Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Cartoons causing offence?

No one can forget the shock of the murder of the Charlie Hebdo journalists and cartoonists by extremists claiming to be "offended" by the satirical magazine. Their supporters just happened to target a Jewish supermarket. All part of the "grand plan" to scare the West and in particular it's ordinary citizens, that is to say people like you and me who take freedom of speech and expression for granted.

Some people will hold views that are unpalatable to others, have different and/or no religious beliefs, even hold radically opposing viewpoints on evolution and creation. The list is endless.

Trouble is someone, somewhere will always be offended by someone else point of view. The trick is tolerance and frankly to use a wee bit of a Christian phrase its sometimes better to turn the other cheek and ignore.

The age of the Internet and in particular Twitter has shown that many people sitting in front of their PC's or on their mobiles can become more than opinionated. They can be downright rude, nasty and not even think about the consequences of posting the first thought that comes into their heads. Quite often this can turn into a pack mentality.


Most regular and particularly political users of the web will be subject to that from time to time. Even amongst the academics, students and activists there are those who seem to think the Internet allows for a standard of behaviour they would not get away with elsewhere.

Nevertheless there is a line which is crossed where criticism becomes hate speech.

Sometimes it is subtle. The repetition of something believed can become a mindset of prejudice that is simply embedded into those who already have the spark of intolerance within. Or frankly are simply maladjusted individuals seeking either a place where they feel at home and can weasel their twisted fantasies into a common agenda.

Sometimes there are just those who feel alienated who are simply groomed by others, hence the Internet can be a dark place where the simply evil can manipulate and recruit.

It's not just "Jihadism", there's all sorts of weird and not so wonderful ways of looking a life the universe and everything.

Then there are those who want to speak out against injustice or simply be heard. Satire and humour has long had a place in the political and social process.

And so to cartoons.

Political cartoons can be quite hurtful, whether they are in the Broadsheets or some small publication or leaflet issued by someone trying to make a point.

Even back in Roman times the cartoon or crudely drawn fresco on a wall was a way to have a go.

Life does not change.

Sometimes one has to take this on the chin and move on or walk away.

And then there are those who will not tolerate their precious ideas being challenged. These are usually the people whose ideas are out of the ordinary, superstitious or ideologically driven.

They will not tolerate anything that upsets their view of the world or undermines their perceived audience, sometimes more captive than others.

It is these men and women who are a danger to us all.

Cartoons don't kill. Men and women do.

If your ideas are threatened by a cartoon or a simple lampooning then perhaps it is the world view they hold that is at fault. No one, not even the Abrahamic religions of the world have the right to impose their mindsets on those that do not wish to believe.

Democracy is and always will be an imperfect compromise but the fight to retain our right to speak freely even if it offends the pious is and can never be up for negotiation.

Draw a cartoon of Muhammad. How is that a threat. If your belief is so weak it is threatened by a few lines on a piece of paper then perhaps the fault lies within the offended.

But whatever you feel you do not have the right to suppress that thought and absolutely no right to kill others just because they don't think like you.

Islamism, Communism and Fascism all hold this murderous fault in common.

It is for that reason that these ideas have to be combated preferably by reason. But where they take up arms to destroy our rights then our defence must be robust.

If not then we enter a new dark age. 

An age of terror and murder.

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