Thursday, January 8, 2015

Why Je Suis Pas Charlie

Picture from Raw Story

Earlier this week, 12 journalists from the office of the French satirical newspaper, Charlie Hebdo, were tragically killed by two gunmen.  For those whose uncontrolled anger over the incident prevents them from drawing rational conclusions about the message I seek to convey, let me preface my brief remarks by stating clearly that I share everyone's indignation over these horrific murders.  I sincerely do.

With that out of the way, I'd like to explain why I won't be adopting the "Je suis Charlie" image for my profile pic anytime soon.  As an expression of support for the freedom of expression, this slogan seems to imply that Charlie Hebdo exercised this freedom responsibly or compassionately.  It did not.  Just do an image search on Charlie Hebdo cartoons to observe their total disregard for religious people (and not just Muslims).  Although I wouldn't use his exact wording, I find myself sympathizing with comments from the head of the Catholic League, Bill Donohue, who opined that the editor of Charlie Hebdo "got himself murdered by being a narcissist".  The understandable anger that we all have following this horrendous attack should not lead us to the unreasonable conclusion that Donohue in any way condoned the attack.  But when you provoke for the sake of provoking (appealing to freedom of expression in doing so), when you deliberately insult entire bodies of religious believers, these are the possible consequences.

Now, a slogan that I can get behind is "Je suis Stephane Charbonnier".  As a sinner, myself, I should I identify with the newspaper's publisher and the others who were murdered.  I should know, to adopt the language of St. Maximos the Confessor, that I have not acquired perfect love if my "regard for people is still swayed by their characters."  I know that I should pray for their souls, as I hope that others will pray for mine.  However, I can never identify with the anti-religious contempt that Charlie Hebdo represents.