I’m Not Charlie, or, Why Does Everyone Have To Be So Mean?

I don’t believe in censorship. Nor am I calling for censorship. But I don’t understand why we, collectively, don’t ask people to show a little self-censorship when it comes to being offensive, intolerant and bigoted.

Lord knows we expect it of blowhards like Rush Limbaugh when they go on one their racist or sexist tirades.

Lord knows we expect it of all the homophobic preachers and NOM activists who have unleashed a torrent of anti-gay bigotry as marriage equality has spread from state to state.

Lord knows we expect it of ubiquitous purveyors of hate speech like Ann Coulter.

Lord knows we expected it of Bill Hobbs when he published that “Mohammed Blows” cartoon on his blog back in 2006.

But for some reason now that idle threats have turned into a despicable, vile, violent act of murder, suddenly it’s okay? Suddenly we have an obligation to spread the same offensive, anti-Muslim images because, freedom? Seriously?

You want to defend free speech? Then take up the cause of the Al Jazeera journalists jailed in Egypt.

You want to fight terrorism? Then condemn the bombing of the Colorado Springs office of the NAACP two days ago (something which the mainstream media has given little attention to, in light of their “if it bleeds, it leads” SOP.) Get to work fighting the poverty, inequality and injustice (yes, even in France) that breeds these diseases. Republishing cartoons that show Mohammed being sodomized is the lazy way out. Reprinting offensive materials to show you won’t be bullied doesn’t prove you’re free, it shows you haven’t evolved beyond the maturity of a kindergartener.

I don’t get it. I don’t get why we don’t expect better of ourselves and others. If lowering yourself to a level where offending people is your best show of support for victims of violence, if that’s the best way you can stand up for freedom, you’re doing it wrong.

The world needs to grow up and fast, because we’re not going to get many more chances to get it right.


Filed under Current Events, free speech, media, Media, terrorism

16 responses to “I’m Not Charlie, or, Why Does Everyone Have To Be So Mean?

  1. democommie

    Yep. Every time some shithead with a muslim, atheist, blah or whatevah agenda does anything it paints the entire demographic as lawless and bloodthirsty.

    Meantime, some guy from Utica, NY killed his family yesterday because he could.and I still haven’t seen a lot of coverage about how Uticans or NY white people, in general, should be locked in cages or deported. I’m prolly just not reading the right blogs.

    Full disclosure. I thought that the title had to do with me calling Jimbo(b) the moron that he is.

  2. Jim in Memphis

    Wow DC – that almost led to an apology huh?

  3. Randy

    I don’t know the answer to your question but I think there has been a lot of commentary about the loss of civility in political discourse. Somehow being mean seems to give one cred as unyielding or strong in terms of a given ideology, like Coulter or Limbaugh. ‘Nice’ is seen as superficial or weak. Liberals seem to be better at using comedy or satire to get closer to truth a la Stewart or Colbert. Having said that I don’t know that if I was a professional cartoonist that I wouldn’t publish some sort of send up of Islam as a sign of solidarity with the slain staff of Charlie.

  4. Ronda Ward (Toronto, Canada)

    I completely agree with your evaluation. This faction of the “free press” in France has been peddling puerile trash under the cover of ‘free thought’ since the 18th century – the press equivalent of fart jokes and titty humour for 12 year old boys. That 12 people died to uphold the ‘right’ to print lousy and lowbrow humour (to people I presume are equally handicapped in the funnybone region) is tragic. These guys made Mad Magazine look like the New Yorker. Their work was not satire – it was bullying aimed at low-hanging fruit. There are better things to work toward – many of which you highlighted. Refreshing to see a mature response like yours which in no way endorses this violent attack but rather, scrutinizes the situation with welcome insights. These were not Malcolm Xs, Luther Kings, nor Robert Kennedys – they don’t merit the pedestal upon which they stand today; however, their families deserve our sincere condolences and support for a judicial trial of the murderers.

  5. That’s the best thing I’ve read about this incident. Compliments.

  6. Shutter

    Simple. Everything in moderation.


  7. Unfortunately I think these statements identify part of the problem:

    “the press equivalent of fart jokes and titty humour for 12 year old boys.”-RW
    “low hanging fruit”-RW

    “Lowbrow” sells. And if I critcize that type of content I’m labeled “Elitist.”

  8. “Lord knows we expect it of….”

    I don’t expect it. I’ve come to expect to see, hear and read things I find offensive. I do expect people who are offended to find a non-violent way to express their indignation.

    You are right that more civility would be a good thing. But I don’t expect it.

    • Well we certainly seem to demand it. Every time someone says something offensive the calls for boycotts, apologies, retractions, disownership etc. ensue en masse. What do you call that, other than a mass outcry by a segment of the population that “this”-whatever it was-“went too far.” But apparently that line is fungible when it comes to violence. Eight years ago conservatives were all publishing offensive anti-Muslim cartoons just to prove how free they are. And we on the left said that went too far, and some people were even fired from their jobs for doing so. Now we’re all expected to reprint those images or watch violent, inflammatory movie scenes as a sign of patriotism and free speech? I think Mr. Overton has met his window.

      • I don’t demand it. The conservatives are free to be as offensive as they like, and I honestly don’t object. You may be right about what the majority of folks demand & expect. I guess I’m an outlier.. I’m not interested in seeking out the offensive cartoons or watching the inflammatory movies, but I don’t object to folks making them. What I object to is violent responses. Civility is something to strive for but not something I expect, much less demand.

  9. 'Niques

    What happened to manners? We, as members of a functioning society, used to be aware of and concerned with each others feelings. Now it seems, the meaner, more vile, our outpourings, the more serious we are about them . . . and we defend those outbursts with the vigor we used to reserve for truly important injustices. Our entire society seems to have bought into the “vilify the victim, victimize the villain” mindset. Is this how fascism smells?

  10. I have no problem with anyone posting anything that is not a direct incitement to violence. Sorry, but a cartoon of two men kissing, with one as a jihadist, does not bother me. Nor do fake photos from gun-loving Jesus people, the ones that show him toting an automatic weapon, usually with a US flag in the background, boasting of their love of God, guns, and freedumb. Do I find them disgusting? Yes. Would I take violent actions because I am offended? No. That’s what this is about. Do we need to be so mean? No. But will I defend someone’s right to be mean, as long as they’re not standing on a street corner inciting violence? Absolutely. It is not our responsibility to be thought police or to control expressions of thought, as long as those expressions do not ask for harm. Charlie Hebdo did not incite violence or harm. It poked. It offended. It railed. And I will defend anyone’s right to do those things with my last breath.

    • Well you need to re-read my post. Nothing I said implied we need to be thought police or that we should censor images. I DO find it offensive that the world is rallying behind offensive images when they have ignored other attacks on press freedom that don’t require one to endorse such images.

      Watch where you plant your flag because you might not want to own that patch of ground later.


    • ahhhh, but I believe that Charlie Hebdo DID know that it was inciting hatred and violence, and that there were those who do not believe the image of Mohammed should be shown, and in doing so, knew what to expect back…….I have a sense of humor, but I have found nothing funny about those cartoons that I have been able to follow what they were saying at all……..Did anyone outside of bigots find them humorous….? did they have a right to publish these, yes, but did they understand that even non-muslims would find them offensive……?