The Cheekies

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Charlie Hebdo, Satire, and Terrorism

For the past few days, there has been much angst and outrage expressed over the killings of 12 satirical cartoonists working at the Charlie Hebdo newspaper in Paris. The public at large has had to do a lot of soul searching in light of these dark actions, and now some are starting to search for answers on as to why this attack was possible, and who should bear the blame. The attack marks the second time the Charlie Hebdo newspaper has been attacked, the first time being after the release of cartoons which represented Islam in an unflattering way, including representations of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, who many Muslims believe should not be portrayed. However, the newspaper faced a very different response to the attacks then, with many believing that the newspaper had almost brought it upon itself via its offensive drawings and imagery. Now the debate seems to be back on the table, with commentary on the limits of free speech and religious right, as well as to whether the attacks are even religious in nature, or should be called such. In fact, some have already begun questioning the tactics of the newspaper and the satirists. Can you really mock such a large portion of the population so profusely, and not expect to get a response? Is it fair to attack a religion with so many devout followers in such an offensive manner and mock them so thoroughly? Does mocking religion even serve a purpose? The answer is yes to all of those, or at least should be. Religion is no different from any other human institution; it is not free from scrutiny or criticism, no matter what topic at hand. No matter how holy or sacred something is, freedom of speech and secularism mean that people have the right to attack and thus ridicule it. Not only that, but when they do exercise that right, they are PROTECTED by law, and should expect no harm to come to them, whether they are majority or minority. There is no fairness to it, there is only right and justice. Imagine what a world it would be if people were restricted just because their opinion differed from someone else's? You don't have to imagine it. Go to North Korea, and see how nice it is there. As soon as we as society start to play favorites and censor when it comes to opinions, that is when we lose our democracy and transition into oligarchy. Everything has its flaws, especially religion, and feelings will not change the real pain to people caused by those flaws. Satirists don't just make things up; they take the truth and they exaggerate it, getting society to pay attention some of the many problems it has by making them appear so big until it has to notice. That's why they're so important to society; they test its foundations and identify issues with them. And that's just what the people at Charlie Hebdo were doing when they were brutally murdered by radical Islamic terrorists. Now, some are calling into question the religious motivations of the terrorists themselves, like in this article by the Telegraph. Throughout this attack, there has been a move by many to defend Muslims and stop people from generalizing them all as terrorists. While I wholeheartedly agree that you cannot generalize the actions of some terrorists to the entire 1.6 billion Muslim population, I also think its absurd to deny that these attacks weren't religiously motivated. The fact of the matter stands that not everything in the Koran and Sharia are peaceful, and that as a result, some Muslims will interpret this literally and commit horrific acts. Part of the reason that terrorists are so powerful is because they believe so profusely that they are carrying out acts of god against infidels, and are just. The terrorists in this case were shouting Allah Akbar, or god is great. These aren't just people with motivations like money or power; these are people with their eternal afterlives in front of them, and they are fully committed to their paths to it.