A measured media response to the Charlie Hebdo atrocity

I utterly condemn the individuals who today attacked and killed innocent civilians at the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris today. It is horrific and unprovoked and I would if the opportunity presented, would happily press the “on” button for their electric chairs. Also, I am an atheist.

I would like you to keep that in mind please throughout this piece.

You may have seen a lot of people calling for a response to the killings, printing the cartoon on the front cover of every and any newspaper and magazine that will co-operate, I have seen this from people both within the media and outside the industry…To highlight the absurdity of the killers motivation, to amplify the message of those who have fallen and to stick two fingers up to anyone who opposes free speech. All genuine and valid reasons, initially I agreed, I clicked “Retweet” just as we all do on impulse occasionally, then I thought about it more. It’s just not right.

Charlie Hebdo had the right to publish the cartoon in the first place, it is their choice and I respect that completely, they clearly knew it would cause a fuss throughout the world but made the editorial decision as again, was their right.

Did they expect that the fuss would result in their brutal murder? Possibly not, but that’s not for me to judge, they are their own arbiters of their motivation. And now the call for reprinting throughout the world… When Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten put out a call to cartoonists who would be willing to depict the muslim prophet mohammed, they printed the 12 they received…riots throughout the world over this resulted in over 150 deaths. Many muslims were irate that something they hold to be a core religious principle was so deliberately breached, which is their right also (although obviously not resulting in death)

A recent news story in the UK has been that of Wigan Athletic Football Club chairman Dave Whelan casually using the word “chink” to describe someone of chinese origin, BBC news featured a discussion where other racially offensive words were brought into the debate, and whether people felt it was ok to refer to somebody as a name that they and the consensus among their community deemed to be offensive and racist. I think most right thinking citizens can agree that called someone of chinese origin a “chink” or pakistani origin a “paki” is abjectly wrong…why? Because the object of the word would likely be offended by it. So we don’t say it. Equally the “N” word…the social adoption of the repulsion for this word is vast, I justified in my own head the reasons for writing “c….” and “p…” as editorially relevant and in context of an example and followed up with a condemnation, I can’t bring myself to write “n…..” in any context, that is the strength of feeling surrounding the word. Why is depicting the muslim prophet mohammed any different?

We know that many muslims are offended by it, yet it is dismissed as being in opposition to free speech and therefore should be disregarded and often mocked. Muslims across the world will be condeming this attack, as we integrate into a more global society we will come to realise how few our differences are in time, yet tomorrow if the hundreds of millions of muslims who think, like you and I, that the Parisian attack is a barbaric act of madness…see nothing but an image that is A: designed to offend one of their beliefs and B: printed to show how little the world cares about offending people at the expense of free speech.

I support the No More Page 3 campaign, I think that The Sun newspaper has the right to print it, I just think that morally, it’s probably time to let go of one of the most prominent bastions of our sexist past. I would ask the editor to remove it, but I would never ask a politician to make them remove it. Every journalist in the free the world who mourns a colleague today has the right to print that cartoon on the front cover of their publication, I have the right to print it here however I choose not to. Would I offend an entire religion if I did? Probably. Should I casually refer to a person of chinese descent as a “c….”? Would I offend them if I did? Probably. Will I? Definitely not.

One of the central pillars of our “free world” is freedom, we have that freedom and how we use it is how we will be judged, not in some ethereal theist manner, but by our peers, by our fellow citizens. You would (hopefully) judge me as a racist if I made a throwaway racist comment about the pakistani community, and in fact many publications regularly do figuratively jump up and down on prominent individuals who express an opinion deemed to be racist…but those same publications printing a picture that offends an entire religion? The moral high ground seems far enough away at the best of times…

The monsters who attacked the people Charlie Hebdo are completely different to the vast majority of muslims, in the same way that hitler differs from the majority of christians. Every group, creed, race, religion and workplace has their nutjobs…when a lunatic assaults a gay person because they interpret the bible as telling them that homosexuality is wrong, christians as a whole are not attacked by the media. All too often a muslim attack furthers the farcical belief that muslims are terrorists, this is due to nothing other than ignorance.

I do not think the picture should be reprinted because of a fear of reprisal, not at all. I think the picture shouldn’t be reprinted because it offends innocent individuals who also condemn the attack, sometimes we don’t set ourselves a high enough bar of equality… Two things will happen, the few muslim people who already hold an extremist opinion will be further radicalized…and muslim people who think that the attack was a a cowardly unmotivated murder will feel like the sense of togetherness isn’t quite as together as we all want it to be.

You have the right to freedom of speech, now earn the right to exercise it appropriately

 

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  • Belfast Barman(ager)

    1: Because french law is french law, I’m not an expert in it and neither are you
    2:Of course it can, it’s for a court to decide what is offensive and not, what is acceptable and not. Otherwise there would be such law as hate speech, threatening to kill, slander etc

  • Belfast Barman(ager)

    Precisely. Saying “Person A is a racist and he beats his wife” is something you can indeed say, thanks to freedom of speech…however the concequence may be that you are in court for slander.

  • Belfast Barman(ager)

    ok, hows this for a comparison. I am an atheist and i campaign against easter licensing laws enforced on northern ireland by religious zealots. I highlight their religious failings because their opinion on what time bars should be allowed to serve alcohol on good friday is forced upon me. I lose working hours, some venues don’t open all weekend. People who don’t believe that alcohol shouldn’t be consumed in a bar on good friday before 5pm have their freedom taken away from them and a faith they may not believe in (well, a sect of that faith) forced on them. In what way is not depicting mohammed being forced on you? Does it affect your life?If you were a director making a film and mohammed was an actual character, I would say you are editorially justified in doing so, offence may be taken but it is required for your art. If you walk around belfast wearing a tshirt with mohammed on it, you may offend some people, you probably have many shirts and you could have easily not offended someone but you chose to go ahead and offend. What if you wore that shirt in London? or Paris? It’s deliberately inflammatory, you are not affected in your life by whether or not mohammed is able to be depicted…someone who believes that mohammed should not be depicted is affected by your decision to depict. So if its genuinely justified, on your head be it. Literally.

  • fiks

    Religions are ideologies. The only thing that distinguish them is that they involve notions of divinity. Religions are politics, because they involve political and social issues like whether or not governments oppress gay people, whether or not people are taught science, and how people/governments treat the poor. To give it a loophole that other ideologies dont have is extremely dangerous. Europe learned that the hard way.

    You can sit there and point out the fucked up things that comic has done, but you still havent defended your ridiculous point that religions shouldnt be criticized.

    Furthermore, the whole reason they draw those ridiculous pictures of mohammed is because of how people react. If muslims reacted the same way that catholics react when people criticize the pope, most of those pictures would not exist.

    Their drawings have definitely done bad, useless racist stuff though, like that drawing with the pregnant muslim women is just ridiculous and awful.

  • Thomas Girvan

    Well there is no right to not be offended.
    Maybe people should not offend people because of their perceived sensitivities.
    However if people choose to exercise their right to free speech in a way that offends people then so be it.
    if people want to respond then the response should be within the law.
    We can’t have the rights of a free society curtailed by a few extremists either way.

  • gavenger

    The definition of hate crime that you quote does not cover insulting cartoons. It is about violence or fear. Cartoons can not hurt people. They could, I accept, incite fear, but that is the purpose of the law you quote. There is no right not to be offended.

  • gavenger

    I have thought about your reply. The terrorists clearly thought they were qualified to judge. But I think you have made my point for me. Their judgement came from a belief. If they were not Moslem, the cartoon would not have offended them.
    In your fetus example, there is a human debate about the life of a fetus. A theist or an atheist may share views, or not, but their debate is outside religion. A fetus is not a drawing.

  • Thomas Girvan

    You were right all the way.
    Until the last sentence, when you were not.
    Satire does not harm anyone, in fact, if only they realised it, it contributes positively to their society and as a consequence to their welfare.
    People have a choice, if they want to live in a particular country they should respect the laws and norms of the country.
    If they don’t they should go to somewhere that suits them and their beliefs.
    They are spoilt for choice.

  • Robs

    1. Well, its not just about the French law, publications of obscene, offensive nature towards religion are common in France, Britain, USA and in pretty much all the western world, yet there is no prosecutions based on their offensive nature – there is standard response “freedom of speech”. As it happens, UK publications chose not to reprint Charlie Hebdo cartoon, but they were considering it and (wisely in my view) chose not to do it because it would be offensive to Muslims. But if they did publish it, it is certain they would not have been prosecuted. Personally I would not have had a problem with that *but* this contrasts sharply with penalties imposed on Dave Whelan. Draw copulating Holy Trinity and you are a freedom fighter dying for upholding the right of freedom of speech. Say that Jews chase money and you are offensive, disgusting anti-semite, possibly being even compared to Hitler. While the first was (most likely) intended to be offensive (authors knew many people would be offended), the second was meant to be a statement of fact without malice. Why there is no freedom of speech in the second case? My point is that some groups seem to have almost immunity from criticism or even just “matter of fact” comments not intended as criticism while others are deeply offended and this is ok because of freedom of speech. People see that and if they protest they are branded radicals, racists, backward etc etc.

    2. If freedom of speech gives you freedom to say what you choose *but* you are not free from consequences, then you cannot also say, but you are free from consequences because of freedom of speech. Your original statement seems to say the first part of the above and your latest answer “Of course it can” seems to answer my statement by saying “but there will be no consequences because of freedom of speech”. You do add later that it is the court that decides based on other laws and that’s fine, I agree with that. The court needs to look at those other laws but cannot just use “freedom of speech. full stop.” to justify no consequences. It must make sure that no other laws have been broken. Again, why burning the Bible or the Koran or drawing explicit sexual images of religious figures does not seem to break any laws but saying something about business activities of specific group of people causes uproar?

    I’m not demanding answers from you but of course, I’m happy to listen. To me, something seems wrong there.

    I’m not personally very religiously involved but I can see many people who are and frankly, they feel under attack. They see protection other groups get and they seem excluded from that protection because of “freedom of speech”.

  • Robs

    “One aspect of living in a liberal democracy is the right to offend, and to have to endure being offended”

    But is it? Why is not allowed to say “Jews chase money” like Dave Whelan did? Could the Jews not endure it like you say?

  • Thomas Girvan

    You obviously do not understand the concept of what is a right.
    We are lucky in that we do not have to earn rights.
    We have them enshrined in law.
    All you have to do is work within the framework that circumscribes the extent of freedom of speech and as long as it is lawful you don’t have to worry if people take offence or not.
    It’s your call!
    By the way “Athieism” is an idea, for those with cognitive function.
    It could be argued that new borns or those who are brain dead are atheist, I will give you the benefit of the doubt that you are neither of the two classifications. (Mind you , it was a close call for the second one!).

  • Thomas Girvan

    Why do you have to continually use bad language, (or derivations of such)?
    I’m pretty easy going but I think it downgrades the level of debate.
    Why be gratuitously offensive?
    There are plenty of other words available.

  • Superfluous

    I remember the point that Christopher Hitchens once made, that “if everyone in the room is laughing, then you haven’t went far enough”. Satire is very often at the expense of someone else – South Park’s Muhammed protest was over the Danish cartoon controversy – over the rules that were being set where some subjects were out of bounds for satire… I believe Charlie Hebdo were rallying against the same thing.

    But yes, you’ve picked up on the great hypocrisy of the British media, and indeed the British ‘unwritten’ constitution – Frankie Boyle summed up it nicely when he tweeted yesterday: “I’m reading a defence of free speech in a paper that tried to have me arrested and charged with obscenity for making a joke about the Queen”. We don’t have all or nothing as the Americans seem to, you can get arrested in Scotland for singing the same song at a football match which thousands of people sing at the Ardoyne festival. Freedom of speech appears very much subjective in this country – but it shouldn’t be.

  • Thomas Girvan

    Joseph Goebbels the well known satirist.
    Was he a mate of Adolf Hitler the famous stand up comedian?
    I think you need to get yourself a dictionary.
    As for the rest of your ramble, it is as ill informed as it is offensive.
    You should read your own contribution back to yourself and after reading the final sentence, hang your head in shame.
    It is disgusting.

  • Robs

    Since you reminded me of “South Park” I do remember episodes that seemed far more offensive to the Jews, blacks and other groups than whatever was said by Dave Whelan. In “The Passion of the Jew” Cartman tries to exterminate the Jews, and in “Ginger Kids” he tries to get people to wipe out the Gingers – that was shown in the UK. So why was that “ok” but not what Dave Whelan said … ?? A cartoon character has more freedom than a real man?

  • Abucs

    …….The monsters who attacked the people Charlie Hebdo are completely different to the vast majority of muslims, in the same way that hitler differs from the majority of Christians……….

    I think this shows one of the many worrying weaknesses of secular atheist thinking. It betrays a need to see equality where no equality exists in order to maintain the coherence of secular atheist thought.

    The monsters in Paris did their acts in the name of Islam. Hitler threw thousands of priests in jail, abolished churches under the socialist labour state of Germany, closed down all Christian schools in Germany and Austria, nationalised church property and land when it suited, threw nuns out of civil service and prevented teachers from teaching Christianity even on their own time.

    They made it mandatory for the young to attend Hitler youth meetings on Sundays mornings which conflicted with mass, ridiculed the Church in state sponsored media, forced the cross out of Churches in the north to be replaced by swastikas and attempted to remove pictures of the pope in Catholic churches in the south and be replaced by pictures of Hitler.

    There were many other anti-Christian things the Nazis did including planning to kidnap the Pope from the Vatican. The Nazis were not any kind of Christians. They were clearly and openly progressive, socialist secularists who needed to destroy the Church and replace it with an all pervading state in the name of an enlightened progress.

    http://library2.lawschool.cornell.edu/donovan/show.asp?id=773&query

    http://www.ptwf.org/

  • Belfast Barman(ager)

    Dave Whelan wasn’t charge with anything in civil society, it wasn’t a court issue. It was an FA issue, it was essentially for a breach of a code of conduct that he and his club will have signed up to. I can go home and watch south park plan the extermination of jews, but I woudn’t recommend a staff member brings it in and puts on in the staff room.

  • Belfast Barman(ager)

    And we aren’t in this case. You have the right to do it. You should, as a decent human being, choose not to.

  • Belfast Barman(ager)

    If you were to turn on the news today and the headline story was that a man was beaten and is currently in hospital…he walked up the falls road wearing a rangers shirt, singing the famine song, pointing at people on the street and shouting “I masturbate over a statue of the virgin mary” and “you’re all inbred” whilst using a tricolour to mime wiping his rear, then was set upon by some locals….Maybe it’s just me, but I suspect not….I reckon that most people upon watching that would agree with the following sentiment “that’s horrific, nobody deserves to be beaten…but what on earth did he think would happen?”

    Just a thought.

  • Belfast Barman(ager)

    Thomas…he’s got you there.

  • Belfast Barman(ager)

    Dave Whelan committed no Crime and has been charged with no crime. It was an FA matter, the FA is not the law, it’s a trade body…an industry organization…an umbrella corporation… There is obviously a code of conduct that members of the FA have to adhere to and he broke it. It’s as simple as that. Take Jeremy Clarkson, how many times has he been fined and warned now for things he has said? Mexicans are lazy? is that not freedom of speech? No, because there is a code of conduct he has to adhere to. Christians in this country who look around them and say that, for example, muslims are being better protected in law than them…sunday trading hours. easter licensing. the BBC has to show X amount of hours per year devoted to christian worship and 0 hours devoted to other religions. To be the monarch in this country you have to be christian. Public holidays are based around the christian calendar. Christians aren’t exactly sitting around wondering what is left of their religion…

  • Belfast Barman(ager)

    It’s satire to YOU. to someone who holds the belief that mohammed is their very reason for being it isn’t satire…its akin to me insulting your mum, your wife, your kids.

  • Belfast Barman(ager)

    How are you offended by the sitcom as yet unwritten that will be set around the irish famine? How? It’s not even written!!!

  • Belfast Barman(ager)

    Perhaps how I mean “earn” is not how you mean “earn”. I mean that you have the right to freedom of speech, now use it wisely, show that you deserve it “with great power comes great responsibility”…like that last scene in saving private ryan when Hanks is dying in front of Damon and Hanks last words are “earn this….”

  • Belfast Barman(ager)

    I would have a reasoned argument about why he is wrong, I’d encourage debate about it and try to raise public awareness of why he’s a scrote…Would I simply say “Gregory Campbell is a moron” and leave it there…probably not, no. It’s inflammatory and serves no purpose.

  • Belfast Barman(ager)

    Once again. Dave Whelan broke no laws and was charged with no crime. It was an FA matter based on a code of conduct.

  • Belfast Barman(ager)

    The truth is subjective. Your truth and the truth of a muslim are not necessarily the same thing. That Germany started the second world war…technically speaking, they didn’t. Their actions caused it, yes. Did they start it? No, it takes 2 to have a war. But that Germany led to WW2, if Germany were to object, you could quite easily prove that germany were involved and that you can’t deny facts…quite a different situation from depiction of mohammed.

  • Thomas Girvan

    Should does not mean must.
    That is where freedom of speech comes in.
    It is fairly simple stuff, people can do whatever they choose to. If people don’t like it they can respond whatever way they like.
    In both cases the limitations of the rule of law apply.
    After all, who are you to say what is decent?
    One man’s meat is another man’s poison.

  • Katie-o

    Now I wonder why you’d pose that question today? Been waiting for you, why don’t you read the rest of the article ‘the martyrs who shame ireland’ and see how it blows your argument stated here out of the water….lol.
    Ask Jude Collins he was on radio ulster a while back about offence to this as yet unwritten sitcom…
    Were you about to come at me with the holocaust sitcom…did I steal your thunder…oh dear never mind.
    Now nuff said. Since your argument is to blame victims and believe in free speech but… there’ll be no need for further comment. lol

  • Belfast Barman(ager)

    Why would it be illegal?
    I was trying to think of a regional analogy for the mohammed cartoon in the first place.
    I think the fictional victim in my comparison would have every right to do what he did, but I and most of us I reckon, would think “what did he expect to happen??”

  • Zeno

    99% of normal rational people would treat him as a person with severe mental problems. A few people a bit like himself would give him a good kicking or possibly murder him.

  • Belfast Barman(ager)

    Hang on…your point is either 1 of 2 things…
    1: the attackers of Charlie Hebdo are NOT different from the majority of Muslims…
    or
    2: Hitler is not different from the majority of christians.

    either you agree with those 2 statements or you don’t…I’m not sure what the rest of your reply is about..

  • Belfast Barman(ager)

    Yes, I would say they shouldn’t. but not because of the attack, they shouldn’t reprint them for the same reasons I think it was wrong of Charlie Hebdo to print them in the first place. They had the right to print them, of course, but printing it is going to cause distress to a great many people…if it was editorially relevant or linked to an actual debate, had say, the independent printed the cartoon and also facilitated a debate between a secular scholar, a muslim imam & a lawyer for freedom of speech…brilliant, totally relevant. But just printing it because you want to show you can…I don’t get it. Print it if you want, but do it for a valid reason, not just to show you can, because you will upset and distress people who have done no wrong.

  • Zeno

    I think his point is that Hitler was not acting on behalf of Christianity, whereas these murderers were acting on behalf of what they believe Islam teaches.

  • Belfast Barman(ager)

    I completely understand, you are indeed free to say that. It doesn’t mean that you should. Is it permissable, yes. Is it the decent human thing to do? Very questionable.

  • Belfast Barman(ager)

    I’m not blaming victims at all. I wouldn’t link it to a holocaust sitcom, I’d link it to nothing because I don’t know what it’s like yet. Down with this sort of thing, eh?

  • Belfast Barman(ager)

    Yes, and to use your metaphor, you’re putting meat in the public realm whilst being completely aware that its poison to hundreds of millions of innocent people. SO once again, you have the right to do it, but doing it without good reason or justifiable context makes you a d*ck

  • Belfast Barman(ager)

    I never said hitler was acting on behalf of christianity though… my point was that hitler is to most christians as these attackers are to most muslims. IE: in now way indicative of the norm.

  • Zeno

    “The monsters who attacked the people Charlie Hebdo are completely different to the vast majority of muslims, in the same way that hitler differs from the majority of christians”

    That implies that Hitler was in some way at war on behalf of Christianity. He wasn’t. But these people ,and there are thousands of them are on Jihad (Holy War) against anyone who doesn’t agree with them.

    The kill the infidels and cut their head off for Islam. They murder cartoonists to please Allah.

  • Zeno

    ” Every group, creed, race, religion and workplace has their nutjobs…when a lunatic assaults a gay person because they interpret the bible as telling them that homosexuality is wrong, christians as a whole are not attacked by the media.”

    They don’t have enough nutjobs to form a well funded army and carry out attacks worldwide though, do they? They don’t have enough nutjobs to take and hold large areas of Iraq and Syria. A UN human rights report says the militant group conducts a regular Friday ritual of executions, amputations and lashings in areas it controls.

    Saying…………. oh every group has it’s nutjobs, giving the impression that this is just a few nutters is not exactly an accurate picture of what is going on.

  • Thomas Girvan

    That’s your opinion.
    I can take an insult like that.
    Guns are a different matter.

  • Abucs

    Let me help you. Hitler was not a Christian so the statement (with it’s implied equality) does not make sense. My post shows the anti-Christian nature of the Nazis. There is much more evidence which I can point to if needed.

    Therefore, to draw my own use of equality, the original statement is equal to ‘…………..the terrorists are not like the majority of Muslims like Hitler is not like the majority of Gypsies.

    Quite clearly my statement is implying Hitler was a Gypsy and came from and to some extent shared that perspective. I could also fall back to questioning whether you support the idea that Hitler is like the majority of Gypsies, but that would be a little narrow minded.

    Both the created analogical statement and the original statement that was criticised are nonsense because of their implied false equalities.

    My further point is that atheists create these false equalities in order to protect a flawed view of the world. In this case the flawed view is the equality of all ‘religions’.

  • Robs

    Hang on, I used the example of Germany starting WW2 because it seemed to me as obvious and as uncontroversial fact as they get.

    At 4:45am on 1-Sep-1939 Germany invaded Poland. What on earth do you mean by “technically speaking, they didn’t.” ?

  • Robs

    What do you mean by “it takes 2 to have a war” ??

    Are you saying that in all wars the attacked country, and specifically in WW2 Poland, was responsible for the start of the war?

    War is not a tango, sometimes it only takes one to start it.

    Of course, there are wars when both sides are responsible but not all wars are like that and especially when you refer to a much more powerful country attacking a much weaker country that is clearly not prepared for war. You cannot blame the victim.

  • Belfast Barman(ager)

    How many nut jobs do you think there are in Christianity… Just because there has been less schisms in Islamic faith…because Muslim extremists are more organised than Christian extremists doesn’t mean they aren’t comparable. Coordinated firebomb attacks on abortion clinics across the us suggests otherwise, this is a western led view, because Islam is not of the west it is different and worse

  • Belfast Barman(ager)

    It impose nothing of the sort, it implies Duran Duran are the greatest band of all time if you’re going to choose to read into it whatever you want. Hitler is to most Christians as these extremists are to most Muslims. I wasn’t getting into a theological essay about where hitter differed from the Catholic Church or his opinions on the reformation…he was raised a Christian, then became a di*k. These extremists were raised Muslim, then became d**ks. You’re looking for something that isn’t there mate.

  • Belfast Barman(ager)

    Germany invaded Poland, was that a war? No…it was an invasion. When someone fights back, that’s a war. A semantic argument but a valid one nonetheless. War isn’t as simple as “well, you started it…”

  • Belfast Barman(ager)

    If you punch me, I’m being attacked. If you punch me lots, I’m being attacked lots. If I hit you back, it’s a fight.

  • Belfast Barman(ager)

    It’s not victim blaming at all. It’s a semantically relevant point. One that could become very relevant if attacks on Muslims keep rising.

  • Belfast Barman(ager)

    You’re making such an easy and common mistake,,,it’s disappointing, guns are indeed a different matter. But those offended don’t have guns, a very very small minority have guns, and reprinting the cartoon is offending those without guns. For no reason other than “cos we can”

  • Zeno

    “because Muslim extremists are more organised than Christian extremists doesn’t mean they aren’t comparable”

    Compare them for me.
    How many well armed and well funded Christian armies are there carrying out public executions on Fridays? How many people have they beheaded? How many cartoonists have they slaughtered for Jesus?

  • Thomas Girvan

    Then they will just have to get over it.
    “Sticks and stones” etc.

  • Thomas Girvan

    You didn’t offend me.
    I am more mature than that.
    No, it is more a feeling of contempt that I have.

  • StephenDaedalus

    Like the ‘offence’ caused by The Satanic Verses, much of the offence re “depicting the muslim prophet mohammed” has been manufactured by a small number of Islamist activists. The fact that it’s been a very successful campaign is premised on the fact that it has spread the depictions like wildfire, well beyond obscure Danish and French publications – and will inevitably have an appeal to many ordinary Muslims. When we buy into this notion that “depicting the muslim prophet mohammed” is the same as racially abusing individuals, we buy into the campaign.

    Charlie Hebdo comes from the anti-racist left, yet so many who claim to be on the left (and who are still alive) have been so quick to slander them as ‘racist’. Some of CH’s strongest cartoons, laying into French racists (the ‘Rassemblement Bleu Raciste’ cartoon, and the Boko Haram sex slaves), have even been deliberately taken out of context as if it was they that were racist. In some quarters cartoons that depict jihadists are routinely referred to as ‘racist cartoons’. I am not sure what specific ‘cartoon’ you are referring to, but things like the depiction of an Isis executioner telling his victim (who appeals that he’s the prophet) that he’s not the prophet, he’s an infidel, are powerful critiques.

  • Robs

    On your blog you said many smart things, so I was thinking how to describe what you just said in precise, technical manner, to the point and in as unoffensive way as possible.

    I decided that the best semantic word that describes what you just said is *crap* 🙂

    This is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard about starting a war. If I follow your logic, the Germans started shooting at the Poles, but it was the Poles who started the war the moment they started to shoot back 😀 😀 :-D, so consequently the Germans did not start the war 😀 😀 😀

    Let’s keep going, the Germans did not exterminate the Jews when they started to gas them, it was the Jews who *started extermination* when they started to die. So, *semantically*, the Jews started extermination themselves then?

    To be clear, if you punch someone and they punch back, it is still you who started the fight. Try this defence in court “Your Honour, I did not start the fight. It was him! He started the fight when he started to defend himself. It was not a fight until then.” 😀

  • Robs

    You have a point with code of conduct – I accept that. There is a difference between that and the actual law. Of course, you are right that we can say “Mexicans are lazy” without sanction but a TV presenter should not really say that. It does mean that because of code of conduct FA, BBC, ITV, Sky may restrict some areas of free speech and not others. They, in effect, play the role of common-practice law makers in the sense that if they allow something then it is considered allowed in general and if they don’t then it is considered not allowed in general. I’m more concerned with the “not” part. Since FA punished the words “Jews are money chasers” then it does imply it is not socially acceptable…. even if not punishable by law. Not sure if the opposite, i.e. statement about Christians/Catholics would be treated the same.

    One point on the monarchy – the monarch in the UK cannot be Catholic.

    I am actually against Sunday trading hours and BBC having to devote any hours of its time to any religion. I think these will have to go eventually and are examples of protection that is not needed. Other things you mention are mostly historical remnants, probably not hugely significant. Yes, we have free Sundays, Easter, Christmas and Gregorian calendar but most people see these as holiday periods which have nothing to do with religion. Some days have to be free off work – these are as good as any.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Sorry to cut in on a private conversation, but it’s all a matter technique in how power is obtained, Zeno, and some of this raw terrorism may not be directly needed once power is gained and the habit of obedience is instilled over a few generations in a defeated population. Four and a half centuries ago the Elizabethan armies, principally led by devotees of “the Reformed faith” carried out similar massacres and executions, supported by their belief in the utter rightness of their anti-Catholicism:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Massacre_of_Mullaghmast

    There’s a particularly good article on all of this escalation of atrocity during the Elizabethan wars in Lenihan and Edwards’ “Age of Atrocity: Violence and Political Conflict in Early Modern Ireland” ‘ “An headless ladie” and “a horses load of heades”: Writing the beheading’, by Patricia Palmer.

    And while there were few cartoonists available in Good Queen Bess’s time, the equivelent opinion formers, the poets and harpers were dealt with under a decree that such as were caught should be hanged. I’d perhaps think that such terrible things are all in the past, if it were not for the ease with which this degree of violence seems to be resurrected by political organisations at need when a people begin to challenge their authority, as so many regimes of the last hundred years show, even those in civilised lands. Just one instance, Katyn, I’ve met the widows of some of those in the pits. And my trickle of Jewish blood can remember other instances.

  • Belfast Barman(ager)

    I truly don’t get what your reasoning is…because we have the right to offend someone, we should? That doesn’t make you a freedom of speech proponent, it makes you an as*hole. And assuming you aren’t (I assume that of everyone until proven otherwise) then what argument are you trying to make?

  • Belfast Barman(ager)

    I’m with you all the way, I call for a complete secularisation of society, only then can we really make progress as a multicultural community.
    RE: jews are money chasers. Is this not the kind of humour that Jim Davidson, Roy Chubby Brown etc used to make their living from…and then society at large kinda went “no…I’m not sure that’s ok anymore…” To explicitly say “jews are money chasers” is a generalisation and if we’re honest, not meant as a kind one. Could you picture a cartoon in a newspaper of somebody dropping a load of 5p’s and a load of hasidic jews fighting over the coins? no…why?…because society has progressed beyond offensive stereotypes. There are some that while I don’t think are particularly kind, you could perhaps defend through statistics and justification, but jews are money chasers wasnt, it was just espousing an age old adage meant to suggest that jews are materialistic…as if people of a particular religion could all share such a trivial personality trait (I have a big problem with people treating “jews” as a race…it’s a religion…I could become jewish, would I then become a “money chaser??)

    What Dave Whelan said is socially wrong, but not legally wrong. Which to me, is what printing of the cartoon again would be. If I was to approach a pregnant woman in the street and say “wow…thats going to be one UGLY baby, what did you breed with, a spade?” its not legally wrong, but anyone overhearing it would be right to judge me as an as*hole… I have the right to offend her, and dave whelan has the right to offend jews with his generalisations, but it doesn’t make it right.

  • Belfast Barman(ager)

    Thats a fair point tbh, think I’ve just grown that accustomed to defending my corner on these comments that I’m throwing punches at everything 😉 Back to your original point “should people actually be offended if what is said is the truth?” what truth? the truth that depicting mohammed isn’t right to do? is that our truth to object to?

  • Belfast Barman(ager)

    KKK, Anti Balaka (look them up, they could go toe-to-toe with many of the regularly cited muslim groups), Tripura, Isaac-Muivah..the norweigian killer Anders Breivik was motivated by christian ideologies, The Lord Resistance Army in Uganda, Army of God in USA (and a lot of others there too including the atlanta olympics bombing)

  • Thomas Girvan

    Where did I say that people should offend because they can?
    Here’s a tip. Before commenting, you should read and comprehend.
    I have made a few comments on this thread.
    Fairly straightforward I would have thought.
    Maybe you should ask a friend to look over them and, being aware of your limitations, he or she could explain it to you in a way that you would understand.

  • Zeno

    The answer to the question I asked is none. You answered another question altogether.

  • Zeno

    OK so your point is that extreme Muslim terror groups are just a few nut jobs with no support?

    That simply isn’t true. A Poll in France showed 16% of Muslims supported ISIS. A UK Poll in 2006 said
    28% of Muslims wanted Britain to become an Islamic state. 40% wanted Sharia Law introduced
    33% of young Muslims said apostates should be put to death.
    68% wanted people who insult the Prophet prosecuted. “not murdered mind, just punished” Sunday Times.

    So it is not quite the same as the Christian nut jobs, is it?

  • Zeno

    I can’t argue with any of that, but I’m trying to make the point that the popular support for Muslim terror groups and their twisted ideology makes them substantially different from the few Christian nut jobs we now have.

    NOP Research: 78% of British Muslims support punishing the publishers of Muhammad cartoons;
    http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/08/14/opinion/main1893879.shtml&date=2011-04-06
    http://www.webcitation.org/5xkMGAEvY

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Thanks Zeno, and you are entirely correct in what you are saying about the present day, but it does no harm to remind us that we are all only a few miles or centuries apart from the same thing in our own backyard. What’s going on in Syria/Iraq brings up for me the terrible actions that one lot of my ancestors must have carried out against the other lot, all with Christ in exactly the same place in their self justifications where IS puts Muhammad.

    But I entirely take your point about support for punishment being general among British Muslims. Thanks.

  • Zeno

    Probably a more interesting conversation would be why we have a culture that is still practising rituals and discriminations that we have largely dispensed with in the last 300 years. There is after all no doubt that they hold very different values.

  • Robs

    Well, I diverged a bit from Mohammed. I was really posing a new question that if a statement is patently true but in some way could be considered offensive, then could/should it still be disallowed. That’s why I tried to choose as uncontroversial “truth” as possible, e.g. like Germany starting WW2, . And what if the Germans said “you cannot say that because we are offended” even though everyone knows its true. But even then it turns out to be controversial :-).

    I think even the issue of what is true and what is not true is on a very shaky ground. A lot of/maybe even most things can be questioned and debated, so there are probably fewer *patent truths* than we think. The set of *patent truths* of one person maybe different than a set of *patent truths* of another.

  • Belfast Barman(ager)

    Oh, you meant specifically on Fridays where they only kill cartoonists via be headings did you? Sorry, i may have mistook your question for something not quite as specific…

  • Belfast Barman(ager)

    Could you link to the polls please?

  • Zeno

    Sunday Times is a pay on-line publication, but there are plenty of polls saying the same thing.
    http://www.thereligionofpeace.com/pages/opinion-polls.htm

  • Robs

    You made several points here – I agree with many and will not go into all…

    Perhaps what Dave Whelan did wrong is miss out a word “stereotype” if he said “chasing money like a stereotype Jew”, it would be clearer? Except that I think the word stereotype is implicit anyway. Is anyone seriously suggesting that Dave Whelan was attributing what he said to *all* the Jews? Yes, it may not be kind to Jews but I thought we were talking about freedom of speech – is it only restricted to kind things? Of course not.

    What is socially wrong seems to be imposed by the media in greater degree than it may seem. While I accept that something like code of conduct must exist, it is very easy for the BBC, ITV, Sky dictate through code of conduct what is socially acceptable. The media not only can but it does manipulate people trying to impose certain values on society. It (or rather whoever controls the media) decided that “Je Suis Charlie” is a good thing and that’s how it is promoted in the media. I have seen a few opposing views but on other foreign TV channels there is less agreement. So did society decide what is good or did media “help out” a bit nudging it in certain direction?

    You say “dave whelan has the right to offend jews with his generalisations, but it doesn’t make it right.”. That’s the problem, by being punished, even if not by legal system, Dave Whelan is being denied that right you just mention. Of course, in his case he is bound by code of conduct but it means that other people simply assume they cannot use his words either. That’s what I call imposing ideas about what’s wrong or right on society through media. Wouldn’t it be better if Dave Whelan was not punished at all but people would just think what an “a** hole”. Just like you said: if you called a baby UGLY, perhaps you should not be punished, but people would start thinking badly of you. Sooner or later you would need them and they would remember that it’s this “a** hole” guy and would be nasty to you in other legal ways, not talk to you, make you wait etc. This might convince you that while being an a** hole is perfectly legal, it’s actually better not to be one.

    And if there is any doubt that media manipulates what you think, here is how the world leaders lead the march in Paris. Is this how you remember it on TV?. Link I give doesn’t show here, so do Google Images search with words:”world leaders lead paris march”. Look at the photo of the leaders face-on and then the one from above which shows no crowds around at all. While perfectly legal and for security purposes necessary, I do not think the media was being totally honest about it:
    https://twitter.com/borzou/status/554605138426736640/photo/1