Why is it so difficult for people to make fine distinctions? The writers opposing the PEN award support free speech, free expression, and stand fully behind Charlie Hebdo’s right to publish whatever they want without being censored, and of course without the use of violence to enforce their silence. But the giving of an award suggests that one admires and respects the value of the work being honored, responses quite difficult to summon for the work of Charlie Hebdo. Provocation is simply not the same as heroism. I do hope that the audience at the PEN gala will be shown some of the cruder and more racist cartoons that CH publishes, so they will know what they are applauding and honoring. I’m disheartened by the usually sensible intelligent Salman Rushie’s readiness to call us “fellow travelers” who are encouraging Islamist jihadism, and also to label us, on Twitter, as “six pussies.” I can only assume he meant our feline dignity and was not implying that we are behaving like people who have vaginas. It would be sad to think that a writers organization cannot discuss free speech without resorting to political accusations and sexual insult.
Well, speaking of fine distinctions, what about the fine distinction between actual racism and satirical meta-racism? What about using racist tropes as a way of mocking racism?
That seems to be a fine distinction that Prose is ignoring or unaware of.
You can argue that that’s a bad idea; you can argue that that kind of satire doesn’t travel well, because customs differ from place to place; you can argue that it’s risky; you can argue a lot of things. But it’s just silly to pretend there actually is no distinction between racism and satirical meta-racism.