Thursday, January 8, 2015

A Little Bit More Charlie

After the murderous attack on the Parisian satirical paper Charlie Hebdo we - especially all artists - need to consider our stand on free speech.

I understand that the political cartoons and satire of Charlie Hebdo is no-holds-barred, unPC, sometimes irreverent past the line of offending anyone and everyone.  France has a proud tradition of political satire, a history starting during the lead-up to the French Revolution.  Satire is supposed to be offensive now and then.

Another historical fact... Since the experience of Salman Rushdi, the West is aware that certain groups are quite easily and violently offended.  It takes guts to offend when you know there's a death sentence against a novelist because someone disliked his writing.  Because of threats  Charlie Hebdo had a policeman to protect them.  Slaughtering that police officer and another and the editorial board and chief cartoonists of a magazine is...

Unthinkable.  Indefensible.

If a civilized person objects to writing or drawing they protest peacefully or go to court.  They cancel their magazine subscription.

It is, I think, a terrible comment on the present state of a great religious and ethnic community that was once a beacon of civilization - noted for scholars, scientists, and artists - that they are now represented to the rest of the world by these... murderers.

An Arabic astronomer... anciently cartooned
Old enough to be public domain.

Genuine followers of Islam need to take back their religion from the followers of evil.

The rest of us?  We need to support free speech.  Even free speech we don't like, which might include satire, political speech, certain artists' work, even neo-Nazi BS and stupid movies about North Korea.

I'll have to watch that movie now.  Really don't like the actors, but gotta see it now.

For myself, as a theater artist, I always evaluate the next play to see whether I agree with its point of view or, if it offends me, whether the material is, nevertheless, artistically true or important or useful to the world.  I've only had one play picketed so far.  Frankly, I think the religious picketers mis-read that script because the insult they perceived seemed, to me, only a joke that generations of Catholic school girls must have made, while the show as a whole was sweet-natured and, under the frivolity, a serious look at the relationship between Man and God.  But they had their point of view, the show had its, and the picketing was a peaceful debate between the two.

Isn't that the point?

Let's freely and peacefully discuss important things.  Let's support those who do.

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