Friday, January 16, 2015

You're Rocking the Boat, Charlie

January 16th 2015

The first thing I want to say in this entry is that I understand the mess that western greed has created in the Middle East. I get it. I do.
And then I want to move on rather quickly to saluting the cartoonists who died in last week's terrorist attack in Paris. Apart from lacking a sense of humour, the people that perpetrated this evil have no understanding of the necessary role satire plays in any society. What a small and shrivelled icon they have in their prophet if they think he needs them to defend him against this. The killings weren't about the prophet anyway, they were about fundamentalism and totalitarianism, two modes of ideology that are about as far from religious sentiment as you can get. As far from art in its many incarnations.
But even if the prophet did need these bozos to defend him, here's why satire is good anyway:  it's one of those checks and balance scenerios that America prides itself on but which rarely in any governing body here gets to see light of day. In Arthur's Court you had the jester. In Shakespeare you have the fool. In modern day you have the comics and the cartoons. It should be separated from politics of any kind, and its a public service.
Comedy is one arm of the arts, and the arts are there to hold up a mirror to any culture. Totalitarian regimes are scared of mirrors, because they don't want people to see the wheels and cogs in the machine behind the facade that holds their ideology together. Enter the thugs.

I don't care whether they are wearing a keffiyeh, yamaka or mitre, if they are saying "Don't Speak, Don't Write, Don't Draw!" they are thugs, and that is not a religious position. Or any place in which humans can aspire to a higher self.  
Of course, if you allow every artist their freedom, you'll end up with, as well as some good art, a lot of trash. My local art museum thinks turtles walking around with Ipads on their backs and a stuffed cat cut in two amounts to an art exhibition. But it's a small price to pay. You don't have to go to these exhibits. The artist, the comic, the satirist, however, does have to speak.
Satire is there to be disrespectful. That's the point. It's a healthy thing. Society needs it. And as Salmon Rushdie said, "What would respectful satire even look like?"

Most importantly, the human being is nothing but a rigid post if you take away the ability to laugh, and, yes, even at ourselves. An aged man (says WB Yeats but lets say any man or woman) is but a paltry thing, a tattered coat upon a stick unless soul clap hands and sing and louder sing for every tatter in its mortal dress.

My guess is the prophet Mohammed was not a paltry thing. Religions don't grow up in an atmosphere of paltriness, at least not at the outset.  But these mirror-smashers are paltry. Thugs who see their job as maiming and killing have very little song going on in their souls.

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