Much ink has been issued forth and even more breathless speeches about the vicious slaughter of a dozen victims at the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo on 7 January 2015. Five more victims would perish during an apparent running gun battle/ hostage rescue operation between French authorities and the suspects in the immediate aftermath. In a rational world it wouldn't be necessary to qualify my response by acknowledging that what transpired in Paris was a savagely criminal act to which no human being should be subjected. Alas, we do not live in such a world so some will no doubt interpret the following criticism as an attack on decency and a rationalization for terrorist acts. Let them. A respectable amount of time has passed since the event so I feel the time for these words is appropriate.
everything Charlie Hebdo stands for. Did you notice what happened there?
One may condemn the crime yet still abhor the victim. In virtually
every example when one encounters those who would erase this distinction a separate agenda is invariably at work.
limited perusal of Charlie Hebdo's output has revealed this publication
to have an apparent special interest in nakedly racist, Islamophobic
attacks on a largely powerless immigrant minority. While many have
identified satire as the weapon of the weak they often failed to notice
how effectively it can be utilized by the powerful to intimidate and
marginalize the designated Other. How "courageous" is it to follow the
herd in ridiculing the belief systems of an ostracized population?
Furthermore, marginalized communities rarely have the resources to
respond in kind with their own propaganda platforms.
Hebdo was always playing with fire. Freedom of expression does not
inoculate one from consequences. Again, this is not to justify this
atrocity but merely an observation. There are laws in virtually every
place where humans concentrate against physical violence and yet
violence persists. Reckless provocations come with risks. Take any
random group of people and subject them to relentless persecution and
discrimination without recourse to effective political relief valves and
the most unstable among them are certain to explode into violence.
Chris Hedges has written perhaps the definitive essay on this affair and is worth a read. For comic relief, note this cavalcade of opportunists and hypocrites claiming solidarity with the victims and for freedom of expression.
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