Thursday, January 15, 2015

The Bible of Hell

Reporter: "Are you a Mod or a Rocker?"
Ringo: "No, I'm a mocker."
("A Hard Day's Night")

Now that Je suis Charlie has trended to its end, Je ne suis pas Charlie can safely re-emerge. The column below summarizes well the views of the push-back:

Joseph Curl is a columnist I usually agree with, but in this case he has simply reverted to the Muslims' own justification for violent jihad. He asks several questions which he expects to be answered submissively. Here are my retorts.

1. "Is it really the job of journalists to belittle religion, to mock the faithful's beliefs?"

Hell yeah. The satirical weekly CharlieHebdo is not a "newspaper of record" like the Grey Lady, but the viciously cynical bane of every religion, faith, belief system, idol, hero, god, shibboleth, sacred cow, golden calf and "unexamined life." Anything that can't be ridiculed, that is "unfit to print," has a depressingly inevitable tendency to become tyrannical. The Frenchman Voltaire said it best: "I may disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." His admirer Thomas Jefferson added, "There is not a truth existing which I fear ... or would wish unknown to the whole world."

2. "Should we ridicule and demonize those of other religions simply because we can?"

Who is "we"? There have been individuals in all eras and places who deride the tender sentiments of their fellow man, and there always will be. Free speech doesn't mean pain-free, shock-free speech. Free speech is either an absolute right or a dead letter. It is not to be stripped away bit by bit by hounds baying for its blood.

Have some humility, humans. What deity is harmed or angered by Man's mockery? Only the tin gods of intolerant belief systems like certain sects of Christianity and Judaism and most of Islam. (Currently Hinduism is displaying a greater urge to dominate under the Bharatiya Janata Party in India. Which leaves Buddhism - maybe.) The mockers among us do not "demonize," however: They themselves are demonized, considered demons. They rouse and raise doubt and most humans are mortally offended by doubt. People are clucking over the post-attack drawing of murdered CharlieHebdo cartoonist Georges Wolinski being comforted in the afterlife by one of Allah's mythical virgins, but it is just that hardcore relentless irreverence that he championed.

3. "If CharlieHebdo wanted to anger Muslims, it succeeded. But was there ever any higher purpose, any constructive goal, in doing so? ... And, quite simply, what is the point?"

Fortunately in America we don't have to go before tribunals that demand we justify our "higher purpose" or "constructive goal" or "point." If the government were turning a blind eye to and even subsidizing hate groups that advocate ethnic cleansing, say, of "infidels," then we might well object. Wait - the government is doing that. Using our tax money to finance terrorism against our nation. Moreover the government itself provokes far more jihadi rage by lording it over the Middle East than all the satirical magazines put together.

Charlie's cartoons are "infantile" and they are "vulgar" - both Al-Jazeera and Bill Donohue of the Catholic League agree. Too bad. Infantile vulgarity is protected under "the laws of Nature and of Nature's God" - AKA the Bill of Rights - from being infringed upon by the state or any other power. As Tony Soprano would say, "[Forget] you if you can't take a joke."

It is not the Charlies of the world who bomb and slash, hang, behead, imprison, lash and burn. It is they who do the ugly but necessary work of keeping us free whether we like it or not. They are the scribes of what William Blake called "the Bible of Hell, which the world shall have whether they will or no." The flame they insist on fanning brings enlightenment to the dark places of our minds. They instinctively know that intolerance, the entropy of consciousness, must constantly be pushed back. They know that laughter is the sane response to human folly. It is they who hear the laughter of the gods.