Qui est Charlie? Or in English,
Who is Charlie?
I am writing this in the aftermath of the terrible massacre of ten journalists and cartoonists in the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo last week in Paris. The slogan Je Suis Charlie has been used throughout the world. and the hashtag #JeSuisCharlie has gone viral on twitter.
But what is Charlie Hebdo? A French satirical magazine with a fraction of the circulation of the British Private Eye, in countries with roughly the same population. It has been called Islamophobic by those denouncing the cartoons that the attacks were allegedly about. Would an Islamophobic magazine print covers like these:
Yes. they are tasteless, and offensive. Satire is often offensive, those who have criticised Charlie Hebdo for being offensive have in some ways missed the point of satire.
The Satirist is the fool, in a medieval sense. The person whose job it is to poke fun at those in authority. It is a dangerous profession, despotic leaders do not like being told that they are wrong, poking fun at someone with no sense of humour can be fatal, as recent events have shown.
But even if it is often cruel I do not is not see satire as wrong. People often confuse the satirist with agreeing with the people they are satirising, or the opposite problem of taking it literally. Irony is a very big part of irony.
What is more with their fearlessness satirist, despite the nastiness, along with investigative journalists, are keeping democracy alive by bringing to light things that the spin doctors want to keep buried.
Freedom of the press is important. I support the right of satirists to upset people, even if that person is me.
Personally I cannot say Je suis Charlie with the others.
In view of Charie Hebdo republishing the cartoons, and on 24th March 2021 what is believed to be the Charlie Hebdo cartoons used in a debate on blasphemy in Batley Grammar School, I have removed the images from this post, and say that although I still suport the right of satirists to provoke, I do not support anything that is likely to provoke violence. Depicting muslims as terrorists, and I believe the cartoon used depicted Mohammed as a suicide bomber, has led to an increase in racist attacks against Asian people in this country.