Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
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
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