By Thor Tukoll
PARIS – Charlie Hebdo, the vulgar French “Satire” magazine that caused a massacre onto themselves, is back with a cruel joke, not about Islam this time, but about a drowned refugee boy, Aylan Kurdi. The boy has become, in the words of Channel Four, “the symbol of a crisis.” It’s funny to joke about a dead kid, right? But is it appropriate? Maybe it is time to call “freedom of press” what it is: unconscionable and, at times, outright insane.
“Don’t attack the press. It stands for freedom of speech!” Except, it doesn’t. News corporations have ideological agenda and political motives. They serve the interests of their owners. They despise the common people. If you’ve ever been involved with journalists and editors, you know they often are ‘censorship’ personified. They hate true experts. They rarely understand what they write about. They claim to be the watchmen over corrupt politicians; yet who watches the watchmen? Nobody. In fact, politicians are the elected, they serve our interest. Not so our journalists.
Manipulation, lies and deception. Free speech for journalists, but not for you. You don’t have the channels. The dead boy isn’t the press’s fault. They just report the news, right? Internecine disputes over who is the victim, finessed with an abundance of bad taste: blame anyone, or society’s lust for sensation, carnival, and gore, but not the press! Defender of human rights! Social justice warriors! Oh meretricious sympathy of the press soldiers, humoring the dead body of a child refugee over a discount for smaller families at the local French food court.
Journalists say “Our words cannot cause murder.” Except, they do cause murder! Mass murder, even. Ask the Nazis. Ask Charlie Hebdo. It’s a miracle: You offend entire populations, stir up hatred, piss on people, create enemies, and suddenly they kill each other. At the beginning there was the word. And God spoke… and something happened. “No, nothing happens from words,” say the journalists, “We cannot be made responsible; we cannot be subject to any restrictions, regulations, ethics, let alone the laws.”
The last time Charlie Hebdo pissed on the Muslim community, some brave men decided to throw in their lives so at least those aberrations of satirists will have no breakfast no more. If this wasn’t proof that words do cause action, what is? “Words do not translate into action, can’t be!” Except they do everywhere from politics, stock markets, advertisement, education, computer programming…
Like telemarketers or religious gurus, the defenders of freedom of speech claim that speech commentates the world, not causing anything. There’s no causal relations between us making you hate Islam, the Chinese, the Russians, the Communists. You already hate [them], we just report on it. They say reality informs journalism, not journalism reality. Oh cunning men of the news. They want to be exempt from any responsibility.
When three million Europeans, over one million of them French, went to the streets, celebrated by the mass media, of course (why else would they do it, if nobody was looking), they didn’t realize they were marching Europe not to the glorious mountain Olympus, but to the dead river Styx of human solidarity. If Charlie Hebdo can humiliate, shame, and ridicule anyone they like, we, I mean you and I and everyone, are greenlighted to do the same. And poor sods if they [our victims] protest or throw a pot: “Violence, police, law, arrest, poor journalists us!” This 21st century of irresponsible totalitarian freedom of speech has suddenly legitimized all what was previously considered immoral: Racism, slavery, imperialism, orientalism, fascism… All is allowed now; even in hindsight, all makes sense: “See, you didn’t have to follow those examples of freedom [of expression] –but you did! You believed it! So you only have yourself to blame!”
It’s the end of moral decency and safe places. Everyone is constantly making up speech in the hope to hurt your feelings, my feelings, their feelings; and play on your emotions, our anxieties, and our fears. “And it’s your fault, because you listened!” It is no longer in the interest of journalism to do anything else but drawing attention. So, let’s offend some more.
Let’s start (all forbidden in Europe, which oppresses freedom of speech, uh) with the Jews, women, children, the elderly, the fat, the ugly, the crippled, the helpless. Let’s destroy the reputation of this leader, and that leader, of any nation, government, and culture that we disapprove of or don’t like. What a world. Freedom of expression without consequences!
The media is feminine. Always playing the ‘victim card’: “The target of our satire is to blame. He or she or it brought this situation all on to itself.” Don’t you ever criticize the press; the press is always right. Discussion is irrelevant and inimical. “You must be an oppressor of freedom of speech!”
If freedom of press looks like dogma and fascism, that’s because it is dogma and fascism. The French president should morn the victims of a crime [after the Charlie Hebdo massacre], of course. But he should have also punched the remaining Hebdo satirists in the face. [It’s a metaphor] But no, no, he congratulated them for having caused mass murder. “More of it, Charlie Hebdo. Offend some more!”
We wonder if the French do realize that the same dogma could be applied to their sorry culture anytime. [They next victim could be you!] Freedom of speech, and wait for some Frenchman to retaliate…
The media has gone too far. They are above the laws and beyond all ethics. Ah, we are making this dead boy, Aylan Kurdi, more famous than Jesus Christ. See, the populace is shouting at each other on Twitter and Facebook. Mission accomplished! A debate has started. Dead boy is now a good thing. By this philosophy, the media should go out and create misery and support the suffering, because this way they got even more good things to report about. Hatred, violence, extreme offense, shamelessness are the new normal.
Our press soldiers, in contrast to real soldiers, fear no consequences. The more disruption they cause to as many people as possible, the better. And if 100,000 citizens protest, those “idiots” even feature the journalists –showering them with attention, transforming them into celebrities.
Already, Charlie Hebdo, working with half the staff but twice as hard, creates more disgusting news. The global media of matters all picked it up. In a way, they are all complicit. European journalists are looking for dead bodies on the beaches.
From high school to university to literature we are taught that “the pen is mightier than the sword.” Except when you take journalists to the wall. Then, all of a sudden, the pen is impotent and powerless. “We didn’t do a thing. We can’t harm a fly. We are innocent!” Despite the fact that all wars and all crimes against humanity, racism, segregation, all bullying is initiated, and carried into all strata of society, precisely by “free” speech and rhetoric.
The Nazis loved free speech about the deviant Jews. “We are just reporting what we see. You can’t take the words away from us. We have the right to free speech!” Yes, I also believe in freedom of speech. But it means that there will be a thousand versions of every possible combination of ideas out there; there will be monopolies, schemes, cults, and reckless interest groups battling for our attention by killing even their own sons. It’s a metaphor for Abraham who sacrificed his own son to call attention to his religion. Be careful. Speech can’t do no harm. Words don’t kill. But people do. You just have to tell them.
Thor Tukoll is a pen name of Thorsten J. Pattberg, a German writer and cultural critic. He is the author of The East-West Dichotomy, Shengren, and Inside Peking University.
2015 (c) Thor Tukoll