I’m NOT Charlie Hebdo


This sums up most of my feelings about Charlie Hebdo. An excerpt from this article: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/01/09/trolls-and-martyrdom-je-ne-suis-pas-charlie.html?via=desktop&source=twitter


Charlie Hebdo weren’t asking to be shot. They were asking for a reaction, though, and for half a century now they’ve been surviving pretty much on the notoriety of constantly trying to provoke a reaction. And let’s be real: pushing buttons, by itself, doesn’t make your work more virtuous. Pissing people off is just pissing people off.

Just like there’s no sense in which The Interview “justified” hacking Sony’s servers or “justified” threats of violence against moviegoers. But the reason The Interview, ultimately, wasn’t a movie worth seeing is the same reason that being able to see it became a big political statement—because there wasn’t much to the movie except trolling.

The publication that was their life’s work was a crappy low-tech dead-tree version of the obnoxious anti-religion memes on /r/atheism.

We have a problem where we feel like everything has to be boiled down into black-and-white “sides” and where the enemy of your enemy must be your friend—where in order to condemn the actions of horrible murderers we have to elevate their victims into sainthood. Hence fervent debate over whether or not Mike Brown stole five dollars’ worth of cigars, as though that has any bearing on whether or not it was okay to shoot him.

Well, it wasn’t okay to shoot Mike Brown even if he was a shoplifter. It wasn’t okay to threaten to shoot viewers of The Interview even if it was a crass, substance-free comedy designed to get PR by shaking a hornet’s nest from a safe perch across the Pacific Ocean.

And it definitely was not okay in the slightest to murder the staff of Charlie Hebdo, even if the publication that was their life’s work was a crappy low-tech dead-tree version of the obnoxious anti-religion memes on /r/atheism.

Why, some might be asking, am I being so harsh on their work so soon after they died? Why can’t I wait until the period of mourning has passed before pointing out that the blood of a martyr doesn’t make stupid, puerile, and, yes, racist work any less stupid, puerile and racist?

Well, it would be hypocritical to treat Charlie Hebdo with that degree of reverence when they themselves refused to do so for any of the targets of their satire. They’re only even called Charlie Hebdo as an inside joke after the original publication, Hara-Kiri Hebdo, got shut down for mocking former President Charles de Gaulle immediately after his death.

More to the point, the Internet is already busy at work deifying Charlie Hebdo as the new Satanic Verses and Charb as the new Salman Rushdie. People are changing their profile photos to crude, racist caricatures of Middle Easterners in solidarity with the principle of “free speech” and the average person’s Twitter feed is one-half gleefully “irreverent” reposts of offensive cartoons and one-half cloyingly reverent tributes to said cartoons.

And any Middle Eastern or Muslim person who objects, even in the mildest possible terms, gets dogpiled for siding with the terrorists, natch.

Personally, I can’t just let that slide. You see, I’m from the Internet. Things move pretty fast here compared to the “old media” world that Charlie Hebdo occupied, and I’ve already seen what happens when you get a culture that, rather than asking to what end we defend free speech, valorizes free speech for its own sake and thus perversely values speech more the more pointlessly offensive it is—because only then can you prove how devoted you are to freedom by defending it.

When the only thing you’re reverent of is irreverence, when the only thing you hold sacred is the idea that nothing is sacred, well, you eventually get chan culture, you get one long continuous blast of pure offensiveness and taboo-breaking for taboo-breaking’s sake until all taboos are broken and there’s nothing left to say. You get people who shout racial slurs in unbroken succession all day and think they’ve accomplished something in the name of “free speech” by doing so.

Read the entire piece HERE

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