by Mark Linnhoefer
A foul stench in professional journalism…
…is slowly creeping up the nose of anyone in the field that has followed the events of the past few days. The horrors of Paris are still haunting the media landscape, the wounds are still fresh, and the question the seems prevalent in all reports is whether or not the attack was provoked, and what it means for satirists and journalists all over the world.
The question of provocation alone proves how much the journalistic field has degraded itself; there is virtually no limit to freedom of speech, and especially not to humor, and even if the overall population is not that aware of the importance of this freedom, at least those in the business should be. But apparently, in the world of Western media, upholding values is no longer deemed important in the face of terror, when that’s exactly the point at which it should be of the utmost importance! If we allow censorship – even self-censorship – on the grounds of terrorist threats and attacks, we’re allowing terrorism to work, and hence are laying the foundation for further oppression of thoughts, ultimately leading to an emaciated, hollow, and voiceless society ruled by fear.
Fortunately, I am, as always, rather over dramatic, and there are actually quite a number of voices that have spoken out in favor of even more satire, and freer journalism in order to take a strong stance against those oppressive maniacs. Still, I do see a trend of newsmen subtly saying that even though they deem the slaughter of innocents to be wrong, the people at Charlie Hebdo might have gone a bit far with their drawings, and that the attack should therefore not have come as a surprise, which in my eyes is just a majorly fucked up thing to even think, let alone actually say on national television, because in Europe we’re at least supposedly entitled to free speech, and also to religious freedom. Which means that those poking fun at religions and those believing in religions have to learn to get a long: it’s your right to believe that drawings of prophets will land you in hell, but it’s not okay to try and force non-believers to adhere to the same rules. We’ve left the Dark Ages long ago, people, it’s time to get with the times! Religious persecution is an absolute no-go in our society, and that is awesome, but that also means that religions can no longer persecute those not conforming to their ideals either, even if they feel deeply offended by a cartoon.
Oh and I do realize that not an entire religion can be blamed for this single incident, but the simple fact that twelve people are dead because of a joke they made, and our media’s reaction to it, just shows how fucking backwards Europe’s development is going. We want to be a society of freedom, of peace, and therefore cannot possibly tolerate even the slightest hint of “easing up a bit” with satire and criticism, because any form of backing down is still a fucking form of backing down. Extremism is more prevalent within our borders than we had thought, which means that the opposition to these developments needs to gain more momentum and toughen up; we haven’t had to actually risk anything for our freedoms these past decades, but it looks like the times are-a-changing and we need to speak up even when looking down the barrel of a loaded gun. Which is unfortunately not something most people in the trade seem to be interested in, and the notion of actually fighting for values and rights is somehow no longer endorsed.
I really hope that we take away a few lessons from the events in Paris, and I hope that those lessons revolve around even sharper satire, even more criticism, and a clear stance against terrorists and their threats. Because our thoughts are still free, but will not remain so unless we’re man enough to pronounce and live them. I cannot stress this enough. This is a point where our entire freedom-based culture is put to the test, and I fear that there’s not enough supporting it for it not to crumble under the pressure. We see a clear rise in all things extreme, and that includes the extreme right, racist, and ultra-nationalist as well, which is what worries me most. These people, that are against anything resembling free speech, and usually complain about the press, are now using an attack on journalists as a tool for polarizing and fueling of xenophobic hatred, and the sad thing is that it seems to be working quite well. Groups that have always been saying that the “Islamic influence” on the West will eventually lead to murder, mayhem, and martial law, now feel reinforced in their fears, unfit for abstract thinking and therefore unable to realize that hate will always bring more hate, and that Extremists cannot be representative for an entire religion. The KKK operates under the veil of religion – Christianity – as well, and no one is trying to say that every Christian is a racist because of it. Those committing atrocious acts of violence claiming to be doing so in the name of religion are mostly brainwashed souls acting at the bidding of some manipulative ass-wipe that has his own goals in mind and does not give a single fuck about the essence of any religion.
If we continue to allow this racist propaganda to nest in the midst of our fear-struck society, and if we continue to allow ourselves to be censored – even if only by our own angst, then we’ll eventually reap what we sow, and will have some form of extremist, censoring regime controlling our every thought ruling the world, simply because we were too frightened by the possiblity of having to actually stand up for the freedoms we so often take for granted.
illustration by David Pratt