Thursday, January 15, 2015

N'existe Pas

More #JeSuisCharlie.  Salmon Rushdie delivered pointed remarks in Vermont on the importance of an absolute right to freedom of speech.  He criticized voices on both sides of the American political spectrum who judged the appropriateness of the magazine's material, and without familiarity or context.  Rushdie pointed to a merciless French satirical tradition, and the need for artists to be free to explore expressive limits. 

From the Guardian:
[Rushdie] said the role of art was to go to the edge, open the universe and expand minds. But doing that was not easy and artists could not occupy a middle ground.
"And so artists who go to that edge and push outwards often find very powerful forces pushing back. They find the forces of silence opposing the forces of speech. The forces of censorship against the forces of utterance,” he said.
"At that boundary is that push-and-pull between more and less. And that push and pull can be very dangerous to the artist. And many artists have suffered terribly for that.”
Weirdly, one of the killers was a rap artist, so (we would gather) he regularly engaged with, and felt passionate about, an art form that has historically pushed the limitations of free speech, and put a high premium on its absolute right to offend. 

In the meantime, thousands lined up in Paris to purchase the latest Charlie Hebdo, print runs rising to 5 million as the magazine quickly sold out, more than ever now interested in the magazine's comics, and following the largest march in French history on Sunday, January 11th, and against the violence.  At the demonstration, protesters also displayed the eyes of the popular editor and one of the cartoonists killed in the attack, the way American demonstrators carried banners showing Mike Brown's eyes bearing down upon the U.S. ... with the gaze of truth and confrontation as to the injustice of his death.

"You can kill a man, but not an idea," said many, once again, showing, rather, the multiplicative effect.

World leaders, shown in the above tweet, marched arm in arm at the massive rally, leading some to wryly comment on the implied hypocrisy of politicians who orchestrate one form of terrorism in other nations, then leading a demonstration against another form of what basically amounts to the same barbarism.

Readers of the ultra orthodox Jewish newspaper HaMevaser (published in Israel) read an edition with all female world leaders photoshopped out of the image (and by a woman editor).  (There weren't that many, however, so, it still looked like a lot of world leaders were there): 

Missing in action:  German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Anne Hidalgo, the first female mayor of Paris, European Union foreign affairs and security chief Federica Mogherini.  The original photo, is from Benjamin Netanjahu's twitter stream. 

Really, I found this offensive, that is, western allies, our country, have no explanation as to how they fail to produce more front line women leaders in the 21st century.  Though the newspaper provides one, it was not their intention to offend, je comprends, women are holy, they cannot be depicted, at all, just like Mohammad, so let's just keep it outta sight.  And, in the case of the newspaper, it is not something like a death threat, posted, in one case, recently on twitter, by once again photoshopping imagery onto or off of bodies, including the faces of public officials.  

As per that (original) photo above, Barack Obama and John Kerry really weren't at the march, a point of criticism for (Republicans, especially), though some say John may have been breaking at one of the cafes, sipping a bit o white wine and singing. (La Marseillaise.)  The U.S. French Ambassador, Jane Hartley, attended.

Major U.S. newspapers discussed the new Charlie Hebdo edition without showing its front page cover, describing (for our image-deprived, innocent American public) a cartoon drawing that depicted Mohammad in white robes holding a "Je Suis Charlie" sign while weeping, under a large headliner/caption that says, English translation, "All Is Forgiven."  (The cartoonist said that the robes hid human genitalia, as do Michelangelo's renderings of God on the ceiling of the Sistene Chapel.)  I myself read about this in a cafe in a copy of the NY Times print edition left by the last reader, a number of interesting pieces that day .. though I couldn't .. see for myself what any of the writers were talking about .. (the online edition has a link to bold imagery at the French Libération, a paper that counts Jean-Paul Sartre among its founders).  

The Jerusalem Post showed a copy of the latest issue on a newsstand in Israel where people were similarly lining up to get one, many for the first time (and which is where I first caught up with what the cover looked like).

Charlie Hebdo

Tell people they can't and they will! 

A bit of the U.S.:

Meanwhile, as below, a grocery check-out for American shoppers and their kids.  (The owner, upon complaint, reportedly moved it over a couple of feet.)


This is when I browse the Trident:


Though Trident wrapper is pretty thin reading alternative. 

Oh look, breaking:

N'existe pas.

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