I will start by saying that the attacks on Charlie Hebdo and the murder of cartoonists, their editor and others is atrocious, and despicable and in no way, shape or form do my feelings about Charlie Hebdo condone what happened this week.  The men who gunned down unarmed, innocent people were low down, dirty criminals. They weren’t martyr’s they weren’t good Muslims.  They were monsters.

With that said, when I first saw the cartoons that Charlie Hebdo was publishing, I was offended.  I was repulsed and revolted by some of the images I saw they’d produced and passed on to the public as ‘satire’.

These are just two samples of the type of imagery they produced.

Satire, is described as: The use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people’s stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues.

Neither one of those images fit into that category.  They are mean spirited images.

Sandip Roy, from New American Media wrote a great piece that you can read here. He expresses well what I feel on the subject as does the post on Facebook by Tim Wise:

As we rightly condemn the senseless and barbaric murders of journalists in Paris can we still manage to have a rational conversation about free speech, without the empty platitudes about how these cartoonists were “heroes?” For instance, I believe it is possible to agree that free speech is an essential value, and that journalists should have the right to say what they want — even to offend others — without then proceeding to act as though every act of speech (just because people have a right to it) is therefore worth defending as to its substance, and that free speech protects one from being critiqued for the things one says. What I mean is this: I have a right, I suppose, to stand in the middle of Times Square and shout racial or religious slurs. And I surely should be able to do that without fear of being murdered for it. This last point in particular is so obvious as to be beyond debate, I would hope. But if I do this, whether in Times Square or in print, it makes me an asshole, and one who deserves to be labeled as such. Not a hero, but an asshole. And I don’t become a hero just because I insulted people, some of whom might be even bigger assholes than me, and so dangerous and unstable that they decide to hurt me. People seem to confuse the principle of free speech with the idea that one’s speech should be protected from pushback; and while violent pushback is always wrong—always—I am uncomfortable with the idea that we should make heroes out of people whose job appears to have been to insult people they considered inferior to themselves. Especially because, historically, satire has always been about barbs aimed at those who are MORE powerful than oneself (the elite, royalty, the dominant social, economic, political or religious group), rather than being aimed down the power structure at those with less power. To satirize people who are the targets of institutionalized violence (whether for religious or racial or cultural or linguistic or sexual or gendered reasons) is not brave. It’s sort of shitty, in fact. Should it be protected legally? Sure. Should those who do it be killed or punished in any way? Of course not. But should we hold them up as exemplars of who we want to be, all the while ignoring how the exercise of their freedom, without any sense of responsibility to the common good, actually feeds acrimony and violence on all sides? I think not. I really think we need to be talking about this.

Both of these pieces remind me of what I talked about a few days ago, about “emotional compassion”.  Free speech is something every human being should be entitled to have, and not fear any violent or legal repercussions, but with that right, should come responsibility.  Responsibility to be conscious of how our words (or in this case ‘images’) can hurt, be offensive, cause harm.  Can we imagine for one moment, if no one in the world had emotional compassion? If everyone said, or wrote hateful things about others just because they could? The world as we know it would cease to exist and we would rapidly devolve into a warring, angry, lowly pit of human interaction.

No one from Charlie Hebdo should have died for their speech, and certainly the innocent bystanders did not deserve death, and frankly, the perpetrators did not deserve death, but I cannot say that #iamcharliehebdo, because I am not.  I choose to be emotionally mindful of my words and my actions, and I choose to disagree and even dislike in a civil and respectful manner.



14 thoughts on “#IamNOTCharlieHebdo

  1. Do you realize that you are siding with people who think that they deserved it by using this tag? I didn’t like their humour but at least we live in a country where shouting stupid or offensive things in the street will not kill you. People who are strong in their faith will just shrug and think “asshole” and go back to their life. Now there are other journalists in Turkey for example, who have received messages saying “you’re next”…
    I’d rather side with a joker who was kbrutally murdered and not with the murderers because, wherever you live, you may feel the lack of freedom soon. Just hoping you never make a joke that someone will not like …

    1. I am not siding with anyone who believes they deserve it, and I hope that I conveyed that in the post. What I am saying, is that there has been a movement this week holding Charlie Hebdo as a heroic publication, and the cartoonists as heroes. They were not heroes. The publication is mean spirited and known to be bigoted, racist, antisemitic and chauvinistic.
      They did not deserve to be killed for their actions, but they also do not deserve to be made into bastions of journalism and free speech.

      1. is known??? Have you ever read it? they joked about ALL the religions and more about the Catholic faith than about the others. But they joked about women and our government they were certainly not heroes until some killers made them. I guess they would have preferred not to be called heroes and just be called “alive”.
        I’d suggest you see what other people are writing under this tag.
        I’d finish by saying that “free speech” is just what they did, joke about things even religious things because we are a laic country, we earned that right after wars of religion where lots of people died. We don’t want to see it again.
        Even the muslim groups which took Charlie Hebdo to court are coming to pay homage, even the Hezbollah is condemning this killing.
        What if one day you offend someone/ a religious person -maybe without meaning it or even knowing – and they feel offended enough to shoot you …. It will to late to change your mind about the different kinds of free speech.

      2. I don’t think what I’m saying is translating correctly. The overreaching point I am trying to make is that we, as a society, as a species, need to start being more mindful of the emotion we put behind our words and actions. Hurting someone for the sake of being sarcastic, or ironic, or trying to prove some point, is not getting anyone anywhere.
        I choose my words very carefully, and I think about what I say before I say it. I know I have the *right* to say whatever I want, without regard as to who I will hurt, but I choose not to. So to your point about my offending someone some day; I’m sure it could happen, but I live my life trying my best to make sure it doesn’t.
        I hope that maybe explains my views a little bit better. 🙂

      3. Well my reaction just shows that what you are saying just doesn’t come across as you expected so maybe you should stop trying to “prove some point” because you obviously “are not getting anywhere” with a French person right now. I find your post very offensive and dangerous to democracy.

      4. I am sorry you feel that way. Truly I am, however, I cannot in good conscience agree that the type of vitriol that Charlie Hebdo put forth into the world was something noble or good.

      5. I just saw a post quoting this hashtag and it had a man holding the head cut from a dead woman… juut to show what kind of people use this hashtag.

  2. Just want to say that I totally understand, and appreciate, your post here, and we are not the only ones. Your hashtag may be the same one some horrible people are using (which I only say because of other comments here, not because I’ve seen those ones myself), but in the same vein, there are some people using the #jesuischarlie that are violent racists, that pretend they support free speech, but are only supporting the bigoted views expressed by the Hebdo magazine. I have tried to engage in rational conversations about the different issues involved in this tragic event, only to be called names and accused of supporting murder, which positively sickens me. I’ve been paying attention to various issues in French society over the past couple of years, but the people jumping on the Charlie train are reacting to this event only. Like you, I wish more people would make a goal of promoting peace in the world instead of divisive acts that fan the flames of intolerance on all sides. More and more people are coming forward to say that while they strongly support free speech and detest all acts of violence, they also, are NOT Charlie. Thank you for being brave enough to state your position in the midst of all this anger and hatred. I believe (hope) that as the initial shock and reaction to this tragedy simmers down, more people will start to take a closer look at the problem of intolerance from a wider perspective.

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