Welcome to the new version of European Tribune. It's just a new layout, so everything should work as before - please report bugs here.
Display:
Migeru:

At some level you have to accept that if you believe a topic is fair game in political discussion and somebody else is personally offended, the problem is not with the political discussion. At least that appears to be a ground rule of this here forum: no subject matters are out of order (there are exceptions: we have on occasion banned openly antisemitic content and anything that could lead to legal liability for the blog itself, such as libel or copyright violation).

Personally, I find that a lot of the Mohammed cartoon issue involves people in a politically dominant group gratuitously offending people in a minority group. I fail to see what above-board political argument is advanced by publishing a slew of cartoons that the publishers know will cause offence, and with the deliberate aim of causing offence.

word-perfectly put.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sat Jan 5th, 2013 at 08:20:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
OTOH is it not legitimate to take an 'acted position' in order to provoke a discussion, or question an audience? In a long line since Lenny Bruce, comedians have questioned the accepted opinions of audiences of all types.  These are 'acted positions' (Frank Boyle, Al Murray et al of today, as examples). These positions are aimed at a specific audience, not at the people who suffer the intolerance and bigotry.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Sat Jan 5th, 2013 at 10:16:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
i think it's valid, in fact it's very tempting to do so, though it's risky as many readers may not be clued in to what you are doing, and thus why.

irony has a similar problem as tools go.

as persuasive tool, it works on the half-convinced, and can backfire. one man's snark is another's canon.

maybe leg-pulling can embarrass people into dropping old attitudes, and it's fun, so... on we toil.

maybe there is a yet higher way, so unequivocal as not even need humour.

very few get there. john cleese doing 'upper class twit' probably persuaded some of the UCTs to dial back some of the more obnoxious of their affectations! once it's established your intention is mostly to get a laugh, you can enjoy more freedom to play those edges.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sat Jan 5th, 2013 at 11:54:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Fool is Lear's Fool (and one could argue, an extension of Lear's psyche). He is authorised to mock Lear. If another character were to mock Lear in the same way, Lear's reaction would be very different.

Other modern "fools" are questioning their audience and its accepted opinions. This is an invaluable exercise, imo. But its effectiveness stems from the fact that they question the culture from within. This is part of a process by which a culture can lose its prejudices and become broader and more tolerant.

Charlie Hebdo, as fools go (and I've been reading it on and off for forty years), has mostly carried out that function of questioning and mocking from within, and imo to sometimes devastating effect. In terms of religion, that means mostly attacking the authoritarian and reactionary positions of the Catholic clergy and, in particular, the Pope. To applause from me.

On the other hand, I don't support their choosing to mock and question the accepted beliefs of Muslims, however authoritarian and reactionary I think those beliefs may be. Such mockery from the outside is not much likely to be effective in bringing about fresh thinking in the Muslim world -- quite apart from the kneejerk tribal defence effect it is sure to have, change in Islamic culture can imo only come about through the effect of challenges from within. This is something I believe will happen (unless the planet kicks us off it before then). But it's the business of Muslims and those brought up in that culture. The "West" doesn't have lessons to hand out to them.

Yet, whether it be Jyllands Posten or Charlie Hebdo that publishes the material, it can only be perceived in the Islamic world as an emanation of the "West". Neither paper is ignorant of this. So the intention seems to me to be other than mocking in order to question and bring about a positive dynamic in the culture. It looks more like defiance, hostile acts born from a civilisation-clash worldview. And that, I dislike as much as I dislike the trolly language of ormondotvos' diary.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Jan 5th, 2013 at 12:25:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
afew:
So the intention seems to me to be other than mocking in order to question and bring about a positive dynamic in the culture.

so very encouraging to see reasonable attitudes free of prejudice or arrogance. it's up to us to try and mend the scars of centuries, and try to rebring about the peaceful, (and amazingly productive) co-existence that has on occasion occurred between our cultures.

it's happening in music, with our strains melding beautifully with theirs. (someone will probably post something appropriate!).

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sat Jan 5th, 2013 at 04:11:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm surprised that you, afew, in particular, should characterise the current CH publication as being addressed by Occidentals to international Islam.

The comic of the life of the Prophet was written by French people, Muslim and non-Muslim, for French people, Muslim and non-Muslim.

We (including you and me, afew) live in a society in which a large number of people, French by birth, are of Muslim heritage, whether actively Muslim or not. They are friends, neighbours, colleagues, part of the fabric of society (probably a bit thin on the ground out your way). Islam is not a foreign religion in France. And it is the religion of an underprivileged minority with which CH has always manifested solidarity, to the extent that I'm quite sure that, in their own heads at least, CH do not see themselves satirising Islam from the outside, but as an aspect of a society in which they (and we) are fully part.

I was pretty ambivalent when Charlie Hebdo reprinted the Jyllands Posten drawings (however I have approved of CH's own drawings of Mahomet published on that occasion, and since). That was certainly an edgy editorial decision; and I think the editor, Charb, is right in saying that they put the cart before the horse (there is an element of implicit self-criticism in that).

But, again, I really don't much evidence of geopolitics in any of the editorial decisions of CH. To the extent that they are concerned with reactions outside France, it is with French-speaking North Africa. They have been fervent supporters of the Arab Spring, and highly critical of the rise of political Islam, in Tunisia in particular. Those who organised anti-CH demonstrations are of the Salafist tendency, i.e. the extreme right of the political spectrum of the Arab world (I hope nobody is shocked by that characterisation!)

CH in a fight with the extreme right : it's hardly a novelty.

The impact within France deserves more consideration. Later.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Sun Jan 6th, 2013 at 04:57:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
eurogreen:
characterise the current CH publication as being addressed by Occidentals to international Islam.

I didn't. I said it would necessarily be perceived in the Islamic world as an emanation of the West.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Jan 6th, 2013 at 05:06:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
OTOH is it not legitimate to take an 'acted position' in order to provoke a discussion, or question an audience?

It's one thing to speak truth to power, and quite another to bully.

I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Jan 5th, 2013 at 07:02:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree - but at what point does one become the other?

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Sun Jan 6th, 2013 at 02:40:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I thought of the two of us I was the socially inept one...

I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Jan 6th, 2013 at 02:50:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You can't bully the powerful.

On the other hand, maybe you can. I am instantly reminded of Michael Moore's interview of Charlton Heston in Bowling for Columbine. Since my first viewing of that movie, it felt to me like harassment. Sort of like a happy-slappy video.

Then again, as Galbraith said,

In all life one should comfort the afflicted, but verily, also, one should afflict the comfortable, and especially when they are comfortably, contentedly, even happily wrong.


I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Jan 6th, 2013 at 02:57:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Presumably a labour strike cannot therefore be seen as bullying?

My point is that there is no clear line between 'truth to power' and 'bullying' without understanding the audience that 'freedom of speech' addresses. I agree that in many, perhaps most, cases it is easy to see which is which (usually because the law is clear). But there are also cases in which the messaging can only be defined by the supposed intent.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Sun Jan 6th, 2013 at 06:52:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
My point is that there is no clear line between 'truth to power' and 'bullying' without understanding the audience that 'freedom of speech' addresses.

What? There's no clarity in who has power over whom in most situations?

I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Jan 6th, 2013 at 03:25:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Display:

Occasional Series