There is a tendency in reporting and speaking about things like the deplorable so-called cartoons of Charile Hebdo and other similar things and say that they are offensive to a certain group of people. I consider this an insult to my humanity and my sensibilities as a civilised, global citizen. Thankfully there are others who agree and I believe it is time for us all to raise our voices and say, ‘Violence to one is violence to all. Insult to one is insult to all. Injustice to one is injustice to all.’
This is what a dear Hindu friend wrote to me about this affair:
It’s pathetic that they were so impoverished that they had to find sources of wit through perverted thoughts on people’s religious beliefs. Vinasha kaale vipareetha buddhi…
Holocaust denial for example is said to be hurtful to Jews. I ask you why it is not supposed to be hurtful to Christians (the Nazis were Christians after all), Muslims (the Ottomans helped the Jews), Hindus, Sikhs and others? Why is it not hurtful and offensive to all thinking people, no matter what their religion of lack of it? The Holocaust (Jewish only in name) was the holocaust of humanity. It was pure evil and Satanic. It was an affront and insult to all human beings irrespective of their religion.
It is amazing that notwithstanding all the European noise against it, it was Europeans who did it and allowed it to happen. Not Palestinians, Arabs, Indians, Eskimos or Aboriginal Australians – Europeans who like to trumpet about their culture, civilisation and commitment to freedom and human rights committed the Holocaust. So it is a disservice to us all as human beings as well as to the Jews, to claim that to deny the Holocaust is hurtful only to Jews. It is only when we take such stands based on principle that we can hope to end oppression. Shit stinks equally for all people.
Take the case of a lesbian feminist woman in the US who designed toilet seats with Hindu gods and goddesses on them.
Why would any normal human being want to do such a thing? And is this to be considered freedom of expression and are we supposed to applaud her creativity? Are we supposed to say, ‘This is hurtful to Hindus.’ I say as a practicing Muslim that I find this extremely offensive, abhorrent and disgusting. This is tantamount to lighting a camp fire in a gasoline station and can’t be classified as freedom of any kind. The law of the land must stop such things without question.
It is time to name the beast.
All violence of any kind must be offensive to all people and we must all stand against it together. Violence is not only physical. It is mental, psychological, moral and anything that in any way hurts others. Only when we announce zero tolerance for violence of all kinds, can we hope to end violence.
Today we have created an insane society where someone does something deliberately to offend others. Then some insane characters kill them in the name of this or that religion or ideology. Then there is a backlash against some more innocent people in ‘retaliation’ for what the madcaps did. How can I retaliate against someone for something that another who has no connection with him does? But in an insane society who is to ask these questions?
That is why I believe that all of us; moral, ethical, compassionate and sensible people must stand together in opposition to all oppression, no matter who does it.
The proverb: The pot can only spill out what it contains – was never more true than in the Charlie Hebdo affair. And the subsequent wave of sympathy for the dead – highly applaudable and understandable – expressed by even more proliferating of offensive material – highly condemnable and impossible to understand indicates mental, ethical and value paralysis on the part of our society. If two wrongs don’t make a right – and I don’t believe they do – then the murder of people can’t or shouldn’t be countered by publishing once again offensive material on a larger than ever scale. The message is clear. Atheists in Europe have the right to abuse people of faith and what they have faith in while the latter have no right even to be offended. So there.
What is amazing is why nobody wants to name the beast.
This is what I wrote a few days after that tragic incident in Paris.
And something I wrote in 2012 when similar things were done elsewhere in Europe: I was interviewed on Cii about the cartoon affair and here’s the podcast link to that. What should be our response to this vomit of filth and pornography in the name of freedom? The response not just of Muslims but of all normal, civilised people who must necessarily be offended by this garbage – the cartoons? Well we simply don’t recognize them. They are some ridiculous and frankly repulsive diagrams drawn by people with sick minds which are spilling out what their minds contain. We laugh at them. We recognize the fact that they are so starved for real data that they have to resort to fabricating lies and indulging in sick fantasy to express their hatred. The diagrams are not a symbol of freedom but of slavery to hatred and lies. How horrible to have a heart so full of venom for someone you didn’t know, who did you no harm, who you have no connection with; yet you are able to hate him and spend your life deliberately provoking, those who love him by fabricating lies against him. We feel sorry for them. We don’t consider them worthy of responding to. What is there to respond? One responds to a counter argument, to a question, to something of a scholarly nature. How can one respond to abuse based on the hallucinations of a sick mind? To respond would be highly ridiculous. So no response is necessary. There is a strong push in Europe towards atheism which seeks to oppress all religions. In the name of freedom of expression atheists are seeking to oppress all religions by maligning and abusing all that they hold dear and sacred. Religious symbols and religious clothing are banned. Women are oppressed by forcing them to take off their clothes while talking about women’s rights. Yet women in France don’t have the rights that any woman anywhere should, to dress the way she wants to. It is not a case of freedom of expression but of oppression of free people. See what Stephen Glover of the Daily Mail said about Charlie Hebdo in the article published on January 15, 2015: I quote from this article: What is perhaps less well-known is that Charlie Hebdo is at least as hostile — if not even more so — towards Christianity. The last Pope, Benedict XVI, was regularly lampooned. One cover showed him holding a condom above his head, and intoning the words from the Eucharist, ‘This is my body’. A recent cartoon showed the Virgin Mary (especially venerated in the Roman Catholic world) giving birth to Christ. More shocking still, another recent cover story about gay marriage was illustrated with a cartoon of a naked Jesus sodomising a bearded God while, in turn, being sodomised by a representation of the Holy Ghost. Like most of Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons, it’s not even clever. I am sorry to have to describe these obscenities in such minute detail, but there is no other way of conveying just how unbelievably awful these cartoons are. By the way, it’s worth pointing out that sodomy and bare bottoms are a constant obsession in many of them. Whether in the case of Islam or Christianity — and the magazine sometimes also extends its animus towards the Jewish faith — the purpose is to shock and dishearten those of religious persuasion. There is no pity or respect or kindness. Charlie Hebdo hates all religion, and mocks all its adherents.
I would like someone to explain to me how this is freedom of expression and if so why it is allowed when it is not allowed for a person to shout, ‘FIRE!’ is a dark cinema hall in the name of freedom of expression. Why is it allowed to draw pictures of the holy icons of Christianity in sick pornographic positions when it is not allowed to do that with politicians in France?
Why is it that Charlie Hebdo was allowed to draw this picture with the tagline: The Qur’an is shit because it doesn’t stop bullets:
But when a 17 year old boy drew this cartoon in response to that which simply substitutes the name Charlie Hebdo in the place of the Qur’an – he was arrested by French police.
So what freedom and for whom? Why civil society and the church are silent – with the single exception of the Pope – is anyone’s guess. Why they don’t ask the real question – How is it that atheists are allowed to oppress everyone else while even to speak against them is a crime? What freedom is that? Freedom of expression is not freedom to abuse, malign, blaspheme, hurt, injure, kill or destroy other’s peace of mind. That is my position.
As I wrote this one of our greatest cartoonists R. K. Laxman died. He is famous for the creation of his central character – The Common Man – representing the Indian on the street. His style was incisive, sparing no one humour and yet he always drew with compassion and respect.
Much for Europe and the ilk of Charlie Hebdo to learn. So much for the much trumpeted European civilization. That’s why when Gandhiji was asked by a reporter, this is what he said:
Reporter: Mr. Gandhi, what do you think of Western Civilization? Mr. Gandhi: I think it would be a good idea! Do spread the word for the need for civility, good manners, mutual respect and to differentiate between critique which is always welcome and insulting which is always unwelcome. The two are not the same so let us stop being hypocritical and say it like it is – Charlie Hebdo type of insulting cartoons are offensive, abhorrent and most unwelcome.