SIX THOUGHTS ON THE CHARLIE HEBDO TERRORISM ATTACKS

Je Suis Charlie

These thoughts have been brewing all weekend, and come in no particular order.

1.  Thursday I was making potato soup while listening to NPR.  Keep in mind, the attacks were still only twenty-four hours old, but already people were saying things like, “Well, this is terrible and all, but Charlie Hebdo really shouldn’t have made those Muslims angry and should have exercised better judgment.”  I paraphrase, but that is the gist of it.  Je Suis Charlie

That kind of thinking makes me sick, because it is roughly equivalent to the line of thought that blames a rape victim for dressing provocatively.  Charlie Hebdo was a poor taste, lowest common denominator satire that I do not appreciate or enjoy, but they were doing what free people do–expressing themselves.  To put any of the blame upon them is cowardice and makes me sick.

2.  The best analysis I have heard on the whole thing was from Rachel Maddow on her Friday night program.  I have embedded it for your convenience.  It is lengthy.

3.  David Brooks wrote an op-ed in the New York Times on Friday that struck a nerve with me.  He wrote:

The journalists at Charlie Hebdo are now rightly being celebrated as martyrs on behalf of freedom of expression, but let’s face it: If they had tried to publish their satirical newspaper on any American university campus over the last two decades it wouldn’t have lasted 30 seconds. Student and faculty groups would have accused them of hate speech. The administration would have cut financing and shut them down.

I find his arguments to be compelling, and a little unsettling.  We, and by we I mean western culture, have gotten seriously too thin skinned.  People do not have the right to be not be offended, and all opposition to the politically correct terminology is not hate speech.  I think we need to take the muzzle off.

4.  The first time I saw “Je Suis Charlie” on a sign I thought it said “Jesus is Charlie” and it really confused me.

5.  I have posted on terrorism many times, but I will say it again, we are facing worldview issues.  It would be wrong to label all Muslims with this broad stripe, but those radical jihadists such as ISIS, Al-Qaeda, Boko Haram and others reject out of hand pluralism in a society, while pluralism is one of our cherished values.  The worst thing we can do is to concede liberties of freedom of speech, travel, assembly, religion, and press in an effort to stay safe.  We have already lost too much because of fear.  It is time to stop being afraid and to start acting like the same people who defeated Hitler and Communism.

6.  What happened in Paris at Charlie Hebdo and at that kosher grocery store is horrible, but every day ISIS is doing evil things.  It was recently brought to my attention at church that they are actively seizing Yazidi women and girls as sex slaves.  If you have time, check out the Twitter hashtag #Yazidiwomen.  It will break your heart.  Why has reporting of this travesty been so neglected in the United States?  Do the lives of women and children who belong to a peculiar, yet interesting, religious sect matter less than Parisian Satirists?

So, yeah, those are some of my thoughts.

image from www.timeshighereducation.co.uk

FREE SPEECH IS SHIRTLESS

There is a lot of work today for me, plus it is election day and there are some constitutional amendments I need to weigh in on, but I am never too busy to complain about the continuing erosion of personal liberty.

It has come to my attention this morning a small business operator named Dan McCall has been ordered to stop selling a parody t-shirt because it offends the NSA–the National Security Administration–you know, the ones who are keeping tabs on all your metadata?  Yeah, them.

This is the t-shirt in question:

pic from dailymail.co.uk
pic from dailymail.co.uk

In case you can’t read it–it has the NSA logo with the fake motto, “Peeping while your sleeping” and then below that it has a cute little satire that says, “The NSA–The only part of government that actually listens.”

He was selling this t-shirt all over the place, including Zazzle.  Zazzle is one of the online retailers I know about because I bought a coffee cup with a cockroach picture on it for a loved one last year from Zazzle.  But I digress.

The rationale behind their scary Orwellian “Cease and Desist” order is that it is copyright infringement.  Really?  The NSA is copyrighted?  Does the NSA seek to make money off it’s logo?  Besides, this is a parody.  Go to any shopping mall and you will find parody t-shirts in half the shops.  Go to any church youth group and you will see religiously parodied t-shirts that take a secular logo and put a spiritual or biblical twist to it.

It happens everyday and most of us chuckle and move on.  But not the NSA.  Not our government.

I am not saying it is good taste to print that t-shirt and I’m not saying I would buy one.  However, this is an epic government overreach.  What is next, will the NSA go after The Onion.  Actually, that would be a great Onion story about how the NSA is trying to shut them down.  In fact when I first saw this I thought it was a rogue Onion story some took for being real, but then I checked it with real news sources like NBC.  I wish it were satire, but this is Jon Stewart.  This is our government.

For what it is worth, I am sure my tax bill will go up now after they read this blog.  If there are no further postings found, or my blog suddenly goes dark, you will understand what happened.