Charlie Hebdo: Should satire only target people in power? | Channel 4 News

Will Self, who teaches contemporary thought at Brunel University, tells Channel 4 News that free speech comes with responsibility and satire should only target people in power. Cartoonist Martin Rowson says “total freedom of expression is ludicrous.”

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37 thoughts on “Charlie Hebdo: Should satire only target people in power? | Channel 4 News

  1. How can these people claim to believe in free speech if they wish to censor people who take the p*ss out of bad ideas and ideologies, put in place laws about what a person can say or not say creates tyranny and oppression. Stupid people.

  2. If we truly live in a global world then the idea that Muslims and Islam are just weak victims is literally absurd. Islam is probably one of the most powerful ideological systems in the world today. The figure of Muhammad is held up as a moral example to billions of school age children every day. As a political system Islam has far more influence over society than most other religions. The post-christian west is broadly secular. Most majority Muslim countries have profoundly oppressive aspects to them – all drawing from religious scripture and tradition. The idea that these sorts of things shouldn't be ridiculed or critiqued for fear of encouraging the wrong sort of people is very dangerous.

    If you were afraid of Fascism in the 1940s does that mean you should refuse to criticize the crimes of Communism? If an Egyptian Copt criticizes the oppressive uses to which Islam is put in his country does that mean he is fuelling the fire of christian hatred against all Muslims?

  3. There is an aspect of responsibility. You have a responsibility to your employer, your family and friends. Where responsibility ends is your life. If, as Will Self, has argued that applies to Charlie Hebdo then that means that they are responsible for the attack upon them. Which totally negates the dynamic at play: 'if you don't respect our values then we will kill you'.

  4. If I was a religious leader in Islam, I would be asking serious questions of these supposed believers, I mean if you have to resort to your most primitive human impulses to defend the honour of your "God", how weak and imaginary does that portray your god to be? How worldly, vain and irreligious must one be to go to such lengths?
    It's as though the killers don't even believe in the God, (his attributes, eternal punishments "he" bestows, judgement day and so on) themselves, and have to resort to using Western weaponry to achieve a satiation their "God" is powerless to grant them, and if "He" did exist would surely find reprehensible…But then I've read the Quran and blood lust, war and destruction is certainly inherent to the book.

  5. I have to disagree with Will here, it's good to see religious believers provoked, prodded and cajoled.
    Though the end results are often despicable and sadly end in violence, it does demonstrate how simian these "God's" who are afraid of the human tongue, or pen really are, and how primitive they encourage their followers to be.

  6. I agree with the base of Will Self's argument – that, like any right or privilege, free speech does and must come with responsibilities. But, for me, these apply to personal insults, or ad hominen use of free speech; in other words, I don't feel that attacks on a person's character, or things written or said to deliberately insult a person or people, are legitimate uses of free speech.

    Where I think Self has failed to acknowledge a distinction, and where I believe free speech is not burdened by such responsibilities, is when it concerns ideas. Ideologies and doctrines, whether they be religious, political or even scientific, should not be exempt from free speech. Therefore, we should not feel restricted by anything when we attack faith. As long as we are playing the ball and not the man, so to speak, then we have nothing to feel bad about.

  7. People are not ideas. Muslims might not be in power. But Islam certainly is. It's arguably the most powerful idea on the planet right now. And it needs to be taken down a peg or 2 because it's ruining lives by the millions. Mostly muslim lives.

  8. 11 Jan 2015 – Charlie Hebdo: Short TV interview with Will Self, who teaches contemporary thought at Brunel University, tells Channel 4 News (UK) that free speech comes with responsibility and satire should only target people in power. Cartoonist Martin Rowson says “total freedom of expression is ludicrous." Freedom of speech is not an "absolute right". It's Free speech with Responsibility; also questioning the broader context and generalities made that do not apply. All rights have to be accounted for along with responsibilities. Satire: Who is it attacking? Are they in a position of power? Is it giving comfort to those being abused by those people in power? By mocking the beliefs of Islam does it make people feel any better or safer? Last year 75,000 people died in the Syrian civil war.
     @ 2m3s
    While France's political class stands for free speech today, I still remember the Rainbow Warrior.

  9. If Will Self is ever physically attacked for his writing: I shall sit at his hospital bedside, whilst the doctors are deciding whether or not to turn off the life support and play this back to him.

  10. 1. Will Self has argued very brilliantly and lucidly.

    2. And Martin Rowson's final point about the need for Muslims to develop a thicker skin even to ABUSE disguised as 'free speech' is equally critical moving forward.

  11. Jews are the very definition of an oppressed minority. Only 35 million Jews worldwide. After centuries of persecution they are still attacked, they deserve more protection.
    Will Self can go and fuck his mother the miserable cunt, he has no balls whatsoever.
    The satirists at Charlie Hebdo have shown balls the size of the Eiffel Tower.
    A simple way to end this Islamist extremist nonsense of killing people over a cartoon is for every newspaper publication around the world to print the cartoons of Mohammed.

  12. Had a conversation with the brother earlier and was relating how there are those who take the view that Charlie Hebdo are renowned for pushing the envelope to a questionable extent. If we want not to be partly responsible for other people's reactions towards perceived religious prejudice we need to find other ways of expressing critical sentiment via progressive globalising agendas such as: Vegetarianism which holds that there is no 'Holy way', to kill animals for human consumption; Feminism which holds that women are equal whether men, patriarchal societies or religions can cope with that fact or not; Human Rights which promotes a wider sense of social justice and equality across a spectrum of issues including the issue of sexual orientation. It is up to religious peoples, communities and institutions to keep pace and make sense of these agendas within their own ranks. Today I attended RC Mass in my local Church in Fermanagh (N.I) and then proceeded to Ireland's only Hindu Temple ran by the Krishna Consciousness Movement for chanting, Kirtan and prasadam.

    I considered it a day well spent and found myself discussing the feminist agenda with a devotee who had man troubles. I told her that, if necessary, men could essentially be regarded as donor sperm dispensers, with fringe benefits, if they were not willing to commit to the monogamous matriarchal project because once a woman has bore a mans children she has essentially done him the greatest service any human being could do another. Feminism alone will put all but the most liberal of religious traditions under immense pressure. Vegetarianism is in itself a direct challenge to Islam's tradition of Halal meat. The Human Rights agenda is salting the waters to the extent that it demands an evolutionary leap of such epic proportions, for religious, that most religious traditions which make the progressive transition will become unrecognizable to themselves.  The best way to depict the Prophet Mohammed is – as Muslims maintain – not to depict him at all and to elevate the entire debate above and beyond religious parlance. It is up to thinking religious to frame a philosophy of religious principle/conviction much like the Dali Lama is doing for Buddhism though Environmentalists are likely to be more attracted by Krishna Consciousness. In some respects Krishna Consciousness offers a popular praxis for religious principle which could and ought be universalised. If we're going to talk about and depict a religion I suggest we chose proactively rather than re-actively. The reactive is nearly always the weakest stance and the one that gets us into most trouble. 

    Jesus was nailed to the Cross not the crossroads of the Holy Land or of the Abrahamic Faith tradition. It is time we stopped behaving as captive audience to traditions which we essentially parted ways with two millennia ago and began to reorient towards the Eastern esoteric traditions and wider humanist tradition. Let the Islamic quarter manage its own. The social media has launched the conversation up in the ether – like some Space Race II, cept it's an ether race – for any and all to participate in as equals. A comment I made on Aljazeera earlier was deleted as are most of my comments there, which is why I'm now Reddit sharing my Ajazz comments for the record sake. I usually comment solely at a friends invitation. They simply will not tolerate even the slightest critique or aside. Total waste of time and it was a substantive comment regarding an article titled 'Russia says transsexuals unfit to drive', far more challenging towards Christianity than the fleeting reference to Mohammed. It's there funeral let them dig away. Let them be represented by blank spaces if that is their choice. 

    Hare Krishna

  13. Will Self made a damn good point, because when Jews in power tell hebdo to remove antisemitic cartoons they got removed, but when Muslims whom have little voice tell hebdo to take down the cartoons they are allowed to stay up. And I bet if North Korea told hebdo to take down offensive propaganda of their leader (who is not even a God) hebdo would take the cartoons down under advisement from security services – especially If there was a credible threat to national security.   

    I think French media is running a straw man campaign by claiming this was an attack on "freedom of speech" when it seems more like an attack against western imperialistic war propaganda against the Middle East. French people would have behaved in the same manner when their country was occupied under the Vichy regime in 1940. French Resistance movements would have bombed the press, the establishment, the police etc.. The label "terrorist" is just a name for people who fight back against imperialism. If the west pulled out of the war they started in the Middle East then the militants would not be bringing the war zones back to your doorsteps. The bigger picture here is that people forget France has put herself on a war footing since 2001 when they joined Bush's ongoing crusade.

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