Thursday, January 8, 2015

Je Suis Charlie

As you know from previous rants posts, I have strong feelings about freedom of speech.   Recent events in Paris demonstrate the worst of what can happen when fanatics find satire dangerous.

It's a sad day when comedians (Jon Stewart, Conan O'Brien, etc.) have such somber moments as they've had this week.

I didn't see The Interview ... I hear it did pretty well with it's strategic/limited release.  The critics panned it, but from what I can tell just seeing the trailers it is a pretty stupid movie.   I'm glad it did well enough I didn't feel compelled to watch it myself ;-)

I remember purchasing The Satanic Verses in 1989 - it had to be requested at the bookstore counter, a copy was retrieved from the back room and brought out in a brown paper bag so that no one could see what I was buying.  Rushdie's comments on the events in Paris this week are not surprising, after all, he experienced the worst of what suppression of expression can mean for a person who survives the fanatics.  I strongly recommend Joseph Anton: A Memoir for anyone who is interested in free speech issues, or for those who might be interested in the story of a man who had to hide for over a decade because of a story he wrote.

If you're interested in the history of Charlie Hebdo you can look here for an article from The Atlantic.   The Huffington Post has an article on Why Satire Matters.   If you want to print out a little sign to put in your window you can go to the Charlie Hebdo website.  It's a small gesture, but it's something.

In the long run I'm going to assume freedom of expression will prevail in The West.  What the cost of that freedom will be remains to be seen.

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