna-be jihadists in France and elsewhere in Europe, and I wonder just how prevalent and visible the jihadist youth culture is. I can remember walking into an internet cafe in Brussels more than ten years ago (probably before 9/11) and being shocked at seeing kids openly looking at glorified pictures of jihadists with AK-47's.

The Blame for the Charlie Hebdo Murders

I don't completely agree with Packer. The jihadism is not just ideological, it seems to me, but cultural and aesthetic. The failure of France to integrate with its colonial population probably is a contributing facter in jihadist culture's growth and development. I don't think there are any easy answers, but it certainly seems like it would be good if there were more European Muslim role models and political leaders embraced by the entire society.

By the way, what is the true fully contextual meaning of the Boko Haram cartoon? I've read most of the comments here and I'm still confused by it. Please help this American idiot out.
posted by Golden Eternity at 10:29 AM on January 8, 2015 [1 favorite]




George_Spiggott: The perpetrators of 9/11 very likely do hate western-style freedom

You mean the ones who went to strip clubs and drank alcohol? Which freedoms did they hate, exactly?

Why to miss the point!

but that is not why 9/11 was committed

The attack was pretty clearly driven by a sense of grievance of Western actions on the Muslim world. As for what freedoms religious theocratics hate, or if religious theocrats might engage in hypocrisy, or if they might use angry young men who may or may not match up to the ideal of "devout" to carry out their plans, I'll let that be an exercise for you, the good-faith reader.
posted by spaltavian at 10:32 AM on January 8, 2015


In this thread so far:

Generalized accusations of consistent racism on the part of Charlie Hebdo cartoonists: too many to count.

Links to actual specific instances of Charlie Hebdo cartoons that are of clearly racist intent: 0.

I never read Charlie Hebdo and have no opinion one way or the other as to whether its cartoonists were or were not racists; but the inability of the mag's detractors to provide evidence to support their position is beginning to look like a kind of evidence against their position in itself.
posted by yoink at 10:32 AM on January 8, 2015 [14 favorites]


Seconding sio42, and adding that it seems like there's a fundamental misunderstanding going on here:

I don't think anyone is saying that the cartoons are funnier to the French because the French find racism socially acceptable.

I think people are saying that the cartoons, properly understood, are not racist at all.
posted by kelborel at 10:33 AM on January 8, 2015 [16 favorites]


By the way, what is the true fully contextual meaning of the Boko Haram cartoon?

That is a contested issue and 'meaning' is slippery anyway. But I defer to the majority view here and will not criticise it further.
posted by colie at 10:33 AM on January 8, 2015


The boko haram girls cartoon, to me, says that all these people who want to take away support for welfare are treating women no better than the captors.

That does indeed seem to be the message, but I really don't understand what is added by drawing the girls as ugly racial caricatures.
posted by naoko at 10:33 AM on January 8, 2015 [4 favorites]


By the way, what is the true fully contextual meaning of the Boko Haram cartoon? I've read most of the comments here and I'm still confused by it. Please help this American idiot out.

"Immigrants are scroungers, foreign people are all potential immigrants, more foreign babies means more potential scroungers"
posted by Artw at 10:33 AM on January 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


...is what they are satirizing conservatives for believing, yes Artw.
posted by gilrain at 10:37 AM on January 8, 2015 [23 favorites]


But Artw, couldn't the point be that the right-wing xenophobic nationalists are so messed up that they'd even view the Boko Haram girls that way?
posted by kelborel at 10:37 AM on January 8, 2015


Admittedly I've only spent a little time in France and my interest in French language cartooning has mainly centered on Belgians and so I might be missing some subtleties.
posted by Artw at 10:37 AM on January 8, 2015


(thanks gilrain; better put)
posted by kelborel at 10:38 AM on January 8, 2015


I don't think it's a subtlety; I think it's the point.
posted by kelborel at 10:39 AM on January 8, 2015 [5 favorites]


In other news, how do professed progressives justify their enjoyment of this Stephen Colbert monster? Have you seen what he says on his show? I'm not very familiar with American politics or its media culture, but there is no way to justify what this man believes.
posted by gilrain at 10:39 AM on January 8, 2015 [42 favorites]


They are drawn as caricatures because that is how the conservatives see them...not as actual people. Just like many Americans believe the caricature of the welfare queen.
posted by sio42 at 10:40 AM on January 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


That does indeed seem to be the message, but I really don't understand what is added by drawing the girls as ugly racial caricatures.

Have you seen the drawings of the Catholic priests? Everyone is drawn as grotesque caricatures.
posted by Fidel Cashflow at 10:41 AM on January 8, 2015 [6 favorites]


I think the caricatures are the main reason these cartoons look so bad to some of us.
posted by colie at 10:42 AM on January 8, 2015


It's worth linking to this New Yorker cover again for the Americans who aren't getting it. The artist (nor the magazine) does not actually believe that Obama is a terrorist Muslim and it's not really that hard to grasp given that the depiction is so over the top.
posted by desjardins at 10:44 AM on January 8, 2015 [18 favorites]


THAT'S THE POINT. THEY ARE NOT ACTUAL PORTRAITS.
posted by sio42 at 10:44 AM on January 8, 2015 [5 favorites]


At the same time, in other contexts, saying "you just don't understand their culture, this thing which looks racist or homophobic or misogynist to you is actually totally acceptable, don't be intolerant" would be viewed as a bad argument. "You just don't understand France, this looks racist but it's not" is given much more weight than "You just don't understand [an African country, for example], this is totally acceptable".

I think this is conflating different kinds of context. There's ethical, moral, cultural context, which should perhaps be taken into account before evaluating the acceptability of similar ideas and behaviours in various places and times. That's the kind of context that's tricky for well-meaning critics to grapple with from the outside -- you might want to promote your outlook and principles on matters both trivial and profound, but you don't want to be unjust to a culture you don't belong to or understand.

But there's another kind of context, which is just plain factual context -- knowledge about people and events and the literal meanings of words. Which has been lacking in this thread. We've had people attacking these cartoons without knowing who or what they're about, what comment they intend to make, what political stance they align themselves with, or what the other activities of the people who made them might be. Without attempting to understand non-English descriptions and commentaries. And apparently without having any doubt that their instinctive interpretations of what is actually for real going on are correct. That is just arrogant and ludicrous. It's not just a matter of cultural conditioning but one of ignorance.

On preview, kelborel said it shorter, better and sooner, but oh well.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 10:45 AM on January 8, 2015 [9 favorites]


Thank you for that link desjardins
posted by sio42 at 10:45 AM on January 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


gilrain, did you see the Cancel Colbert thread? Because the people outraged by what happened there weren't confused about Colbert's parody, they just don't think it can be justified.

Basically, some progressives on MetaFilter believe there is a problem with "ironic racism", even in the service of satire, in that it still marginalizes the supposed "beneficiaries" of the satire. This is along the same lines of thinking intent doesn't matter at all, only perception.

I hope I'm doing justice to their viewpoint, I don't agree with it. While I think it has merits, and should be kept in mind, I think it's myopically over-applied outside certain contexts, like here or Colbert. It's basically treating all situations like this as a crude joke told by an American dude-bro who insists he's not racist.

I think it's incorrect, and frankly, a case of disrespectful American/Anglophone chauvinism to assume this is the same problem in French satire. Especially from people who don't understand the damn language.
posted by spaltavian at 10:46 AM on January 8, 2015 [9 favorites]


Also worth noting is their flattering portrayal of the British.

If anything, they pulled their punches when it came to caricaturing non-whites.
posted by seymourScagnetti at 10:47 AM on January 8, 2015 [13 favorites]


Colie, this is my interpretation of the Boko Haram cartoon. I'm not a French speaker so take this with a grain of salt:

At the time, there were ongoing reports of the capture and rape of young women by Boko Haram. This situation is ongoing, as far as I know.

Simultaneously, people were alleging that women were getting pregnant in order to obtain welfare benefits. Also ongoing, of course. And there were also protests about mooted cuts to those benefits. And, as always, there were accusations that migrants (particularly refugees) want to enter the country to access welfare benefits.

Sarcasm comes from a Greek word meaning "flesh"; it literally means something like "humor that is cutting, that tears, that rips the flesh. It's not "ha-ha" funny. Ideally, it dismays or shames the target. So read the cover in that light:

We have some young African women, all very visibly pregnant, all visibly angry. The title says "Angry sex slaves of Boko Haram" and the women are saying "Hands off our welfare payments!" Of course, they don't actually get welfare payments - they're in Africa, not in France, and since they're slaves they presumably don't get much of anything other than abuse and rape. So it cannot be meant as a literal depiction. It simply cannot; that would be incoherent.

My interpretation of this cartoon is that it rebukes and shames people who:
  • Claim refugees are gaming the system to get an easier life;
  • Claim that women get pregnant in order to get welfare payments;
  • Claim welfare cuts encourage responsible behaviour;
  • Ignore the horrors of what is going on in Africa, in favor of their own welfare.
So this cartoon is multi-valued, offending lots of people - in fact it simultaneously defends and criticises welfare recipients, although I suppose the criticism is really aimed at all of us, everyone preoccupied with their own concerns. I think it's pretty brilliant, myself, but it's very much a topical cartoon that doesn't make much sense out of the events of the time. The same can be said for many (most? all?) of their covers: they're sarcastic references to current events as reported in France, not statements of the human condition. If you want those, look elsewhere.
posted by Joe in Australia at 10:47 AM on January 8, 2015 [30 favorites]


I think if you're going to accuse people who have just been brutally murdered for their art racists you probably ought to be pretty damn confident you understand the overall nature of their work and the shared understandings which the artist drew on in the specific language and culture in which he or she published. The example given of Colbert, above, should be a pretty salutary reminder that humor often depends on pretty deeply encoded frames that are invisible to outsiders.
posted by yoink at 10:47 AM on January 8, 2015 [27 favorites]


And here are the terrible Islamophobic racists Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert recreating the New Yorker cover..
posted by desjardins at 10:48 AM on January 8, 2015 [6 favorites]


Also, Charlie Hebdo has been publishing weekly in its current form since 1992. That's roughly 1000 issues. If the accusation is systemic and consistent racism, it really should be possible to find more examples to support that thesis than this one Boko Haram cartoon, the meaning of which seems relatively difficult for outsiders to grasp.

Lots of people came into this thread with very decided opinions to the effect that Charlie Hebdo was a bad, racist magazine. So far as I can tell, none of those people had actually seen the Boko Haram cartoon which is currently bearing the entire evidentiary weight of that claim. Perhaps some of those people could link to examples of the specific works which had caused them to form their strongly expressed opinions prior to entering the thread?
posted by yoink at 10:53 AM on January 8, 2015 [5 favorites]


The example given of Colbert, above, should be a pretty salutary reminder that humor often depends on pretty deeply encoded frames that are invisible to outsiders.

And often even to insiders, if they try hard enough.
posted by IndigoJones at 10:55 AM on January 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


That does indeed seem to be the message, but I really don't understand what is added by drawing the girls as ugly racial caricatures.

I got past this when I remembered that if all you know about South Park is the words Eric Cartman says, you miss a whole lot about what the show is actually saying.
posted by jackflaps at 10:55 AM on January 8, 2015 [9 favorites]


Anti-racist Satire that actually ends up just being racist certainly isn't an unheard of thing, so that might be the charitable interpretation. Then there's the Toothless cover with it's sweeping hordes trope - charitably that could be taken at face value as about free speech, but my god is the sweeping hordes trope evident in it, and that it's defending an actual for real racist doesn't help. As for their dozen or so cover that are an attempt to piss off Muslims by depicting Mohammed, sure that could be defended as something to make Islamic extremists unhappy, but it's also something that would make neonazis happy so the value there is questionable. I like the kissing one best FWIW, that has a bit of wit to it.

So to the extend that I can take context into consideration they seem borderline racist at best, sorry. Hopefully the nonracist stuff is better.
posted by Artw at 10:57 AM on January 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


So to the extend that I can take context into consideration they seem borderline racist at best, sorry. Hopefully the nonracist stuff is better.

...except that tons of people here who understand French and the cartoons are telling you that your interpretation is wrong.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:58 AM on January 8, 2015 [5 favorites]


I'd also point out that appealing to context is pretty much moot when you're demanding those covers be posted places without context, which is the main reason were discussing the subject.
posted by Artw at 10:59 AM on January 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


I really don't understand what is added by drawing the girls as ugly racial caricatures.

They're not, actually. I mean, they have brown skin, but they don't have the exaggerated features that are found in racial caricatures. They're drawn in the house style, with big mouths, bad teeth, and badly proportioned bodies, but compared to the characters on most Charlie Hebdo covers the young women are almost realistic. Not that I don't think Riss would have held back from using racial caricatures if it contributed to the humour; it just wasn't right in this context: the women stand in for specific women, in a specific (awful) situation, and we're supposed to sympathise with them: they're shown as making a ridiculous demand, but when you think about why it's ridiculous you should feel ashamed.
posted by Joe in Australia at 10:59 AM on January 8, 2015 [10 favorites]




Then there's the Toothless cover with it's sweeping hordes trope

Are you referring to the cover showing a toothless Houllebecq? You are aware that it's mocking Houllebecq, right? Houllebecq is the one who is claiming that France is going to become Islamic in a few years; Charlie Hebdo is making fun of him as a senile old fool. I'm not sure how, in your view, that becomes an endorsement of the 'sweeping hordes' trope.
posted by yoink at 11:02 AM on January 8, 2015 [7 favorites]






Not that I don't think Riss would have held back from using racial caricatures if it contributed to the humour;

Black Piet.
Swedish Art.
Belgian Museum.

I'm not sure you know where you're going with your defense Joe, in Australia.
posted by infini at 11:03 AM on January 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


Seriously, Artw; it just seems weird to be jumping up and down on these very freshly dug graves when you clearly have only the most superficial I-just-saw-this-thing-on-the-internet grasp on their work.
posted by yoink at 11:04 AM on January 8, 2015 [4 favorites]


Thank you Joe in Australia, your description has illuminated lots of things I had not properly weighed up with the Boko cartoon, and further, the CH house style of caricatures does indeed seem to suggest that it was not a racial caricature primarily.

I did come into this thread not liking what I had seen of these cartoons (and still very much not liking the pointless reprinting of the Danish Muhamad cartoons) but I do accept that CH has qualities that I needed to learn more about and I apologise for not being properly informed. Yoink, I accept your criticisms and stand corrected (but it's not as if the whole world hasn't been talking about this issue and these cartoons and nearly all of us haven't read CH before.)
posted by colie at 11:06 AM on January 8, 2015 [24 favorites]


In fact reposting the Mohammed cartoons does worse than shear them of context, it recontextualises them as a responses to a terrorist attack by Muslim extremists, and while a defiant response is good one that can be read as "fuck all Muslims, extremist or not" is a very bad thing.
posted by Artw at 11:06 AM on January 8, 2015


Anti-racist Satire that actually ends up just being racist certainly isn't an unheard of thing, so that might be the charitable interpretation. ...

I'm reminded of Alf Garnett or Al Murray's Pub Landlord, which sucked in the bigots it meant to satirize. It managed to ridicule them once by the portrayal, and then a second time by their ignorance. Personally, I think this is top notch stuff.
posted by Thing at 11:08 AM on January 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


I don't think a lack of context is the problem.

I think a misunderstanding of satire is the problem.
posted by kelborel at 11:10 AM on January 8, 2015 [6 favorites]


Black Piet.

Zwarte Piet's not even a joke. It's a racist hangover kept alive through "tradition". I kinda hope that Netherlands people will put a stop to it themselves, which might slowly be happening.
posted by Thing at 11:11 AM on January 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


Lots of people came into this thread with very decided opinions to the effect that Charlie Hebdo was a bad, racist magazine.

Social media is full of this shit today. The Boko Haram cover has been retweeted thousands of times with the same "OMG Charlie Hebdo was racist" screech by everyone+dog.

Twitter does a couple of things well. Context isn't one of them. Meaning isn't either, not really.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:12 AM on January 8, 2015 [4 favorites]


I don't even get why it matters. Let's assume for the sake of argument that this is a magazine full of nasty, unfunny and badly-drawn material: what broader argument is advanced by that fact?
posted by sobarel at 11:13 AM on January 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


The Pope in Paris: French people stupider than blacks.

I'm not even a native French speaker and I can find two problems with this translation. Where did you get it?

About the Boko Haram slaves cartoon, I really doubt the attackers gave a shit about it, but admittedly that's just guess on my part. I was under the impression CH had gotten on the wanted list due to blasphemy.
posted by ODiV at 11:14 AM on January 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


Seriously, Artw; it just seems weird to be jumping up and down on these very freshly dug graves when you clearly have only the most superficial I-just-saw-this-thing-on-the-internet grasp on their work.

Well, the Mohammed stuff I-just-saw-on-the-internet in 2011ish and have been following since, I'll admit this is the first time I've seen the Boko Haram cover.

I don't want to jump on these peoples graves, but I still see pretending there's nothing troubling about a lot if their work is entering the land of wishful thinking and delusion. Entering the land of delusion in response to terrorism has served us very badly in the past.
posted by Artw at 11:15 AM on January 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


The problem is that these cartoons, like the one of the minister of justice as a monkey, might have been non-racist in context but now they're going to be plastered all over the place without any context, to be seen by people who will think it is satire to draw people of african descent as monkeys. Effectively no people will have a Frenchman on hand to explain it to them, as has otherwise happened in this thread. And that, of course, exactly plays into the hands of extremists of all stripes.
posted by brokkr at 11:16 AM on January 8, 2015 [5 favorites]


but I still see pretending there's nothing troubling about a lot if their work is entering the land of wishful thinking and delusion.

Again. For the millionth time. Satire is meant to trouble you.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:16 AM on January 8, 2015 [7 favorites]


The Charlie Hebdo attackers didn't target a symbol of France, or a military/financial/administrative target. They apparently targeted cartoonists whom they deem to have committed blasphemy. I feel fairly confident guessing that they think cartoons mocking Islam should not be allowed.

I think this is ignoring that the Charlie Hebdo offices were a relatively soft target and when the opportunity presented itself, the attackers took advantage. I think right now the event is unfolding, but it sounds reasonable that if the Hebdo attackers had the wherewithal and planning of the 9/11 attackers and that the opportunity to attack a much larger symbol of the France or the West presented itself, they probably would have gone for that target.

So, yes, these particular murderers do seem to hate "our" freedom of speech.

The cartoons functioned as a catalyst or possibly a proximate cause, but I don't agree that they're the primary cause. Many in this topic have written that even if Charlie Hebdo didn't draw those cartoons, the attack would have happened in some form anyway. If that's the case, the cries of "they hate our freedom of speech" sound more a kind of rallying cry for us in the West then a diagnosis of the actual causes of the attack.
posted by FJT at 11:16 AM on January 8, 2015 [5 favorites]


Here's the deal:

I don't think it matters whether Charlie Hebdo is or was racist. In fact, I think it is emphatically important that it doesn't matter whether Charlie Hebdo is or was racist. The whole point is that even racists and bigots get freedom of speech, and shouldn't be slaughtered by lunatics in a vile terrorist attack.

So it might be a good idea to leave off arguing about whether the cartoons were racist. It doesn't matter – and it's important that it doesn't.

I have to confess that I'm a bit disgusted by the tendency of some media (particularly Fox in this case, although it seems like it's common in other outlets too) to attempt to turn the dead into glorious martyrs. Mark Steyn, for example, has taken to calling the cartoonists "heroes." The implication here, of course, is that this is a terrible tragedy specifically because these particular cartoonists happened to be magnificent human beings.

But that's not why this was a tragedy. This was a tragedy because normal, plain human beings – who might be assholes, or nice folks, or jerks, or kind and gentle folks – shouldn't be slaughtered.

And it's wrong to imply that the tragic nature of this even has anything to do with whether or not these people published racist cartoons.
posted by koeselitz at 11:18 AM on January 8, 2015 [34 favorites]


The whole point is that even racists and bigots get freedom of speech ...
In the US, perhaps. Not in most parts of western Europe.
posted by brokkr at 11:20 AM on January 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


In the US, perhaps. Not in most parts of western Europe.

Remind me again: in which parts of western Europe is summary execution the punishment for racism and bigotry?
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 11:23 AM on January 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


Agreed completely in principle, koeselitz.

But to allow these cartoonists to be misunderstood as racists, after they've given their lives to satirize racism, would be a horrible shame.
posted by kelborel at 11:25 AM on January 8, 2015 [6 favorites]


> Which freedoms did they hate, exactly?

9/11 wasn't just 19 guys with flight lessons and box-cutters; it was a giant network of people, some of them who were a hell of a lot more devout and hate that women get to be in the Senate and drive cars or that strip clubs exist without being balanced by compulsory daily prayers, some of them who wanted to just harm America because America harmed them and they had the money to do something about it, and some of whom were just analytical guys who read and plot flight schedules and test security layers. A bunch of people's skills and baggage all drawing them to a common conclusion.

In any case, I'm pretty sure guys who are willing to incinerate themselves for their cause are devout about something, even if they're not so devout about strip clubs.
posted by Sunburnt at 11:25 AM on January 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


Again. For the millionth time. Satire is meant to trouble you.

It might be helpful to engage under the assumption that people who are critical of these works actually understand satire as well or better than you and have come to different conclusions than you have. I mean, no less than The Onion has said that an issue they endlessly wrestle with when doing satire is that sometimes the target can be unclear, and I bet it's not because they don't understand satire I don't understand that it is meant to be troubling, but instead because they understand that when you choose to trouble, it is useful to know who you are troubling and why, what sort of trouble you are starting, and if people will understand the trouble you're generating.
posted by maxsparber at 11:25 AM on January 8, 2015 [9 favorites]


one more dead town's last parade: "Remind me again in which parts of western Europe summary execution is the punishment for racism and bigotry."

It's not, but speech with racism and bigotry is explicitly illegal in many countries in Western Europe.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 11:25 AM on January 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


Tehmina Kazi of British Muslims for Secular Democracy - "Charlie Hebdo: Dismantling nine mistaken assumptions about the Paris atrocities"
Professor Karima Bennoune said it best in her article, ‘Why Bill Maher and Ben Affleck are both wrong‘: “We do not need either stereotypical generalizations or minimising responses to fundamentalism, however well-intentioned.

What we need is a principled, anti-racist critique of Muslim fundamentalism that pulls no punches, but that also distinguishes between Islam (the diverse religious tradition) and Islamism (an extreme right-wing political ideology). We need support, understanding and to have our existence recognised.”
posted by audi alteram partem at 11:26 AM on January 8, 2015 [5 favorites]


koeselitz, they're heroes because they understood the risk and thought it was important to publish the cartoons anyway, in the interest of not cowing to terrorists. (I did not watch the interview and I don't know if that is Mark Steyn's argument as well.)
posted by desjardins at 11:28 AM on January 8, 2015 [4 favorites]


koeselitz: "And it's wrong to imply that the tragic nature of this even has anything to do with whether or not these people published racist cartoons."

I agree. But if their stuff is racist, it is problematic to say that "We are all Charlie", or demand that their stuff should be endlessly reprinted, etc. I thought they were wrong to reprint the Danish cartoons (some of which are racist), I think some of their cartoons are racist, or at least borderline so, and I think they seemed like assholes in many ways. That does not mean I think they should have been killed or somehow deserved it, but I don't think I share many values with these people, and I don't want to be identified with them.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 11:28 AM on January 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


Joakim: This is a busy thread so you may have missed the reply to your comment earlier.
posted by ODiV at 11:30 AM on January 8, 2015


If a native French speaker could properly translate the Pope cartoon I would much appreciate. The internet is useless right now as I've come across several different translations and people screaming about it. I know enough from my French language education and CBC radio that it's full of idioms and phrases that don't directly translate in meaning and am wondering if this is one of those cases of layers of meaning. Straight google translation is goobilty gook and it looks like some of the translations people are screaming about are translations of the google translation.
posted by Jalliah at 11:30 AM on January 8, 2015


...speech with racism and bigotry is explicitly illegal in many countries in Western Europe.

Then aren't we done with the discussion? Charlie Hebdo has been publishing since 1992, were they punished by the government for hate speech or not?
posted by desjardins at 11:30 AM on January 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


It's not, but speech with racism and bigotry is explicitly illegal in many countries in Western Europe.

Charlie Hebdo has been publishing in its current form since 1992. If they were breaking the law badly enough to be shut down, you'd think someone would have caught on by now.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 11:32 AM on January 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


Or what desjardins said.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 11:33 AM on January 8, 2015


I don't want to jump on these peoples graves, but I still see pretending there's nothing troubling about a lot if [sic] their work is entering the land of wishful thinking and delusion.

What exactly is troubling about their work? Have you read the Vox piece reprinting and translating some of their cartoons on Islam? The humor is pretty banal, frankly -- nothing worse than you would hear on the Colbert Report.

Specifically, it's really hard to see it as tarring all Muslims with the same brush: they distinguish between Mohammed, who they suggest would support their work, and his extremist followers. Their Mohammed says about fundamentalists "It's hard to be loved by idiots." After their office was firebombed, their next cover promoted "love" between Muslims and their magazine (albeit provocatively with a gay kiss).

It would be so easy to imagine what genuinely racist cartoons would look like: offensive caricatures of the Muslims living in poverty in the banlieues, for example, or depictions of extremists in French society being indistinguishable from other Muslims. We don't get that here. It is really troubling to see people jumping to assumptions about the magazine and, I agree with many others, suggesting that these dead men deserved what they got.
posted by crazy with stars at 11:33 AM on January 8, 2015 [5 favorites]


By the way, the cover of the new issue of Charlie Hebdo features Michel Houellebecq, whose new book is out today, and imagines France in the near future taken over by Muslims. It takes its title, "Submission", from the controversial film by Theo van Gogh, (also a racist and Islamophobe, by the way), who was murdered because of his criticism of Islam.

This is the man who says: "When I was tried for racism and acquitted, a decade ago," he said, "the prosecutor remarked, correctly, that the Muslim religion was not a racial trait. This has become even more obvious today. So we have extended the domain of 'racism' by inventing the crime of Islamophobia."
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 11:35 AM on January 8, 2015


The problematic areas seem to be around the reuse of the cartoons which may now take on a meaning different to what was intended by the magazine; and for me at least, whether CH now actually represents the establishment more than they perhaps realise or would want to.

Other posts have pointed out that they are an all-white group of guys who were perhaps challenging the status quo a fair bit more in the 1960s than recently, when we have demonstrations in the UK of men chanting 'Allah is a paedo' and every newspaper harping on about evil muslims every day.
posted by colie at 11:36 AM on January 8, 2015


Guys, Hara Kiri has been around since at least the 1970's, and translated into multiple languages. I know because my father used to read it. I wish I could find a time machine, buy MetaFilter, keep everything the same, and highlight zompist's comment upthread and increase the font by about 100px.
posted by phaedon at 11:37 AM on January 8, 2015 [4 favorites]


one more dead town's last parade: "Charlie Hebdo has been publishing in its current form since 1992. If they were breaking the law badly enough to be shut down, you'd think someone would have caught on by now."

No, like Houellebecq, who they feature on the cover of their last issue, they get away with it because of the old saw that islamophobia is not racism.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 11:37 AM on January 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


So they're getting away with breaking the law because what they're doing isn't illegal?
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 11:38 AM on January 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


Do you honestly think that had Charlie Hebdo done nothing that these two would not have found some other French target?

I don't know, and neither do you.

For a start, we don't have to imagine "what if CH hadn't been CH", because everything is contingent anyway: the killers could have got stuck in traffic and the staff might all have been out for lunch when they got there. So what? If John F. Kennedy had never been born, might Lee Harvey Oswald or someone else altogether have assassinated some other president of 1960-64, or some other political figure entirely? Yes, no, maybe, so what? Does that make discussing the life and death of JFK any less important?

Saying that "the cartoon thing is a pointless distraction" dismisses the fact that France just lost five eminent cartoonists in a single day, and it's not as if eminent cartoonists are ten a centime. And suggesting that their work was a "pointless distraction" because "these two" (three, wasn't it?) would have killed somebody else if it hadn't been them is like shrugging off somebody's life because if their parents had conceived a month earlier they would have had a completely different child.

Their killers chose their targets. They may have had a list with second and third choices - for all we know CH may have been their second or third choice after failed attempts elsewhere - but CH was on their list for a reason. Discussing their target and their reasons is not a "pointless distraction".
posted by rory at 11:38 AM on January 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


ODiV: "Joakim: This is a busy thread so you may have missed the reply to your comment earlier"

I had indeed missed that. It seems I was wrong about the Taubira image, and I apologize. I stand by my criticism of the Danish Mohammad cartoons, the Boko Haram sex slaves one, the general hooknosed sword or gun wielding Arab ones, the "French people are as stupid as blacks" one, and so on.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 11:41 AM on January 8, 2015


one more dead town's last parade: "So they're getting away with breaking the law because what they're doing isn't illegal?"

They're getting away with racism and xenophobia because they keep away from stuff that's so obvious that it's prosecutable, yes.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 11:42 AM on January 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


I tried to do some research into that cover with the Pope, and I found that it was published in 1980 (thus it's referring to John Paul II) and that he visited Paris and spoke in front of UNESCO. Since I'm not Catholic, or French, and I was six years old in 1980, I'm stopping there.
posted by desjardins at 11:43 AM on January 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


I wouldn't say they've gotten away with anything.
posted by ODiV at 11:43 AM on January 8, 2015 [4 favorites]


The cover with the pope on it (whatever the translation should prove to mean) is from 35 years ago in 1980 and the previous incarnation of the magazine - not the present one.
posted by Flitcraft at 11:44 AM on January 8, 2015


ODiV: "I wouldn't say they've gotten away with anything."

I meant in the eyes of French anti-racism laws, but fair point.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 11:44 AM on January 8, 2015


They're getting away with racism and xenophobia because they keep away from stuff that's so obvious that it's prosecutable, yes.

So it sounds like they weren't breaking the law badly enough to be shut down. Which would imply that what they're doing isn't illegal.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 11:44 AM on January 8, 2015


like Houellebecq, who they feature on the cover of their last issue

Not in a terribly flattering manner, you must admit.

In any case Houellebecq should be allowed to say what he wants, just as we should be allowed to call him a weaselly dimwit for spouting such nonsense if we want.
posted by sobarel at 11:46 AM on January 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


I think you guys are talking around each other, Just because there are hate speech laws in France doesn't mean everything racist or hateful will be prosecuted. Tax fraud is illegal in the US, but it doesn't mean corporations aren't committing tax fraud because look how long they have gone without being arrested.

Whether or not the cartoons were prosecuted for hate speech proves and disproves nothing about the content of the cartoons.
posted by maxsparber at 11:49 AM on January 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


Flitcraft: "The cover with the pope on it ( whatever the translation should prove to mean) is from 35 years ago in 1980 and the previous incarnation of the magazine - not the present one."

The previous incarnation of the magazine was run by many of the same people, including Gebé, Cabu, and Wolinski.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 11:49 AM on January 8, 2015


Yes, the Houellebecq cover is clearly designed to make him look ridiculous -- he's portrayed as as decrepit fortune-teller. Are you trying to argue that they put him on the cover because they share his beliefs?
posted by neroli at 11:52 AM on January 8, 2015 [8 favorites]


Whether or not the cartoons were prosecuted for hate speech proves and disproves nothing about the content of the cartoons.

If that's the case (which I don't believe it is) then your personal opinion of whether the cartoons are racist or not also does not prove or disprove anything.
posted by Fidel Cashflow at 11:52 AM on January 8, 2015


Whether or not the cartoons were prosecuted for hate speech proves and disproves nothing about the content of the cartoons.

Except to make you feel bad for treating this as anything other than what in Western civilization we would describe as "an unprovoked attack."
posted by phaedon at 11:52 AM on January 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


Mefites of Paris and France - particularly Berend and anyone else who had first-hand connections to the dead or wounded - I am so deeply sorry this happened, I send my condolences to you. I know how troubled I was by events close to me in Boston ... my thoughts are with you.
posted by madamjujujive at 11:52 AM on January 8, 2015 [13 favorites]


Continuing to bring up the nature of the content produced by the murdered cartoonists, in the immediate aftermath of their murder, is victim-blaming of a sort that is not usually accepted around here.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 11:54 AM on January 8, 2015 [13 favorites]


So it sounds like they weren't breaking the law badly enough to be shut down. Which would imply that what they're doing isn't illegal.
Nobody (at this end) has said they did anything illegal. Koeselitz said it was an issue of free speech, I pointed out that there isn't exactly "free speech" in western Europe, and then you said that must mean I think the CH peeps deserved to get shot. For which you win an internet medal, I guess.
posted by brokkr at 11:54 AM on January 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


I would be interested to know if progressive French Muslims find the cartoons racist. They're conversant with the culture and - if the cartoons were racist - they would be the intended targets, not us. I'm not being confrontational, I'm genuinely interested if people have run across interviews with progressives (we can obviously write off the extremists). zompist linked an interview with an Algerian cartoonist above, do we have any more?
posted by desjardins at 11:56 AM on January 8, 2015 [5 favorites]


Continuing to bring up the nature of the content produced by the murdered cartoonists, in the immediate aftermath of their murder, is victim-blaming of a sort that is not usually accepted around here.

Animal kingdom "wisdom."
posted by phaedon at 11:56 AM on January 8, 2015


Except to make you feel bad for treating this as anything other than what in Western civilization we would describe as "an unprovoked attack."

I'm not clear on what you mean by this, but I don't actually see anyone in this thread who thinks the attack was deserved.
posted by maxsparber at 11:56 AM on January 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm not clear on what you mean by this, but I don't actually see anyone in this thread who thinks the attack was deserved.

Anyone talking about the dangers of the subjects in these cartoons is implying that the attack was deserved.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:58 AM on January 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


I am not really willing to trust a poll done for Russia Today and reported in Vox.

We live in an age where state agencies produce the worst kind of trashy propaganda that gets reprinted by arrogant web startups and then gets repeated in the echo chamber of the web. The people who do live according to ideals are of course slaughtered and then we blame them for it.
posted by Nevin at 11:59 AM on January 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm not clear on what you mean by this, but I don't actually see anyone in this thread who thinks the attack was deserved.

That's what make trolls so mesmerizing, isn't it.
posted by phaedon at 11:59 AM on January 8, 2015


Anyone talking about the dangers of the subjects in these cartoons is implying that the attack was deserved.

I disagree. I have said above that I think this is probably not the best time to discuss the content of the cartoons, because it is likely to come off as victim blaming, but I don't think anyone having that discussion is directly implying anything of the sort, especially since so many have offered caveats explicitly saying "This was criminal, it shouldn't have happened, and the cartoonists didn't deserve to be murdered."
posted by maxsparber at 12:00 PM on January 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


It serves to erode the position that the events that took place were categorically wrong, regardless of the content, at a time when this issue is actually on the table, and as such, is responded to as if it were doing just that. Absolving yourself of this implication is probably less genuine than owning it. I mean you can't have a conversation with someone who is making arguments but doesn't hold a position.
posted by phaedon at 12:05 PM on January 8, 2015 [5 favorites]


You seem to imagine these guys as basically peaceful, well-adjusted citizens who, because they are such deeply devout and engaged Muslims find themselves profoundly shocked and hurt every time they see a Charlie Hebdo cover on the newsstand, to the point where eventually something just snaps and they go on this killing spree.

What? No, of course not. I'm entirely prepared to accept that they chose CH opportunistically, as a softer target than blowing up the Gare du Nord or something, but their target still has meaning. They didn't storm through through the offices of Paris Match, which I'd bet would have been just as soft a target.

I read an old news story yesterday about Kouachi from a Twitter link, before his name had even been mentioned on this thread, and it seemed pretty clear that were he confirmed as one of the killers we were looking at angry, alienated young local men itching for a fight. But they chose their target. They didn't choose others. They didn't just start shooting randomly in the Metro. They didn't even shoot everyone they passed by in pursuit of their victims: they asked one poor woman for directions to specific individuals.

but reading that as evidence as to how profoundly the magazine's cartoons distressed the killers

Where did I do this? I'm not doing that. The killers strike me exactly the same way they seem to have struck you, as angry young men who got hold of a cause and some guns, and all I'm saying is that once they chose CH as a target, the killings become a deliberate assassination. Not in scare quotes, mind you. It's the very definition of the word.

What I was questioning is the suggestion that the "cartoon thing" is a "pointless distraction". Charlie Hebdo, along with Le Canard Enchaine, is at the heart of the French satirical journalism, and that's why they were chosen as a target.

CH knew they were a target, and carried on bravely despite it. I don't think that's pointless, I think that's the point.
posted by rory at 12:06 PM on January 8, 2015 [1 favorite]



"The previous incarnation of the magazine was run by many of the same people, including Gebé, Cabu, and Wolinski."

Ziegler, the cover with the Pope is a single cover from 35 years ago when the magazine was under a different chief editor - this is shameful clutching at straws to smear people who were gunned down yesterday while organising an anti-racism conference. Meanwhile, you've already repeatedly been shown to be wrong in your interpretations of the material from CH on this thread and it hasn't stopped you relentlessly trying to smear the murdered journalists from what (alas) seems to be a position of ignorance about all things French. For the love of goodness, please stop - you are giving anti-racism a bad name.
posted by Flitcraft at 12:08 PM on January 8, 2015 [25 favorites]


brokkr: “Koeselitz said it was an issue of free speech, I pointed out that there isn't exactly ‘free speech’ in western Europe...”

I guess this is kind of a small point, and we've moved on I guess, but: in western Europe – particularly in France – freedom of speech is still indeed a lauded tenet. It's what Charlie Hebdo were standing for, and as far as I can tell they said so many times. In France and many other countries hatespeech is indeed sometimes named as an exception to the freedom of speech, so I take your point on that. But I think this is an issue of free speech, in the larger context.
posted by koeselitz at 12:08 PM on January 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


Another number for perspective: a recent poll reports that one in six French citizens supports ISIS.

How was the question phrased? Vox says: how many people support the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS)

I am pretty doubtful about the confusion factor, many people are ignorant and misinformed about geography, let alone political factions. Some may be hearing the question as "do you support an Islamic Iraq, an Islamic Syria?"

For a better read, ask - Do you support the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria coming to France? Do you support the political/religious group in Syria and Iraq who are beheading journalists?

Whatever. We have our own hefty segments of people with appalling beliefs.
posted by madamjujujive at 12:09 PM on January 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


Once more, because I actually lived in the country for a few decades, and have some amount of information: CH is very actively anti-racist. One of the dead cartoonists is single-handedly responsible for a 40-year-old, mainstream French word describing the common type of petty, crass French racist, a word that's so definitive in its contempt that, once called that, you never wash the stain.

CH is/was full of ex-Flower Power figures, and draws from the same tradition of nihilistic benevolence that gave existentialism. CH's line is strictly egalitarian, mocking and taking down any organisation harming or oppressing people, whomever they are. CH considers that mostly everyone is mostly all right and deserves to be left to do what they want, except for some assholes. CH are not the shiny-toothed leaders taking the world to a better place, they are the unshaven, tobacco-spitting ruffians that will fight for the cause because that's what you do if you have a conscience. CH despairs of people, but really hope that they are wrong, and respects everyone everywhere's intelligence enough to notice they have a problem with the institution and not its adherents, which is obviously way, way too idealistic of them.
posted by Spanner Nic at 12:11 PM on January 8, 2015 [58 favorites]


It serves to erode the position that the events that took place were categorically wrong, regardless of the content, and as such, is responded to as if it were doing just that.

There are a lot of points that surround this event. It is wildly complicated. At the moment, out of respect for the dead, I agree that the primary point is "this was categorically wrong," but, I mean, eventually we should be able to discuss the content of the cartoons. In fact, since the murdered people included cartoonists, and cartoonists whose cartoons were, in part, designed to incite discussion, I think it would be disrespectful to now encase them in amber and say "any discussion of the content they created now makes it sound like they deserved death."

It doesn't. It makes it sound like they deserved to be discussed critically, and I don't know a single artist who thinks they should never be discussed critically, except, perhaps, for very bad ones.
posted by maxsparber at 12:11 PM on January 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


We are Charlie | Guardian Live

an evening of discussion and debate in support of our murdered French colleagues. Speakers will include Natalie Nougayrede, former editor of Le Monde, now a columnist with the Guardian; our two main cartoonists Steve Bell and Martin Rowson; Observer columnists Nick Cohen and Henry Porter; writers Sunny Hundal and Shahida Bari.
posted by phoque at 12:12 PM on January 8, 2015


Cartoonist Martin Rowson has a great piece in today's Guardian:

...there appears to be something exquisitely intolerable to the serious mind about mockery when it is visual. Largely this is due to the way the visual is consumed: rather than nibbling your way through text, however incendiary, a cartoon floods the eyes and gets swallowed whole – and often makes the recipient choke. Worse, cartoons should be seen more as a kind of sympathetic magic than anything else: we steal our subjects’ souls by recreating them through caricature and then mock them in narratives of our own devising. Worst of all, we then pretend that it’s all just a good-natured laugh: it is a laugh, but it’s also assassination without the blood.

He goes on to talk about his own discomfort with the Danish cartoons and draws an important distinction in the power dynamic at work:

This time it is cartoonists’ blood that’s been shed. Yet however much their murderers may identify themselves as victims of mockery, they have clearly also identified themselves as on the side of power, electing to act as agents avenging the hurt feelings of the most Powerful Being in the Universe. Don’t forget that demanding either respect or silence from everyone else is one of the most common abuses of power going.

The terrorists chose their target with great strategic care. They knew that going after the French liberal intelligentsia would polarise opinion on the middle ground and result in a load of pearl-clutching about the merits of CH's off-colour equal-opportunity-offensive humour. The very fact that we're debating the merits of the cartoons and whether or not these cartoonists were racists represents a victory of sorts for the fundamentalists. We can't let them win the censorship war.
posted by Elizabeth the Thirteenth at 12:12 PM on January 8, 2015 [22 favorites]


I have said above that I think this is probably not the best time to discuss the content of the cartoons, because it is likely to come off as victim blaming, but I don't think anyone having that discussion is directly implying anything of the sort, especially since so many have offered caveats explicitly saying "This was criminal, it shouldn't have happened, and the cartoonists didn't deserve to be murdered."

Perhaps not directly, but as disclaimers go, though, that one feels like a particularly weaselly way of trying to have one's cake and eat it too when it's combined with a constant insistence to change the topic of discussion in a thread about the cartoonists being assassinated back to how racist their cartoons are.

The fact that this is combined in so many of its exponents with very basic errors in explicitly confusing the positions being satirized with positions being advocated is sort of the cherry on top, but I don't think two paragraphs of victim-blaming combined with tacking on one sentence of "but of course, I'm not blaming the victims!" at the end would fly in any other context either.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 12:19 PM on January 8, 2015 [15 favorites]


Well, I'm not a weasel, but I did buy this cake and intend to eat it.
posted by maxsparber at 12:21 PM on January 8, 2015 [3 favorites]






Joakim Ziegler: By the way, the cover of the new issue of Charlie Hebdo features Michel Houellebecq, whose new book is out today, and imagines France in the near future taken over by Muslims.
----
No, like Houellebecq, who they feature on the cover of their last issue,


Uh, what are getting at here? Those covers appear to be mocking Houellebecq.
posted by spaltavian at 12:26 PM on January 8, 2015 [7 favorites]


Karima Bennoune (previously) - Charlie Hebdo: "There is no way they will make us put down our pens."
Our community organizations should move from reactive condemnations of terrorism post hoc, to proactive, systematic efforts to root out Islamist ideology through awareness-raising, and humanist education. We must also do more to support those doing this work back home in our countries of origin. As difficult as it can be to speak out in our highly charged contemporary environment in which the Western far right campaigns against Islam – akin to “walking on a tightrope” as one young Arab-American activist recently described it - it takes just a fraction of the moral courage shown by those most at risk. Pakistani lawyer Asma Jahangir, who has to have armed guards in her Lahore office, implored the diaspora community to speak out about the slaughter in countries like hers when I interviewed her.

It is especially critical not to blame the victims for the Paris attack, however challenging some of their drawings and writings may have been for some. That is what satirists do – push boundaries. That is their right, and indeed modern society needs those who dare to claim that none of our emperors have any clothes. Charlie Hebdo are equal opportunity offenders, lampooning the Pope, Jewish orthodoxy and the Mullahs. Many people of Muslim heritage appreciate satire. The late great Pakistani arts promoter Faizan Peerzada told me of the Danish cartoons that Charlie Hebdo reprinted, “if this cartoon was seen by Mohamed, he would have had a laugh. As simple as that.”
posted by audi alteram partem at 12:30 PM on January 8, 2015 [9 favorites]


At the moment, out of respect for the dead, I agree that the primary point is "this was categorically wrong," but, I mean, eventually we should be able to discuss the content of the cartoons.

I don't disagree. Perhaps the type of humor in CH is indicative of an entrenched racism that Muslims in France have to deal with on a daily basis and are miserable for it, and its twisted public expression is a cloud hanging over their heads. Perhaps we can all hope for a better day when such humor is neither necessary nor does it come to define a people's experience, nor will it cut so deeply. In my opinion, that's something respectful that could be said to couch the point being made about the "content of the cartoons."

Let's just not create any direct correlations between the fact that twelve people were killed yesterday and my need to understand where this is coming from and how an analysis of the "content of the cartoons" will lead me to a better understanding of the position I should be taking. Because this goes against what I believe at a root level.

Furthermore, the exercise of making people uncomfortable on this site as a result of their treating this incident as categorically wrong, by pushing them to defend "racism and xenophobia" when a lot of these charges are brought by people who are merely expressing an opinion or are ill-informed as to the "social landscape" in which this satire was expressed - which again, I agree, perhaps has its limits in terms of outright justifiability - constitutes a form of trolling and is in and of itself offensive, insofar that perhaps I should be questioning the "wisdom" of certain protected acts, today of all days, simply because of the devastating effects of theocratic totalitarianism and the type of retribution it endorses.

Everybody here is doing the best they can in terms of figuring out where they stand, and just as so many people have told me that "nobody is saying this attack was justified," I should mention that nobody in this thread nor in the mainstream political channels is advocating for the expulsion of Muslims in France en masse. The fact that these people will eventually be caught and "brought to justice" is, in and of itself and considering the circumstances, extremely charitable, by the standards with which these cartoonists and the people charged to protect them were treated.

We are all participating in a conversation in which "the contents" of our comments are being examined. But today? This story? This story is shaking a lot of us to our core because it is almost certainly not about that.
posted by phaedon at 12:38 PM on January 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


Furthermore, the exercise of making people uncomfortable on this site as a result of their treating this incident as categorically wrong, by pushing them to defend "racism and xenophobia" when a lot of these charges are brought by people who are merely expressing an opinion or are ill-informed as to the "social landscape" in which this satire was expressed - which again, I agree, perhaps has its limits in terms of outright justifiability - constitutes a form of trolling

Nobody is trolling in this thread, or, if they are, I'd suggest flagging them. And I have seen at least as large a push on the site to tell people not to criticize the cartoons at all, as doing so is victim blaming, and I'd say that's also an exercise in making people uncomfortable. I agree this isn't the best time to discuss it, but, my goodnness, some other people have been behaving as though concern about the content of the cartoons is tantamount to having called for the murder of the cartoonists, and it isn't.
posted by maxsparber at 12:43 PM on January 8, 2015 [5 favorites]




The irony, it burns:
NY Daily Post today:
Now, all the world knows about Charlie Hebdo, about the journalists who held to their principles — and about the monsters who cannot abide freedom.
NY Daily Post in 2012

Not only did it censor a picture that wasn't even supposed to depict Mohammed, it underscored its cowardice by only censoring one of the two caricatures on the page. Via Elder of Ziyon, which also shows the uncensored photo.
posted by Joe in Australia at 12:46 PM on January 8, 2015 [5 favorites]


You're concerned about the content of the cartoons?
posted by feste at 12:48 PM on January 8, 2015


Not at all. I just think it's funny that back then they were very clearly scared of attacks; they weren't scared of causing offence, or they'd have censored both halves of the image. Now they're all about "journalists who held to their principles", but back then they censored something that nobody had even objected to.
posted by Joe in Australia at 12:51 PM on January 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


Kevin Street: Making fun of Islam or drawing cartoons of Muhammad isn't normally a very nice thing to do. It can usually be seen as an aggressive behavior, something that stupidly attacks people who are already persecuted and causes trouble for no particular reason.
There's nothing wrong with the part I emphasized. I don't care one bit if your church says drawing Muhammed, boobies, or Granny Smith apples is sacrilegious. This kind of deference to religious assholes is related to the problem we're discussing.

GIS for the prophet Muhammed. This isn't disrespectful to Islam because I'm not muslim, just like eating meat on Lenten Fridays isn't disrespectful to the Catholic church.

I'll go further, and say that making fun of the stupid parts of Islam (stupid IMO) isn't persecution; some sects cut off girls' clitorises, and I'll be damned if those butchers don't deserve worse in life than mockery. However much they are being persecuted, it isn't as much as they deserve - even if it isn't aimed at that particular fault of theirs.
posted by IAmBroom at 12:52 PM on January 8, 2015 [5 favorites]


Wasn't aiming that at you, Joe in Australia.
posted by feste at 12:53 PM on January 8, 2015


I support gay marriage. I'm sorry that doing so offends all sorts of religious nuts. Don't bomb be, bro.
posted by enamon at 12:54 PM on January 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


Guy Smiley: I can tell IAmBroom it's Andres Serrano, not Robert Mapplethorpe.
Thanks! Robert's exhibit was famously attacked in Cincinnati by the local asshole sheriff while I worked there, and I guess I just elided things together.
posted by IAmBroom at 12:54 PM on January 8, 2015


A wonderful assembly of tributes from cartoonists around the world

Negar Mortazavi (an Iranian journalist), has tweeted a number of other tributes. A few from Iranian cartoonists:

Iranian cartoonist for #CharlieHebdo

By Iran designer @_arashasghari

By Iran Cartoonist @ManaNeyestani

I like this one: For slain journalists at Charlie Hebdo
posted by Golden Eternity at 12:56 PM on January 8, 2015 [5 favorites]


carping demon: The people who do this are not at all religious, they're barbaric. What's truly horrifying is how many others there are.
Your "No True Scotsman" claim is false. The people who did that are obviously, self-descriptively, barbaricly... religious.

Don't pretend that religious people would never stoop so low. There are literally thousands of examples in history, from ancient times to yesterday's news.
posted by IAmBroom at 12:59 PM on January 8, 2015 [8 favorites]


Don't pretend that religious people would never stoop so low.

It's not worded for precision, but it's not a no true scotsman so much as it is a "this betrays the best possibilities of the religion," and it is always worth remembering that there are people of every stripe who do great evil under the same banner that others do great good under.
posted by maxsparber at 1:05 PM on January 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


I posed the question of context to a French friend who is a cartoonist/graphic designer living in Montreal. She is going through gender reassignment (female to male)

To generalize the issue of context for her I brought up the Jerry Lewis statement up thread. The French love him. We don't get it. How does this apply to yesterday re: satire and racism. I am posting her response in the order received. She is aware I am doing this.

The link that begins her response...

" I disagree with the article. It is easy to encapsulate the journal in its potential offenses looking at it from the distance, but the cultural context and history of the journal and its redactors is too important to do so.

Their satire was always on point because not necessarily reflective of their own opinion (Their editor in chief has been a long standing far left supporter which is our most liberal/socialist political party. They are pro LGBT, against anti-immigration policies ...) but rather what they succeeded at doing often was to be thought provoking as they have been on the forefront of actually pointing fingers at the rise of the far right for the past 10 years in France and blunt in depicting the opinions of a rising number of intolerant folks in a way that indeed sparked debate. People are too quick to read dark humor as a face value thing and the opinion of this OP'd piece clearly needs more extensive homework before taking a stance. Taking circumstantial humor out of its social/cultural context is the best way to strip it of its real meaning and miss the mark.

Criticizing religion and fundamentalism is not the same thing. They did contextually attack only when the social or political context was seeing a raise in opinions be it national or international that were non-liberal ones. They did not care for people who do not try to enforce views or impose restrictions on others. Either by depicting the bigotry or the hypocrisy of those who did hold the views or literally their opinion they always defended the same ideal. Their editorial is probably the most liberal we have in the country and that's why it is a loss."

End of response
posted by goalyeehah at 1:07 PM on January 8, 2015 [22 favorites]


When I heard about the attack yesterday I thought of how on 9/11 I came to metafilter to follow the famous 911 FPP to stay informed of what was happening. Shortly after that I created my account.

So my first instinct yesterday was to run to metafilter and see what was being written about the attacks on Charlie Hebdo. When I discovered to my surprise there was no FPP yet, I started this one.

I may be oversensitive, but to be honest I am very hurt by the various "blame the victim" comments in this thread. Especially because most of them seem to come from people who have never read Charlie Hebdo and don't seem to understand its satirical style.

In some way I already foresaw this happening, that's why I emphasized in my FPP Charlie Hebdo is left-wing, hoping people wouldn't start by saying "it's just some small racist right-wing rag that got hit".

These were not insignificant people. They were the top in their art. If I have to make a comparison to a US situation, it would be as if a group of comedians like George Carlin, Richard Prior, and Louie CK were murdered in a shooting in a standup club. And that I would barge in here as a European without having followed any of their work saying "yeah, it's horrible that they were killed, but I heard their jokes were all racist and in bad taste" (but maybe that actually is how Americans look at these comedians, what do I know).

I share the feeling of @seesom as having landed "in some type of bizarro world" here.

I was most touched by the comment of @zompist. There were more comments of people trying to explain why it is ridiculous to consider Charlie Hebdo racist, but as @phaedon said: "I wish I could find a time machine, buy MetaFilter, keep everything the same, and highlight zompist's comment upthread and increase the font by about 100px."

People do not understand satire anymore. The people that condemn the Boko Haram cartoon probably would have condemned Swift's Modest Proposal as well for being cruel to children.

And to close: to those who are trying to blame all muslims for what happened or who expect them to apologize for it as if they had a hand in it, I say frak you!
posted by Berend at 1:11 PM on January 8, 2015 [80 favorites]


Re: If a native French speaker could properly translate the Pope cartoon I would much appreciate.

That's pretty straightforward: The Pope in Paris: The French are as stupid as N***s. It's a cartoon from 1980 by Reiser, who died in 1983.
The colon implies that it's a direct quote of John Paul II (note his smug face) or at least of what the Pope thinks. Basically it's the Pope mocking the French by comparing them to Africans. It lampoons 1) the condescending and colonialist attitude of the Catholic Church. Catholic missionaries in Africa were a frequent target of Reiser, like in this classic cartoon (if some people don't get it let me now) and 2) the "popemania" surrounding the new Pope at that time, even in France.
Note that Charlie Hebdo would not use the N*** word on a cover today, that was 35 years ago when lots of people would use the word more liberally. I went on a Reiser binge a couple of months ago and while the man was immensely talented, some of the stuff he did back then wouldn't fly today.
posted by elgilito at 1:15 PM on January 8, 2015 [11 favorites]


More from my friend....

The context is a non context really

One of the guys that got arrested and did prison for being caught apparently he was arranging travel for members of a cell of extremists

I think it's his way of getting back at the country according to his beliefs

and he just happened to find a couple of accomplices
posted by goalyeehah at 1:19 PM on January 8, 2015


maxsparber: It's not worded for precision, but it's not a no true scotsman so much as it is a "this betrays the best possibilities of the religion," and it is always worth remembering that there are people of every stripe who do great evil under the same banner that others do great good under.
That wasn't nearly what was stated, and I'm not sure you have the authority to speak for carping demon. The statement was "The people who do this are not at all religious, they're barbaric."

That is false in the first claim, and sets up a false duality. Many religious practices, from the dawn of history to today, are barbaric. Religious does not equate to evil, as some atheists would claim, but it sure as shit doesn't equate to good, either.
posted by IAmBroom at 1:20 PM on January 8, 2015 [4 favorites]


it is always worth remembering that there are people of every stripe who do great evil under the same banner that others do great good under.

Yes. Nonreligious people have committed atrocities for nonreligious reasons. Nonreligious people have done great good for non-religious reasons. And the same is true in both counts for religious people.

The claim that an act "betrays the best possibilities of [a] religion" is distinct from the one that says terrorists "are not at all religious, they're barbaric." To say "The people who do this are not at all religious, they're barbaric" implicitly links barbarism to nonreligion and implies that religion is inherently a buffer against barbarism in ways that nonreligion is not.
posted by audi alteram partem at 1:22 PM on January 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


If a native French speaker could properly translate the Pope cartoon I would much appreciate.

"The Pope in Paris: the French as idiotic as the negroes."

The reference is to JPII's habit of globetrotting, and the colonialist whiff of his African photo-ops, riffed-on here to lampoon/ridicule the secular capital's overzealous/hypocritical feting of the pope's visit.

The by-line of Hara-Kiri was "journal bête et méchant", the stupid and vicious magazine - this is a perfect example of that tradition.
posted by progosk at 1:26 PM on January 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


on twitter a stream of great cartoons: so i looked on facebook for some actual charlie hebdo ones, and got an endless stream of old mohamed=paedophile ones being reposted, most of which were too strong for me, and i did think, hate is what got us here, please...which isn't what the cartoonists would have thought. They even shot the janitor:(
posted by maiamaia at 1:37 PM on January 8, 2015


That is false in the first claim, and sets up a false duality.

Well, we can pick it to pieces as much as we like, but ultimately it's not really important to me that we clearly and absolutely make sure that every single person comes out and says that religious people sometimes do shitty things. If somebody thinks that a really awful thing is not the kind of thing a religious person should do, and they shouldn't be able to call themselves religious if they do such a thing -- well, good. I'm all for stripping the righteousness and the flag of piety from horrific acts.
posted by maxsparber at 1:38 PM on January 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


(jinx, elgilito.)
posted by progosk at 1:39 PM on January 8, 2015




I'm all for stripping the righteousness and the flag of piety from horrific acts.

I'd rather strip away the aura of presumed goodness from religion, personally.
posted by empath at 1:43 PM on January 8, 2015 [8 favorites]


Not everyone is celebrating Charlie Hebdo's satire


Shockingly I appear to be in agreement with Glenn Greenwald.
posted by Artw at 1:53 PM on January 8, 2015


Artw: From that article:

"One cartoon portrayed France's black Justice Minister Christiane Taubira as a monkey. Another mocked the sex slaves of the militant group Boko Haram. An issue that followed the death of Michael Jackson depicted the pop star as a skeleton with a caption suggesting he realized a dream to be a white man. "

All this has been debunked here (about Taubira) and here (concerning the Boko Haram cover).

I don't understand your argument. Are you saying that Charlie Hebdo is being racist and xenophobic by lampooning France's extreme right's racism and xenophobia?
posted by enamon at 2:02 PM on January 8, 2015 [20 favorites]


I think rushing to accuse these cartoonists of bigotry without making at least a token effort to understand their satire is seriously offensive in the context of their deaths, and I'm quite shocked by those who have done so on a community such as metafilter, which purports to hold itself to a high standard of intellectual rigour.
posted by walrus at 2:02 PM on January 8, 2015 [23 favorites]


enamon,

Is there a debunking of the Michael Jackson cartoon?
posted by Golden Eternity at 2:03 PM on January 8, 2015


That article makes the same misunderstanding many in this thread have made. It was even stated upthread that Taubier SUPPORTED CH yet went after other outlets for racism.

This is just really coming off as willful ignorance and a refusal to engage in good faith.
posted by sio42 at 2:10 PM on January 8, 2015 [10 favorites]


Or what enamon said.
posted by sio42 at 2:12 PM on January 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


Artw: I don't want to jump on these peoples graves,
Then.
Stop.
Jumping.
Artw: but I still see pretending there's nothing troubling about a lot if their work is entering the land of wishful thinking and delusion.
Troubling, in what way, exactly? Troubling, as in it might make someone angry? Big fucking deal. Troubling, as in it might provoke terrorists? So, like a girl in a miniskirt provokes rapists?

You know who is racist? Larry Flynt is racist! Deeply, horribly racist. And you know what? That fact doesn't matter when you're discussing the asshole who shot Larry Flynt. So why does it matter now?
Artw: Entering the land of delusion in response to terrorism has served us very badly in the past.
Yet another statement about how we're bringing this on to ourselves.
posted by IAmBroom at 2:12 PM on January 8, 2015 [8 favorites]


I think rushing to accuse these cartoonists of bigotry without making at least a token effort to understand their satire is seriously offensive in the context of their deaths, and I'm quite shocked by those who have done so on a community such as metafilter, which holds itself to a high standard of intellectual rigour.

And I think that's fascist "with us or against us" Bush era neocon bullshit.
posted by Artw at 2:13 PM on January 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


The second part of GG's tweet doesn't make sense to me. (Not saying this as snark, I'm honestly confused by it; ArtW I'm assuming you're being ironic about the agreeing part, and that like many of us Mefites you usually do agree with him? In this fraught thread irony is especially slippery...) Also worth noting that the CNN Money article mostly talks about someone not Greenwald and mentions his tweet at the end in a seeming afterthough.
posted by aught at 2:14 PM on January 8, 2015


Discussing their target and their reasons is not a "pointless distraction".

Sure it is. It may be intellectually satisfying, though myself I don't find psychopathy at all interesting. Or possibly practical because it's a heads for those who might say things that these guys find exceptional ; but that way lies cowardice, and cowardice in the face of intimidation is not to be encouraged. Outside of that, it can only suggest that they might possibly have even a possible sliver of justification for murder. I reject that, so, again, as a practical matter - pointless.

You claim these particular victims matter because they were eminent cartoonists whose talents are not "ten a centime". Do their lives matter more than the random non-cartooning victims of a subway bombing, or the pedestrians struck by cars last month the killers' co-religionists?
posted by IndigoJones at 2:15 PM on January 8, 2015


And I think that's fascist "with us or against us" Bush era neocon bullshit.

Just to be clear, what you're arguing is that "making a token effort to understand their satire" is NOT useful, and it's better to make wild surmises about things you don't quite understand?
posted by neroli at 2:18 PM on January 8, 2015 [7 favorites]


"When did it become true that to defend someone's free speech rights, one has to publish & even embrace their ideas?" Greenwald said on Twitter. "That apply in all cases?"

Seems pretty clear FWIW.
posted by Artw at 2:23 PM on January 8, 2015


Artw, and people talking to him. You are in a situation where you are not communicating well. Take some time and re-read what you are looking at for the more generous reading.
posted by Drinky Die at 2:25 PM on January 8, 2015


What is the generous side of accusing someone of being a fascist neo-con bullshitter?
posted by walrus at 2:26 PM on January 8, 2015 [4 favorites]


GG's tweet, as quoted in this CNN Money article ("When did it become true that to defend someone's free speech rights, one has to publish & even embrace their ideas?" - "That apply in all cases?") reads a bit like a strawman set up within a rephrasing of Voltaire's adage.

Defending free speech quite obviously does not oblige you to embrace speech contrary to your own convictions - just to defend its right to exist. That right for the speech to exist is tantamount to the right to publish it. Nowhere is there an obligation to do so, and even less to republish speech contrary to your own convictions. What is crucial is that despite your not embracing it, you uphold the right for those whose conviction it is, to do so if they choose.

Not a particularly incisive quote from GG.
posted by progosk at 2:28 PM on January 8, 2015 [4 favorites]


I'm done here. Neocon chest thumping and allegiance tests make for a shit memorial thread.
posted by Artw at 2:30 PM on January 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


Crikey.
posted by walrus at 2:31 PM on January 8, 2015 [8 favorites]


Artw: What are you arguing? I don't understand.

No one is saying that you have to agree with one's speech to defend it. On the other hand, calling Charlie Hebdo's covers xenophobic and racist is downright incorrect and that's what is being repeatedly pointed out.
posted by enamon at 2:33 PM on January 8, 2015 [9 favorites]


I have the opportunity to work (part-time) with an organization that includes many Muslims living around the world. Here's an article that is being discussed today:

Juan Cole:

"Al-Qaeda wants to mentally colonize French Muslims, but faces a wall of disinterest. But if it can get non-Muslim French to be beastly to ethnic Muslims on the grounds that they are Muslims, it can start creating a common political identity around grievance against discrimination.
[... ]This horrific murder was not a pious protest against the defamation of a religious icon. It was an attempt to provoke European society into pogroms against French Muslims, at which point al-Qaeda recruitment would suddenly exhibit some successes instead of faltering.
[... ]"Sharpening the contradictions” is the strategy of sociopaths and totalitarians, aimed at unmooring people from their ordinary insouciance and preying on them, mobilizing their energies and wealth for the perverted purposes of a self-styled great leader.
[...]We have a model for response to terrorist provocation and attempts at sharpening the contradictions. It is Norway after Anders Behring Breivik committed mass murder of Norwegian leftists for being soft on Islam. The Norwegian government launched no war on terror. They tried Breivik in court as a common criminal. They remained committed to their admirable modern Norwegian values."

posted by Nevin at 2:33 PM on January 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


I think I can translate Artw for you. The cartoons are extremist, they are almost certainly part of the problem, and they shouldn't be re-published. Solidarity on this issue is basically code for ultranationalism, which will only leads to further problems, as history has shown. The rest is hyperbole, but you're basically a fascist if you disagree with him or give him a hard time over it, so he's done talking about it.
posted by phaedon at 2:35 PM on January 8, 2015 [9 favorites]


But they're not extremist. In no sense of the word. That's what's being repeatedly pointed out. They are satire that poke fun of both Muslim extremists and far right politicians.
posted by enamon at 2:37 PM on January 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


I'm not convinced that phaedon is arguing that they are.
posted by walrus at 2:39 PM on January 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


Thank you elgili and progosk for the explanation. The Pope cartoon makes much more sense now then just a straight reading of the words. Unfortunately I think it is lost to social media superficial interpretations that it's racist and not actually satirizing colonial style racism which is most unfortunate.
posted by Jalliah at 2:40 PM on January 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


Oh I understand that he's not. Heh. Sorry if I made it seem like I thought he was.
posted by enamon at 2:41 PM on January 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


But they're not extremist. In no sense of the word. That's what's being repeatedly pointed out. They are satire that poke fun of both Muslim extremists and far right politicians.

I know, but he just doesn't agree with you. And he thinks the political symbolism of the moment prevents him from holding that opinion, which I don't know if that rises to the level of fascism, but I guess it might if you'd had a couple of drinks. I think that's the position Greenwald is implying as well. That the cartoons might just be horrendously awful even though that might get lost in the whole solidarity thing.

And if they serve as a pretext to awful immigration policies or military excursions abroad, well then, that's fucked. That's where the "Bush neocon" part comes in.
posted by phaedon at 2:42 PM on January 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


Artw: Neocon chest thumping

I can only interpret that as a willful misreading of events.
posted by dhens at 2:44 PM on January 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


I read it more as a personal, ad hominem attack dhens, but I support Artw's right to make one.
posted by walrus at 2:46 PM on January 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


Some fine translation work by phaedon though. I was totally perplexed too.
posted by neroli at 2:47 PM on January 8, 2015


Well the cartoons definitely won't be used as a pretext. Killing 12 people over them might. As for Artw, I understand disagreeing but he didn't seem to address any of the explanations. As for Glenn Greenwald's quote - I pretty much agree with it 100%. He never actually states his opinion of the paper's cover in the one tweet I've read (but perhaps there are other tweets I've missed).
posted by enamon at 2:47 PM on January 8, 2015


Much obliged, Jalilah. It's fascinating how much is getting lost to "social media superficial interpretations". (In this thread, but plenty elsewhere, too.)

Maybe some contrarians would prefer to try #JeSuisAhmed instead, to see if it fits better?
posted by progosk at 2:50 PM on January 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


As for Glenn Greenwald's quote - I pretty much agree with it 100%

Given that it simply restates an almost universally accepted precept of liberal democracy, best known in the form of the variously attributed quote "I disagree with what you say but will defend to the death etc." it's hard to disagree, really.
posted by George_Spiggott at 2:51 PM on January 8, 2015 [5 favorites]


Here's an article about the trending tags, including #killallmuslims.

In short, most people using #killallmuslims were condemning the sentiment, not using it in hate.
posted by Thing at 2:59 PM on January 8, 2015


Do you honestly think that had Charlie Hebdo done nothing that these two would not have found some other French target?
posted by IndigoJones


I would actually posit that the Hebdo attack is part of a recent pattern - the Toulouse and Montauban shootings in France and the Jewish Museum of Belgium shooting.
posted by rosswald at 3:06 PM on January 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


Charlie Hebdo victim was 'a friend of Islam, Turkey'
The man who was killed in Paris was a person who spoke in favor of Turkey’s EU membership and drew cartoons to support it.

He was a human who loved Turkey very much. He was never the enemy of any Muslim. On the contrary, he was one of the loudest voices supporting Muslim immigrants in France.

Another victim was Jean Cabut, "Cabu"...

Both were friends of the late Oğuz Aral, a legendary Turkish cartoonist.

Do you know what this massacre means? I can't give an example using the names of living cartoonists, so let me give the names of deceased ones: Imagine Oğuz Aral, Turhan Selçuk and Ali Ulvi being killed at the same place in the same day.

Both Wolinski and Cabu were children of May 1968.

They were leftists and never xenophobic or Islamophobic. Both were champions of immigrants in France. 

And what do I think about them? 

I say with complete sincerity: I now fear voicing my opinion. 

I fear for my country, for good Muslims, for good Christians, and for the world...

This fear is mine, but this shame is not.
posted by Golden Eternity at 3:10 PM on January 8, 2015 [22 favorites]


To paraphrase something the mods have said in the past: the people who are not-victim-blaming need to try harder to look like they're not blaming the victims.
posted by um at 3:10 PM on January 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


"When did it become true that to defend someone's free speech rights, one has to publish & even embrace their ideas?"

It doesn't of course, as progosk observes above. But speaking only for myself It does seem clear that a certain kind of front-line cannon-fodder terrorist fears mockery more than death. Which suggests to me that redoubling the mockery is entirely called for here.
posted by George_Spiggott at 3:14 PM on January 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


I had a friend share Artw's "fuck these cartoons" post HoodedUtilitarian link on Facebook and saw a few things suspect about it. I'm glad to get context on a few of the others from here.

HoodedUtilitarian and a few other places seem to have taken Google Image Searches for Charlie Hebdo cartoons, picked the worst at first glance and screamed "RACISTS!" into the night.

Never mind an explanation of the cover, or even a translation. Never mind a brief bit of context on what was happening in France's news cycles at the time, or an explanation about what certain elements mean (I've heard elsewhere that the one of Muhammad being filmed naked is a touchstone on Goddard's Contempt). Never mind context as to how the cartoonists drew other people, because there's plenty of non Jewish or Islamic people drawn the same way. No context as to the hundreds of other covers between the 2006 one with Muhammed breaking down in tears at his arsehole followers and today.

It's people who have no idea about the situation or the implications of the cartoons picking the ones which they think look racist through their cultural spectrum, and then insisting the newspaper MUST have been racist. All while ignoring the input from people IN France who's response has been generally along the lines of "are you serious....?"

There is victim blaming in this thread. It happens every time someone posts something about how we need to take the cartoons into account, or how maybe they should have been a bit more selective with their publishing.

Any of those rather than saying the causing factor is that three psychotics decided that it was a perfectly good thing to shoot 12 people because they didn't like their sense of humour.

Je Suis Charlie.
posted by MattWPBS at 3:20 PM on January 8, 2015 [32 favorites]


.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:29 PM on January 8, 2015


This thread illustrates what is perhaps an American / European difference. Because there is really only one Left in the US, out of political necessity, it groups liberals, activist Marxists, Greens, anarchists, and so on. And, out of political necessity, there is an authoritarian push by activists to keep all voices exactly in tune, silence dissent, and affirm ideological theory in order to look united. In Europe, the granularity is finer.

Maybe I am completely wrong, I don't know, all I know about it I know from Mefi. I just hope it is that way; the less nice explanations involve Charlie Hebdo covers waiting to be drawn.
posted by Spanner Nic at 3:43 PM on January 8, 2015 [14 favorites]


I have to disagree with those who say that this event isn't meaningful. This particular MeFi thread may not be one of our finest moments, but the execution of the cartoonists and bystanders in Paris is kind of a watershed because it's a direct attack on one of our core (Western) Enlightenment values. And it comes right after the whole Sony-hack Interview fiasco, which was another attempt to limit freedom of expression. And it comes within the wider context of recent terrorist attacks carried out in different countries by citizens of those lands. So it's at the nexus of several awful trends.

I think it's a consequence of globalism, ultimately. Whether we like it or not, all nations are becoming more intertwined and the opinions of supranational groups like Islamists (expressed with bullets) are becoming a part of the cultural conversation here in the West. So perhaps it really is harder to express oneself now than it was in 1970. Back then the editors of Hara-Kiri Hebdo could sidestep a government ban by renaming their magazine. Now the survivors of Charlie Hebdo and their colleagues around the world have to contend with the reality that gunmen might kill them.
posted by Kevin Street at 3:44 PM on January 8, 2015 [5 favorites]


One thing before I sleep, there was a cartoonist on Radio Five in the UK last night talking about how he'd dealt with the massacre. I can't remember what his published work was, but what stuck in the mind was the work that no newspaper world publish - a picture of Muhammed wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with "Not In My Name".
posted by MattWPBS at 3:47 PM on January 8, 2015 [6 favorites]


Worst journalist ever, Don Lemon, is at it again: After a Muslim civil rights attorney condemns the attack and supports the CH cartoons, Lemon asks if he supports ISIS.

Not to be outdone, A Fox host asked how we can tell who the bad guys are if we can't see their skin color. This was in a segment using the Paris attack as a justification for militarized police.
posted by dirigibleman at 3:48 PM on January 8, 2015 [4 favorites]


I'm amazed to learn that CNN and Fox aren't providing insightful, intelligent and sensitive analysis of this event.
posted by sobarel at 3:53 PM on January 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


One day it will be revealed that cable news was a Situationist prank all along.
posted by Grangousier at 3:55 PM on January 8, 2015 [6 favorites]


Under the paving stones, the bullshit.
posted by sobarel at 3:59 PM on January 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


But speaking only for myself It does seem clear that a certain kind of front-line cannon-fodder terrorist fears mockery more than death. Which suggests to me that redoubling the mockery is entirely called for here.

I have no idea how these terrorists or their friends react to mockery, but a lot of religious people (e.g., many varieties of Christian) are inculcated with the idea that being mocked by "ungodly" people is a sign of virtue. Also, I don't think Charlie Hebdo published cartoons directed at these terrorists specifically. They published cartoons that many Moslems generally found offensive, but I think it's pretty clear that the terrorists weren't scared of them, in any meaningful way.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:59 PM on January 8, 2015


it's a direct attack on one of our core (Western) Enlightenment values. And it comes right after the whole Sony-hack Interview fiasco, which was another attempt to limit freedom of expression

Sorry, I still think News Corp and the police are greater threats to freedom of speech. When mosques are being attacked, I'm not even interested in the politics of CH anymore. I'm more concerned in how the state and media are taking advantage of this.

Few wish to be associated with far-right violence, but this is more complicated than "the extremists versus the sane" considering The West has a history of funding fundamentalism in the name of realpolitik. If you say "enlightenment values" without at least a slight cringe at the contradictions inherent to the term, you scare the hell out of me.
posted by gorbweaver at 4:08 PM on January 8, 2015 [4 favorites]


Kevin - that's fair. The point I was trying to make though (poorly, it appears), was that the conflict in this thread might be a symptom of trying to make sense of a senseless act. And IMO, there's no possible moral to this story that won't be bad for the enlightenment values you're talking about, and which I share. Worst of all, I suspect that this is part of the reason for the attack. How to deal with it then? Mourn the loss of those who were murdered, prosecute the crime, and otherwise don't let insane people determine what you believe.
posted by kleinsteradikaleminderheit at 4:16 PM on January 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


"I have no idea how these terrorists or their friends react to mockery, but a lot of religious people (e.g., many varieties of Christian) are inculcated with the idea that being mocked by "ungodly" people is a sign of virtue. Also, I don't think Charlie Hebdo published cartoons directed at these terrorists specifically. They published cartoons that many Moslems generally found offensive, but I think it's pretty clear that the terrorists weren't scared of them, in any meaningful way."

But there is something about mockery that seems to inspire an extra level of hatred in fanatics. Nobody (that I'm aware of, anyway) ever gets death threats over broadcasting reruns of "24," even though that series frequently showed Kiefer Sutherland dispatching hordes of Islamic terrorists. There are countless depictions of white western heroes defeating middle eastern villains in our popular culture that don't rate a mention from the Inspire magazine crowd. But draw a few squiggly lines and say it's Mohammed, and they'll still be trying to kill you ten years later.
posted by Kevin Street at 4:19 PM on January 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


You claim these particular victims matter because they were eminent cartoonists whose talents are not "ten a centime". Do their lives matter more than the random non-cartooning victims of a subway bombing, or the pedestrians struck by cars last month the killers' co-religionists?

I only claim that their plight is of particular interest and concern to fellow cartoonists/satirists and fans of both, like me - elsewhere above I commented on fellow cartoonists' responses. Talking about the implications of this event for those pursuits is not a "pointless distraction" for colleagues and fans.

I don't claim that their lives "matter more" in an absolute sense than anyone else's.

It may be intellectually satisfying, though myself I don't find psychopathy at all interesting.

I'm not interested in the killers' psychopathy, I'm interested in their target, not as victims but in their own right; the killers' reasons are relevant in that they made these people targets, that's all. These events have made me pay more attention to Charlie Hebdo and try to learn what it was really about, having only seen copies of it in passing on visits to French-speaking countries. I'm a fan of a lot of bande-desinees, and subscribed to Private Eye for many years, so learning more about CH has been worthwhile, even though the prompt has been a tragic one.

Or possibly practical because it's a heads for those who might say things that these guys find exceptional ; but that way lies cowardice, and cowardice in the face of intimidation is not to be encouraged.

Above in the thread I defended Francisco Oleo's "to arms!" cartoon for its "call to fellow cartoonists to pick up their pens and pencils in response" - the opposite of encouraging cowardice in the face of intimidation.

Outside of that, it can only suggest that they might possibly have even a possible sliver of justification for murder. I reject that, so, again, as a practical matter - pointless.

I reject that, too.

You missed out the most important things of all, which naturally follow if you reject that the killers had any possible sliver of justification for murder: that knowing that the killers targeted them directly, and not randomly, underlines how inspiringly brave the CH team were to stand up to the threats they knew they faced; and how important it is to defend fundamental human rights, in big and small ways. Not pointless.
posted by rory at 4:30 PM on January 8, 2015 [5 favorites]


Good thing nobody's lighting a match in here, I'd hate to see all these straw-men burning.
posted by symbioid at 4:42 PM on January 8, 2015 [4 favorites]


Never mind context as to how the cartoonists drew other people, because there's plenty of non Jewish or Islamic people drawn the same way.

When people point out the big noses, I wonder if they've ever seen any Asterix.
posted by rory at 4:45 PM on January 8, 2015 [4 favorites]


Noted Catholic and right wing homophobic bigot Bill Donohue weighs in on the killings:
Killing in response to insult, no matter how gross, must be unequivocally condemned. That is why what happened in Paris cannot be tolerated. But neither should we tolerate the kind of intolerance that provoked this violent reaction.
Those who work at this newspaper have a long and disgusting record of going way beyond the mere lampooning of public figures, and this is especially true of their depictions of religious figures. For example, they have shown nuns masturbating and popes wearing condoms. They have also shown Muhammad in pornographic poses.
While some Muslims today object to any depiction of the Prophet, others do not. Moreover, visual representations of him are not proscribed by the Koran. What unites Muslims in their anger against Charlie Hebdo is the vulgar manner in which Muhammad has been portrayed. What they object to is being intentionally insulted over the course of many years. On this aspect, I am in total agreement with them.
Stephane Charbonnier, the paper’s publisher, was killed today in the slaughter. It is too bad that he didn’t understand the role he played in his tragic death. In 2012, when asked why he insults Muslims, he said, “Muhammad isn’t sacred to me.” Had he not been so narcissistic, he may still be alive. Muhammad isn’t sacred to me, either, but it would never occur to me to deliberately insult Muslims by trashing him.
Anti-Catholic artists in this country have provoked me to hold many demonstrations, but never have I counseled violence. This, however, does not empty the issue. Madison was right when he said, “Liberty may be endangered by the abuses of liberty as well as the abuses of power.”
It's eerie how closely his remarks resemble the "I condemn the killings, but..." comments coming from liberals in this thread. Satire is ok as long as you don't go "too far" etc. It all sounds so reasonable framed in the language of tolerance and understanding doesn't it?
posted by L.P. Hatecraft at 4:57 PM on January 8, 2015 [15 favorites]


When you find yourself in lockstep with Bill Donohue you need to rethink your position. Or possibly your life.
posted by Justinian at 5:02 PM on January 8, 2015 [4 favorites]


Je Suis Charlie - from Aleppo. In Syria.
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:04 PM on January 8, 2015 [16 favorites]


I was just reading in the nyt how the killers said they don't shoot women. That makes me want to throw up even more. What insane psychopathic rationale.... I mean I'm glad it means they killed a few less people but their mindset is so completely tweaked I don't know how they think at all. As in I don't understand how their brains function without short circuiting. Gah. I have to stop reading news for the day.
posted by sio42 at 5:12 PM on January 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


L.P. Hatecraft: "It's eerie how closely his remarks resemble the "I condemn the killings, but..." comments coming from liberals in this thread. Satire is ok as long as you don't go "too far" etc. It all sounds so reasonable framed in the language of tolerance and understanding doesn't it?"

So, just hypothetically, if some theoretical publishers, cartoonists, writers or whatever were horrendously murdered by people they'd previously written hateful screeds against, there's no level of hateful screed written by the victims that would merit mention in the context of the murders, no matter what it contained? None at all?

Because I'm totally comfortable with condemning the murders and the murderers and the attitudes and ideology that lead them to murder while also being open to the possibility that the victims were not perfect saints, and might even have been abrasive assholes, or racists, or whatever.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 6:57 PM on January 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


abrasive assholes, or racists, or whatever.

I think what a lot of people are pointing out is that there is a huge difference, conceptually and ethically, between "abrasive asshole" and "racist." And that saying "or whatever" essentially means: "I don't want to bother thinking critically about this difference before I render my absolute judgment."
posted by neroli at 7:04 PM on January 8, 2015 [10 favorites]


Joakim Ziegler: So, just hypothetically,

Why use a hypothetical when we have an actual thing that actually happened to discuss?

The loudest, most insistent voices making sure that they know they don't condone the killings but it's important to remember the dead as racists have been demonstrated, time and again in this thread, to not know what they're talking about and having only seen things through their own myopic viewpoint rather than acknowledging that there is a context outside of their own.

If you find yourself insisting that the victims are racist after consistently being shown how your version of the facts is missing some vital details, you are showing that it is more important to you to not appear racist than it is to be, you know, accurate.

It's a damning lack of empathy for the crime that has been committed and its actual victims, replaced by a sanctimonious concern based solely on your inability to believe the world can be different from how you see it.

Maybe if someone is telling you your interpretation is incorrect, especially when they are providing translations and context you have clearly not bothered to discover yourself, you should shut up and listen.

This is a common refrain here. You might actually learn something if you do.
posted by gadge emeritus at 8:16 PM on January 8, 2015 [29 favorites]


So, just hypothetically, if some theoretical publishers, cartoonists, writers or whatever were horrendously murdered by people they'd previously written hateful screeds against, there's no level of hateful screed written by the victims that would merit mention in the context of the murders, no matter what it contained? None at all?

Joakim, I would argue that one does not have to concede the premise that these cartoonists were killed because of their hateful screed, and therefore, discussing the "hatefulness level" of the cartoons essentially constitutes a massive fool's errand. In other words, they were simply killed, at best for making the mistake of offending members of a radical ideology far more hateful than it. End of discussion.

So about things that appear to merit mention. I strongly doubt that the three perpetrators of this mass killing were "the three individuals most affected by this cartoon," that they were effectively driven into violent retribution. You are of course in no position to tell us what is in the hearts and minds of the killers as they put this plan into effect, or those who created this political hit-list in the first place. Perhaps you are still in shock. Because the most relevant question that stems from this recent event, no matter what your ideology might be, is, "Why did these people have to be killed?" What is the logic behind that? What overall purpose has been served? And of course, should we be talking about the cartoons to figure this out?

How do we sort out the fact that out of all the targets CH has focused on, it is the representatives of radical Islam that have charged themselves with finding a way to wipe the entire staff of this newspaper off the face of the planet? Should we be talking about the cartoons to figure this out?

Was the retribution proportional to the perceived crime? Is this relevant? Should we be talking about the cartoons to figure this out?

Let me also remind you that other Western institutions have been attacked by radical Islamists for far less, and I wonder how and why you might think the details of one other offense in particular might "merit mention," and how important that might be to the overall conversation. So let me point out that it is commonly known that Minoru Yamasaki was commissioned to build the World Trade Center shortly after finishing the Dhahran Airport, his first project with the Saudi family, and that the WTC, a repeated target, was heavily influenced by Arabic architectural stylings and theology, what with pointed arches extending from the ground floor and an outdoor area that Yamasaki himself described as "a mecca, a great relief from the narrow streets and sidewalks of the surrounding Wall Street area." What kind of an offense is this? Does it intersect with what you find offensive? What kind of mention do these facts deserve?

So. Let me go so far as to say that the key to understanding this entire ordeal in France, in actuality, has nothing to do with satire and the question of how biting it is.
posted by phaedon at 8:45 PM on January 8, 2015 [7 favorites]


phaedon: "So. Let me go so far as to say that the key to understanding this entire ordeal in France, in actuality, has nothing to do with satire and the question of how biting it is."

I actually agree with that. However, it's important to understanding the larger context of what's going on and people's reaction to it. When it's become practically obligatory and kneejerk on Twitter to use the hashtag #JeSuisCharlie at least once, a hashtag that says, literally, not "these people should not have been killed", or "I condemn these killings", or "I sympathize with the victims", but literally "I am the same as these victims, I am them", then it's important to me to know whether or not the victims I'm being asked to literally say I'm the same as, are, in fact, racists, assholes, xenophobes, or something else I don't actually identify with.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 9:42 PM on January 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


Because I'm totally comfortable with condemning the murders and the murderers and the attitudes and ideology that lead them to murder while also being open to the possibility that the victims were not perfect saints, and might even have been abrasive assholes, or racists, or whatever.

The hypothetical you posed was answered better by other posters than I possibly could, so I won't add anything, but "so-and-so was no saint" is classic victim-blaming language, think of what other contexts it has been used in. It's also an easy thing to say. Who among us is a saint? Let alone a perfect one, with no opening of a possibility of it not being so?
posted by L.P. Hatecraft at 10:09 PM on January 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


Ayaan Hirsi Ali on How to Answer the Paris Terror Attack:
After the horrific massacre Wednesday at the French weekly satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, perhaps the West will finally put away its legion of useless tropes trying to deny the relationship between violence and radical Islam.

This was not an attack by a mentally deranged, lone-wolf gunman. This was not an “un-Islamic” attack by a bunch of thugs—the perpetrators could be heard shouting that they were avenging the Prophet Muhammad. Nor was it spontaneous. It was planned to inflict maximum damage, during a staff meeting, with automatic weapons and a getaway plan. It was designed to sow terror, and in that it has worked.

The West is duly terrified. But it should not be surprised.

If there is a lesson to be drawn from such a grisly episode, it is that what we believe about Islam truly doesn’t matter. This type of violence, jihad, is what they, the Islamists, believe.
Our Duty is to Keep Charlie Hebdo Alive:
God, I thought yesterday, how could this possibly happen? Charlie Hebdo is not new to this. They had reprinted the cartoons of Muhammad from 2006. They were under police protection for a good long time. They moved from their offices to new offices. So my first thought was, how could this even happen? How could the entire staff of Charlie Hebdo be gone—murdered in cold blood?

And then came the memories. In Holland, when my friend Theo Van Gogh was killed just over 10 years ago, what followed—after the initial shock—was that a lot of people started saying that he was a provocateur, and that he had offended Muslims.

For me, it was morally very clear. You were morally very confused if you thought that somebody who uses speech, who uses words, who uses the pen, should be killed for that; if you thought that the only way to have a dialogue is for one side to use words while the other side uses violence to make their point. Everyone out there who says, “Charlie Hebdo provoked,” is making the same fundamental error.
We do need to wake up to the fact that there is a movement—a very lethal movement, very cruel—that has a political vision about how the world should be organized and how society should live. And in order for them to realize their vision, they are willing to use any means. They are willing to use violence. They are willing to use terror.

Is this some kind of cult? Or are the principles of this cult embedded in Islam? I happen to think they are embedded in Islam. The only way peace-loving Muslims can get rid of this is by reforming their religion so that, for example, it can no longer provide justifications for murdering people deemed to be blasphemers. And while they go about reforming their religion, which will take some time, we who do not adhere to that religion need to defend our own values. Freedom of speech. Freedom of publication. And the rule of law.
posted by shivohum at 10:41 PM on January 8, 2015 [6 favorites]


Joakim Ziegler: When it's become practically obligatory and kneejerk on Twitter to use the hashtag #JeSuisCharlie at least once, a hashtag that says, literally, not "these people should not have been killed", or "I condemn these killings", or "I sympathize with the victims", but literally "I am the same as these victims, I am them", then it's important to me to know ...

The hashtag means "I am not afraid". The point is to defeat terrorism: terrorism wants to create fear, kill a dozen to make a million shut up. The hashtag and the "Je suis Charlie" signs that people have carried in the streets mean: "We are not afraid, we will continue saying what we think."
posted by Termite at 10:45 PM on January 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


#worksheetforcartoons
posted by clavdivs at 11:12 PM on January 8, 2015


I haven't read the full articles linked by shivohum (the first is behind a paywall), but these excerpts caught my eye:

"...legion of useless tropes trying to deny the relationship between violence and radical Islam."

If anything, radical, extremist Islamism is usually defined by its apology of violence. Which other "legion of tropes" is being referred to here?

"This was not an attack by a mentally deranged, lone-wolf gunman."

Erm, that's pretty much what it's currently looking like - whence this opposite certainty?

"This was not an “un-Islamic” attack..."

No one has disputed the (explicitly stated) Islamist inspiration of the attackers. What's "un-Islamic" intended to mean here?

Or are the principles of this cult embedded in Islam?

Are the principles of Crusades/Holy Inquisition embedded in Christianity?

There is subtle, dangerous language at play here. The implication of a continuum, rather than an abyss, between Islam and Islamism has always been tempting for anyone not inclined to gain better knowledge - now is the time for an enlightened world to be more wary than ever.
posted by progosk at 12:30 AM on January 9, 2015 [10 favorites]


Mohammed El-leissy: This is a war on all of us, Muslims included:
[I]n the West, commentary in the media continues to accuse the world's Muslims of not condemning or doing enough to stop the terror and thus being complicit in violent jihad. This misinformed worldview simplistically pits this as Islam v the West, ignoring the despotic nature of this enemy and the fact that these extremists first and foremost wish to tyrannise and control their fellow Muslims.

For many Muslims, the Western media treats Muslim lives as somewhat less significant. The attacks in France received rolling coverage, but the attack in Yemen that killed many Muslim would-be policemen was relegated to the "World News" section. The Muslim victims are rarely given a face.

Similarly, the participation of Muslim majority nations in the coalition fighting Islamic State doesn't receive as much coverage as the efforts of the West. It's hard for the media to frame that war as a fight between "good and evil" when both sides are Muslim.

When non-Muslims are killed by radical Islamists, we talk about a clash of civilisations and ask "are Islam and the West compatible?" When Muslims are killed, we rationalise it as just stereotypical violence taking place in the third world.

This is not a war between Islamic and Western values - it's a war against a puritanical worldview that enforces itself with violence on the rest of us.
posted by valetta at 1:08 AM on January 9, 2015 [21 favorites]




Grauniad: live update
posted by Mister Bijou at 1:24 AM on January 9, 2015


Le Monde: en direct
posted by Mister Bijou at 1:25 AM on January 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


Thanks for the thoughtful context-aware discussion and analysis of the Charlie Hebdon covers in this post - in comparison, that HoodedUtilitarian post making the rounds on Twitter etc. is very lazy and highly knee-jerk/presumptuous.
posted by Bwithh at 1:36 AM on January 9, 2015 [4 favorites]


I've had my fair share of things to say here, and I openly admit Ayaan Hirsi Ali can be a little tricky to talk about, but having said that I wanted to address a few minor points.

"This was not an attack by a mentally deranged, lone-wolf gunman."
"Erm, that's pretty much what it's currently looking like..."

There is a previously mentioned wanted poster circulating with the line "A Bullet A Day Keeps the Infidel Away / Defend Prophet Muhammad Peace Be Upon Him" that includes a picture of Stephane Charbonnie, the director of Charlie Hebdo, who was killed, as well as the name of the person whose comments you are responding to, Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

I also googled the phrase "Inspire Magazine," and the first hit takes me to a PDF of the Spring 2014 edition which includes a story entitled "Car Bombs Inside America" that begins with the following paragraph:

"Inspire Magazine's goal is to empower Muslim youth. And what is empowerment without being strong, powerful and intelligent? In this section, we give you strength, power and intelligence. Believe me, using car bombs gives you all that."

With the existence of these materials out in the public, I don't think it's easy to jump to the conclusion that the attackers were "deranged" or "acting alone." Quite the opposite. As the idiots on CNN pointed out incessantly shortly after the attack, the attackers were very methodical during the massacre and seemed to have received prior training. I believe the French police later said that they already knew these suspects were active terrorists.

"Or are the principles of this cult embedded in Islam?"
"Are the principles of Crusades/Holy Inquisition embedded in Christianity?"

Now when she talks about her friend Theo Van Gogh being murdered. Van Gogh was shot eight times, he was decapitated, and a five-page note was stabbed into his chest, threatening to among other things murder kill Hirsi Ali. Was this too the act of a deranged, lone gunman? The connection here is that Van Gogh directed a movie called "Submission" which she in turn wrote. The movie depicts women born into Muslim families being abused in various ways; according to Wiki, Hirsi Ali has said, "it is written in the Koran a woman may be slapped if she is disobedient. This is one of the evils I wish to point out in the film."

These are not comfortable things to talk about when we talk about "embedded values" but they do exist. There are in a sense many points of disagreement between Islam and the West. I believe what Hirsi Ali is advocating is "enlightened Islam," and in that sense, she would say what distinguishes Christianity in its present form and Islam in its present form are social movements such as The Enlightenment. That these two religions are not the same in their current state despite, I dunno, historical similarities, and furthermore that currently, one is desperately in need of reform, and not so much "understanding" on the part of the West.

She is making the argument that these "senseless acts of violence" are in fact part of a political vision. Like I said, very tricky stuff.

Update: New York Times reporting, "One of the two brothers suspected of killing 12 people at a satirical newspaper in Paris traveled to Yemen in 2011 and received terrorist training from Al Qaeda’s affiliate there before returning to France, a senior American official said Thursday."
posted by phaedon at 1:47 AM on January 9, 2015 [7 favorites]


Oh my, the thread has moved on and on. Still,

I can't really follow this, but what leftists here would naturally promote Islamic Fundamentalists?

Sorry if that was a bit of a run-on sentence. What I mean is, a lot of the apologists on here are looking at this as Muslims/brown people (both groups who experience oppression so are low down the ordering) vs white racists (obviously high up the ordering), with the murderers as part of the Muslims/brown people group.

As an example of the sort of moral corruption this leads to: "I don’t think that shooting up the Charlie Hebdo office was ethically Right with a capital R, ok? But I do think it’s understandable", "Fuck those Charlie Hebdo dudes to be honest, good riddance." (same author, the latter quoting someone else with approval, apparently because of the special ethical insight the someone else has as a POC). Things are much worse outside Mefi, as usual.
posted by pw201 at 1:48 AM on January 9, 2015 [9 favorites]


"When I’m stupid enough to switch on cable news here in New York, the optics are different but I hear much that is familiar. Big hair and bright teeth instead of black flags and balaclavas, but the same parochialism, the same arrogance, the same atavistic lust for violence, the same pathetic need for good guys and bad guys, to be on the winning team.

If I have anything hopeful or uplifting to contribute, this is it – that anyone who tries to fit the world into binaries is necessarily fragile. The slightest hint of complexity, and their brittle self-identity may shatter. To refuse the jihadi’s logic of escalation without becoming mired in grubby pleading, we have to say – and keep on saying, keep on writing with our pens that are supposedly so much mightier than their swords – that life is not so simple, that our many problems do not have single, total solutions, that utopia is a dead place, without life or change, without air."

Writing in the Grauniad... Hari Kunzru
posted by Mister Bijou at 2:00 AM on January 9, 2015 [4 favorites]


phaedon: it wouldn't surprise me that the assailants could have had training for their attacks. The situation still strikes me as closer to the Tsarnaevs Boston attack, than to something headed by an international terrorist organisation.

There are new forms of terrorism taking hold in the world, to be sure. But there does seem to be a personal, individual agenda at work here. (I'm surprised their verbatim during the attack, as reported by the NYT, hasn't received more comment.)
posted by progosk at 2:01 AM on January 9, 2015


Joakim,

"But if their stuff is racist, it is problematic to say that "We are all Charlie",... "

"...while also being open to the possibility that the victims were not perfect saints, and might even have been abrasive assholes, or racists, or whatever."

"... it's important to me to know whether or not the victims I'm being asked to literally say I'm the same as, are, in fact, racists, assholes, xenophobes, or something else I don't actually identify with."


There have been many thoughtful posts about CH not being racists. Maybe you could address them and make up your mind, otherwise just repeating "if they are racists" just makes you look like you want to cling to your first impression of them upthread with no evidence left.
posted by anzen-dai-ichi at 2:04 AM on January 9, 2015 [21 favorites]




@Artw / @Joakim: I would be interested to know what your judgements on both Jonathan Swifts - A modest proposal and on the TV series South Park are (if you have read/seen them).

Would you judge them the same way you judge Charlie Hebdo's publications? That would clarify for me a bit more if you disapprove in general of satire (or of satire that can be misunderstood), or if you are misunderstanding the intents of the Charlie Hebdo editors.
posted by Berend at 3:27 AM on January 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


Yup, they're basically arguing that Stephen Colbert is a right-wing racist. He does look the part, that's the act after all.
Ce pourrait être drôle, si personne ne étaient morts.
posted by jeffburdges at 3:56 AM on January 9, 2015 [9 favorites]


I found this interesting link on Bernard Maris, one of the writers killed in the attack - He was critical of globalization, skeptical of the E.U., an opponent of austerity and once ran as a candidate for the French Green Party.

posted by Flitcraft at 4:00 AM on January 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


Despite some opinions to the contrary, I think the discussion in this thread has been very good. It's important to have a forum where people can express all points of view to be subject to analysis. People may say things which are demonstrably problematic, but then the point of a discussion is to learn, not to agree.

For me I definitely came into things with a view that some people here might have characterized as "victim-blaming". Someone else claimed that in order to avoid this label, one cannot simply state that this is not the case, but one must explain why. Let me try.

So firstly, not that ignorance is a defence as such, but unless one is rather familiar with Charlie Hebdo, it'd be easy to confuse them as part of the xenophobic press that feels entitled to publish inciteful images. Although they apparently did republish those Danish comics, the comics that they've published themselves seemed to me pretty clever, actually. If people say that these guys are actually on the vanguard of the French left, I can see that.

However, this question is independent of the more important question of whether one can discuss the reasons for this attack without assigning blame for it. This I think is the core question, and people have strong, implicit feelings about this. For me, I am very much of the opinion that one must seperate causes from morality. I don't care who the guilty party is - that's for the courts to decide, and since murder is categorically wrong, the shooters will hopefully be brought to justice.

However, it's still worth asking why the killers did what they did, and why they chose the targets they did. Because if one doesn't, then it becomes quite possible to uncritically arrive at events like, Stephen Harper stating that laws will be passed to fight the global jihadic war being waged against the West. Which, in case it isn't clear, I think is horrible bullshit. Without the ability to question why these things have happened independent of blame, people quickly pick idealogical tentpoles (Islam, Islamism, Free Press, Xenophobia, Capitalized Nouns) within which to frame the issue. Why these tentpoles have been picked is quickly banished from discussion. Not only do I think it's unnecessary to wait a period of time before discussing these things, I think it's essential to address them while they are topical, before things settle beyond further debate.

Why did the killers do what they did? Were they trained? To some extent yes. Does that mean they're part of same large organization? Not necessarily. Though they certainly could be. Can one declare war on an ideology? Is any part of Europe actually in danger of being taken over by Islam?

Why did they target Charlie Hebdo? Well, ostensibly because of the comics. But why did they kill the specific people they killed? Did they mean to? Was it simply who was there? Was Charlie Hebdo simply convenient? Were some of the members of Charlie Hebdo members of the xenophobic left, or were they right minded satirists?

Were they a sensible target given the apparent motivations of the killers? Could the killers be said to have accomplished what they wanted? What were the motivations of the killers? Did they have it strongly in mind that they were Muslim freedom fighters, or were they simply hopeless, disenfranchised, Algerian-frenchmen? Could it be both, or neither?

Questions! Questions! Endless questions! I could generate a hundred more. But why should we ask them? Because otherwise we will continue to be manipulated politically, and this cycle of violence will continue. One asks these questions not because one is callous, but because one cares.

I want to understand why the killers did what they did. I want to understand why Charlie Hebdo was target. I want to understand the causal relationship between the comics of Charlie Hebdo and the motivations of the killers. I want to understand all of this so as to understand how to prevent this from happening again. In my mind, ideology only acts to shut down these questions.

And all of this is completely independent of the fact that these Algerian-frenchman are guilty of murdering a number of people, and that they should be brought to justice.
posted by Alex404 at 4:19 AM on January 9, 2015 [13 favorites]


Gunman Takes Hostage In [Kosher] Paris Shop - Report

Again, people seem to be missing that the Hebdo attack is part of a larger pattern of terrorist attacks in Europe - the content of Hebdo is irrelevant. Like European Jewry, they were marked as 'the enemy,' and killed.
posted by rosswald at 4:57 AM on January 9, 2015 [4 favorites]




France 24 live feed
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 5:03 AM on January 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


Hear hear, Alex404. I've been following this conversation with great interest, and while the issues arouse strong feelings and some people may have overstated their cases based on misunderstandings, I'm very glad that people have been putting forward, and explaining opinions in many different directions without being cowed by accusations (between posters) of racism, ignorance, sympathising with murder, censorship, etc. I'm sure the cartoonists who were killed would approve of that.
posted by Drexen at 5:09 AM on January 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


But why did they kill the specific people they killed? Did they mean to? Was it simply who was there? Was Charlie Hebdo simply convenient?

They specifically targeted Charlie Hebdo, specifically asked for Charb by name, shot him, and then began shooting everyone else in the room.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 5:11 AM on January 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


This isn't 'about' Islamophobia, or, god help us, white French racism, and my views on political Islam are probably some way out of the norm for this site. That's to give some context to the following: the simultaneous attacks, dramatic situations and florid statements are intended to create the appearance of power and of a large number of 'potential' jihadists in France/Europe. It would be a great shame to credit those boasts, considering that we're still talking about a handful of people with guns and maybe an RPG.
posted by topynate at 5:11 AM on January 9, 2015 [5 favorites]


thanks for the links room317 very sorry to see this is how the situation is going
posted by sio42 at 5:11 AM on January 9, 2015


There are two hostage situations according to the Guardian

Charlie Hebdo attack: new hostage situation at Paris shop

http://gu.com/p/44m45
posted by sio42 at 5:20 AM on January 9, 2015


And as mentioned by Alex404, New anti-terror laws coming as jihadis ‘declare war,’ Harper says. Harper clearly wants to use these events to legitimize his government's introduction of laws that attack due process and help the government spy on Canadians, and maybe score a few points in the upcoming federal election while he's at it.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 5:22 AM on January 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


.
posted by angrycat at 5:31 AM on January 9, 2015


Not only do I think it's unnecessary to wait a period of time before discussing these things, I think it's essential to address them while they are topical, before things settle beyond further debate.

I can understand that sentiment, and at the same time I feel that for some of us, for whom the loss may be closer to home and more personal in nature, a bit of a pause might feel kinder.
posted by Too-Ticky at 5:35 AM on January 9, 2015


Very confusing. AFP is reporting 'at least" two dead in the grocery shooting, but no other details right now.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 5:40 AM on January 9, 2015


Can I just say that if I hear one more time about how "trained" these amateurs were I'm going to pop a blood vessel? It takes years and millions of dollars to turn highly motivated, perfectly suited people into Green Berets or Navy SEALs. Do any of the idiots on TV really think that a couple of months on monkey bars in a Yemeni desert actually turns someone into the equivalent? How about we don't turn disaffected, fuck-up murderers into supermen?
posted by ob1quixote at 5:49 AM on January 9, 2015 [7 favorites]


Very confusing. AFP is reporting 'at least" two dead in the grocery shooting, but no other details right now

Maybe no one knows who they are? Maybe the police have already established the identities of the victims but, you know, as a courtesy, are in the process of contacting the next-of-kin first before they tell you?
posted by Mister Bijou at 5:49 AM on January 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


sio42: "Charlie Hebdo attack: new hostage situation at Paris shop

http://gu.com/p/44m45
"
According to French police, it's the same guy who shot and killed a female cop yesterday morning, and he is connected to the brothers who attacked CH.
posted by brokkr at 6:10 AM on January 9, 2015


In addition to room317's links, official police twitters:

Préfecture de police
Police Nationale
GendarmerieNationale
Ministère Intérieur

And for updates by transport line for how to get home tonight as the line 1 is disrupted because of the hostage situation at Vincennes, along with 3 tramway lines.
posted by ellieBOA at 6:17 AM on January 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


According to French police, it's the same guy who shot and killed a female cop yesterday morning, and he is connected to the brothers who attacked CH.

Le Monde has a good graphic for this.
posted by ellieBOA at 6:18 AM on January 9, 2015 [4 favorites]


It takes years and millions of dollars to turn highly motivated, perfectly suited people into Green Berets or Navy SEALs

American boot camp is 8-12 weeks, and I think most people would call most american soldiers 'highly trained'.
posted by empath at 6:35 AM on January 9, 2015 [4 favorites]




American boot camp is 8-12 weeks, and I think most people would call most american soldiers 'highly trained'.

Not after boot camp. At best, they know how to dress, follow orders, and not kill themselves with a weapon. The USMC is the exception, you will be a marksman (at least) with a rifle after basic, but the USMC also has the longest course.

After basic, you go to a further camp for advanced training, then often another camp for your possible rate/MOS. To get an MOS 11B, which is basic infantry, takes 16 weeks. The Army and USMC have the longest basic training camps, but the USN/USAF/USCG have additional schools. Everyone in those attends an A school, some will have a B school as well.

In fact, most recruits would then go join a unit stateside and work up. Basically, it takes at least six months, often more than a year, for a US military recruit to go from Day 1 in basic to combat ready and in combat.

Not 8-12 weeks.
posted by eriko at 6:44 AM on January 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


"Trained" doesn't mean superhuman, or even GIGN/SEAL/etc., it just means trained. Contrast with, say, the dingdong from the Sydney Lindt attack, who was truly untrained.
posted by Sticherbeast at 6:44 AM on January 9, 2015 [8 favorites]




Joakim Ziegler: I'm being asked to literally say I'm the same as, are, in fact, racists, assholes, xenophobes,

You keep bringing this up, and you keep refusing to reckon with the fact that you have been wrong about the judgements you have made about them.
posted by spaltavian at 6:50 AM on January 9, 2015 [6 favorites]


Plus you're not in fact being asked to do anything.
posted by Too-Ticky at 6:52 AM on January 9, 2015 [10 favorites]


Put another way, regarding training: their alleged training does not imply amazing abilities, but rather realistic aspirations towards basic competence and the wherewithal to seek out and follow through with such training, as well as some level of social connectedness with others in that same training scene. Contrast that with lone wolves who run amok on impulse, or who "learn" how to fight by watching YouTube videos or reading books from Paladin Press. There's no reason to construct straw men about supermen or Green Berets.
posted by Sticherbeast at 6:52 AM on January 9, 2015


I'd like to apologize for the earlier "I don't care about your 'context'" comment I left. I've grown jaded from having "context" thrown at me as an excuse for people's racist bullshit for 20+ years, and misguidedly bulked Charlie Hebdo's work into that -- er -- context on a bad knee-jerk instinct.

I'm actually EN/FR bilingual and wish I'd taken more time to read and reflect before jumping in with my ham fists flailing. There was a chunk of stuff happening under the surface that I wasn't seeing.

There's still a lot there I find problematic, but it was an unfair lumping-in on my part and I apologize for it.
posted by Shepherd at 6:56 AM on January 9, 2015 [25 favorites]


"This was not an attack by a mentally deranged, lone-wolf gunman."

"Erm, that's pretty much what it's currently looking like..."


Not in this case. These two brothers were earlier part of a cell helping to conduct fighters to Iraq, for which they were sent to prison. Now we are hearing reports that the supermarket hostage-takers are also linked to them. They are part of a network, whatever it might stand for or represent, and we cannot write them off as standalone killers.
posted by Thing at 7:01 AM on January 9, 2015 [7 favorites]


It's going to get real complicated if Porte de Vincennes alleged Montrouge shooter and current Paris hostage taker demands the Brothers Kourachi (currently holed up in Picardie) be given free passage.

Also, for English-language France 24 (streaming online)...
posted by Mister Bijou at 7:03 AM on January 9, 2015


I'm grimly amused by the fact that nobody is surprised at the fact that Islamist terrorists would attack (what appears to be) some random kosher supermarket and kill random Jews. We're not getting any debate over their motives in this instance.

Tablet Magazine reports
Kosher supermarkets in Paris have become something of a symbol in recent years. A kosher supermarket in Sarcelles, a heavily Jewish suburb of Paris, was targeted with explosive device in 2012 in the wake of Charlie Hebdo’s publication of cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad. This summer, as anti-Israel—and anti-Semitic—sentiment flared in France during the Israeli operation in Gaza, a kosher grocery was set on fire during a riot in Sarcelles.
Because of course.
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:36 AM on January 9, 2015 [7 favorites]


I await the comments speculating whether the deli hostages were provoking Islamist terrorists by shopping at a kosher market.
posted by desjardins at 7:39 AM on January 9, 2015 [32 favorites]


It's going to get real complicated if Porte de Vincennes alleged Montrouge shooter and current Paris hostage taker demands the Brothers Kourachi (currently holed up in Picardie) be given free passage.

This is exactly what is now being reported in the Guardian.
posted by Thing at 7:42 AM on January 9, 2015


Clearly they were "punching down"
posted by rosswald at 7:42 AM on January 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


RT: French municipal-websites hacked, replaced with ISIS flag

@Zohra_K: From ISIS with love: French nationals who joined ISIS send messages to Muslims in France, "If you are unable to come to Sham or Iraq, then pledge allegiance in your place - pledge allegiance in France. ... There are weapons and cars available and targets ready to be hit. ... Even poison is available,so poison the water & food of at least one of the enemies of Allah."
posted by Golden Eternity at 7:42 AM on January 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


Danish newspaper says won't print Prophet cartoons
Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, which angered Muslims by publishing cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad 10 years ago, will not republish Charlie Hebdo's cartoons due to security concerns, the only major Danish newspaper not to do so.

"It shows that violence works," the newspaper stated in its editorial on Friday.

Denmark's other major newspapers have all republished cartoons from the French satirical weekly as part of the coverage of the attack which killed 12 people in Paris on Wednesday.

Many other European newspapers also republished Charlie Hebdo cartoons to protest against the killings.

When Jyllands-Posten published 12 cartoons by various artists in September 2005, most of which depict the Prophet Mohammad, it sparked a wave of protests across the Muslim world in which at least 50 people died.

"We have lived with the fear of a terrorist attack for nine years, and yes, that is the explanation why we do not reprint the cartoons, whether it be our own or Charlie Hebdo’s," Jyllands-Posten said. "We are also aware that we therefore bow to violence and intimidation."

Jyllands-Posten decided to tighten its security level in the wake of the Paris attack.

"The concern for our employees’ safety is paramount," it said in Friday's editorial.
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:43 AM on January 9, 2015 [4 favorites]


At least they're honest about why they're doing it.
posted by desjardins at 7:45 AM on January 9, 2015 [7 favorites]


Sticherbeast: “"Trained" doesn't mean superhuman, or even GIGN/SEAL/etc., it just means trained. Contrast with, say, the dingdong from the Sydney Lindt attack, who was truly untrained.”
Indeed, among people who understand the meaning of the word. I lasted less then five minutes this morning listening to supposition about how these two idiots were highly disciplined, precision killers with the kinds of knowledge and training usually attributed to elite commando units.
Sticherbeast: “There's no reason to construct straw men about supermen or Green Berets.”
Tell that to the people on the news.
posted by ob1quixote at 7:46 AM on January 9, 2015 [1 favorite]




We don't know anything at this point, so **any** argument about their training or lack of it is a straw man argument.

That said, the attack on Charlie Hebdo reminds me of David Headley, who helped plan the Mumbai terrorist attack in 2008. In 2009 he performed a similar mission in Copenhagen to help plan a potential attack against the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, which had published cartoons of Muhammad.

So it is not inconceivable that the two alleged attackers did receive training and support, especially in light of the fact that there seems to be a connection between the second shooting of the day - that shooter has apparently taken hostages in support of the two alleged assailants.
posted by Nevin at 7:55 AM on January 9, 2015


More than 80,000 personnels are

Ahh, Grauniad, don't ever change.
posted by eriko at 7:57 AM on January 9, 2015 [1 favorite]




France 24 is reporting the 6 hostages at the supermarket are dead...
posted by just another scurvy brother at 8:20 AM on January 9, 2015


France 24 just reported (unconfirmed) that the six hostages at the kosher supermarket are dead. Hoping it's not true.
posted by theodolite at 8:21 AM on January 9, 2015


Neighbour says suspects in Paris shooting had ‘cache of arms’

That is a seriously disturbing article. It suggests a total rupture in relations between the gunmen's community and the state, with considerable stress on those with the wider secular community.
posted by topynate at 8:21 AM on January 9, 2015 [4 favorites]


Oh, god. I think I need a break from following this.
posted by topynate at 8:22 AM on January 9, 2015


Some other press suggesting that the CH shooters are dead.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:22 AM on January 9, 2015


Agence France-Press is reporting several hostages freed, CH shooters dead.
posted by malocchio at 8:24 AM on January 9, 2015


The supermarket shooter is dead too (police source)
posted by elgilito at 8:26 AM on January 9, 2015


Le Monde is reporting the supermarket hostage taker is dead.

Edit - it looks like the hostages are alive, although one looks injured.
posted by bh at 8:26 AM on January 9, 2015


AFP: Several hostages freed at Jewish supermarket in Paris. Photo Thomas Samson #AFP
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:28 AM on January 9, 2015


BBC says the AFP reports the warehouse hostage is free.
posted by sio42 at 8:32 AM on January 9, 2015


Good job, French police!
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:34 AM on January 9, 2015 [7 favorites]


France 24 reporting confirmed reports from police that all hostages are alive at both scenes, and all hostage-takers are dead.
posted by rollbiz at 8:34 AM on January 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


Wow. That's a wonderful outcome. Praise to the French .
posted by Thing at 8:38 AM on January 9, 2015 [6 favorites]


À la prochaine fois.
posted by Flashman at 8:40 AM on January 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


Teach me to believe the first reports. That's top work by the French in an extremely difficult situation.
posted by topynate at 8:41 AM on January 9, 2015


magnifique!
posted by Golden Eternity at 8:44 AM on January 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


On France 2 online (in French) they just said that (a) one of the hostages at the Porte-de-Vincennes site (the kosher market) was in touch with the police by phone and (b) the police were able to use the market's security cameras to assist in determining the location of the hostage-takers.
posted by faux ami at 8:44 AM on January 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


À la prochaine fois.

Yeah, this is never truly going to end, is it.
posted by malocchio at 8:46 AM on January 9, 2015


I'm very glad the hostages are alive.

Vive la France!
posted by sio42 at 8:48 AM on January 9, 2015 [4 favorites]


I hope the gunmen left behind enough evidence that we can know their real reasons and their backgrounds so it's not endless speculation.
posted by sio42 at 8:50 AM on January 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


I wonder if there is any working relationship between the printing press in Dammartin-en-Goele and Charlie Hebdo. Seems a little too coincidental for my taste.
posted by malocchio at 8:54 AM on January 9, 2015


I wonder if there is any working relationship between the printing press

The "printing press" makes signs and exhibition stands.
posted by Mister Bijou at 8:59 AM on January 9, 2015


Ah, thank you, Mister Bijou.
posted by malocchio at 9:02 AM on January 9, 2015


Le Monde, cautious as ever, relays that the (now deceased) aggressor at Porte de Vincennes has not yet been formally identified.
posted by Mister Bijou at 9:02 AM on January 9, 2015


Reuters, citing a "police source," now reports that at least four hostages at the Paris grocer have been killed.

. . . .
posted by dogurthr at 9:05 AM on January 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


France 24 (in French) is now reporting at least 4 dead hostages in Porte de Vincennes and Le Monde is saying that there were several deaths among the hostages there according to police sources but they don't say how many.
posted by GalaxieFiveHundred at 9:05 AM on January 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


Heh:

@Kgthetweet: "After the death of two jihadi terrorists in Paris, all flags were halved in Turkey's AKP headquarters."
posted by Golden Eternity at 9:06 AM on January 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


France 24 now reporting 4 hostages dead. Le Monde reports there are deaths but is not yet in a position to announce number.
posted by Mister Bijou at 9:07 AM on January 9, 2015


. . . .
posted by Mister Bijou at 9:08 AM on January 9, 2015


LeMonde.fr: François Hollande interviendra à la télévision à 20 heures, annonce l'Elysée.
posted by Mister Bijou at 9:09 AM on January 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


(FWIW, it's 6:10 currently in Paris, so about 2 hours from now)
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:10 AM on January 9, 2015


Apologies for my erroneous post above. I only posted it because France 24 said they had confirmed reports.
posted by rollbiz at 9:11 AM on January 9, 2015


Not your fault, rollbiz. The message changed.
posted by GalaxieFiveHundred at 9:13 AM on January 9, 2015


The article by Hari Kunzru that Mister Bijou linked to above is amazingly good. You should read it. Everyone in this thread should read it, and maybe think about it a bit.

I'd like to quote another chunk of it:
Multiculturalism, drones, Guantánamo, the inherent viciousness of Islam, the inherent viciousness of religion more generally. Take your pick, whichever one suits your politics, whatever tin drum you want to bang on.

Just don’t bang it near me. I don’t want to read about how “we’re all” anything, because wishing away complexity is inadequate and juvenile. I want to hear no talk about cracking down on anyone or tightening anything up. We have cracked and tightened for a decade and a half and all we have to show for it is a bloated, unaccountable security state that is eroding the cherished freedoms we claim to be so eager to protect.

... The caricature of the jihadi as a medieval throwback, animated by ancient passions, may be comforting to those who would like to wrap themselves in the mantle of civilisation and pose as heirs of Voltaire, but as a way of actually understanding anything, it’s feeble. Understanding is the very least we owe the dead.
posted by nangar at 9:14 AM on January 9, 2015 [9 favorites]


In 2014, the second largest source of Jewish emigrees to Israel was Ukraine - a country mired in war. Can you guess what the largest source of emigrants was: 2014 also marked the first year ever in which France topped the list of countries of origin for immigrants to Israel, with nearly 7,000 new immigrants in 2014, double the 3,400 who came in 2013.

Something tells me this trend will accelerate further.
posted by rosswald at 9:16 AM on January 9, 2015 [6 favorites]


"How we fit in each others world" -
Joe Sacco: "On Satire – a response to the Charlie Hebdo attacks. The acclaimed graphic artist and journalist Joe Sacco on the limits of satire – and what it means if Muslims don’t find it funny. "
posted by Rumple at 9:22 AM on January 9, 2015 [7 favorites]




While I enjoyed Joe Sacco's artwork, it does not seem that he understands that CH is not a racist magazine. That they would not harbour an anti-semite is not a double standard, which he appears to suggest.
posted by bouvin at 9:34 AM on January 9, 2015 [8 favorites]


Something tells me this trend will accelerate further.

Yes, Jews in France have been feeling threatened for years. Synagogues and Jewish schools have multiple levels of security, community members are trained in anti-terrorism techniques (not that it helped them this time), visitors are warned against wearing identifiably Jewish clothes. But you can't disguise every Jewish business or institution; you can't always hide from your neighbours; and - despite official pronouncements - France is not sympathetic to Jews as a community. This is probably because of the whole secularism business, but the reason isn't really important: the anti-Semites aren't secular.

So I totally understand why French Jews are leaving. It's like Berlin in the 1920s: lots of official expressions of concern, but things just keep getting worse.
posted by Joe in Australia at 9:35 AM on January 9, 2015 [8 favorites]


While I enjoyed Joe Sacco's artwork, it does not seem that he understands that CH is not a racist magazine. That they would not harbour an anti-semite is not a double standard, which he appears to suggest.

Yeah, I didn't quite understand Sacco's response here. He also seems to be embracing the "clash of civilizations" narrative.
posted by Nevin at 9:38 AM on January 9, 2015 [2 favorites]






I'm kind of expecting his racist caricatures to be clipped out from the rest of the strip and then reposted somewhere with his name on them.
posted by ODiV at 9:41 AM on January 9, 2015 [8 favorites]


Despite its nicely problematic ending, I'm not comfortable with the language in Sacco's second to last panel ("What is it about Muslims in this time and place that makes them unable to laugh off a mere image").
Interestingly, though also sadly, it seems to be mirrored by a phrase (that makes me similarly uneasy) in the must-read report from the Kouachi's neighborhood: “I want Charlie Hebdo to continue to work,” [Mr. Ali] said. “Charlie Hebdo doesn’t worry me. But I hope they will change a little the way they present Islam, and that they can understand that we can’t laugh at everything. That there are limits to humour.”

Truly, there is a chasm of understanding that needs to be bridged/filled/crossed...
posted by progosk at 9:49 AM on January 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


visitors are warned against wearing identifiably Jewish clothes.

Uggggghhhhhhhhh. Once again, you have the freedom to do stuff, but you know, you could be attacked for it so why don't you not do it, 'kay? Yikes.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 9:52 AM on January 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


It's sensible advice. Not giving it would be inexcusable. My brother wore a baseball cap in Paris for an entire year. It's just the smart thing to do in some situations.
posted by topynate at 9:56 AM on January 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


It's sensible advice.

Well, there's:

1) How should people behave if they, as individuals, want to be safe in a dangerous place.
2) How people should be able to behave, in a just society.

The problem is when people think that the behavior described in the first case is how people ought to behave, and that they've done something wrong if they don't.
posted by empath at 10:05 AM on January 9, 2015 [6 favorites]


Joe Sacco is basically repeating Wikileak's slur from a couple of days ago:
Jan 8 How the Jewish pro-censorship lobby legitimized attacks on Carlie Hebdo for "offensive" speech http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/france/4351672/French-cartoonist-Sine-on-trial-on-charges-of-anti-Semitism-over-Sarkozy-jibe.html … #CharlieHebdo
I don't think the facts support the allegation that "the Jewish lobby" (or even "Jews") got Sinet fired, but that's not really the point. There's this whole undertone of "it's OK to attack Muslims and the Jews are behind it". That's reprehensible, and actually rather frightening.
posted by Joe in Australia at 10:07 AM on January 9, 2015 [5 favorites]




That there are limits to humour.

Too soon! Bah to that. Boo.
posted by raysmj at 10:09 AM on January 9, 2015 [1 favorite]





Joe Sacco is basically repeating Wikileak's slur from a couple of days ago:


That's not at all how I read it. I read it as a simple affirmation that CH was not a racist or anti-Semitic organization and that they had no tolerance for actual, vs. satirical, anti-Semitism. Your information is interesting context though, thanks.
posted by Rumple at 10:12 AM on January 9, 2015


I'm not comfortable with the language in Sacco's second to last panel ("What is it about Muslims in this time and place that makes them unable to laugh off a mere image").

Not to defend a piece which I strongly disagree with overall, but the image he accompanies that with is one which is very hard to laugh off, particularly, one supposes, if you're a Muslim.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:15 AM on January 9, 2015


Well that's the point... he's sarcastically saying "huh, I wonder what they could possibly be upset about?" As I've said before, I don't draw a line between images-offensive-to-Muslims and terrorism, but I certainly do understand why they're offended in the first place.
posted by desjardins at 10:20 AM on January 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


i would just like to thank everyone participating in this thread, from an anglophone muslim.
posted by cendawanita at 10:26 AM on January 9, 2015 [13 favorites]


Yeah, desjardins, I made that comment because progosk referred to the language without the image but you're right, that doesn't make it better. It's a messy, vaguely manipulative confusion of issues that really doesn't shed any light.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:28 AM on January 9, 2015


I'm not comfortable with the language in Sacco's second to last panel ("What is it about Muslims in this time and place that makes them unable to laugh off a mere image").

Did Charlie Hebdo ever make light of Abu Graib (referenced in the second-to-last panel of Sacco's strip)? I recall that the alleged shooters were motivated by Abu Graib to begin their extremist activities.
posted by Nevin at 10:29 AM on January 9, 2015


Every time this happens, there are calls for Muslim organizations to denounce the actions (usually accompanied by a lot of complaining about the fact that they are asked to do so). Every time some do. And yet, there must exist a significant number of Muslims who seem to believe that this action is somehow warranted as evidenced by the fact of their occurring.

I wonder where they're getting the encouragement?
posted by rr at 10:29 AM on January 9, 2015


Thanks for the thanks cendawanita, and here's a random hug from an internet stranger if you want it. We could all use one, I think.
posted by kelborel at 10:31 AM on January 9, 2015 [5 favorites]




I'm not comfortable with the language in Sacco's second to last panel ("What is it about Muslims in this time and place that makes them unable to laugh off a mere image").

Not to defend a piece which I strongly disagree with overall, but the image he accompanies that with is one which is very hard to laugh off, particularly, one supposes, if you're a Muslim.


All concentrated on the text, I actually missed the visual double-entendre (so-to-speak): the image that "muslims are unable to laugh off" I thought was referred to the cartoons at the origin of the CH attack - while the image of the panel, the Abu Ghraib picture, is 1. part of a series of images that had reportedly pushed one of the Kouachi's to extremism, and 2. is about as far from a laughing matter for anyone of Muslim or any other faith or mores as is imaginable. So, nicely played, image-wise, Joe; still uneasy about his take on CH's motives, though...
posted by progosk at 10:42 AM on January 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


Every time this happens, there are calls for Muslim organizations to denounce the actions (usually accompanied by a lot of complaining about the fact that they are asked to do so).

Quite honestly, I haven't come across these calls in the media I consume (centrist stuff like the Globe and Mail and the Guardian) or in my social media feed (populated by Marxists, libertarians, social conservatives, D&D geeks, computer engineers, librarians, lawyers, journalists, people from Pakistan, the US, Britain, Malaysia, Australia, Brazil, etc). I really haven't.

I am hard-pressed to find it in this thread.

The main talking point seems to be the "clash of civilizations", a monolithic Islamic culture vs. an equally monolithic Enlightenment/post-colonial culture.

Joe Sacco himself is using this dichotomy, as if the shooters seemed to represent Muslim rage.
posted by Nevin at 10:44 AM on January 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


And yet, there must exist a significant number of Muslims who seem to believe that this action is somehow warranted as evidenced by the fact of their occurring.

"Must"? Based on what? Why would you need a "significant" number? The fact that they are occurring only tells you that some Muslims are willing do carry out attacks such as that.

Like any group of people, I suspect that a significant number of Muslims are really just focused on their own lives and families.
posted by spaltavian at 10:49 AM on January 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


shivohum: "We do need to wake up to the fact that there is a movement—a very lethal movement, very cruel—that has a political vision about how the world should be organized and how society should live. And in order for them to realize their vision, they are willing to use any means. They are willing to use violence. They are willing to use terror."

How beautifully vague and what a lovely wide net it casts.
posted by symbioid at 10:52 AM on January 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


Nevin: "Quite honestly, I haven't come across these calls in the media I consume (centrist stuff like the Globe and Mail and the Guardian)"

I reported upthread a couple days ago how I heard this as the opening question on the "respectable" BBC as the opener to a Muslim spokesdude. So - yes it happens, and on "centrist"/corporate, etc... media. I sure would hope it's not coming from leftist publications, but from the center? Yes, it happens all the time. And it's tiring.
posted by symbioid at 10:54 AM on January 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


That is a seriously disturbing article. It suggests a total rupture in relations between the gunmen's community and the state, with considerable stress on those with the wider secular community.

That seems like the crucial issue to me. It takes a profound degree of alienation to go out and commit a mass murder. We need to understand that alienation and figure out how to undo it.
The two lead suspects, we are told, are second-generation French Algerians. They were both raised as wards of the French state after they were orphaned, both ended up poor and unemployed. That much is an old story: the way in which France has imported labour from the former colonies and then dumped them on the unemployment rolls and in the banlieues when they were no longer required. They both went to the same mosque in the Stalingrad quarter when they turned 20, in around 2003: the same year in which the Woolwich killers began to have contact with a British Islamist sect. Here, a familiar logic of proselytism seems to have played out, as their acquaintance with Benyettou - only a year older than them - provided them with a sense of comradeship, worth and moral purpose. They gave up drugs and tobacco, soon began fitness and armaments training, and by 2005 were being trained in Salafi schools before crossing the border to join the Iraqi insurgency.

So, here are some obvious questions to start with. What is it about the lived experience of being a working class second-generation French Algerian Muslim at the margins of society that might lead to Salafist ideology making some degree of sense? What is it about the structures of global politics that the jihadi mentality can make some sense of? What is it about the nature of French politics, and particularly working class politics in the suburbs, which means that this section of the working class is somewhere that religious reactionaries can recruit? What is it about this strain of Islamist politics, its history, its patterns of organising that would appeal to detached, marginal, racially oppressed French Muslims? What is it about fighting a guerilla war against an occupying force in Iraq that may have killed around a million people, both directly and through General Petraeus's trained death squads, that would consolidate and 'radicalise' the jihadi politics of those involved? And what kind of strategic impasse would lead to them brutally lashing out at two, what I must imagine are utterly peripheral targets from their perspective: a satirical publication ... and a kosher supermarket? (source)
Those are the sort of questions we should be asking, but they get buried in the rush to frame these killings in simplistic us-against-them, clash-of-values terms.
posted by twirlip at 10:55 AM on January 9, 2015 [14 favorites]


"it's OK to attack Muslims and the Jews are behind it".

The Interational Business Times published an Op-Ed yesterday: Charlie Hebdo Attack and Mossad Link: Is Israel Venting Its Fury For France's Recognition of Palestine State? (archived version)

At least they took it down and apologized, but still.
posted by rosswald at 10:55 AM on January 9, 2015 [5 favorites]




Not that I'm opposed to IBT taking down the op-ed, but, I find it ironic, that in a discussion about "free speech" and "fear of offending people" that we have an instance here of a (shitty) "news" outlet publishing a bunch of tripe, pulling something for fear of offending someone.
posted by symbioid at 11:02 AM on January 9, 2015




We do need to wake up to the fact that there is a movement—a very lethal movement, very cruel—that has a political vision about how the world should be organized and how society should live. And in order for them to realize their vision, they are willing to use any means. They are willing to use violence. They are willing to use terror.

I honestly can't tell if this is satire and later in the thread you're going to pop in and say "The Republican Party" or "pro-lifers" or "the NY police department" or some other appropriate gotcha.
posted by maxsparber at 11:03 AM on January 9, 2015 [8 favorites]


Republicans aren't killing Jewish primary-school children or beheading soldiers in the street.
posted by rosswald at 11:05 AM on January 9, 2015 [8 favorites]


Two pieces I enjoyed reading today that I think haven't been posted yet:

On Debating Dead Moral Questions
"That’s what’s happening today in regards to the terrorist attacks in France. We are having a series of loud, impassioned, righteous conversations about questions like 'Should people murder?' and 'Should we have the right to publish cartoons?' We’re debating, in other words, dead moral questions, and for the same reason we always do: because that debate allows us to ignore the ones that might lead us to a different place than the celebration of our own liberal righteousness. To read the people writing about this attack, this is the fundamental question at hand: were these killings OK? If that were actually a moral question worth asking, then it would provoke disagreement. And yet I see no disagreement. None at all."

Why I Am Not Charlie
"To abhor what was done to the victims, though, is not the same as to become them. This is true on the simplest level: I cannot occupy someone else’s selfhood, share someone else’s death. This is also true on a moral level: I cannot appropriate the dangers they faced or the suffering they underwent, I cannot colonize their experience, and it is arrogant to make out that I can. It wouldn’t be necessary to say this, except the flood of hashtags and avatars and social-media posturing proclaiming #JeSuisCharlie overwhelms distinctions and elides the point...In real life, solidarity takes many forms, almost all of them hard. This kind of low-cost, risk-free, E-Z solidarity is only possible in a social-media age, where you can strike a pose and somebody sees it on their timeline for 15 seconds and then they move on and it’s forgotten except for the feeling of accomplishment it gave you. Solidarity is hard because it isn’t about imaginary identifications, it’s about struggling across the canyon of not being someone else: it’s about recognizing, for instance, that somebody died because they were different from you, in what they did or believed or were or wore, not because they were the same...I am offended when those already oppressed in a society are deliberately insulted. I don’t want to participate. This crime in Paris does not suspend my political or ethical judgment, or persuade me that scatologically smearing a marginal minority’s identity and beliefs is a reasonable thing to do. Yet this means rejecting the only authorized reaction to the atrocity."
posted by naoko at 11:06 AM on January 9, 2015 [4 favorites]


I honestly can't tell if this is satire and later in the thread you're going to pop in

If Ayaan Hirsi Ali shows up on MetaFilter to reveal that her whole political position is a long-running satiric gag, well, I'm all for it.
posted by RogerB at 11:08 AM on January 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


Republicans aren't killing Jewish primary-school children or beheading soldiers in the street.

No. Just making war.
posted by maxsparber at 11:13 AM on January 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


Forgive the pedantry and to some extent it's beside the point, but I can't stick it any longer: damn near every article linked perpetuates the same missatribution.

It wasn't Voltaire who said it.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:15 AM on January 9, 2015 [6 favorites]


Quite honestly, I haven't come across these calls in the media I consume (centrist stuff like the Globe and Mail and the Guardian)

Surprisingly, I heard an instance of this just this morning on NPR. Renee Montagne asked Madjid Messaoudene (city council member from a Paris suburb) -- "What has been said among the Muslim community in terms of condemning these attacks?"

Messaoudene to his credit immediately responded, "I'm not comfortable with the idea that we have to ask the Muslim people to prove that they are condemning what happened, to prove that they are against violence, to prove that they are for democracy."

(Also noting that Montagne stumbled over Messaoudene's name when introducing the piece, which is a pretty unprofessional start to the whole thing. You can do better, NPR.)
posted by aught at 11:16 AM on January 9, 2015 [8 favorites]


>Republicans aren't killing Jewish primary-school children or beheading soldiers in the street.

No. Just making war.


To be fair, it's American Democratic President Obama's administration that has had its finger on the drone trigger etc for the past 6 years, not a Republican Congress.
posted by Nevin at 11:16 AM on January 9, 2015 [5 favorites]


persuade me that scatologically smearing a marginal minority’s identity and beliefs is a reasonable thing to do.

Does that apply to the religious right in the US?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 11:17 AM on January 9, 2015


Sure. Obama could have been one of the gotchas as well. They all work.
posted by maxsparber at 11:17 AM on January 9, 2015 [2 favorites]




Urgh, disappointed in that Sacco cartoon. Rather simplistic.
posted by Bwithh at 11:20 AM on January 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


On Debating Dead Moral Questions

I'm struggling to understand what the point of this article is. It seems as though the writer is saying, "When people transgress our values and priciples, why do we feel the need to restate our values and principles?" Well, duh.
posted by Thing at 11:24 AM on January 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


BFM TV managed to get an interview with Cherif Kouachi and Amedy Coulibaly this afternoon, so disturbing. (In french)
posted by ellieBOA at 11:28 AM on January 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


I'm struggling to understand what the point of this article is. It seems as though the writer is saying, "When people transgress our values and priciples, why do we feel the need to restate our values and principles?" Well, duh.

The other problem I had with that article is he insists it's self-evident that world will not hesitate to go to war to prevent another holocaust; and from the context he doesn't seem to limit that to a Jewish one, but a holocaust more generally. To which I say, tell it to the Rwandans, among others.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:28 AM on January 9, 2015 [9 favorites]


Someone explain to me what that kosher supermarket and its patrons could have done to be less offensive.
posted by monospace at 11:29 AM on January 9, 2015 [13 favorites]


That interview is chilling.
posted by Corinth at 11:35 AM on January 9, 2015


It seems as though the writer is saying, "When people transgress our values and priciples, why do we feel the need to restate our values and principles?"

I think the point is not that we shouldn't restate our values and principles, but that insisting that this be the only thing we say prevents us from having some really important conversations about more difficult stuff.

The other problem I had with that article is he insists it's self-evident that world will not hesitate to go to war to prevent another holocaust; and from the context he doesn't seem to limit that to a Jewish one, but a holocaust more generally. To which I say, tell it to the Rwandans, among others.

I disagreed with him on that point also.
posted by naoko at 11:38 AM on January 9, 2015 [1 favorite]




The other problem I had with that article is he insists it's self-evident that world will not hesitate to go to war to prevent another holocaust; and from the context he doesn't seem to limit that to a Jewish one, but a holocaust more generally. To which I say, tell it to the Rwandans, among others.

"Never again" basically means: "Never again will Nazis kill Jews in 1940's europe." People are always going to find a reason why some new genocide or fascist regime isn't worth going to war over. I'm fairly convinced in any case that by the time that it gets to the point that war is the only to stop it, that it's already too late -- the atrocity is going to unfold, and we'll be there to photograph the aftermath after the war is over.
posted by empath at 12:02 PM on January 9, 2015 [4 favorites]


“So far as we feel sympathy, we feel we are not accomplices to what caused the suffering. Our sympathy proclaims our innocence as well as our impotence. To that extent, it can be (for all our good intentions) an impertinent- if not inappropriate- response. To set aside the sympathy we extend to others beset by war and murderous politics for a reflection on how our privileges are located on the same map as their suffering, and may- in ways we might prefer not to imagine- be linked to their suffering, as the wealth as some may imply the destitution of others, is a task for which the painful, stirring images supply only an initial spark.”
― Susan Sontag, Regarding the Pain of Others
posted by Fizz at 12:03 PM on January 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


I'm hesitant to wade in again, for obvious reasons. My 2 cents anyway. What I think Sacco might be saying is that an effect of the kind of satire under discussion, regardless of its intent, is that it loses its focus on the target (extremists, ideology) and gets used by those who don't "get it" to fuel clash of civilizations discourse, given a world where Abu Ghraib is a thing that happened. It might spill over from anti-Islamist intentions to anti-Moslem, anti-Algerian, anti-immigrant effects, given the schisms between the people in the banlieues and the white French working class. It might have the effect of sharpening the wrong contradictions, where there is already division. There's even been evidence of some of that upthread. Perhaps, I think Sacco is saying, that is a reason to be cautious.
posted by cotton dress sock at 12:05 PM on January 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


As always the biggest danger in the wake of a tragedy like this, is in the measures taken that purport to prevent or ameliorate such events in the future. That's why it's important to try to reach a thorough and contextualized understanding, instead of reaching for simplistic solutions based on nothing much more than naked political calculus. The roots of the situation reach far and span a lot of time - I am guessing that as always, no politician is going to tackle the long term and deep seated problems, and instead it'll be all about expanding the security apparatus. It takes not only money, but commitment to social and economic policy on a grand scale, and who cares about that, when your term in office, and indeed your ability to hold onto that office is predicated on responding to only to the immediate perceptions.

Unfortunately, the security response is never going to address the root issues, and therefore will be a perpetual chasing of a moving target always one or more steps behind. Meanwhile, it will be used to limit civil rights and further marginalize those already marginalized. The end result is a destructive cycle that only makes social integration more difficult and problems will fester instead of being resolved. It is my fervent hope that the French will find a political response that's wise and generous, and they can do a lot better than we have done in response to 9/11 - because, frankly, we have failed almost completely.

In the near term I can see a movement in Europe to re-define the limits to citizenship. In Britain and in Norway, proposals have been floated, at the highest levels, of stripping away citizenship from the people who join extremist causes abroad. The counter-terrorism agencies in France were aware of the history of some of these folks, including journeys abroad, and they missed the denouement. I would not be surprised if similar proposals don't get a hearing in France too. It would however be tragic if the response is only limited to narrow security issues without taking a broader look at the issues. For those who suggest that it is too early to discuss such things while the bodies are still warm, I say it is the exact opposite - we need to address these issues now, because now is the time when impressions and narratives are formed, often wrong or incomplete and it is then very difficult to change policies based on such firmly formed early impressions and narratives. That is why I support discussing all these seeming peripheral issues, and don't think it means any disrespect to the victims here. They are already tragically slain. And now, the future is at stake.
posted by VikingSword at 12:06 PM on January 9, 2015 [10 favorites]


>To which I say, tell it to the Rwandans, among others.

"Never again" basically means: "Never again will Nazis kill Jews in 1940's europe."


Given the difficulty of preventing ethnic and racial liquidation that's probably a more realistic statement to make for sure. And of course Jewish people were largely exterminated across Europe, so what's left to protect?

With Rwanda as well, France and Belgium to some extent facilitated the efforts of the Génocidaires. So it's not exactly an issue of looking the other way or mouthing meaningless platitudes in regards to Rwanda.
posted by Nevin at 12:08 PM on January 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


Ultimately, though, the terrorists wanted to terrorize. They did not only target those who drew pictures of Muhammad. They killed random police and security guards, and people shopping for Shabbat dinner.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:08 PM on January 9, 2015 [4 favorites]


rosswald: "Republicans aren't killing Jewish primary-school children or beheading soldiers in the street."

I wonder what the ratio is between abortion doctor killers and republicans and jihadists to muslims as a whole, and whether whatever difference between the two are would be... "significant"
posted by symbioid at 12:14 PM on January 9, 2015 [2 favorites]




That's why it's important to try to reach a thorough and contextualized understanding, instead of reaching for simplistic solutions based on nothing much more than naked political calculus. The roots of the situation reach far and span a lot of time - I am guessing that as always, no politician is going to tackle the long term and deep seated problems, and instead it'll be all about expanding the security apparatus.

I don't disagree, exactly, but I'm somewhat skeptical about any effort to understand the root cause that focuses primarily on the political, social, and economic isolation of Muslims in France (I'm not saying that's your exact position, as you seem to advocating something broader, both geographically and historically, but it is an explanation I've heard a lot of in the last couple days). I'm not saying that isn't a factor, but we've also seen that this particular type of extremist Islam is also appealing to people with a variety of other social and economic statuses including converts and those born into relatively privileged Muslim families.
posted by Area Man at 12:20 PM on January 9, 2015 [2 favorites]




What I think Sacco might be saying is that an effect of the kind of satire under discussion, regardless of its intent, is that it loses its focus on the target (extremists, ideology) and gets used by those who don't "get it" to fuel clash of civilizations discourse, given a world where Abu Ghraib is a thing that happened.

I think that's a thoughtful but over-generous reading. I love Sacco's work generally but I'm really surprised here to see him imply in this cartoon strip in presenting his own perspective on Muslims that they are a monolithic community (as if Muslims all as offended/outraged as the killers and that's what we should learn lessons about - which assumes too that the murderers really were deeply motivated by outrage at the cartoons (rather than, say, being foot soldiers implementing a strategic plan, for example) too). I'm sure Sacco is more sophisticated than this, but it's not coming through in this no doubt rushed piece.
posted by Bwithh at 12:24 PM on January 9, 2015


Why is it important to point out that other people do bad things, too?
posted by feste at 12:25 PM on January 9, 2015


[It would be nice to not have this thread descend into a who-is-worse argument about religious extremism. Please maybe let's set that down.]
posted by cortex at 12:25 PM on January 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


That is why I support discussing all these seeming peripheral issues, and don't think it means any disrespect to the victims here.

Absolutely correct. I'll add though, that the content of the cartoons is not a relevant peripheral issue, and in my view that has been the main point people in this thread talking about disrespect have been trying to make. Let's talk about the real societal/economic/political/etc issues.

I've seen very little mention of victim blaming or respect for the victims with regards to any issues like that, presumably because bringing up those issues is not victim blaming , while tirelessly pushing the idea that Charlie was a racist publication most assuredly is, whether they were or not.
posted by quadbonus at 12:27 PM on January 9, 2015 [5 favorites]


we've also seen that this particular type of extremist Islam is also appealing to people with a variety of other social and economic statuses including converts and those born into relatively privileged Muslim families.

I think honestly that these people's motivations are similar to all the other mass-shootings we've had for the past 2 decades since Columbine. Isolated, angry young men who feel powerless. The fact that muslim mass shooters tend to come up with Islamic motivations for the mayhem, I don't think, says anything in particular about Islam. These guys focus on whichever obsessive ideology is closest to hand.

That said, I think what's fairly unique about the Islamic terror situation is that there are well-funded financial networks dedicated to finding these young men and training them, which is what, I think separates them from 'typical' serial killers and mass murderers. The networks are what's dangerous. Unfortunately, they're funded by wealthy Saudis and we're never going to do anything about that.
posted by empath at 12:27 PM on January 9, 2015 [17 favorites]


Why is it important to point out that other people do bad things, too?

Because this seems to get forgotten in the haste to demonize Islam for the behavior of extremist terrorists.
posted by maxsparber at 12:36 PM on January 9, 2015


Who is forgetting? I mean, you think someone here thinks that all bad things are done by Islamist extremists?
posted by feste at 12:41 PM on January 9, 2015 [3 favorites]




In other news, another al-Qaeda affiliate, Boko Haram, has massacred 2,000 people in NW Nigeria, near the border with Chad.

I recall reading somewhere else that ISIL and al-Qaeda (and I am not suggesting they are representative of "Muslims") are essentially waging a Third World War in slow motion.

It would be nice to think that the decline in oil prices will cut off some of support for these organizations from the various Gulf states.
posted by Nevin at 12:43 PM on January 9, 2015


Who is forgetting?

Anyone who behaves as though Islam is uniquely, corporately responsible for this event, and there have been comments to that effect in this thread.
posted by maxsparber at 12:46 PM on January 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


I don't disagree, exactly, but I'm somewhat skeptical about any effort to understand the root cause that focuses primarily on the political, social, and economic isolation of Muslims in France (I'm not saying that's your exact position, as you seem to advocating something broader, both geographically and historically, but it is an explanation I've heard a lot of in the last couple days). I'm not saying that isn't a factor, but we've also seen that this particular type of extremist Islam is also appealing to people with a variety of other social and economic statuses including converts and those born into relatively privileged Muslim families.

Well, to illustrate with the example I gave. Narrow security only focus: you can strip the citizenship from someone who goes to join ISIS. Fine. But what have you accomplished apart from hopefully defusing that one individual? And what happens when you miss the next one? Or if they change tactics? You're always one step behind. What about policies that wouldn't push these people into the arms of extremists in the first place? When Cameron discussed how to handle the blowback from these people joining ISIS and then coming back to Britain, why didn't he look further back - why is there a blowback in the first place. The West has interfered in the affairs of other countries, and bombed and murdered with impunity. But now, a significant part of the population in the West (at least in Europe) is Muslim or has roots in the ME - yet their opinions and voices are not taken into account. The political elite is operating as if it was still the middle ages and the time of the crusades and they can just carry on murderous neocolonial interventions whenever they please. They have not taken note of a significant part of their population being in opposition to such depravity - they have not taken note, because the members of this part of society have little representation at the highest levels of decision making. Note, how large parts of Muslim communities are significantly opposed to this kind of foreign policy. And when they are being deliberately marginalized, their opposition doesn't disappear, it gets registered outside of the political process from which they are alienated and not represented. It is time for Europe to take into account all the voices in their societies. You can't base policies on old structures and societies that have changed. Your people won't allow it. And you can't strip citizenship from all of them. They are here to stay. Whether waging war or making social policy it is imperative that the whole society is represented and no one is marginalized.

When I read arrogant and entitled statements from the highest political levels in France or Britain about how they'll bomb ME countries - as in the recent campaign in Syria and Iraq - I think about how the Muslim population feels represented in France and Britain, given that they see the situation with a great deal more nuance. Clearly, the response of some is expressed in destructive rage and the joining of the "enemy" abroad. But this "blowback" starts at home. By the time they're flying abroad to join the enemy, it's already too late. That's why the conversation has to happen a lot earlier.

Every group in the society must feel they have a stake in it. If they don't, they won't value anything in that society, and their actions will reflect it.

Yes, there is a place for a security response - the murderers must be hunted down and exterminated. But if that's the entire extent of the response, we've already lost.
posted by VikingSword at 12:48 PM on January 9, 2015 [9 favorites]


Who is forgetting? I mean, you think someone here thinks that all bad things are done by Islamist extremists?

It's just a friendly reminder that things are complicated and that, essentially, as a human being, you are in no position to be certain about anything and/or unilaterally hold a position on anything. It's an intellectual way of saying shut the fuck up.
posted by phaedon at 12:48 PM on January 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


Islamic extremism and Islamic extremist movements exist - as evidenced by the series of attacks in Europe over the past few years.
posted by rosswald at 12:52 PM on January 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


Islamic extremism and Islamic extremist movements exist - as evidenced by the series of attacks in Europe over the past few years.

Nobody has said they don't. The point is that they are not unique in having produced murderous extremists.

And it's an important point, because Muslims are still the subject of horrific discrimination and antipathy and still seen by many in Europe as intruding aliens, and when the people as a whole are held as being responsible for the actions of a percent, it can inflame outrage and violence against the people who have done nothing at all but practice a minority religion.
posted by maxsparber at 12:56 PM on January 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


Islamic extremism and Islamic extremist movements exist - as evidenced by the series of attacks in Europe over the past few years.

They obviously exist. There are also plenty of right-wing, dangerous anti-islamic terrorists.
posted by empath at 12:56 PM on January 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


empath: "I think honestly that these people's motivations are similar to all the other mass-shootings we've had for the past 2 decades since Columbine. Isolated, angry young men who feel powerless."

QFT.

I was talking to my therapist a few months back about ISIS (I think after one of the beheadings that seemed to happen in a row), and my impression of how many of them seemed to be from the west, and in particular, how a lot of them, perhaps, in the 90s or something, may have taken up being in a local gang... That many of these people were "converts" but not because they're converting to Islam as a religion, but to some organization that gives them a physical outlet for violence, to express their disaffection with the modern western ennui and decay. So they find, camaraderie , a "righteous" cause to justify themselves (defense of self/community might have been the sort of thing back in the day)... A feeling of power and strength that they feel they lack in their normal day-to-day lives...

My therapist nodded her head in agreement and said that she thought that certainly played a role for some people.

I thin it would be foolish to attribute it all to that, but amongst a certain population, it definitely does. I think sometimes it's easy to get caught in a narrative of only one type of person being in a particular group... Like - one of the narratives that's been around for years was something along the lines of "young angry oppressed/poor muslim males, with fewer females around, go commit suicide and do it for a noble cause"... And it sure sounds like it makes a lot of sense, but as Area Man said "we've also seen that this particular type of extremist Islam is also appealing to people with a variety of other social and economic statuses including converts and those born into relatively privileged Muslim families."

I think that's a point well worth heeding. Look at someone like bin Laden, for example, his father was no poverty stricken low end of Saudi society. Look at Sayyid Qutb, one of the leading members of the Muslim Brotherhood in the 50s and and his exposure to the west, where it is claimed by at least some that it was this exposure to western life that had turned him from a more secular path towards a more radical path.

I think there are many narratives that are at play and work together, and I think they all contain a strand of truth. My fierce argumentation above was, as I had repeated over and over, not a condemnation of free speech or any way to say people shouldn't have a right to engage in satire (or outright mockery or whatever offensive thing they may do), but rather, an attempt to call for a sort of calmness and understanding of some of these narratives. In the same manner that my initial thought was that Charlie Hebdo was doing some of those racist right-wing things like they were doing in Denmark, it is clear that the context of their work (at least in some pieces) were certainly trying to make the point that Islam wasn't innately violent/extremist religion, but rather that it's been hijacked (OH MY GOSH - I think I have a cartoon idea!) by those extremists who use it to justify their violence, and in the end, go against the prophet (saw) himself.

It's easy to believe in a simple narrative, and it's quite possible that the narrative explains at least a part of a phenomenon, but it certainly cannot contain the whole thing, because, as certain French Philosophers would have reminded us of that Korzybski quote "The map is not the territory." I think that's the most frustrating thing for us, as humans, is that we want the map and the territory to be isomorphic with each other, to correlate cleanly and evenly, and have no terra incognita, but that isn't the case, and it can't be the case.
posted by symbioid at 1:00 PM on January 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


This incident reaches far and wide, which also includes the literary world.
"Even before its official release on Wednesday, “Submission” had already set off intense debates in France — about the line between satire and Islamophobia and between fantasy and realpolitik, about the novelist’s (and Islam’s) treatment of women, and about the political mainstream’s struggles to keep pace with the rise of both Islam and the far right — a debate that the attacks are certain to intensify.
via: New York Times

Related: Scare Tactics: Michel Houellebecq Defends His Controversial New Book
posted by Fizz at 1:02 PM on January 9, 2015


and when the people as a whole are held as being responsible for the actions of a percent, it can inflame outrage

Yesterday a group of people were assassinated for their non-violent political and ideological stance, and today an entire community is (again) terrorized. Multiple similar acts perpetuated by people with a shared ideology and motive.

These lectures on the evil of man and 'don't forget Republicans do bad too' seem callous and ignorant.
posted by rosswald at 1:03 PM on January 9, 2015 [4 favorites]


I reported upthread a couple days ago how I heard this as the opening question on the "respectable" BBC as the opener to a Muslim spokesdude.

I think I saw the same report. It was an interview with, I believe, one of France's leading socialist Muslim MPs (or at the very least one of their head spokespeople), and he handled the dumb question with aplomb. Paraphrasing he said that it wasn't enough for the Muslim community to do something about this situation, but for every European, every human.

Stupid BBC.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 1:05 PM on January 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


Yesterday a group of people were assassinated for their non-violent political and ideological stance, and today an entire community is (again) terrorized. Multiple similar acts perpetuated by people with a shared ideology and motive.

I'm sorry, but if your point is that we should blame Muslims in general for these actions, that's Islamophobia. That's the word for it. And it's shitty and I wish it didn't show up on MetaFilter.
posted by maxsparber at 1:06 PM on January 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


There will be no Shabbat services at the Paris Grand Shul. First time since Nazis occupied France. If you are a Jew somewhere in the world, perhaps you can say a Mourner's Kaddish for the people lost in Paris this week, on behalf of those who cannot attend their house of prayer tonight.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 1:06 PM on January 9, 2015 [21 favorites]




There will be no Shabbat services at the Paris Grand Shul. First time since Nazis occupied France. If you are a Jew somewhere in the world, perhaps you can say a Mourner's Kaddish for the people lost in Paris this week, on behalf of those who cannot attend their house of prayer tonight.


wow, thanks for mentioning this. Fuck.
posted by So You're Saying These Are Pants? at 1:08 PM on January 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm sorry, but if your point is that we should blame Muslims in general for these actions, that's Islamophobia. That's the word for it. And it's shitty and I wish it didn't show up on MetaFilter.
posted by maxsparber


It wasn't my point. I am not sure why you are so intent on identifying Islamphobia in this thread - I don't think Islam is responsible, nor do I think anyone else in the thread said that. STFU.
posted by rosswald at 1:11 PM on January 9, 2015 [11 favorites]


They obviously exist. There are also plenty of right-wing, dangerous anti-islamic terrorists.

I feel like you were asked to drop this.

That said, I think what's fairly unique about the Islamic terror situation is that there are well-funded financial networks dedicated to finding these young men and training them, which is what, I think separates them from 'typical' serial killers and mass murderers.

To speak to this, it is important to point out that an "Islamist" flare-up hits the Western news radar when blood is shed. That is always the news story. There is to this day very little coverage regarding the movement of money and arms that support these actions and what the West is doing to monitor that or how much it is contributing to the problem. That is a much more complicated narrative.

I am literally shitting bricks for Adam Curtis' "Bitter Lake" to come out. You really don't need to bring Republican terrorists into the mix and talk about "Islamophobia" to illustrate your point of how convoluted our judgments are. We are in the Middle East, we are against Syria, but then we are against ISIS, so then we are pro-Syria, and we are basically participating in wars that are neither won nor lost? The world is simply too complicated and we are being exploited by our politicians.

That's why it's important to try to reach a thorough and contextualized understanding, instead of reaching for simplistic solutions based on nothing much more than naked political calculus.

Good luck with that.
posted by phaedon at 1:11 PM on January 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


It wasn't my point. I am not sure why you are so intent on identifying Islamphobia - I don't think Islam is responsible, nor do I think anyone else in the thread did. STFU.

Then I'm really not clear on your point, and would appreciate it if you restated it.
posted by maxsparber at 1:12 PM on January 9, 2015


Excellent NYT op-doc depicting Charlie Hebdo creating a Mohammed cartoon.

And a reader comment says it well:

I guess I just can't get past what a nerdy, good-natured, benign group of people they are. They died for being snarky? For drawing pictures? It's so sad and absurd.
posted by shivohum at 1:14 PM on January 9, 2015 [11 favorites]


Then I'm really not clear on your point, and would appreciate it if you restated it.

Really not sure what's unclear. Try re-reading maybe?
posted by Behemoth at 1:18 PM on January 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


Then I'm really not clear on your point, and would appreciate it if you restated it.

Respectfully, you've been making the same point for two days now. It feels like you're preventing other users from talking about what they want to talk about because you have already characterized it as demonization to do so. I think you should allow people to look for patterns, even if said patterns have to do with Islam, so long as that pattern does not seek to establish that "all Muslims are bad." There is a difference.
posted by phaedon at 1:19 PM on January 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


Maxsparber - what I said was clear, and in no way impugned Islam as whole. I will restate my point though just so we're clear - the Hebdo assassinations, the Kosher grocery hostage taking, and many recent attacks in Europe over the past 3-5 years (from Toulouse to Woolwich), are the result of Islamic extremism.

I am really not sure what you (and others) are trying to lecture people on, or why.
posted by rosswald at 1:19 PM on January 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


I see. So the point that there is some nebulous group corporately responsible for this can be made endlessly, but if I make the point that there is a risk of demonizing Islam as a result I am somehow stifling discussion.

Listen, you might want to double check when you're engaging in silencing behavior, because counting my comments and behaving as though they are all the same and I should shut up is exactly that.


I am really not sure what you (and others) are trying to lecture people on, or why.

I have been clear. Maybe try rereading?
posted by maxsparber at 1:23 PM on January 9, 2015


[Guys, maybe head to your separate corners at this point and we can let the thread stop being about this particular exchange.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:27 PM on January 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


There's a danger of some people wrongly assigning mass group responsibility any time one points out that a particular ideology is responsible for something. That doesn't mean that it's wrong to point out when a particular ideology is responsible, it only means one has to be careful not to assign responsibility wrongly.
posted by Justinian at 1:27 PM on January 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


There's a difference between responding to a "risk," and applying an uncharitable read to a user's contribution, labeling him an Islamophobe, and wishing out loud that such a thing did not show up on MetaFilter.
posted by phaedon at 1:31 PM on January 9, 2015 [6 favorites]


I often think that ISIL and al Qaeda resemble the mafia, and the mafia, while often extremely efficient, is not working to achieve a particular political end besides amassing wealth and power. Just spitballing here, but the equivalent of Buttes Chaumont in Vancouver for example would be the UN Gang, the Red Scorpions, or the Hell's Angels.
posted by Nevin at 1:32 PM on January 9, 2015




They were motivated by religion. They said so. They stated in an interview during the standoff, who they worked for and what their point was. The killers shouted it in their battle cry and told passers-by they worked for Al Qaeda. Stephane Charbonnier was on an Al Qaeda hit list, and the killers asked for him by name. Their motives are known.
posted by feste at 1:44 PM on January 9, 2015 [8 favorites]


Grauniad:

"Dramatic new footage has emerged of police firing into and storming the Vincennes supermarket has been posted to YouTube [sic].

The dramatic video, shot from a nearby building, shows the metal guard-door slowing rising as police hover in a swarm around its edges, and then the officers firing shots into the clearly lit aisles lined with produce. A body is visible on the ground inside.

Then police throw a grenade into the building, and after an explosion a hostage runs through the doors holding a coat over his head. The police move inside in a cluster of shields and close formation, and more hostages come racing out between them. At one point the camera pans to watch two men dragging a third person clear of the scene, as that person weakly pushes themselves along the sidewalk with them."

Here
posted by Mister Bijou at 1:44 PM on January 9, 2015


Already, anyone who dares to examine the causes of the massacre, the reasons the Kouachi brothers drifted into jihadist violence, is being warned that to do so is to excuse the real culprit, radical Islam: ‘an ideology that has sought to achieve power through terror for decades’, as George Packer wrote on the New Yorker blog. Packer says this is no time to talk about the problem of integration in France, or about the wars the West has waged in the Middle East for the last two decades. Radical Islam, and only radical Islam, is to blame for the atrocities. We are in what the New Yorker critic George Trow called the ‘context of no context’, where jihadi atrocities can be safely laid at the door of an evil ideology, and any talk of pre-emptive war, torture and racism amounts to apologia for atrocities.

We have been here before: the 11 September attacks led many liberal intellectuals to become laptop bombardiers, and to smear those, such as Susan Sontag, who reminded readers that American policies in the Middle East had not won us many friends. […] To demonstrate ‘moral clarity’ is to be on the right side, and to show the courage of a fighting faith, rather than the timorous, context-seeking analysis of those soft on what Christopher Hitchens called ‘Islamofascism’. Packer’s New Yorker article is a declaration of this faith, a faith he confuses with liberalism.
Adam Shatz: Moral Clarity
posted by RogerB at 2:06 PM on January 9, 2015 [16 favorites]


.
. . . .

I'm glad they stopped the gunmen, but the cost was so high.
posted by Kevin Street at 2:45 PM on January 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


the killers asked for him by name

Laurent Léger, (audio, 12min, question at 2min30sec) who was in the room at the time of the shooting (managed to hide behind a table and escape their notice) and witnessed it, was asked directly about this point and refutes it with an "absolutement pas". He says that they entered shouting and immediately open fire on the assembled group. He says "they mentioned Charbs name as they were shooting, as they were obviously looking for him but he was there at the table and because the room was fairly narrow everyone fell quickly". He mentions them telling one lady at the end that they didn't kill women while one lay dead at their feet. Doesn't really matter as it is just all kinds of fucked up.

Anyway here is a musical reaction #JeSuisCharlie - JB Bullet (3min10sec)
posted by phoque at 2:56 PM on January 9, 2015 [6 favorites]


I think it's worth noting that as contentious as this thread's discussion of Charlie Hebdo's cartoons has been (and as reluctant as I've been to jump into it), that conversation has largely kept the focus on the lives and work of Wednesday's victims—and away from the motivations or desires of the abhorrent perpetrators.

It's a small blessing, but I'll take it.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 2:59 PM on January 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yeah uh what does America's fucked up policy in the middle east have to do with the handful of people who assassinated journalists in france?

To all who say this isn't a problem of radical islam:

How do you explain all the right-wing terrorist attacks launched in the US by white, right-wing, racist, Christian men? Is that a problem of a radical ideology or not?

Hint: it is.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 4:13 PM on January 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


To all who say this isn't a problem of radical islam

Radical Islam did not emerge from a vacuum.
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 4:59 PM on January 9, 2015


Nothing emerges from a vacuum. That doesn't make radical Islam less responsible.
posted by Justinian at 5:01 PM on January 9, 2015 [10 favorites]


Radical Islam did not emerge from a vacuum.

Neither did radical right-wing American style terroristic christianity. What's your larger point?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at