To defend the art of satire

Salman Rushdie made a statement. Via the Wall Street Journal:

“Religion, a mediaeval form of unreason, when combined with modern weaponry becomes a real threat to our freedoms. This religious totalitarianism has caused a deadly mutation in the heart of Islam and we see the tragic consequences in Paris today. I stand with Charlie Hebdo, as we all must, to defend the art of satire, which has always been a force for liberty and against tyranny, dishonesty and stupidity. ‘Respect for religion’ has become a code phrase meaning ‘fear of religion.’ Religions, like all other ideas, deserve criticism, satire, and, yes, our fearless disrespect.”  –Salman Rushdie



  1. says

    I disagree with Rushdie in only one respect:

    ‘Respect for religion’ has become a code phrase meaning ‘obedience to religion.’

    Because that’s what this is about. The religious don’t just want their rules to apply to themselves, they could do that in private without affecting anyone else.

    The religious want everyone to obey their rules, including those who don’t belong to or share their views. And some are willing to use force to accomplish that, be it force of laws or guns.

  2. says

    The WSJ does its own bit of victim blaming there, too:

    Salman Rushdie, whose book “The Satanic Verses” prompted Iran’s Ayatollah to issue a fatwa on him in 1989 […]

    It’s funny how you notice such things the moment your attention has been drawn to the phenomenon.

  3. RJW says

    The essential message is, “Submit or die!” I wonder how many ‘moderate’ Muslims are silently applauding this atrocity. Charlie Hebdo has been a target of Islamists for years, is anybody really surprised?
    The ‘lone wolf’ excuse is not going to work this time, so the usual banalities will be paraded by professional apologists and politicians–‘misunderstanders’ of Islam, ‘tiny minority’…..etc etc…bullshit!

  4. Anne Fenwick says

    I wonder how many ‘moderate’ Muslims are silently applauding this atrocity.

    I wonder how much headway there is to be made in drawing satirical attention to the shame and disgrace being brought on them by their co-religionists.

  5. RJW says

    @4 Anne Fenwick,

    “I wonder how much headway there is to be made in drawing satirical attention to the shame and disgrace being brought on them by their co-religionists.”

    There was no attempt at satire.

    Some Muslims may experience “shame and disgrace”, others exhultation and celebration, the essential question is what proportion of Muslims actually condemn the Hedbo atrocity–there are numerous different versions of the ideology. I suggest you consult the Pew Surveys on religion, particularly in reference to attitudes to the position of women and in relation to religious dissenters. Some majority Muslims nations show encouraging signs of liberalisation, most are alarmingly oppressive. Many Muslims reject the liberal component of liberal democracy, also most Muslim majority societies are oppressive, chaotic and centuries behind the West in economic and political development, even “moderate” Turkey and Indonesia fail most human right tests.

    The term “moderate” is often misinterpreted by Western liberals, it’s a relative term, and the assumption that a “moderate Muslim” is a necessarily equivalent to a moderate Anglican is rather naive. It could be argued that Muslim communities in liberal democracies will assimilate the associated values of religious tolerance and eliminate islam’s vicious misogyny, let’s hope.

  6. sonofrojblake says

    At what point does it become rational to fear?

    At what point does it become acceptable to think “I have a point, but it’s not worth the risk of making it”?

    That point passed a long time ago for the UK media. None of them published the Danish cartoons. Sure, they all lined up to praise freedom of speech and get behind the “important principle” that one should be able to criticise anything. But they all tremblingly stood on those same principles and gave weasel excuses why they wouldn’t, y’know, actually be publishing them. Did it help? Muslims haven’t shot up Private Eye or the Guardian I guess. At least, not yet.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *