In Praise of Defiance and Pride

Mohamed overwhelmed by fundamentalists: "It's rough, being loved by idiots..."
Mohamed overwhelmed by fundamentalists: “It’s rough, being loved by idiots…”

Why is anyone asking seriously whether cartoons of Mohamed (or any other naughty cartoons) should be published? Why is anyone asking whether the people murdered at Charlie Hebdo “asked for it”, “deserved it”? And why is anyone hesitating for a moment to answer “Yes!” to the first question, and “Are you fucking kidding me?” to the second?

I’ll tell you, I’m damn tired of people who want to protect free speech as long as it’s pleasing and fluffy and considerate. Unobjectionable, accommodating speech is not an endangered species; controversial speech is what needs to be free, and protected. (That includes posting irreverent cartoons and outrageous articles, not committing murder, so we’re clear.)

And on a related topic, I’ve had it up to here with the privileged telling the marginalized, the colonized, the subjugated to be patient and wait for good things to fall out of the social piñata by magic. Women, visible minorities, LGBTQ, handicapped, and other marginalized people have never achieved, and will never achieve, anything by being demure and polite. Sure, we need the diplomats and the peace-makers but we also need the firebrands and the shit-stirrers. Otherwise, nothing ever changes. For those who don’t know, Charlie Hebdo pretty reliably challenges the powerful on behalf of the marginalized.

Ahmed MerabetWhile I’m at it, here’s another thing I’m fed up with: one-size-fits-all mentalities. No, not all Muslims, and not all men, and not all white people, and so forth… Not all any one characteristic defines anybody. At least two Muslims were killed in the attack on Charlie Hebdo: a police officer and an employee of the magazine. Ahmed Merabet was not terrifically happy of the treatment he sometimes received as a Frenchman of Arab origin, and as a cop. I bet he didn’t agree with everything Charlie Hebdo published (I sure don’t), but his job was to protect the place because of the 2011 firebombing, and he did his job with professionalism. If you have a problem with “those people”: show some fucking respect.

In conclusion: if you are qualifying your support for free speech with “Of course the cartoonists  and journalists of Charlie Hebdo shouldn’t have been killed, but…” then fuck you. And if you think “I don’t have anything against the Muslims, but…” then fuck you.

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