I dislike Reason magazine most of the time, but there is some inevitable overlap on liberal and human rights values. One of those overlaps covers the disputes over Charlie Hebdo. Reason isn’t wrong on this one.
The massacre at the Paris offices of the venerable satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo has been met with near-universal condemnation, but a growing chorus of self-appointed arbiters of good taste are going public, following up cursory denunciations of the murders with caveats that Charlie Hebdo is a “provocative,” “racist,” “Islamophobic,” “homophobic” publication who brought much of its trouble on itself.
Richard Seymour at Jacobin makes this point most succinctly in the final paragraph of his article…
Speaking of which, why are so many people passing around that article? Richard Seymour? Of Lenin’s Tomb? Come on.
Here’s that final para:
No, the offices of Charlie Hebdo should not be raided by gun-wielding murderers. No, journalists are not legitimate targets for killing. But no, we also shouldn’t line up with the inevitable statist backlash against Muslims, or the ideological charge to defend a fetishized, racialized “secularism,” or concede to the blackmail which forces us into solidarity with a racist institution.
Right. We should abandon “fetishized, racialized ‘secularism'” and settle down to theocracy instead. Theocracy is all about de-fetishization.
Jacob Canfield sneers at Charb.
Canfield spends much of his word count sneering at Charlie Hebdo‘s white editorial staff for having the temerity to satirize Muslims and their prophet, and cites this quote from a BBC profile on Charlie Hebdo‘s murdered editor, Stephane “Charb” Charbonnier, as evidence that he’s a “racist asshole”:
Charb had strongly defended Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons featuring the Prophet Muhammad.
“Muhammad isn’t sacred to me,” he told the Associated Press in 2012, after the magazine’s offices had been fire-bombed.
“I don’t blame Muslims for not laughing at our drawings. I live under French law. I don’t live under Koranic law.”
Charb defended Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons featuring Mohammed – yes, and? We’re all allowed to draw Mohammed. There’s nothing wrong with drawing Mohammed. Nobody should live under Koranic law, very much including Muslims. Theocracies give short shrift to human rights because they’re more concerned with putative goddy rights. Charb was on the right, just, freedom-loving, human rights affirming side of this question.
Self-described “Geeky Porn Starlet/Lecturer/Presenter/Sex Critical Feminist” Kitty Stryker wrote:
So, I’m generally pretty anti-censorship. I mean fuck, I just worked on a porn where we gently poked fun at the new British porn content laws by enacting all of them in a playful, consensual space. I am a big fan of art, and using humour to hopefully make people think and change their minds.
That said, I do not believe that racist, homophobic language is satire. I think it’s abusive, and I think it punches down, harshly and often.
Later, the “generally pretty anti-censorship” Stryker explicitly puts to words what so many others have danced around:
I don’t think that shooting up the Charlie Hebdo office was ethically Right with a capital R, ok? But I do think it’s understandable.
To steal a line from Bernard Williams, that’s one thought too many.
And it gives Anthony Fisher at Reason an opening I wish people wouldn’t give anyone:
“It is too bad that he didn’t understand the role he played in his tragic death,” said Donohue of Stephane Charbonnier, Charlie Hebdo‘s publisher.” In 2012, when asked why he insults Muslims, he said, ‘Muhammad isn’t sacred to me.’ Had he not been so narcissistic, he may still be alive.
People who use the pejorative “Social Justice Warriors” are assholes, so we shouldn’t give them excuses to use it.
USA Today published as a counter-point to its own editorial, an op-ed from “radical Muslim cleric” Anjem Choudary, who skips the mealy-mouthed platitudes about the right to free expression and instead puts the blame on the French government for not stopping Charlie Hebdo from provoking Muslims, “thereby placing the sanctity of its citizens at risk.”
This is because the Messenger Muhammad said, “Whoever insults a Prophet kill him.”
However, because the honor of the Prophet is something which all Muslims want to defend, many will take the law into their own hands, as we often see.
Choudary is a notorious outlier and flake and attention-seeker. He and Richard Seymour should get a room and set up a caliphate there.