Awful (albeit not really surprising) news about what happened in Paris yesterday. As a journalist (ok, mostly copywriter nowadays, but still) and an American (with a permanent residence permit in Finland, but still), I value freedom as much as the next person. Freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of whatever – I love them all. That said, I also believe that using that freedom as an excuse to be an a-hole is just stupid. Freedom of speech doesn’t mean you get to say whatever you want without any consequences. It just means the government can’t stop you from saying it.
IMHO, many of Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons were mean, hateful and not funny. And although I’m a Jew (or a “Jewtheran,” as you like to say), I can totally understand how many of the 1.5 billion Muslims in the world could find the cartoons about Islam particularly offensive. Kind of like how Jews (and most other people) have a tendency to be a little “sensitive” about jokes about the Holocaust. As a New Yorker, I even found the helicopter scene in The Dictator offensive. And it’s worth noting that, perhaps out of fear or maybe for some other reason, even the New York Daily News blurred the cover of an issue of the magazine in its coverage of yesterday’s terrorist attack (as a news outlet, I actually think it’s pretty strange that they did that).
The point is, some things just really aren’t funny. And let’s face it, the French might know a lot about high fashion and good food, but comedy has never really been their forte. Come on, they actually think Jerry Lewis is funny! Oh mon Dieu!
So there you go. I know it’s not “the right thing” to say right now, but hey, I’m free to say it: I think many of Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons were stupid. Really stupid.
As another French satirical polemicist once said: “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.”