Monday, 2 February 2015

Who's Charlie?

It has been almost a month since two lunatics decided the best way to defend their God was to shoot a bunch of innocent people for drawing bad cartoons. I cannot say I felt much of anything when I first heard about the shooting in Paris. Just another shooting I thought, what is so special about this one? Before the terrorists decided to attack those cartoonists, I did not even know for Charlie Hebdo.

But the more I read, the more I hated it. I am a firm believer in the Freedom of Speech, in fact this is one of those things where I will never accept any kind of compromise. In my honest opinion, you can say out loud whatever you want and nobody should harm you for it. Even hate speech. In my mind, the state can take care of those spreading hate speech on its own, and thus ensure that an individual's rights are not trampled under mongering of a few.

First I think we need to clarify couple of things. I believe that the people who worked on Charlie Hebdo were not really funny. Some of the stuff they drew, is insulting to me as well (some I find rather witty, rare exceptions). That said, I certainly do not believe that just because I find their work lacking any taste that they deserve to die or worse, that they should be killed. Another thing comes to mind. There is a saying, if you mess with the bull, you might get horns.

Some might jump at that, but let me finish first. Thank God you cannot interrupt me while I write. While it is safe to assume that in the Western Civilisation you can say whatever you want and expect to get away from it with your head still attached, things are wildly different in other parts of the world, or maybe better said, other cultures. There are two ways that I see how we can think of the people that worked on Charlie Hebdo. The first way is to think that they were keenly aware what they were doing and were aware of the danger they are exposing themselves to. If that is so they are not martyrs, but their loss is still regrettable.

But if they by any chance thought that they are safe and can do whatever they want just because they live in France, a modern cradle of Liberty then this was very foolish of them. This is the sort of naivete that is not allowed in their business. Not when they are old enough to know what happened to other people who attempted similar things. And by no means am I saying that prosecuting a man for writing a book is by any means right. But it is stupid to assume that you are safe from any kind of retaliation just because you are using a pencil. Especially when it comes to Islam and terrorism. But this is certainly not true, because Charlie Hebdo was a target of attacks even before this terrorist attack. Molotovs were thrown at their building, their website was hacked. Always in retaliation for something that angered Islamists around the world.

Some might prefer to close their eyes and pretend this has nothing to do with anything, but fact of the matter is, that the terrorists that killed these cartoonists were not working in the name of the Jesus Christ, Yahweh, Buddha, or Shiva. They did it in the name of Allah, and while yes, that is just another name for God, it is one we associate with Muslims. I certainly don't believe all Muslims are bad, just because three armed men decided to go on a murder spree. But it still remains the fact that Islam is the problem child in this group. Not Islam as a whole, but certainly a group of like minded authoritarian individuals who feel like they should be deciding for everyone else.

Žižek makes a fine point here about the Islamic fundamentalists. Any other fundamentalists will, if they find your way of life unacceptable, pity you. Only islamists feel the need that they should eradicate you because your lifestyle does not sit well with them. And before you start how it is forbidden for them to depict the prophet, let me tell you something. There is whole host of things that are forbidden in one religion or the other. We, the rest still do it without any problem.

When was the last time you stopped yourself from eating a juicy steak just because Hindus find cows to be holy animals? When did you decide that you will stop eating anything besides vegetables just because a vegan you know thinks eating meat is murder? There is whole host of things that you do in your everyday life that might offend someone. Will you really try to please them all? If you answered with yes, I would like to see you try. I guarantee you will fail in first couple of minutes.

But let us get back to the depictions of Muhammad. I am not going to say I am your resident expert on Islam, but what I know, this prohibition is akin to the story of the golden calf in the Old Testament. No depictions of the prophet, because Muslims should worship only one true god, and no messenger. Orthodox Church has a similar thing, where only Icons are allowed, but no statues.

If we assume I am right on this point, then somebody else depicting Muhammad should not be offencive to the true Muslims. First, it is a satire, and thus not meant to be worshipped. And second, its purpose is not to make it a thing to worship. Charlie Hebdo drew whole lot of things. Honestly, I would not even call it satire. As I see it, satire is intelligent, while Charlie Hebdo, at least to the extent that I got to see their work always aimed for the lowest common denominator to call someone "it". That said, if you do not like their work do not pay attention to it, ignore it. It can be done.

If you cannot ignore it, then you can try to oppose it, create your own magazine, comic, newspaper and publish it. If you feel you were slighted, you can even try to sue them. It is the Western Civilisation we are talking about. You have so many options, so much on your disposal, that when you first instinct is to kill somebody just because you believe they offended your God you really deserve to be put down like a dog. I pity the god that needs to be defended with guns against a drop of ink. I pity the god that is considered to be all mighty and all powerful but is instead stripped of all his power and greatness by his own believers. And such vermin we cannot call believers, because they are insult to every single individual that believes in any kind of God on this planet.

The original motto of the French Revolution was not simply "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity". This is the version that later got cut down and became the national motto of France. The original version was darker, and sinister, unrelenting and ridden with its finality. The original motto was: " Liberty, Equality, Fraternity or Death!"

I can only hope that those who lost their lives in this pointless slaughter lived this to the fullest. That the people who lost their lives because they were not afraid to speak their minds, and shared with the world their own thoughts did so because they believed what they were doing was right, and that only Death could ever stop them. Because if the alternative is, and I refuse to accept that, to just bend over, lower your head and shut up because someone finds what you have to say offencive I don't want that world. I don't want to ever see the extent of Orwellian nightmare.

Charlie Hebdo was from the very start the bad boy of French satire. They always made fools out of all and everything. Nothing was ever sacred to them. I admire them for that. They never bowed down to the threats and attacks they were exposed to. They always rose from the ground and hit back even harder. It is my hope that we all learn from staff that works on Charlie Hebdo. In all this tragedy there is one lesson to be learnt, and that lesson is to never back down, and to stay true to your own belief. In Charlie's case, that belief would be nothing is sacred, and everyone is fair game for ridicule.

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