Hey, CNN: Cowardice is Not Tolerance – Nous Sommes Charlie

January 20, 2015

All is Forgiven...

All is Forgiven…

Guest post by Dr. Marty Klein

The first issue published by Charlie Hebdo after a dozen staff members were assassinated is out. Instead of the typical print run of 50,000, they printed (and sold) three million copies.

Newsworthy? Of course.

Was the cover apologetic, conciliatory, or “balanced”? Hell, no.

Newsworthy? Of course.

But when CNN reported that the magazine had resumed publishing, it was unwilling to show the cover. The cover breaks no American laws, is not “obscene,” and features neither nudity nor violence nor libel.

So why the CNN blackout of this historic event? An anchorwoman explained: “It is our policy not to show potentially offensive images of the prophet.”

Read that again: “potentially offensive.”

CNN refuses to say why they have institutionalized this self-censorship. They’re suggesting it’s because they care about the sensitivities of those who would be upset. It’s especially interesting, given that most of those upset people aren’t even in their audience.

CNN didn’t create this policy because CNN executives are deeply caring people. It’s because they don’t want to get assassinated. They don’t want to pay tens of millions of dollars in additional security to protect their people around the world.

This isn’t tolerance, it’s cowardice. It isn’t anything as grand as empathy or a sincere change of viewpoint: it’s simply bowing to pressure. People who are willing to kill those by whom they are offended now have the ultimate heckler’s veto. If you can intimidate CNN, you’ve really accomplished something.

And what have these violent, deluded hecklers accomplished?

They haven’t protected muhammed, because he’s dead. They haven’t done a pious deed, because there’s no heaven. They haven’t honored Islam, because they’ve simply proven once again that many Muslims are so insecure they can’t tolerate anything that doesn’t come out of their own self-referential mouths.

But they have gotten CNN to pretend they care about Muslim sensitivities. And in that CNN are cowards twice over: once for refusing to broadcast legal, legitimately newsworthy images, and again for being unwilling to give the honest explanation.

If one of the largest communication companies in the history of the human race were willing to say “A group of violent Muslims now influences our corporate policies because we’re afraid that they’re going to hurt some of our staff” that would be honest, even brave. It would be powerful.

The pretend-tolerance is not honest, not brave, and not powerful.

It’s disgusting. And it’s newsworthy.

And since CNN won’t show you a picture that certain special people might not like, we’ll do it. “All is forgiven,” it brutally says.


Political Correctness has jumped the Shark

January 16, 2015

Mount Holyoke College cancels “The Vagina Monologues” because women who don’t have vaginas got their feels hurt. (source)

No. Fucking seriously.

“At its core, the show offers an extremely narrow perspective on what it means to be a woman…Gender is a wide and varied experience, one that cannot simply be reduced to biological or anatomical distinctions, and many of us who have participated in the show have grown increasingly uncomfortable presenting material that is inherently reductionist and exclusive,” the email, obtained by Campus Reform, said. (source)

This is the same All-women’s Mount Holyoke College that recently decided to admit men who “identify as women.” (source) That sorta makes sense to me, but it helps put the issue in context.

But, I can assure you, if I see “graduate of Mount Holyoke College” on a resume that comes across my desk, there will be a rebuttable presumption that someone who chose to go there is not mentally qualified to handle the remote control for the TV, much less have a real job.

For more on this, Simple Justice has a way better post than this one.


Nous Sommes Charlie – Jean Cabut

January 14, 2015

Jean Cabut - Hero

Jean Cabut – Hero

By Robert Horne

Friends describe Jean Cabut, 77, as a man who tried to laugh as much as possible. An interviewer once asked the esteemed French cartoonist if laughter and drawing could bring him through the economic crisis of the press. (source)

His answer is haunting.

“I try. You can try, but sometimes there are delicate subjects. Sometimes laughter hurts, but humor and mockery are our only weapons.” (source)

Unfortunately, for his fellow French citizens and the civilized world at-large, there has been very few opportunities to laugh since Cabut and 11 other heroes of free expression were gunned down on Jan. 7 in the Paris office of Charlie Hebdo by religious fanatics. These particular extremists were upset over the satirical magazine’s publication of cartoons depicting the Muslim prophet Mohammed.

Cabut, known as Cabu, was a hero for free expression throughout his professional life. He helped start Hara-Kiri, the predecessor to Charlie Hebdo, after serving in the military in Algeria. (source)

He drew an original cover for a 2006 edition of Charlie Hebdo that featured the 12 satirical cartoons of Mohammed first published in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten. That edition, which featured Mohammed on the cover saying “it’s hard to be loved by jerks,” provoked a lawsuit from the Paris Grande Mosque and the Union of Organisations of France. When that lawsuit failed, Cabu’s cartoon added fuel to the fire, making the magazine a possible target for terrorists. (source)

Cabu expressed a sentiment many of us who champion free speech understand when describing the lawsuits and death threats.

“The rise of fundamentalism in any religion has changed things. Ending up in court to argue about freedom of speech is bearable. But what you can’t accept … is to be the object of death threats for a cartoon,” he said. (source)

To borrow from Cabu, humor and mockery are our only weapons to deal with tragedies such as the Charlie Hebdo attacks. And in true Charlie Hebdo fashion, the magazine’s first edition since the tragic events of Jan. 7 has a cartoon cover depicting Mohammed holding a “Je Suis Charlie” sign. (source)
We’re sure Cabu would approve.

Je Suis Jean Cabut. Je Suis Charlie.


Raif Badawi

January 11, 2015

Raif Badawi

Raif Badawi

I hate to interrupt the obituaries of the Charlie Hebdo martyrs (and I use that term with all reverence). I had promised myself that we would publish nothing else until all 12 were done.

But this story demands that I interrupt. I am sure that all of the Charlie Hebdo 12 would approve.

Raif Badawi is a Saudi Blogger who called for an end to Saudi theocracy. For this “crime” he received a sentence of 10 years in prison, 1,000 lashes, and a fine of 1 million Saudi Arabian riyals (about US$266,600)

The official crime was “Insulting Islam” (source) The lashing began on Friday. (source) He is apparently going to get 50 lashes a week for 20 weeks.

For “insulting Islam.”

I reiterate what I said in my “Nous Sommes Charlie” post.

Is Islam so fragile, so meaningless, so utterly without merit, that it cannot stand in opposition to criticism? Never mind that this does not appear to be what Badawi was up to in the first place. It seems more that he is suffering this torture because he questioned the Saudi Royal family’s stranglehold on power in the Kingdom, for which they use religious oppression to maintain their grip.

If I were a Muslim, I would be more outraged than I am as an Atheist.

I had a conversation with a Mormon friend last week about mocking religion. He laughed, claiming that Mormons are likely the most mocked religion in the world. I don’t know if that is true, but his stance on it was “so what, we embrace it.” The LDS church buys ads in the programs for “The Book of Mormon.”

How do you say "yes massa!" in Arabic?

How do you say “yes massa!” in Arabic?

I repeat. If your supreme being is so weak that it requires you to commit acts of violence against other people because they mock him, then your supreme being is not worthy of any respect at all — let alone immunity from mockery. If your religion can not stand up to “insults,” then your religion is worthless. If your religion needs “respect” at the end of a whip, then it is truly not worthy of being followed.

If your God or your prophet or your religion can not take being mocked, then fuck your god. Fuck your prophet. Fuck your religion.

And… as the Right gets giddy about the idea of a third Bush oligarch… remember how deep they have their noses up the ass of the Saudi royal family.


Nous Sommes Charlie: Franck Brinsolaro

January 9, 2015

Franck Brinsolaro - Hero

Franck Brinsolaro – Hero

By Robert Horne & Marc J. Randazza

Franck Brinsolaro was a married father of two and a police officer. His assignment was to guard Stephane Charbonnier, editorial director of Charlie Hebdo. Brinsolaro’s protection was necessary because of constant death threats against Charbonnier from Muslim extremists. (source)

Brinsolaro knew his job protecting Charbonnier was dangerous, but he also understood the importance of the idea of free thought and expression. We know this because he was married to a journalist. His wife, Ingrid Brinsolaro, is the editor of the Awakening Normand, Bernay.
(source)

A husband of a journalist and bodyguard to a marked man — marked because of his commitment to free expression. Brinsolaro was the real deal. This was no tragic victim. Brinsolaro was a true soldier in the fight against censorship and extremism. Brinsolaro died in the line of duty as a true hero.

The Awakening Normand, Bernay’s ownership group, released a statement: “The Publihebdos teams are in shock after the cowardly attack … that hit Charlie Hebdo today. This barbaric attack had many victims, including a downed police officer who was the husband of Ingrid Brinsolaro, our editor at Bernay. We are devastated and very sad. With this attack it is the journalists that are one. Freedom of the press is challenged and through it all our freedoms. Our duty, the honor of the publishing community is to affirm more than ever its solidarity with his friends of Charlie Hebdo for the defense and illustration of the freedom of the press. It is also to declare that it will never yield to threats and intimidation against intangible principles of freedom of expression.”


Many times journalists and police officers are at odds with each other, but we glad to know that when it comes down to what really matters – freedom – we can all stand together.

Let us never forget the sacrifice made by Franck Brinsolaro on that horrible day.

Je Suis Franck. Je Suis Charlie.


Nous Sommes Charlie: Mustapha Ourrad

January 9, 2015
Mustapha Ourrad - Hero

Mustapha Ourrad – Hero

By Robert Horne

As a copy editor, Mustapha Ourrad lived his life behind the scenes; cleaning up the work of his colleagues to make sure they put their best work out for readers.

Copy editors know their lot in life is making others look good, and we do it with a great sense of pride. Copy editors don’t get the pats on the back or the awards, but without good copy editors, neither would those whose name appears on the plaque. I know because I once worked as a copy editor at local newspapers in the Southern United States.

Ourrad was shot dead in the Jan. 7 attack on Charlie Hebdo, the French satirical weekly newspaper. As a copy editor, there were no long obituaries or news articles devoted solely to him. In fact, I could find very little on this hero that I relate most directly with.

So, I wanted to let more people know Ourrad, a champion of free thought who put his life on the line to edit the work of others. I know that sometimes the editing process can get intense, but it should never cost anyone his or her life.

Ourrad was a French citizen of Algerian origin. (source) He was orphaned at an early age and had a difficult childhood. He described himself as an atheist Sufi. (source)

He always identified with Algeria’s Kabylia region, Le Monde writes. He arrived in France in 1978 at age 20, and he long worked for Viva magazine. A self-taught man, he nonetheless impressed colleagues with his learning and knowledge of philosophy, particularly Nietzsche. Friends say they were devastated by the loss of a “well-loved man.” (source) He had a wife and two children. (source)

I’m proud to share a kinship with Ourrad, and I offer my condolences to his wife, children, and co-workers. There is nothing good to take from a cowardly act of terrorism, but we can all take some comfort in knowing he died for something he believed in.

Je Suis Mustapha, Je Suis Charlie.


Nous Sommes Charlie: Phillipe Honoré

January 9, 2015

Philippe Honoré - Hero

Philippe Honoré – Hero

By Alex J. Shepard

Phillipe Honoré was born in Vichy, France in 1941. Which, all told, was not a great year to start out. He was a self-taught artist, cartoonist, and regular contributor to Charlie Hebdo who started his career early; he was only sixteen when his cartoons started getting picked up by French newspapers. Honoré is one of the original gang of Charlie Hebdo, as he was a contributor to its predecessor, Hara-Kiri Hebdo, along with John Cabut and Georges Wolinski. He also drew cartoons for several other publications, including Le Monde, Libération, and Les Inrockuptibles. (source).

What struck me about this guy is that he made the last public statement of Charlie Hebdo before the attack. He drew the cartoon of ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi that was in the tweet the magazine published just a few minutes prior to the extremist cowards shooting the place up. Unlike most of the other casualties of this tragedy, he did not die on the scene, either; he succumbed to his wounds in an emergency room. (source).

According to Paris Match, Honoré was a “bearded giant” who, despite the provocative nature of his cartoons, possessed “legendary” gentleness and kindness. There were only two kinds of people he despised: “the bastards and the idiots.” (source). I can get behind that.

He wasn’t as well-known as his other colleagues at Charlie Hebdo because he was “foremost a virtuoso illustrator who expressed himself more in graphics than words.” (source). He got to make work he was proud of and say something important while doing so. He wrote some books in his time, one of which is entitled “Je hais les petites phrases,” or “I hate soundbites.” It’s an illustrated anthology of all the stupid little things former French president Nikolas Sarkozy and other French politicians said during his tenure. (source). Even if you don’t speak French (I certainly don’t), his illustrations are really entertaining.

I don’t know what Honoré said in the emergency room, if he said anything. But let’s remember the last words he spoke in the medium he loved: “Et surtout la santé,” or “And above all, health.”

Hebdo - Honore Tweet


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