Punching inwards

Padraig Reidy has some things to say to Garry Trudeau about his ignorant and illiberal comments about Charlie Hebdo last week.

I thought we’d got somewhere closer to clarity on the Paris massacres by now. But comments made by Garry Trudeau, creator of Doonesbury[,] last week suggest we might have to go through this again. Speaking at Long Island University on 10 April, the veteran cartoonist sought to spread his wisdom on “the tragedy in Paris” (note the oddly neutral word “tragedy”: not “murders”, say).

“As you know,” Trudeau commented, “the Muhammad cartoon controversy began eight years ago in Denmark, as a protest against ‘self-censorship,’ one editor’s call to arms against what she [sic] felt was a suffocating political correctness.”

“By punching downward, by attacking a powerless, disenfranchised minority with crude, vulgar drawings closer to graffiti than cartoons, Charlie wandered into the realm of hate speech, which in France is only illegal if it directly incites violence.”

I was shocked to read those words. Et tu Garry Trudeau?? I’d have thought he was too smart for that.

“What free speech absolutists have failed to acknowledge is that because one has the right to offend a group does not mean that one must. Or that that group gives up the right to be outraged. They’re allowed to feel pain. Freedom should always be discussed within the context of responsibility. At some point free expression absolutism becomes childish and unserious. It becomes its own kind of fanaticism.”

Yes, Mr Trudeau, everyone has the right to be outraged. Everyone has the right to feel pain. What this has to do with murdering magazine staff and Jewish shoppers I have no idea. You seem to be suggesting that normal Muslims express pain through violence, rather than acknowledging that the Paris atrocities, and indeed the burning of churches and bars in Niger, were carried out by people acting upon a political ideology, the same ideology that justifies enslavement and murder by the Islamic State. For the avoidance of doubt, it is not me conflating normal Muslims and jihadists here: it is Trudeau.

He’s also sort of kind of justifying the murder of the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists and members of staff including the Muslim copy editor and the Muslim cop outside. I wonder if it occurs to him that Islamists with guns forcing their way into a magazine’s offices and killing a lot of unarmed people are “punching down.”

“I’m aware that I make these observations from a special position, one of safety. In America, no one goes into cartooning for the adrenaline. As Jon Stewart said in the aftermath of the killings, comedy in a free society shouldn’t take courage.”

You acknowledge this, but not for one moment does it inspire you to show an iota of solidarity with your fellow satirists.

Your fellow liberal, left-wing, anti-racist satirists.




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