Dear Grande Nation,

It goes without saying that I stand in solidarity with anyone who speaks satire to aggressive, stage-four superstitions.

The twelve dead at Charlie Hebdo did not expect to die upon the alter of free speech, nor did they lay down their lives willingly. They are not heroes for having died. They are heroes for having said whatever the fuck they wanted to, regardless of who it might piss off, and regardless of the consequences. If there's heroism to be found among the dead in Paris this morning, it's to be found in what they published over the last few years, not in the events of today. They'd been sacrificing safety in return for freedom of speech in true Patrick Henry style for quite some time. "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants," T.J. once said, and today is a reminder that we secular humanists also have our martyrs. It's a reminder that all the first amendments and legal protections in the world don't mean shit unless you're personally willing to grow a pair and put your own ass on the line from time to time.

Now granted, the Charlie Hebdo magazine itself isn't really my style. The cartoons look like something dug up in a time capsule from the golden age of Asterix and Obelix and as far as I can tell the humor is, much like the French themselves, exaggerated and didactic.

Like, I think I get what you're trying to say here, but Christ; why don't you just shove it up his ass already? Oh, you already did that? Well then I guess this parody has nowhere left to go. That's as obvious and ham-fisted as it gets. You think Christianity is dumb; we get that. There are subtler ways of getting that point across. You don't have to literally draw them as stiff-armed zombie-retards fucking each other, mouths agape. One final questions though, is God wearing a robe just so we can't see Jesus giving him a reach around?

And as much as Hollande and the rest of France have been talking up their liberty pedigree as the progeny of the French Revolution and the guardians of The Enlightenment this afternoon, let's not forget that that hasn't always been the attitude in France. In 2012 the French government (and the White House) condemned Charlie Hebdo's reprinting of cartoons of Mohammed as "irresponsible" and urged the magazine to self-censorship in the face of Islamic protests over The Innocence of Muslims YouTube video. 

And an earlier form of Charlie Hebdo was actually shut down by the French Minister of the Interior back in 1970 for being too irreverent. So thanks for getting back on the free-speech bandwagon, France. I see it only takes a small massacre to nudge you back to one of your deepest-held core principles... for a few days.

But having said all that, I'll be mother fucking god damned if I sit idly by while armed thugs try to intimidate anyone out of their right to say anything. I too want to take up the good fight, side by side with my French brothers in arms. 

I will be celebrating Blasphemy Day early this year, both by reposting the cartoon that Charlie Hebdo posted just before the attack today, and by adding a caricature of my own.

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi sort of looks like Che Guevera in this one. It's even kind of 
heroic from a certain angle. I'm not sure what all of the fuss was about.

My own comic is essentially a mash-up of all my favorite things.

Regular readers of this blog know I'm crazy for Larry Van Pelt's "With you always" Jesus portraits. Here I've taken a classic Pelt, Seamstress, and replaced Jesus's face with yet another Jesus face, that of Cecilia Giménez's botched 2012 restoration attempt, the hilarious Ecce Mono. At this point of course, I still only have a Jesus. A blasphemous Jesus chimera, yes, and that's fun too, but still only a Jesus. So I took the bomb/turban off of Kurt Westergaard's famous 2005 Jyllands-Posten Mohammed cartoon, and placed it upon Ecce Mono's fuzzy little head. Ecce is less of an individual and more of an amorphous blob which means that no one can really say for sure who/what Ecce Mono is, so I felt free to re-appropriate him as a working Mohammed. The girl's statement is all my own, and voila, a blasphemous statement about Jesus, Mohammed, and the general way that religion lurks around like a creeper in the corner, even when you wish it wouldn't.

Vive la France! Vive la Révolution! Vive la Charlie Hebdo!

Sebastian Braff


Popular Posts