Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Wednesday, January 7, 2015 7:51 pm

Je suis Charlie


So this morning, three men entered the offices of the satirical Paris magazine “Charlie Hebdo” and opened fire, killing the editor and other staffers (including four cartoonists) and also at least one police officer — 12 in all. Police believe they have identified the three suspects, but at this writing — unsubstantiated Twitter posts to the contrary — the suspects have not been captured. God willing, the shooters will be caught and punished severely.

The suspected motivation of the shooters was the fact that the magazine had published satirical, even crude cartoons of the prophet Mohammed and that the shooters were seeking to punish people they saw as blasphemers against Islam. Naturally, William Donohue, the sociopath who runs the far-right Catholic League, had no problem with this. More on that in a bit.

(I’m expecting all kinds of anti-Muslim hysteria over this, but I’m not going to deal with that here. I’ll just remind those inclined toward such that someone tried to bomb the Colorado Springs office of the NAACP this week, and only by the grace of God was no one injured. And we can be pretty sure that whoever did that wasn’t Muslim.)

A couple of people have suggested I republish some of the Charlie Hebdo cartoons. I was tempted to. But I decided I’m not going to, not because I’m afraid of being attacked (N.C.’s gun laws are considerably laxer than France’s), but because I have some points to make that I don’t want complicated by cartoons that aren’t on point — that is to say, on MY point.

First, and I shouldn’t have to say this but I will anyway, this is a horrible tragedy for the victims and their families, and my heart and prayers go out to them. And it also is a tragedy for France, our ally since the Revolution and a bastion of freedom in its own right.

Second, and I also shouldn’t have to say this but will anyway, this is inexcusable, full stop. If you seek to attack — to physically harm — anyone because of their point of view, you have forfeited the right to have any contact with civilized society. I’ve believed this since I was a kid. And I have believed since I was a kid that it applies across all political and religious lines, without exception, whether you are an Austrian painter with a bent for authoritarian government and world conquest, a satirical French cartoonist, or a Communist Workers Party member trying to unionize a textile mill, full stop. If you don’t, too, then maybe you need to re-examine your principles.

And this is where Donohue and his disgusting response come in. In a column titled, “Muslims Are Right to Be Angry,” Donohue tries to have it both ways, writing:

Killing in response to insult, no matter how gross, must be unequivocally condemned. That is why what happened in Paris cannot be tolerated. But neither should we tolerate the kind of intolerance that provoked this violent reaction.

Those who work at this newspaper have a long and disgusting record of going way beyond the mere lampooning of public figures, and this is especially true of their depictions of religious figures. For example, they have shown nuns masturbating and popes wearing condoms. They have also shown Muhammad in pornographic poses.

While some Muslims today object to any depiction of the Prophet, others do not. Moreover, visual representations of him are not proscribed by the Koran. What unites Muslims in their anger against Charlie Hebdo is the vulgar manner in which Muhammad has been portrayed. What they object to is being intentionally insulted over the course of many years. On this aspect, I am in total agreement with them.

Stephane Charbonnier, the paper’s publisher, was killed today in the slaughter. It is too bad that he didn’t understand the role he played in his tragic death. In 2012, when asked why he insults Muslims, he said, “Muhammad isn’t sacred to me.” Had he not been so narcissistic, he may still be alive.

Shorter Donohue: Lord, how I miss the Inquisition.

Go to hell, Bill. Go straight to hell, you and the horse you rode in on. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. You want to stone blasphemers to death? You can do it there, you son of a bitch. You don’t get to blame the victim in a vicious act of terrorism and still call yourself a Christian. When you clearly wish for a world in which you can physically punish people whose beliefs you don’t agree with, you don’t even get to call yourself civilized.

While I agree that not everything that CAN be cartooned or otherwise satirized or lampooned SHOULD be, you know what? THAT’S JUST MY OPINION. And the hurt fee-fees of medievalist control freaks of any and all religions AREN’T WORTH ONE SINGLE HUMAN LIFE. Indeed, MY hurt fee-fees aren’t worth one single human life, and neither are yours.

I worked as a journalist for 25 years. My life was threatened several times, primarily when I was covering the Klan in Iredell County in the mid-1980s, so today’s tragedy hits me where I live. And it makes me feel obliged, even though I’m tired and would rather be doing other things, to stand up for the unconditional freedom from violence for those engaged in the work of sharing and expressing ideas. No idea, not even freedom and certainly not God, is worth committing murder for.

(Illustration via John D. Burns on Facebook)


  1. You clutter this post and muddy the waters with red herrings about one spokesman for the Catholic Church.and a homemade bomb near a NAACP office in Colorado where no one was injured while not focusing on on the “terrosit act ” ( which the White House finally came around to calling it after bumbling in PC language )

    Yeah, don’t blasphem the Prophet, right Barry?

    The major newspapers that didn’t print theses cartoons are cowards

    It is vogue for government officials around the world to deny the stated objective of Islam – world control and a world caliphate. Just look at the denials coming out of the latest “French Massacre” atrocity. Even though the killers screamed that their killing was to avenge disrespect shown Allah, disengenuous denials from all circles continue.

    Here, at the link below, is a great – and brave – leader that doesn’t have his head in the sand. Note that al Sisi confronts reality head on – that Islamic butchering (antagonizing – his term) of non-muslims around the world is caused by their Islamic based teachings (sacralized imam thinking – his term). He, of all people, a Sunni Muslim, knows this is truth. He goes on to argue to his audience of imams that their approach is irrational and illogical. He agues for an Islamic reformation. Obviously, he is spot on but he is only one voice speaking truth today. The rest of the world denies there even is an Islamic war against civilization going on, as if that will make it disappear.

    Egypt’s Sisi: Islamic “Thinking” Is “Antagonizing the Entire World”

    Speaking before Al-Azhar and the Awqaf Ministry on New Year’s Day, 2015, and in connection to Prophet Muhammad’s upcoming birthday, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, a vocal supporter for a renewed vision of Islam, made what must be his most forceful and impassioned plea to date on the subject.

    Among other things, Sisi said ( watrned ) that the “corpus of [Islamic] texts and ideas that we have sacralized over the years” are “antagonizing the entire world”; that it is not “possible that 1.6 billion people [reference to the world’s Muslims] should want to kill the rest of the world’s inhabitants—that is 7 billion—so that they themselves may live”; and that Egypt (or the Islamic world in its entirety) “is being torn, it is being destroyed, it is being lost—and it is being lost by our own hands.”

    The relevant excerpt from Sisi’s speech follows (translation by Michele Antaki):

    ****I am referring here to the religious clerics. We have to think hard about what we are facing—and I have, in fact, addressed this topic a couple of times before. It’s inconceivable that the thinking that we hold most sacred should cause the entire umma [Islamic world] to be a source of anxiety, danger, killing and destruction for the rest of the world. Impossible!

    That thinking—I am not saying “religion” but “thinking”—that corpus of texts and ideas that we have sacralized over the centuries, to the point that departing from them has become almost impossible, is antagonizing the entire world. It’s antagonizing the entire world!

    Is it possible that 1.6 billion people [Muslims] should want to kill the rest of the world’s inhabitants—that is 7 billion—so that they themselves may live? Impossible!

    I am saying these words here at Al Azhar, before this assembly of scholars and ulema—Allah Almighty be witness to your truth on Judgment Day concerning that which I’m talking about now.

    All this that I am telling you, you cannot feel it if you remain trapped within this mindset. You need to step outside of yourselves to be able to observe it and reflect on it from a more enlightened perspective.

    I say and repeat again that we are in need of a religious revolution. You, imams, are responsible before Allah. The entire world, I say it again, the entire world is waiting for your next move… because this umma is being torn, it is being destroyed, it is being lost—and it is being lost by our own hands.*****

    Comment by Fred Gregory — Thursday, January 8, 2015 12:39 pm @ 12:39 pm

  2. Not only do I not think mentioning Donohue was “muddying the waters,” Fred, I think he unintentionally destroys his own point, inasmuch as people who DON’T want people punished for blasphemy could legitimately say things to him like, “Why do you keep writing things that are offensive to MY religion?”

    Moreover, the killers might have screamed that the killings were about Islam, but at least one of the three has been reported to be a smoker, drinker, and sex-outside-of-marriage haver. So much for religion.

    Comment by Lex — Thursday, January 8, 2015 12:50 pm @ 12:50 pm

  3. ” but at least one of the three has been reported to be a smoker, drinker, and sex-outside-of-marriage haver. So much for religion.”

    Source ?

    And be sure and pray for Sisi’s saftey

    Comment by Fred Gregory — Thursday, January 8, 2015 4:58 pm @ 4:58 pm

  4. Charlie Hebdo and the Right to Commit Blasphemy

    ” Indeed, a columnist in the Financial Times continues to hold to this line{ Jay Carney } (“Charlie Hebdo has a long record of mocking, baiting and needling French Muslims. If the magazine stops just short of outright insults, it is nevertheless not the most convincing champion of the principle of freedom of speech. France is the land of Voltaire, but too often editorial foolishness has prevailed at Charlie Hebdo”). On the one hand, religious extremists should not threaten people who offend their beliefs. On the other hand, nobody should offend their beliefs. The right to blasphemy should exist but only in theory. They do not believe religious extremists should be able to impose censorship by issuing threats, but given the existence of those threats, the rest of us should have the good sense not to risk triggering them.

    The line separating these two positions is perilously thin. The Muslim radical argues that the ban on blasphemy is morally right and should be followed; the Western liberal insists it is morally wrong but should be followed. Theoretical distinctions aside, both positions yield an identical outcome.”

    The right to blaspheme religion is one of the most elemental exercises of political liberalism. One cannot defend the right without defending the practice.”

    Comment by Fred Gregory — Thursday, January 8, 2015 5:08 pm @ 5:08 pm

  5. The source of that information is the guy’s own lawyer, who represented him on earlier criminal charges. Reported in multiple outlets. I think The Nation was one.

    And, yes, I saw the Douthat blog post. Hell must be freezing over, because he got it exactly right, and I said so in a comment there and on Facebook.

    Comment by Lex — Thursday, January 8, 2015 5:16 pm @ 5:16 pm

  6. “The guy” had some youthful indescretions but later saw the lighy and converted to radical Islam.

    Whatever your notion here lack any clairity. And your answers have not respomded to my points with any cohereence.

    Comment by Fred Gregory — Friday, January 9, 2015 2:07 am @ 2:07 am

  7. Bill Maher Scolds Liberals for Shying Away From Muslim Criticism: ‘We Have to Not Avoid Who Did This’

    “That is mainstream in the Muslim world. When you make fun of the prophet, all bets are off. You get what’s coming to you. It’s also mainstream that if you leave the religion, you get what’s coming to you, which is death. Not in every Muslim country … but this is a problem in the world that we have to stand up to. And again, I’m the liberal in this debate.”

    Comment by Fred Gregory — Friday, January 9, 2015 1:14 pm @ 1:14 pm

  8. ‘The blasphemy we need’

    “A free society can also be a polite one. The right to say offensive and scurrilous things need not be exercised. ne can defend the right to say such things without also defending the practice. And yet, as Ross Douthat observes, when such speech is threatened — whether such threats come from the state or fanatical murderous thugs — there is a time to defend the practice”


    Comment by Fred Gregory — Saturday, January 10, 2015 3:59 am @ 3:59 am

  9. It’s not okay to resort to violence, and it’s not the time, when blood is still fresh, to start blaming the victims. How disgusting.

    Comment by Jay — Monday, January 12, 2015 9:37 pm @ 9:37 pm

  10. Whom are you talking to, Jay — me or Fred?

    Comment by Lex — Monday, January 12, 2015 11:06 pm @ 11:06 pm

  11. Obama let France down

    “AMERICA’S FAILURE to march with world leaders against terrorism marked an embarrassing diplomatic misstep. As leaders from some 40 countries joined more than 1 million demonstrators Sunday in a solemn and extraordinary progression along the boulevards of Paris, the highest-ranking United States official on the scene was America’s ambassador to France, Jane D. Hartley — hardly a familiar face on the world stage.

    And that simply wasn’t stature enough, not for a display of solidarity against violence by Islamic radicals that turned into what French officials described as the most massive rally in the history of America’s oldest ally. The numbers of marchers in other cities around the world — from Boston to Sydney — surpassed 3 million, according to news reports. Seventeen people died in the attack last week on the satirical French newspaper Charlie Hebdo and a related hostage-taking at a kosher grocery, also in Paris.

    The bewilderment and international criticism were justified. In a belated concession, the Obama administration on Monday said that it should have dispatched an official of greater prominence to join France’s Francois Hollande, Germany’s Angela Merkel, Britain’s David Cameron, and dozens of other leaders. “I think it’s fair to say we should have sent someone with a higher profile to be there,’’ White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters.”

    Comment by Fred Gregory — Tuesday, January 13, 2015 1:15 pm @ 1:15 pm

  12. Here, let me fix that for you: “America’s failure to send its president to pose in a staged photo-op hypocritically featuring some of the world’s biggest enemies of press freedom masquerating as leaders of free states …”

    Comment by Lex — Tuesday, January 13, 2015 2:15 pm @ 2:15 pm

  13. PM Cameron ? Angela Merkel ? Pulleeze Lex.. That was pathetic. You are for sure an Obama dead ender . Even the WH flak said it was a mistake

    PS: And your little hearsay gambit that one of the brothers drank and smoked was a lie , which no doubt you picked from one of your favorite left wing blogs. Both said at the murder scene and afterwards that their Islamic terorist act was done to avenge blaspheming the Prophet. They both trained in Yemen under al for this action so yes .. Religon !

    Al Qaeda branch claims responsibility for Charlie Hebdo attack

    No comment on Sisi’s scolding of the Imans in Egypt ? How about a Nobel Peace Prize for him ?

    Comment by Fred Gregory — Wednesday, January 14, 2015 4:19 pm @ 4:19 pm

  14. Lie, my ass, Fred.

    He was also arrested in January 2005 when he and another man were about to leave France for Syria via Iraq. Kouachi’s lawyer Vincent Ollivier said at the time that his client’s profile was more “pot-smoker from the projects than an Islamist.” “He smokes, drinks, doesn’t sport a beard and has a girlfriend before marriage,” Ollivier told the French newspaper Liberation the month after his client’s arrest, according to reports by France24.

    Netanyahu, to name just one enemy of press freedom. Here are more, including, yes, David Cameron.

    So, Fred, you can make up your own opinions, but not your own facts.

    Comment by Lex — Wednesday, January 14, 2015 4:54 pm @ 4:54 pm

  15. Jon Stewart Trashes Obama for Paris Rally Absence: ‘What the F*ck?!’

    Comment by Fred Gregory — Thursday, January 15, 2015 12:56 am @ 12:56 am

  16. Jon sometimes feels as if he has to play Both Sides. This is one of those times, and it’s ill-advised.

    One other thing: If Obama HAD decided to go, can you honestly tell me you wouldn’t be bitching about the cost and advisability of the leader of the Free World traveling to Paris on short notice, with all the logistical nightmares appurtaining thereunto — not for a summit, but to take part in a DEMONSTRATION? I thought not.

    Comment by Lex — Thursday, January 15, 2015 7:27 am @ 7:27 am

  17. Obama tries to make amends with the French by sending over Kerry and ” Sweet Baby James ” Taylor

    I think Senator Blutarsky speaks for all of us.

    ( HT : John H. )

    Comment by Fred Gregory — Friday, January 16, 2015 3:55 pm @ 3:55 pm

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