By Jim and KT both together
We here at The Clam did not particularly care for the cartoons French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo published of the Prophet Muhammad. They were crude, not particularly well drawn and what we found most unappealing was they simply weren’t funny.
Here’s a couple of them. Like we said, they sort of suck.
But note: Those shitty cartoons were stronger than any bomb, gun or blade that could ever be wielded toward their publisher. Did the perpetrators really think they are helping the cause of Islam? I mean, people say that assholes like the Westboro Baptist Church give Christians a bad name but they are simply being hamfistedly hateful toward homosexuals, probably because gays are better at choosing complementary colors for their signs. However it’s worth mentioniong that as vile as the Westboro idiots are, they’re not shooting anyone.
Can someone answer me this question: Do the attackers and their supporters actually believe they live in a universe created by a divine being who on one hand makes a complex structure like a quasar, spawns a trillion suns, conjures a billion billion galaxies, who creates the laws of physics and chemistry and life itself, but is offended by a fucking cartoon?
Over here at The Clam we get our share of weird threats, unhinged comments and drunk-at-the-keyboard smacktalk one expects online. And we goof on the city we deeply love a lot, but there is always somebody who not only doesn’t get the joke (huffing fiberglass hardener will do that to a man) but who also thinks that we are the one website in the world he or she (it’s often been a she) just has to SET STRAIGHT!
But for all that I find it hard to believe anyone would come in here and mow us down in a hail of gunfire over “Top Ten Gloucester Slang Terms for Sex” [#5: “Going to Annisquam”]. This is because for all the idiocy of our culture at times, we value the freedom of speech above all and our humorists in particular. We might wind up with our tires slashed or somebody might take a swing at us in the bar at some point, but our right to be obnoxious dickweeds was the first thing the founders of this country inked when they sat down to lay out the Bill of Rights. Everyone in the United States recognizes the freedom of the press. Well, everyone but Maryland Legislator Kirby Delauter.
We don’t mean to get hokey but we do take our responsibility, even as not official journalists, sort of seriously. More seriously than a lot of readers might expect (and unfortunately, more seriously than a lot of actual media outlets). Parody has always been a sign of a healthy society going back as least as far as Aristophanes, and his stuff still stands. Our sacred pledge, the thing we try to come back to again, is the satirists duty to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. To do this we are given permission to utter truths the rest of the culture dare not speak. It’s not exactly a superpower, but it is power, and with it comes responsibility.
But let’s be honest, we’re not the ones in danger. Unless that one manchild who was really pissed about Prospect Street Parking puts down his Twisted Tea and rises from his couch (unlikely). So let’s hear it from someone who’s spent his life dealing with this bullshit and who is much, much more articulate than us:
“Religion, a mediaeval form of unreason, when combined with modern weaponry becomes a real threat to our freedoms. This religious totalitarianism has caused a deadly mutation in the heart of Islam and we see the tragic consequences in Paris today. I stand with Charlie Hebdo, as we all must, to defend the art of satire, which has always been a force for liberty and against tyranny, dishonesty and stupidity. ‘Respect for religion’ has become a code phrase meaning ‘fear of religion.’ Religions, like all other ideas, deserve criticism, satire, and, yes, our fearless disrespect.”
– Salman Rushdie
We also stand with Salman Rushdie. Well, more like crouch with him, preferably in some kind of hardened bunker wearing full body armour (that’s an old Dave Barry line).
So fearless disrespect it is. We remember a joke from back in the ’80s: What is the title of Salman Rushdie’s next book? It’s called ‘Buddha Was a Fat Fucker” You know what’s funny about that? Everything. And we want to thank the Buddhists for laughing along with us (and probably at us too for just earning about fifty more rebirths) and not threatening to kill anybody.
Any other major religions paying attention there?