Notes and Comment Blog

Tout est pardonné

Jan 12th, 2015 3:45 pm | By

The cover of the next issue of Charlie Hebdo – which will be 3 million copies (and I bet that won’t be enough).

Embedded image permalink

“All is forgiven”

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Non aux contrôles racistes

Jan 12th, 2015 2:50 pm | By

Daily Kos has a great collection of cartoons by Cabu for Charlie Hebdo – anti-racism cartoons to be specific.

Below are cartoons drawn over the past several decades by Cabu, one of the most emblematic cartoonists at Charlie Hebdo (if not the most). Cabu was murdered along with his colleagues this past week. He was 75 years old.

Although no media outlet in the US will show you these images, they can all be found online with a simple Google search.

“No to racist identity checks.”

That’s Jean-Marie Le Pen of the Front National, saying “We want to be able to go out at night without being afraid!” He doesn’t mean without being afraid of white supremacist gangs armed with clubs.

See Daily Kos for the rest.

H/t Kausik


(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

The default assumption when criticising Islam is that you are a racist

Jan 12th, 2015 12:50 pm | By

Charlie Klendjian has an eloquent blast of fury at all the what-abouttery and they-were-racistsism over the past five days.

Over the last five days I have listened patiently to the most extraordinarily confused and painful discussions on the rights and wrongs of murdering people who draw cartoons. What an odd response our public discourse has generated towards what is, to my mind at least, a moral issue of the most blinding clarity.

It is to me too, but it might not be. If Charlie Hebdo had been an unquestionably racist xenophobic immigrant-bashing magazine, affiliated with a far-right organization and running editorials demanding expulsions and closed borders – then the moral issue would not be so blindingly clear; not to me. I would agree that people who drew cartoons for such a magazine shouldn’t be murdered, but I would not express any kind of solidarity with them. I wouldn’t consider them colleagues or allies. I wouldn’t mourn them.

But that’s not the case. That makes all the difference.

The one free speech scenario which is the most relevant here (and it’s blasphemy, just in case you’ve already forgotten), seems to be the one everyone is now discussing the least.

I’m starting to get the impression people don’t want to talk about the problem facing us. And that, to me, is a big part of the problem.

I have heard the most exquisitely manicured theories about “marginalisation” and “stigmatisation” and I have heard dissertations about conditions in French suburbs, and also about foreign policy – even though the attackers themselves left us in no doubt about the motives for their savagery by announcing proudly that they had avenged their prophet, just before speeding away in a car for their date with death a couple of days later at the hands of French commandos.

And who else would get that sort of treatment if the Kouachi brothers had had the power? Muslims. Muslims who weren’t of exactly the right kind, Muslims who opposed IS, Muslims who didn’t want people like the Kouachi brothers in authority over them.

I have also heard endless discussions about whether the magazine Charlie Hebdo and its noble cartoonists were “racist”. This is nothing new or unsurprising. A discussion about any aspect of Islam is simply not possible without a discussion about racism. The default assumption when criticising Islam is that you are a racist, and it is up to you to prove a negative: that you are not racist. It is not up to the person making the accusation to produce any evidence of racism. For those of us who are still alive, being subject to this reverse-burden-of-proof is highly annoying, intimidating, time-consuming, exhausting and potentially career-ending – and that is its purpose. But then at least we’re still alive to defend ourselves from the smears.

Yes. That is a luxury and a privilege.

Even if we assume for a moment that the cartoonists were racist – and I have seen no evidence whatsoever that they were – this changes things not one jot. In a secular liberal democracy, holding and expressing unpleasant views is not punishable by the contents of an AK-47 anyway. If that were the case then there would be some very nervous imams, “scholars” and “community leaders” in the UK that I can think of.

Well, again, for me it does change things several jots – that is, it would if we assumed it for a moment. It would change things. Of course it wouldn’t change the fact that in secular liberal democracy, holding and expressing unpleasant views is not punishable by death, but it would change my attitude to and feelings about the people killed.

I’m not good at isolating the principle of free speech and defending it no matter what. I’m not good at being consistent in that way. I can easily defend the principle that racism should not be punished by murder, but that’s a separate issue. The issue is one of solidarity: I am in solidarity with Charlie Hebdo, and I would not be in solidarity with a far-right racist xenophobic counterpart.

There are problems with failing to be consistent on this, because it can equate to just carving out exceptions for one’s own pet category, and if everyone does that, so much for free speech. I’ve never found any solution to this problem.

The endless discussions about the cartoonists’ alleged “racism” have generated an elaborate sideshow and also smeared the memory of some tremendously brave and inspirational individuals. These individuals were valiantly holding the line for free speech, and therefore for freedom itself, on behalf of everyone. Their bodies are barely cold. These people have been sold out in the most spectacular fashion. What a way to honour their bravery.

No well-informed commentator is making the case for completely limitless free speech. Even in mature, secular democracies like our own free speech does of course have its limits. But the point here is that one of those limits is not and must never be “offence”, so any discussion of whether the cartoons were offensive is completely pointless anyway. Nor is one of those limits whether someone might shoot you or hurl a bomb through your office window because they don’t like what you say.

That I agree with, no quibbles.

Condemning murder is the easy part. Any fool can do that. The hard part, for far too many people, is affirming the right to free speech – specifically the right to cause offence and in this case to depict Mohammed. Hashtags and strongly-worded condemnations and marches and selfies and calls for “solidarity” are all well and good, but they are the bare minimum we should expect. If people are not also willing to unequivocally defend – and actually physically exercise – the right to depict Mohammed then it’s all a bit #hollow.

Is that an imam on the cover of a book I co-wrote? Or is it Mohammed himself? Hard to be sure – photographs of Mo are so scarce.

Hatar gud kvinnor1

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

He thought it might be funny to counteract the anger with silliness

Jan 12th, 2015 11:33 am | By

Ah, Fox News. As an American, I apologize to the world for Fox News. (Or should I demand that Australians apologize to us?) An actual news organization, the BBC, reports on a faux pas from yesterday.

An American terrorism commentator has apologised for describing Birmingham as a “Muslim-only city” where non-Muslims “don’t go” during a Fox News interview.

Steven Emerson told the channel that in London “Muslim religious police” beat “anyone who doesn’t dress according to Muslim, religious Muslim attire”.

He later issued an apology for his “terrible error”.

His comments have come in for ridicule, with the hashtag #FoxNewsFacts trending on Twitter.

Ridicule? Can you do that? Someone might misunderstand.

On social media, Mr Emerson has been the butt of jokes, while he has been accused of “speaking nonsense” by people posting on his investigative website.

One Twitter user said: “As someone born and raised in Birmingham, I must admit there was a pressure to read the Kerrang.”

“I was supposed to go to Birmingham last week but I forgot my passport,” said another.

Risky, very risky. People might actually start canceling trips to Birmingham because of these tweets.

The Guardian’s Simon Ricketts on #FoxNewsFacts

I was at home and the video of the Fox News “expert” Steve Emerson had popped up on my Twitter feed and people were rightly expressing their disbelief at what he had said.

I thought it might be funny to counteract the anger with silliness, so I wrote a tweet and stuck the hashtag (#FoxNewsFacts) on it.

Sometimes the best response to such nonsense is satire and mockery, rather than anger and outrage.

It is? I thought responding to nonsense with satire and mockery was racist and colonialist and bad.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

To downplay the threat

Jan 12th, 2015 11:08 am | By

The BBC reports that Nigeria estimates the body count in Baga as 150, not 2000 or “hundreds” as it reported over the weekend.

150 of course is still a large number of people, and then of course Nigeria has a motive to undercount…

The defence ministry said this figure included “many of the terrorists” who had attacked the town in Borno state and faced resistance by troops.

Local officials earlier estimated the number of deaths at as many as 2,000.

Nigeria has often been accused of underestimating casualty figures to downplay the threat of Boko Haram.

And, one would assume, to minimize Nigeria’s own culpability in totally failing to protect its own citizens.

The ministry dismissed higher estimates for deaths at Baga, in north-east Nigeria, as “speculation and conjecture” and “exaggerated”.

It said the army was taking “necessary actions” to restore law and order there, but gave few details about the operation to recapture the town from the Islamist insurgents.

Nice of it to take “necessary actions” after the town has been demolished.

Earlier, the Catholic Archbishop of Jos, in central Nigeria, accused the West of ignoring the threat posed by Boko Haram.

Ignatius Kaigama said the world had to show more determination to halt the group’s advance in Nigeria.

His warning came after at least 23 people were killed at the weekend by three female suicide bombers, one reported to be 10 years old.

Religion of peace.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Images of Je suis Charlie

Jan 11th, 2015 6:18 pm | By

The BBC provides a 2 minute video of the Paris march and others in Rio, Moscow, Berlin, and London.

Via Twitter

Tim ‏@Beertheist 5 minutes ago
The Simpsons’ ending tonight. #JeSuisCharlie

Embedded image permalink

Lea’s Album ‏@GleeIsAllINeed 2h
Just for this gesture she deserves all the awards.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Stupidity is not going to win

Jan 11th, 2015 5:52 pm | By

France 24 reported on Friday that resources were being showered on Charlie Hebdo to enable it to continue.

“Stupidity is not going to win,” said Patrick Pelloux, one of the magazine’s columnists as well as a practising doctor who delivered first aid in the aftermath of the attack, which left 12 dead.

That’s important. The murderers were striking a blow for stupidity in what they did, in addition to all the rest of it. Stupidity mustn’t win.

On Friday, Pelloux and other surviving staff members were seen heading into the offices of the French newspaper Libération, which has offered the magazine’s employers use of its premises for “as long as necessary”.

“We are hosting them because they don’t even have a pencil,” Pierre Fraidenraich, one of the newspapers directors told AFP. “Their computers and all their equipment have been sealed” in their blood-soaked offices a few streets away, he added.

Libération has given them a whole floor as well as equipment, and it’s added extra security.

But the offers of help did not end there. Numerous French media organisations– including Le Monde, France Télévisions, Radio France and FRANCE 24’s parent company France Médias Monde – have also vowed to “make available all the manpower and materials necessary to allow Charlie Hebdo to live on”.

Pledges of support have also come in from overseas, with The Guardian announcing Thursday a donation of £100,000 (€128,000) to help keep the magazine running.

Well done the Guardian.

That will be added to the approximately €1 million of funding French Culture Minister Fleur Pellerin promised to make available for Charlie Hebdo “to ensure its continuation”.

Speaking to France Info radio, Justice Minister Christiane Taubira said that public aid for the magazine “would be justified”.

“The disappearance of Charlie Hebdo is inconceivable,” she said.

Ahem. Who said that? Who said public aid for the magazine would be justified? Who said its disappearance is inconceivable? Justice Minister Christiane Taubira – the one in CH’s “racist” cartoon that was actually not racist at all but anti-racist.

Before all this…Charlie Hebdo was sinking. Irony of ironies, the massacre has rescued the magazine.

Before Wednesday’s attack, the magazine had been in considerable financial difficulty, its declining sales bringing it to the verge of bankruptcy.

Weekly sales had fallen to around 30,000 a week, half the number printed, while it needed to sell at least 35,000 a week just to break even, Stéphane Charbonnier, or Charb, had told AFP before losing his life in the massacre.

He launched an appeal for donations in November to help save the magazine, but by the end of the year it had only raised a few thousand euros, much less than the €1 million hoped for.

That appeal is now set to continue with the full weight of the French media behind it, many of whom are relaying the call for donations through their publications.

The message will also be spread abroad through Reporters Without Borders.

How poignant is that.

H/t Gayathri.


(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

How things work in France

Jan 11th, 2015 4:23 pm | By

And another French informant speaks up:

I would like to explain a few things, about charlie Hebdo and about how things work in my country. It might feel insulting, but unless you are fascinated with french culture, have especially studied it or lived some time in France, you don’t know us. You don’t know our history, our politics, even our geography. That’s fine, I myself have a pretty sketchy knowledge of all these stuffs for many countries in the world.

Not knowing is fine. Spreading false informations, or giving your opinion about things you don’t know, is not.

It’s important to try to notice when you don’t know enough. Really.

You have no idea how much the french community on tumblr is feeling betrayed.

We stood by your side many times in the recent weeks, we educated ourselves about the situation in the US, we read, we learnt. Now, our country is suffering and I read everywhere that Charlie Hebdo was a racist journal, that they had it coming.

1. It was not. NO ONE, I repeat literally NO ONE in France ever considered Charlie Hebdo as racist. We might have considered the drawings tasteless, but NOT racists. For the very simple reason that WE FUCKING KNOW OUR POLITICS. So, when you see the covers of the journal out of context and without understanding french, you’re seeing maybe 10% of what there’s to see. I’m not going to explain them one by one to you, because other posts on tumblr do that very well, but just for the sake of example:


You see a black woman’s head on a monkey body. RACISM ! Except that every french person will recognize our french justice minister, Christiane Taubira, and the blue-white-red flame on the left. This is the logo of the Front National, the far-right party in France. And every french person knows that the Front National was under attack for having compared Christiane Taubira to a monkey in this:


Look carefully. The one just above is the real thing. The one above that is mocking the real thing. There’s a difference. It’s an important difference.

And, if you still haven’t got it, the title of the comic by Charb is “Rassemblement Bleu Raciste” which literally means “Blue Racist Gathering” and is a pun on the slogan of the Front National “Rassemblement Bleu Marine” (Navy Blue Gathering, in French the name of the Front National leader is Marine Le Pen, and Marine means Navy). So, this comic is actually an attack mocking the Front National and their bullshit. Is it tasteless ? Maybe. Is it racist ? No.

Then she explains how French secularism differs from the US variety.

Secularity is a system of laws intended to prevent any religious organization to interfere with the political life of the country. It means that everyone is free to practise their religion, as long as it does not interfere with other people’s life (be they of a different faith, or atheists) and the country’s. Blasphemy is legal. Drawing the Prophet is legal.

Most people in France think that it is not only legal, but a positive thing, to be able to make fun of every religion, every authority figure (and do your google research, Charlie Hebdo made fun of everyone and the pope was not spared):


Now that’s a good cartoon. It’s not pretty to look at, but it’s a sharp point. (Ratzinger is telling the sweating child-raping bish, “Make movies, like Polanski.”)

But, as much as we do love make fun and ridicule everyone, including our very secular politicians, we do have laws, and very strict ones, against hate speech. The Front National elected representative who posted the two pictures of Taubira and a monkey was prosecuted. Charlie Hebdo wasn’t, because they were not attacking Taubira, but the racist bullshit of the FN.

See? The photo with the baby orang next to the justice minister is racism. The cartoon mocking it is not.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

The correct art has become Humanist Realism

Jan 11th, 2015 3:56 pm | By

Dan Fincke shared Salty Current’s guest post on Facebook and there are some comments on his post that should have been made here (kidding, kidding) so Ima quote a few.

I’ve been tirelessly pointing this out over and over again. I can’t imagine how it would feel to have fought rightwing xenophobia and racism all your life and then to be maligned by your “own side” in another part of the world. Not to mention a lot of imposition of America-centric cultural/political mores on a completely different political landscape. That in itself is a form of American cultural imperialism a lot of these people decry.

I think that’s why the maligning is bothering me so much – because these were our people, and they’re being misrepresented in a horrible way.

Some people’s attitude towards the correct art has become Humanist Realism. It’s not even about not being racist/sexist etc, you shouldn’t diverge from the Politburo criteria of clean art at all.

Followed by

And it makes absolutely no allowance for other political, cultural, social or religious contexts differing from their own. Funnily enough, a lot of the same people are also the ones who oppose imposition of American or “western” norms on other societies, religions and cultures.

The ironies abound.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Ni Dieu, ni maître

Jan 11th, 2015 3:40 pm | By

Olivier Tonneau attempts to explain to his Anglophone friends that it doesn’t work to just read all the French things through Anglophone lenses, any more than it would the other way around. Hell, many Americans are baffled by Monty Python and that’s not even a different language (mostly).

Three days ago, a horrid assault was perpetrated against the French weekly Charlie Hebdo, who had published caricatures of Mohamed, by men who screamed that they had “avenged the prophet”. A wave of compassion followed but apparently died shortly afterward and all sorts of criticism started pouring down the web against Charlie Hebdo, who was described as islamophobic, racist and even sexist. Countless other comments stated that Muslims were being ostracized and finger-pointed.

As a Frenchman and a radical left militant at home and here in UK, I was puzzled and even shocked by these comments and would like, therefore, to give you a clear exposition of what my left-wing French position is on these matters.

Firstly, a few words on Charlie Hebdo, which was often “analyzed” in the British press on the sole basis, apparently, of a few selected cartoons. It might be worth knowing that the main target of Charlie Hebdo was the Front National and the Le Pen family. Next came crooks of all sorts, including bosses and politicians (incidentally, one of the victims of the bombing was an economist who ran a weekly column on the disasters caused by austerity policies in Greece).  Finally, Charlie Hebdo was an opponent of all forms of organized religions, in the old-school anarchist sense: Ni Dieu, ni maître! They ridiculed the pope, orthodox Jews and Muslims in equal measure and with the same biting tone. They took ferocious stances against the bombings of Gaza. Even if their sense of humour was apparently inacceptable to English minds, please take my word for it: it fell well within the French tradition of satire – and after all was only intended for a French audience. It is only by reading or seeing it out of context that some cartoons appear as racist or islamophobic. Charlie Hebdo also continuously denounced the pledge of minorities and campaigned relentlessly for all illegal immigrants to be given permanent right of stay. I hope this helps you understand that if you belong to the radical left, you have lost precious friends and allies.

And not, as so many are thinking and saying, racist enemies.

Of course, freedom of speech has its limits. I was astonished to read from one of you that UK, as opposed to France, had laws forbidding incitement to racial hatred. Was it Charlie’s cartoons that convinced him that France had no such laws? Be reassured: it does. Only we do not conflate religion and race. We are the country of Voltaire and Diderot: religion is fair game. Atheists can point out its ridicules, and believers have to learn to take a joke and a pun. They are welcome to drown us in return with sermons about the superficiality of our materialistic, hedonistic lifestyles. I like it that way. Of course, the day when everybody confuses “Arab” with “Muslim” and “Muslim” with “fundamentalist”, then any criticism of the latter will backfire on the former. That is why we must keep the distinctions clear.

I’ve been seeing a lot of sarcastic scare-quoted invocation of “Islam is not a race,” followed by groans about Dawkins and Harris and Maher. I get that the phrase is used to justify a lot of stupid Twitter outbursting, but all the same, there is a distinction between race and religion, and Tonneau reminds us of it handily.

The rest of the article is an interesting analysis of the possible reasons for the lure of fundamentalism; I recommend it.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Where on the map

Jan 11th, 2015 12:50 pm | By

Kaveh Mousavi alerted me to this explanation of the context of Charlie Hebdo’s cartoon depicting Boko Haram sex slaves as welfare queens.

Jean-Baptiste Froment, toulousain

This cover is mixing two unrelated elements which made the news at about the same time:
– Boko Haram victims likely to end up sex slaves in Nigeria
– Decrease of French welfare allocations

In France, as in probably every country who has welfare allocations, some people criticize this system because some people might try to game it (e.g., “welfare queens” idea). Note that if we didn’t had it there would probably be much more people complaining because the ones who really need it would end up in extreme poverty.

Charlie Hebdo is known for being left-wing attached and very controversial, and I think they wanted to parody people who criticize “welfare queens” by taking this point-of-view to the absurd, to show that immigrant women in France are more likely to be victims of patriarchy than evil manipulative profiteers.

And of course if we only stay on the first-degree approach, it’s a terrible racist and absurd cover.

Think The Onion. Think The Colbert Report. Think South Park, The Simpsons, Family Guy.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Talking back

Jan 11th, 2015 11:30 am | By

Via HuffPostUK on Twitter

HuffPost UK ‏@HuffPostUK
BREAKING NEWS: Officially the largest demo in French history #ParisMarch #JeSuisCharlie

Embedded image permalink

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Contre nous de la tyrannie

Jan 11th, 2015 11:27 am | By

Via Natasha Fatah on Twitter

Natasha Fatah ‏@NatashaFatah
The largest of rally in the history of France. #JeSuisCharlie #CharlieHebdo #ParisMarch

Embedded image permalink

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

A sea of people

Jan 11th, 2015 11:23 am | By

Via Twitter

Nadine ‏@sooojune 37 minutes ago
“They wanted to bring France to its knees. They brought Europe to its feet.” #JeSuisCharlie

Embedded image permalink

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Representatives of regimes that are predators of press freedom

Jan 11th, 2015 11:01 am | By

Reporters Without Borders has a different take on the question of unity.

Reporters Without Borders welcomes the participation of many foreign leaders in today’s march in Paris in homage to the victims of last week’s terror attacks and in defence of the French republic’s values, but is outraged by the presence of officials from countries that restrict freedom of information.

On what grounds are representatives of regimes that are predators of press freedom coming to Paris to pay tribute to Charlie Hebdo, a publication that has always defended the most radical concept of freedom of expression?

Reporters Without Borders is appalled by the presence of leaders from countries where journalists and bloggers are systematically persecuted such as Egypt (which is ranked 159th out of 180 countries in RWB’s press freedom index), Russia (148th), Turkey (154th) and United Arab Emirates (118th).

They have a good point. It’s basically the point I’ve been making about Saudi Arabia all along – Saudi Arabia that is not a Perceived Enemy like IS or AQAP but an official ally. Yes the Couachi brothers are horrible but so is Saudi Arabia – and horrible in the same way for the same shitty reasons.

We must demonstrate our solidarity with Charlie Hebdo without forgetting all the world’s other Charlies,” Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Christophe Deloire said.

It would be unacceptable if representatives of countries that silence journalists were to take advantage of the current outpouring of emotion to try to improve their international image and then continue their repressive policies when they return home. We must not let predators of press freedom spit on the graves of Charlie Hebdo.

Very true. In a way I think it’s good that Egypt and Russia are represented at the Paris march, because whether they like it or not that constitutes a statement for freedom of expression – but in another way I think it’s bad for the reason RWB gives – it also constitutes a burnishing of their reputations.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

It feels as if all of Paris is in the streets

Jan 11th, 2015 10:27 am | By

The Beeb also has a live report on the Paris march, so we can see commentary and news as it rolls in.


Peter Miller emails: It feels as if all of Paris is in the streets. We are still 1km away from Place de la Republique but the street is full of people. It is important the whole of society unites together now in solidarity for the freedom of speech and against hatred that wants to divide us.

I think that uniting bit is what the murderers don’t want.

Remember: they aren’t particularly bright. They have some cunning, but they’re not sharp. They didn’t plan for unity.


German ministers have accused the anti-immigration movement Pegida of exploiting the Paris attacks.

German Justice Minister Heiko Maas has urged Pegida to call off its next march, scheduled for Monday in the eastern city of Dresden. Last week, 18,000 people turned out for the rally.

“If the organisers had a shred of decency, they would simply cancel these demonstrations,” the Bild newspaper quoted him as saying in its issue to be published Monday.

“The victims (of the Paris attacks) do not deserve to be abused by rabble-rousers like these,” he said.

Ni Pegida ni AQAP.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Paris maintenant

Jan 11th, 2015 10:11 am | By

The BBC reports on the massive Paris march today.

More than 40 world leaders joined the start of the march, linking arms in an act of solidarity.

“Paris is the capital of the world today,” French leader Francois Hollande said. “The whole country will rise up.”

The marchers hope to demonstrate unity after the attacks on satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, police officers, and a kosher supermarket.

The rally, led by relatives of the victims of last week’s attacks, began at the Place de la Republique. It is thought that more than a million people are taking part.

More than a million people. That’s a huge march – I’ve never seen one that big.

World leaders, including British Prime Minister David Cameron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas joined the beginning of the march.

No one representing Saudi Arabia? I suppose they’re all too busy cleaning the whip for Raif Badawi’s next flogging.

Marchers in Paris chanted “liberté” (“freedom”) and “Charlie” in reference to Charlie Hebdo magazine.

Some waved French flags, cheered, and sang the national anthem. A group of demonstrators carried a large model pencil with the words “not afraid” written on the side.

Outside Paris, several other French cities also held rallies with a combined turnout of at least one million, AFP news agency reported.

Samia Ghali, mayor of one of Marseille’s districts, told the BBC that people were marching for tolerance and co-existence. Marseille is the city with the largest Muslim population in France.

Solidarity marches were also held in world cities including London, Madrid, Cairo, Sydney and Tokyo.

Is that what the murderers wanted? Global solidarity in the face of their massacres? I doubt it.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

They made a desolation and called it peace

Jan 11th, 2015 9:20 am | By

A couple of cartoons via Lejla Kurić on Facebook –

via Facebook

Via Facebook

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

What happened in Baga

Jan 10th, 2015 5:33 pm | By

Amnesty International says, not surprisingly, that the attack on Baga may be Boko Haram’s worst massacre so far.

“The attack on Baga and surrounding towns, looks as if it could be Boko Haram’s deadliest act in a catalogue of increasingly heinous attacks carried out by the group. If reports that the town was largely razed to the ground and that hundreds or even as many as two thousand civilians were killed are true, this marks a disturbing and bloody escalation of Boko Haram’s ongoing onslaught against the civilian population,” said Daniel Eyre, Nigeria researcher for Amnesty International.

“Disturbing” seems like a silly word there. Everything Boko Haram has done has been horrifying; to say this latest slaughter is disturbing is inadequate.


Boko Haram militants reportedly attacked Baga and surrounding towns on Saturday 3 January.

Since 2009, Boko Haram has deliberately targeted civilians through raids and bomb attacks with attacks increasing in frequency and severity.

The effects on the civilian population have been devastating with thousands killed and abducted and hundreds of thousands forced to leave their homes.

Evidence gathered by Amnesty International indicates that Boko Haram have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity. The Nigerian government must investigate these violent abuses and ensure that those guilty of committing them are brought to justice.

No disagreement there.


(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Donohue to Muslims and artists: convert

Jan 10th, 2015 5:09 pm | By

Bill Donohue says we should all convert to Catholicism and then everything would be fine.

In an ideal world, Muslims who interpret the Koran to justify violence would convert to Catholicism, and artists who think they have an absolute right to insult people of faith would follow suit. If both did, we would have peace and civility.

Catholicism teaches that it is immoral to intentionally kill innocent persons, beginning with life in the womb. It is not a pacifistic religion—it believes in just wars—though it naturally inclines towards non-violence. It most certainly does not counsel violence as a right remedy to insolent behavior. Muslims who say it is morally justified to kill obscene artists, citing the Koran as their impetus, would do us all a favor if they converted to Catholicism.

Oh really? Catholicism naturally inclines towards non-violence? Catholicism does not counsel violence as a right remedy to insolent behavior? What was all that about the Inquisition then? What were all those burnings for? What were the crusades for? Why were church-run prisons for children in Ireland so rife with sadism?

What a bullshitter Donohue is.

Catholicism teaches that freedom is the right to do what you ought to do. As such, it is always tied to duty, and to individual responsibility. Once that understanding breaks down—as it has in the West—trouble follows.

Oh yes? What was and is all that about the rapey priests then? What was all that about shielding the priests and sending them to new parishes instead of reporting their rapes to the police? If that’s what Catholicism teaches, why is it so grotesquely bad at acting accordingly? Unless of course you simply define “what you ought to do” as obedience to stupid Catholic rules as opposed to respect for the rights of other people.

Unfortunately, many artists interpret their rights as a solo exercise, disconnected from duty or responsibility. But autonomy can never be a sturdy guide to morality: it devolves into relativism and to a wholesale disrespect for the rights of others. Narcissistic artists who associate obscenity with creativity would do us all a favor if they converted to Catholicism.

Ah so you are talking about the rights of others. But then why is church history so full of cruelty and exploitation? Why is its copybook so stained with blood and tears? Why has it been so horrible for so long?

The central problem with Muslim extremists and irresponsible artists is that neither embodies the virtue of restraint. If they did, they would not act as the barbarians and libertines that they are. Catholicism is the answer.

What a terrible human being he is.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)