Muslim Extremists Murder French Satirists

Gunmen in Paris have murdered 12 people today in a pointless, hopeless quest to squelch criticism of Islam. The murders occurred at the headquarters of Charlie Hebdo, a satirical weekly paper that has not shied away from mocking Islam and Muhammad.

This mirrors the 2005 uproar over Danish artists who had the gall to mock Muhammad, leading easily offended theists to murder 50 people.

At Skepchick, we believe in the importance of free expression, which includes both freedom from government censorship and freedom from violence and threat of violence.

Additionally, I personally believe that Islam is as stupid a religion as any other, and as such is a truly fucked up fantasy to kill and die for.

My thoughts are with the families of the satirical martyrs, who, according to the Guardian, include Charlie Hebdo editor Stéphane Charbonnier, as well as cartoonists Jean Cabut, Georges Wolinski and Bernard Verlhac.

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca is a writer, speaker, YouTube personality, and unrepentant science nerd. In addition to founding and continuing to run Skepchick, she hosts Quiz-o-Tron, a monthly science-themed quiz show and podcast that pits comedians against nerds. There is an asteroid named in her honor. Twitter @rebeccawatson Mastodon mstdn.social/@rebeccawatson Instagram @actuallyrebeccawatson TikTok @actuallyrebeccawatson YouTube @rebeccawatson BlueSky @rebeccawatson.bsky.social

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  1. It’s not a satirical publication. It’s a plain racist publication. Racist against Jews, Arabs, and black people, as I could ascertain with about thirty seconds of research. This doesn’t excuse twelve murders. On the other hand, being murdered doesn’t erase their past racism. It just means that people are unlikely to do even thirty seconds of research into whether they were assholes, instead calling them “satirical” and “champions of free speech”.

    1. Who’s to say that the terms are mutually exclusive? Larry Flynt for example was “satirical” and a “champion of free speech” while also being an A-number-one asshole, doesn’t make his right to free speech any less important.

      Whether you liked Charlie Hebdo or not does not make what happened any less of a tragedy, after all dying for your art (or rather for other’s opinion of you art) shouldn’t matter whether you created the Mona Lisa or Mad Magazine.

    2. This can’t stand without challenge. Charlie Hebdo was not a racist publication. They were an anti-racist, pro-immigration publication that was so left-wing most Americans wouldn’t even be able to see them on the spectrum.

      They were opposed to all right-wing, fundamentalism – including Islamic fundamentalism.

      There is no “racist” past to erase.

      1. Sam, unfortunately some see any disregard for religious sensibilities as hate instead of as a lack of respect for something that has earned no respect. They are wrong, plain and simple.

        1. This is where we are. A couple years ago, I was doing an ethnography of the next generation of activists. One thing I discovered was how many of them like to use an artfully-disguised equivalent of “I don’t like your tone.” Because, for them, activism is a competition, see who can be the most inclusive. While at the same time, they’ve been raised on self-esteem, so you have faux-leftists who can’t distance themselves from years of Ayn Rand indoctrination.

          dhasenan seems to be engaging in such.

      2. But dhasenan did thirty seconds of research! Did you do the thirty seconds of research it takes to fully understand an issue as complex as a satirical left-wing publication’s views and history on racial politics? I think if you want to seriously engage in this discussion you have to do at least thirty seconds of research. Preferably no more than thirty seconds, because no one’s got time for that.

  2. I spent a good deal more than 30 minutes to follow up this one and it’s still a work in progress.

    The issue is quite complex as you can see for instance by wading through the 500 or so comments in this article: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-01-13/wilson-calls-for-discrimination-law-changes/6013946

    Some argue that cartoons by their very nature use stereotypes as code and this is not racist because the barb is directed towards the ideology and not the race. Also, Charlie Habdo pokes fun at everybody whether Christian, Jewish or Muslim.

    Others argue that the Left is actually indulging in victim blaming if we suggest that the cartoons are racist as if this somehow explains, validates or even justifies the violence of the terrorists.

    It is doubtful whether some of the cartoons would be legal to publish in Australia due to section 18c of our racial vilification law. Personally I find the cartoons crass and unfunny (not to mention homophobic, anybody else agree?) and I would find it hard to say “Je Suis Charlie”.

    Most people seem to feel that solidarity with the victims and against the terrorists trumps any of these considerations. But damn the terrorists for inspiring a new conservative push to overturn 18c.

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