As people such as Jacob Canfield and Sandip Roy have noted, Charlie Hebdo could be obnoxious and rude, and the magazine’s humor could be characterized as xenophobic. Neither of these writers are suggesting that the victims in this case deserved to be murdered, but that it is inappropriate to share their work in the wake of the murder as these cartoons are terrible, no-good, incendiary, racist, sexist, homophobic, and even more regressively reactionary than the Three Stooges. They have judged them to be Bad Satire because of their offensive nastiness and extraordinary rudeness; furthermore, they have judged the creators at Charlie Hebdo to be ‘racist assholes’ and characterized their humor as ‘punching down’ at the marginalized and oppressed. At this point I would urge both Jacob and Sandip to take the pearls they are clutching and shove them deeply into their rectums, whereupon they should slowly withdraw them one by one while furiously masturbating so as to produce a toe-curling orgasm that might help them clear their heads.
I don’t see how it is ‘punching down’ to mock people who are willing and able to kill you. I don’t see how the ‘Love is Stronger than Hate’ cover is homophobic. I don’t see how mocking violent fundamentalists is somehow wrong, nor do I see mocking religion itself as a wrong thing to do; in fact, I believe these are necessary and good things to do. Mocking the violent believer is not mockery of a religion, and mocking a religion does not mock God. Besides, blasphemy, or mockery of the sacred, serves a higher purpose; if a belief cannot endure the breeze of laughter then one should not try to cling to it. Lies are polite and the truth is rude; this is what makes blasphemy cut so deeply into the minds of fundamentalists. Trying to maintain a primitive mindset in the face of modernity is ultimately futile but that does not make the primitives any less dangerous as they are willing to use modern technology to recreate the idyllic Dark Age Fantasylands or bring about apocalyptic daydream Tomorrowlands. People who reject reason and embrace violence in the name of their imaginary friends need to be mocked in the hope that they will hear the truth in our blasphemy and come in out of the wilderness.
The ministry of Jesus was blasphemous from the Parable of the Good Samaritan to His healing of the sick; it’s why He was killed. My answer to the question, ‘What Would Jesus Do?’ is ‘go drinking with hookers and bust up a church’. The teachings of the Buddha are blasphemous, as they reject notions of good, evil, or God running it all. Mohammed was blaspheming against the old tribal gods of his people when he had them removed from the Kaaba and reconsecrated it to Allah. Martin Luther, Galileo, and Dr King were all blasphemers, speaking unspeakable truths to their fellows. The Charlie Hebdo cartoon of a fundamentalist terrorist beheading the Prophet who he is accusing of being an infidel is spot on satire that speaks an unbearable truth to the religious terrorist; people who do violence in the name of the Prophet are doing violence to the Prophet.
I understand the taboo against portraying Mohammed or for that matter, any representation of a human being in Islamic art; that taboo does not apply to non-Muslims. I also want to point out that one of the police officers who was murdered by the terrorists was a Muslim and that countless Muslims and Islamic have condemned the attack in the strongest terms possible. When I talk about a primitive mindset, I am talking about individuals that believe images have some sort inherent power or magic about them; there is no racial or other bias in this word as the primitive mindset can be found everywhere. Just months before the Taliban was blowing up the Buddhas of Bamiyan with rocket launchers, Mayor Giuliani was trying to get a painting of the Virgin Mary removed from the Brooklyn Museum. The primitive mindset does not belong to any particular religion, race or whatever; it is embraced by people everywhere who think that they can make the world a better place if they burn this book or that painting, or that by killing they are doing the will of God.
Either everything is fair game or nothing is. Bad satire makes you feel comfortable and smug; good satire unsettles and goes places you’re not supposed to. This is not to say that being offensive is equivalent to being good satire because it takes no effort to be crude, thoughtless, and juvenile. It does mean, however, that in order to protect the good satire we have to protect that which is crude, thoughtless, and juvenile as well. If Charlie Hebdo was merely thoughtless crude racism produced by assholes they would have fled after the first firebombing or would not have even been targeted in the first place; it is because their pens found their mark that the madmen came to kill them. But in doing so, the primitive minds of the killers only made Charlie Hebdo more powerful than they could possibly imagine, because from now until the end of my days every time I hear the name of the Prophet Mohammed, this will be the face I attach to it: