Charlie Hebdo grows up, just a little bit — maybe

Bryan brings this to my attention:

The top editor and publisher of Charlie Hebdo, the satirical French newspaper that suffered a deadly terrorist attack in January, said the publication would no longer draw the cartoons of the prophet Muhammad that have garnered it worldwide notoriety.

“We have drawn Muhammad to defend the principle that one can draw whatever one wants,” said Laurent Sourisseau, in an interview this week with Stern, a German magazine.

But Sourisseau, who goes by the cartoonist nickname “Riss,” said that it was not Charlie Hebdo’s intent to be “possessed” by its critique of Islam. “The mistakes you could blame Islam for can be found in other religions,” he said….

Interesting. I’d like to say that Charlie Hebdo has grown up, and is no longer interested in offending just for the sake of offending. But that crack about “other religions” suggests we’ll still see trashy scribbles about the Pope, et al.

Or maybe not. Or maybe — and this would be wonderful — Charlie will satirize Islam and Christianity only when they have a point to make, rather than just being offensive for the hell of it.

As you know, I have never been Charlie. I would be happy to say that now Charlie is trying to be me, but that remains to be seen. I see no particular indication that they’re making this move for the right reasons.

10 thoughts on “Charlie Hebdo grows up, just a little bit — maybe

  1. Bryan Caskey

    I just thought it was interesting on the level that there were thousands of people who were saying “I am Charlie”, but now…Charlie isn’t even Charlie, anymore.

    By the way, my guess is the Islamic fundamentalist terrorists are updating their demands.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      I appreciate that, M, although I don’t think we need fear that Charlie’s point of view will be missed or ignored. If you’ll recall, I originally started writing about this as a voice crying in the wilderness disagreeing with the decidedly dominant, Je suis Charlie narrative…

  2. Juan Caruso

    “As you know, I have never been Charlie. I would be happy to say that now Charlie is trying to be me,” – Brad W.

    Au contraire, Brad. ‘Charlie’ merely explained why it took a stand without apologizing for that stand, to wit:

    “We have drawn Muhammad to defend the principle that one can draw whatever they want. It is a bit strange though: we are expected to exercise a freedom of expression that no one dares to,” Sourisseau told “Stern.” … “We’ve done our job. We have defended the right to caricature,” Sourisseau said.

    “We still believe that we have the right to criticize all religions,” the editor said, adding that he did not want to believe that the magazine “was possessed by Islam.”

    Now, Brad, I must ask you again point blank, did you ever protest publicly (editorially or in this bog, for instance) the inexcusably incendiary and unpardonable nature of so called artistic expression that involved mockery of the Christ as you have repeatedly stepped up to do regarding Mohammad?

    I honestly cannot accuse you of hypocrisy on that score, because I have not followed you long enough to know. I am absolutely certain all of this blog’s readers will be interested to know the answer, either way.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Juan, I was not in the opinion-writing biz back when that stuff was in the news (I’m assuming you’re referring to “Piss Christ” and other abominable trash, circa 1989). My own personal opinion was that public funds should not pay for such, but I was not in a position to express opinions.

      Of course, we’re talking about something entirely different here. That was about public funding. The Charlie Hebdo issue, as I have framed it, is about whether grossly insulting cartoons about the central figure in someone’s religion are examples of courageous freedom of expression, or childishly antisocial trash. I come down in the latter camp.

      Also, you seem to have missed what I wrote above. If Charlie quits publishing nasty cartoons aimed at Muhammad, but keeps drawing similar cartoons aimed at the Pope, then they really haven’t gotten much better, have they?

  3. Juan Caruso

    By what stroke of logic can “publicly funded” mockery of Christ under the U.S. or French Constitutions be deemed less offensive to billions of Christians than private mockery of Mohammad is to billions of Muslims?

    You are making my point unless you have a succinct answer.

  4. Karen Pearson

    You pay for it, you have the right to say or ridicule what you wish. I help pay for it, then I have a say in what constitutes art or political cartoon and what doesn’t.

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