I can’t say for sure if the dozen who lost their lives this past Wednesday in the merciless attack on Charlie Hebdo are heroes; at least by French and European standards. Personal heroes perhaps. They did their jobs, aware of the consequences –particularly the editor in chief and the cartoonists- but there is nothing heroic about enjoying and using the expressive liberties bestowed upon the French. Courageous perhaps in their resilience after condemnation from extremist threats and firebombs and while they were proponents of freedom, they certainly didn’t save any lives. By contrast, in America, too often the pasty notion of a hero is a commoner who died, passively maybe, statistically probably shot, and their legacy –whatever it may be- is emboldened with the coronation of a flimsy hero’s ribbon crown and sensationalized salute by special cable news drama. Americans think the caricature of French surrendering is a good rib-tickler, but US media is a blue ribbon pussy by comparison.
When Charlie Hebdo poked our abhorrent collective enemy in the eye with a pencil, the only camaraderie we can muster is to shit our pants and paste pictures of dead people on the front page, though yes, we allow assholes to speak their mind on the back page, with Ziggy trying to get a break in between.
The members of Charlie Hebdo were champions of the freedom of expression which we seem to value just as much over here, but the dingle-douches on the Supreme Court have obstensibly hobbled freedom of speech with US$ shackles and we use it to oppress others rather downhill rather than goofing on those who rule and threaten us (Mitch McConnell turtle jokes nothwithstanding) . In America, freedom of speech is about money, using it to vilify the 99% and the repulsive cowardice of the American media at large in saluting and defending the liberties which people died practicing is a spineless bow to executives fearful of losing advertising dollars, be they on the NYTimes, CNN, WSJ, Comedy Central (censuring South Park) , MSNBC, etc… Those vile outlets could have published any one of the more mild cartoons as a noble gesture of compassion and brotherly support, but instead that splashed pictures of a wounded officer seconds before he was shot in the head, and if you have something electric it is in video. It is important to understand that Charlie Hebdo wasn’t goofing on Islam in particular just for sport. They lampooned the extremist fringe’s revered yet invisible icon that they demands subjugation and the killing of innocent thousands. Charlie Hebdo has social merit but no seething hatred
If there were a cartoon to lampoon the courage of American freedom of expression, it would be a quixotic fat cowboy http://www.popularemails.com/user/shahbaz143/fat_cartoon.jpg with an assault rifle riding a dollar sign straining under the weight. And that fat cowboy would be charging towards abortion clinics. We use freedoms to pummel what is otherwise plenty acceptable in the rest of the civilized world.
We censure breasts and “shit” on standard TV but footage of senseless violence with the bright red “discretion” lure is just as American as processed reduced fat gluten-free apple pie. In this case the press celebrated the dead with graphic neon head shots of how they died rather than, ironically, not publishing the pictures of their very little foreign brothers’ cartoon paper.
I’ve always been an incorruptible, steadfast wet-panties cheerleader for Francophilia (except matters concerning their clumsy grasp of the internets) and while saddened by the events which will no doubt foment and ferment already sour relations between a majorly peaceful Muslim population and the secular French, the patriotic call to arms against tyranny, rebellious satire’s “theme song” and France’s national anthem “La Marseillaise” always gives me exhilarating chair de poule. France has an epic tradition of food culture, but comics also rule the day, notably the goofy, sexually irreverent scribbles like Édika, Gotlib, Reiser, and the triumphant Fluide Glacial that are the hallmark syllabi of mine and every other’s Gallic youth.
Merci France, pour les déssins rigolo et bandant.