Je ne parle pas.

Okay so… You know there was a shooting right? At a satirical publication in France? Called Charlie Hebdo? You know?

There was a ton of coverage. Huge unity marches. Fox News started blaming it on strict gun restrictions in France as if they have even a fraction of the mass shootings that we do. And then something weird popped up with Obama maybe being worse than Hitler? (Spoiler alert: Obama is worse than Hitler.)

It was a fucking tragedy. It was terrible. And it’s so…. interesting. Not because people died, that’s not interesting. Even though CNN, Fox, ABC, and every other station replay the same videos of people shooting into the air, crossing their fingers for blood splatter (blood splatter is great for ratings), the violence is not what interests me. Believe it or not… I don’t want to see real people die on the news, or on world star, or on youtube, or on your cell phone. (Interesting Fact! Met this cop once at a bar whose idea of flirting was taking me to a strip club and then showing me crime scene pictures on his phone. The pictures, taken that same day from multiple angles, were of a man, lying in the street, with a bullet hole in his head. Thanks, guy.)

The shooting is interesting because everyone automatically rallied together in support of the magazine. And they should; no one deserves death for exercising their right to free speech. That seems to be a given. No one really argues that you shouldn’t die because you made a joke, or a movie, or a book. But Charlie Hebdo would have been highly criticized in America (and has been, since the massacre). I think we would have hated it. And Republicans might have supported it – until Charlie started making drawings about Jesus – but I could just be saying that because it seems like a racist thing to do and I’m falling into party stereotypes… because… well:

We all gotta pick a side. 

Are you a Democrat or Republican? Because I’ll know what you think about almost every topic once you tell me. No one is allowed nuance. No one is allowed intellect.

Bill Maher has gotten a lot of shit lately because he’s a liberal who didn’t pick the right side. He is super critical of Islam because he’s super critical of all religions. All religions. All of them. He hasn’t denied that there are good Muslims in this world, practicing a very peaceful faith, but he’s also pointing out statistics and recent/current events. He’s being called a whole lot of things by a whole lot of liberals. And also being called not liberal by conservatives, which is weird. (Remember, we are all in support of a magazine that drew grotesque images of a religion’s prophet for years. We support this sort of discussion…. right?)

To be fair, I agree with a lot of his observations. But they make me so uncomfortable. I don’t know if the majority of Muslims across the world (he’s not speaking about this country) support violence, as he says. I don’t know. There are, after all, so many great Muslims. (And really I think this has to do with the fact that there are just good people out there. If you take religion out of everything, it’s just people who help others versus people who kill them). My gut reaction is to argue with him, even though he isn’t saying anything racist or ignorant.

Liberals aren’t allowed to be critical of Islam because we are so tired of conservatives being critical of (and uneducated about) Islam. We have to be protective because ignorant people are dangerous and seem to breed like an infectious disease, like a weird off-market flu that just sits on your counter tops waiting to getchya. You say one criticism of the religion and then fucking Rupert Murdoch thinks whole countries should be wiped out and concentration camps should be used to hold the survivors. There’s so much hate on one side that we need to combat it with unconditional support and explanation. I know. I’ve done it.

But the fact remains that liberals can definitely be critical of Christians while conservatives are so supportive of them. Why can’t we spread the love apathy? We all know a couple good Christians, right? And yet, the religion is easily criticized. (They make it so easy.) I’m aware that, as a dominant religion in this country, Christianity isn’t under any sort of threat, and therefore lends itself to parody and criticism, but I think the point remains that all religions should be open for discussion, especially as violence occurs. This weird refusal to talk about it across party lines is the same bullshit that means liberals can’t be critical of Obamacare because we are so tired of conservatives trying to repeal it, even though Obamacare is super flawed. And conservatives can’t criticize police because black people keep getting themselves into trouble and the cold weather means there can’t be any global warming…. right? (Wrong. These things are wrong.) It’s all so reactionary, choosey, and thoughtless.

We can talk about Islam and terrorists, and the connection, or lack thereof, between them, without being Islamaphobic. If you take away the bullshit rhetoric from each side, it’s just a religion. And Islam is a pretty new religion, after all. It’s only about 1400 years old. You know what was happening when Christianity was roughly 1400 years old? The Inquisition. Religious people kill people, sometimes. The fundamentalists seem to forget the.. uh.. fundamentals. Like, Jesus loves everyone, right? But they fucking killed people during the Inquisition. Just killed ‘em. Went into other countries and chopped off their heads. Sounding familiar?

Let’s just… talk about it. Without burning mosques, and beating people up, and calling people names. Because that’s Islamaphobic – not pointing out that there seems to be a trend from a particular group (or sub-group) of people.

I think Rupert Murdoch and Fox News are disgusting. I think they are racist and all-phobic and hateful. But I think having an open dialogue about current events and forming an opinion shouldn’t be so damning. We are in love with free speech, right? We take to the streets to defend it.

Interestingly enough, I am not the kind of person who thinks everyone is entitled to their opinion. When your opinion is hateful, thoughtless, and ignorant, I think you shouldn’t be given a platform to spread your hate. I love free speech but I hate stupid people. And I’m very tentative in posting these thoughts as I figure them out for myself, as I risk being viewed as hateful, I think, in writing them. That’s why I chose je ne parle pas for the title. I do not speak. I am wary.

Charlie Hebdo was and is not wary. Charlie Hebdo is a very smart publication. (From what I’ve seen, which is admittedly little.) They made fun of everything, I think. From what I saw, they are intelligent and they are fucking brave. They continued to make comics after being bombed. And yesterday they released their first comic after the tragic death of their coworkers. I mean… WHAT?! I would have packed up my pencils and found myself a gig illustrating children’s books a long time ago.**

 

**As it is, my cowardice is easily hidden because I can’t draw for shit. I’m the kind of person who doodles squares. Like, just a whole shit ton of squares. And penises. (Obviously.)

 

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