I have been trying to figure out what and how to write about something that TRNL loyalist, Kellsbells, flagged to me earlier this week. I have to admit that I did see it earlier and was aware of it. I guess my issue with this was not really with the content of the article, it was more disgust at my own casual dismissal of it as nothing remarkable – when it really is. I realized that I’ve become so sensitized to events like this that it simply merited a “heh, just business as usual”, casual thought as I read it. Allahpundit at Hot Air had a similar take, writing:
Is this worth posting? I’m not sure if this attitude qualifies as “news” anymore, even when it’s held by a journalist.
The situation of which we speak was the fire-bombing of the French satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo, and the response to it by a “journalist” at Time Magazine.
Being sensitized to situations and events like this can cause us to rationalize deviant behavior into something – and I mean anything – to avoid addressing the uncomfortable fact that trouble is brewing.
This piece by Bruce Crumley is so paradoxical in construction, so catastrophically flawed in reason and so whimpering in submission that it is almost comical, a farce complaining about a satire. On the one hand, Crumley claims that we just can’t give up freedom of the press and speech to satisfy violent fringe groups – we must speak truth to power:
Its obvious free societies cannot simply give in to hysterical demands made by members of any beyond-the-pale group. And it’s just as clear that intimidation and violence must be condemned and combated for whatever reason they’re committed—especially if their goal is to undermine freedoms and liberties of open societies. But it’s just evident members of those same free societies have to exercise a minimum of intelligence, calculation, civility and decency in practicing their rights and liberties—and that isn’t happening when a newspaper decides to mock an entire faith on the logic that it can claim to make a politically noble statement by gratuitously pissing people off.
Then again, on the other hand, upon deep reflection (actually not too “deep” as this is in the next paragraph), Crumley asserts that maybe we can and should give up that freedom if it offends people who are willing to do violence in an open society:
The reasons for such concern were as obvious as the suspicions about who had staged the strike: the coarse and heavy-handed Islamist theme of the current edition of Charlie Hebdo. As part of its gag, the paper had re-named itself “Sharia Hebdo”. It also claimed to have invited Mohammed as its guest editor to “celebrate the victory” of the Islamist Ennahda party in Tunisia’s first free elections last week. In addition to satirical articles on Islam-themed topics, the paper contains drawings of Mohammed in cartoons featuring Charlie Hebdo‘s trademark over-the-top (and frequently not “ha-ha funny”) humor. The cover, for example, features a crudely-drawn cartoon of the Prophet saying “100 Whip Lashes If You Don’t Die Of Laughter.” Maybe you had to be there when it was first sketched.
Crumley’s cloyingly apologetic tone is the journalistic equivalent of the old gag where someone purports to want to fight another person while yelling “Stop holding me back!” while retreating. The crowd knows that the screamer never intends to fight, he is content to simply run away – as is Mr. Crumley. “How dare you Muslims attack free speech! but please, please just don”t hurt me, Mr. Mohammed, [Peanut Butter be Upon Him], I beg you!”
Defending freedom of expression in the face of oppression is one thing; insisting on the right to be obnoxious and offensive just because you can is infantile. Baiting extremists isn’t bravely defiant when your manner of doing so is more significant in offending millions of moderate people as well. And within a climate where violent response—however illegitimate—is a real risk, taking a goading stand on a principle virtually no one contests is worse than pointless: it’s pointlessly all about you.
Isn’t this is essentially equivalent to telling a rape victim that the violation of her body was justified because she was wearing a miniskirt, a low cut top and heels to a bar? You know, she just should have known better, men just are animals, they can’t control themselves…or something like that. In Crumley’s mind, just like the rape victim, Charlie Hebdo was asking for it. It is their fault that they were fire bombed, like what with the short skirt, thong and all…you know…right?
This defense of rape doesn’t work in open court and it shouldn’t be an effective defense in the arena of ideas either. In yet another F.A. Hayek moment, we harken back to Lenin’s “Who, whom?” question. Who decides what is offensive to whom? The sheer idiocy of attempting to control “offensive” expression is found here:
A Texas Christian University student government candidate recently was asked to make some changes to his campaign signs after someone pointed out that his nickname had some negative racial connotations.
Graham McMillan is running for Student Government Association’s vice president of external affairs. But his self-given nickname is already teaching him some hard political lessons.
“Hi my name is Graham, like the cracker,” he said.
So calling himself a “cracker” is offensive? Offensive to whom? He is calling himself that – unless it is yet another raaaaaaasisttm “code word” to let everybody know that he is a honky. As the #Occupy[yournamehere] crowd would say “OMG and down twinkles!”…at some point everybody is going to be offended by something. That is a given when there are over 7 billion individuals on this planet.
The only way for expression to truly be free is for it to be without restriction. Period. Get offended and get mad – but get over it.
I was willing to let this pass without remark until I saw Tim Graham’s piece at NewsBusters chronicling the “progressive” echo chamber at NPR and AOL/HuffPo coming to the same conclusion as Crumley. Graham relates:
At the tail end of the second hour of the Diane Rehm Show on many NPR stations Friday, defense reporter James Kitfield of the National Journal broke out his outrage about the French magazine Charlie Hebdo, which was firebombed this week. Like Time’s Bruce Crumley, Kitfield saved his outrage for the “irresponsible” satirists and all his sensitivity for the Muslims of France.
In the Huffington Post, French journalist Romina Ruiz-Goiriena complained that while “For many, the publication has been an iconic soapbox for the far French left since its creation in 1960,” it failed to achieve what freedom should: “The issue was not thought-provoking; it simply contributed to burgeoning anti-Muslim sentiment. What it should have been doing was pushing the conversation forward to confront the seemingly dormant but rampant institutional bigotry. After all, is that not the point of having a free press tradition in the first place?”
Kitfield felt the pain of Muslims that do not want their religious prophet depicted in any way. Like many journalists, he displays no sensitivity for the satirized Christian in France or anywhere, and somehow fails to be upset by a firebombed newspaper:
JAMES KITFIELD: I mean, that was very, very objectionable to, you know, a majority of Muslims to see their religious leader depicted in any way, but certainly not in sort of a satirical, laughable fashion. You know, I heard a comment from a French Muslim who I think got it exactly right, which is that just because you can do this thing because you have a First Amendment right or you have a right to free expression in Western societies doesn’t mean you should do them. So I think I would hope we get to a place where we condemn this constant provocation. Why these provocations to a vast minority group inside of France? I think it’s irresponsible.
KATTY KAY, guest host: Particularly when you already have tensions with those…
KITFIELD: Right, and people can die. I think it’s irresponsible, but, you know, I would defend to the last straw to do it. I just hope we get to a place where the people who do do this get condemned by society for constantly provoking crises that we don’t need right now.
This being NPR, Kay could only agree, and not ask how satire is irresponsible and “provokes crises” and violent Islamists are somehow not responsible for what they do at all.
Somehow I don’t remember Christians firebombing the Brooklyn Museum of Art for displaying Chris Ofili’s painting, The Holy Virgin Mary – the painting that depicted a Black Madonna surrounded by images from blaxploitation movies and close-ups of female genitalia cut from pornographic magazines and elephant dung.
Nor do I recall members of the Church of Latter Day Saints (Mormons) burning the theater on Broadway where the hit musical –The Book of Mormon – by South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker – is currently running. I must note that I find Stone and Parker to be true satirists because they spare no one – as the recent skewering of the #OWS movement, the media and Michael Moore indicates.
When Christians do physically respond to anti-religious effrontery, they hardly get the same sympathetic (or cowardly) treatment from the vaunted Fourth Estate that is afforded Islamists.
In Avignon, France, in April of this year, people that the media helpfully described as “Catholic fundamentalists” destroyed the sacrilegious “art” of Andres Serrano (he of “Piss Christ” infamy) at an exhibition there. It probably skipped the museum’s notice that Avignon is a heavily Catholic area of France – it was the seat of the Papacy during the Catholic schism from 1309 to 1423 – so no possibility that Catholics might be provoked by a picture of a crucifix in a bottle of urine, is there?
Instead of blaming Serrano for being the provocateur, the blame was placed squarely on the Christian “fundamentalists”, where in this case, the blame lies. Serrano broke no laws by exhibiting, the protestors did by destroying the “art” (or in this case, a photo of the aforementioned “art”).
Far from being something that should be dismissed as “business as usual”, this biased reportage in the mainstream media and the exculpatory attitude of government toward Islamic violence is being institutionalized and as such, something that we must be keenly aware of. The infiltration of the government and the press by leftists, the anti-religious and secular humanists render them incapable of honest reconstruction of events. As such, far too much of the “news” that we hear, read and see today is not “news” at all – it is the opinion of the reporter, the news outlet and/or the government.
One of my co-bloggers here, Black3, properly calls it by its name: propaganda – and propaganda it is.