measles liberation

Three years ago, a few dozen men and women gathered in a VFW hall outside of Ft. Wayne, NJ to attend what organizers billed as the first International Conference on Measles Issues. What the crowd lacked in size, it made up for in enthusiasm. The event was the first real-world gathering organized by the website A Voice for Measles, part of an informal collection of websites, chat rooms and blogs focused on what’s known as the Measles Rights Movement. Speaker after speaker insisted that history would remember this moment.

“It’s happening here. It’s happening now. It’s happening with us,” keynote speaker Ludovic Terwilliger told the crowd. Terwilliger, author of Measles Oppression in America, is often described as the intellectual father of the Measles Rights Movement.

“Society has been trying to suppress measles for centuries,” Terwilliger recently told this reporter. “So-called ‘doctors’ and ‘scientists’ have been quite open in the anti-measles rhetoric. They try to convince the world that Maculopapular Peoples are sick, that they should be isolated from the rest of society, that they can be ‘cured’. Well, we’re not having it. We’re here, kiss my rear, we won’t disappear.”

“Measles are perfectly natural,” said Constance Terwilliger (no relation), the pro-rash mother of three. “I was vaccinated as a child. I don’t blame my parents; they didn’t know any better. I refused to make that same mistake with Snowflake.” Three-year-old Snowflake Terwilliger held onto his mother’s skirt. “I don’t want to wake up one morning and see the light is gone from his little eyes because he caught something from the vaccine. Like autism or something. I don’t want him to have to wear a football helmet for the rest of his life.”

Snowflake Terwilliger

Snowflake Terwilliger

Critics of the growing Measles Rights Movement argue parents who refuse to have their children vaccinated against measles may be making a mistake. “These people are completely fucking stupid,” said Dr. Curtis Aarb, the first doctor listed in the telephone book. “I have slugs in my garden that are smarter than these people. Hell, the petunias the slugs feed on are smarter than these people. It’s difficult to accurately describe the deep, abiding, fundamental stupidity of these people. They’re really, really really, really fucking stupid.”

Ludovic Terwilliger, wearing his trademark Measles Just Want to be Free t-shirt, dismissed Dr. Aarb’s analysis. “Typical anti-measles rhetoric.” He smiled at young Snowflake Terwilliger and his mother, standing in the Mad Teacup line at Disneyland. “We will eventually be living in a maculopapular world. People will just have to get used to it.”

palin unshackled

You guys, former sorta Governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin has had it up to here with your elitist tyranny of sentence structure. In her stirring speech made before a packed audience of fellow patriots Palin cast off the iron chains of syntax, context, and linear thought, as well as grammar, or in other words Free at last, free at last, as Jeebus said on his midnight ride to address the nation on the critical importunation that only drilling for oil can set These Great United States on the right course to prosperity and keeping illegal immigrants from driving, as Ronald Reagan said in the Gettysburg Address.

You can see the entire ‘speech’ here:

And oh, it is quite the speech, yessiree, until about thirteen minutes into it when the teleprompter went toes up and Governoress Palin was given the opportunity to say what exactly was exactly on her mind exactly as she thought it. Insights and wisdoms that, which no doubt, without fear or the burden of the lamestream media were, you know, uttered and uttered boldly.As did our forefathers before us. And Reagan, too also.

The audience sat stunned and amazed as Palin spoke and addressed many of the important issues faced by the world and America, which as you may have used to know is the greatest nation of the planet of Earth, even if Obama bows to Muslim leaders while refusing to negotiate with our own elected leaders in Congress, is that how he thinks hope and change works? Well, it isn’t. Also? Nobody likes Michael Moore. Or his stupid hat.

palin freedom summit

Not everybody, including some noble Republicans, saw the underlying insights and wisdoms, even among those that are to be found in FreeRepublic. Some were perhaps maybe sorta kinda almost maybe dismissive almost maybe of the former governor.

“I watched it and there were smatterings of applause and some laughter. Palin was all over the place. No real coherence or continuity. Just a bunch of one liners.”

“I listened for a few minutes but Mrs. Palin’s shrill, runaway, ululating voice got to me immediately. My God….just about the worst, most irritating voice I’ve ever heard emanating from any politician’s throat. Pulling myself together, I continued to watch, and it only got worse. I have but one observation….the speech was corny, folksy, trite, lacking form or coherence and almost void of issues with proposed answers presented logically and with craftsmanship.”

But naysayers will say nay, as we all know, just like the Nazis said nay to Patrick Henry who swore he’d not give up the ship until he saw the whites of their eyes. Many stepped up and forward and up again to defend the former sorta kinda governor and her graceful eloquent-like ululating voice.

“My wife and I just watched (Sunday afternoon) your EXCELLENTLY PREPARED AND PRESENTED SPEECH at the Freedom Summit.”

“The theme was she is kicking off her campaign and she laid out the path to victory. The ending was inspiring. She is the only one who can win.”

“Her speech was fine. Anyone who would make a comment such as yours is coming from a Pre-determined animus. You are exposed.”

“I watched the entire Palin speech. She hit on every theme we believe in here on FreeRepublic. It was not incoherent, she was not drunk, she did not ramble. It was entertaining, and that is her informal style of speech. I would rather have that level of reality and honesty than trained speakers who are polished but say nothing that they actually believe in. She is the next Ronald Reagan.”

“Her new speech pattern with her SINCERE gestures in this presentation was tailored to deliver specific information to specific people and not just to persuade potential voters and supporters who were in attendance there. I’m a voice coach. I pay attention to how she’s doing. She nailed it Saturday in Iowa.”

And, of course, there those among FreeRepublic who support near-Governor Palin totally and completely and with all their hearts though not for President of These United States but a lesser and more girlier job, as intended by God and the grand old flag that flew so proudly over Fort Sumter when the Japanese attacked and Francis Scott Card wrote the Star Spankled Banner for. Like this guy:

“She would make an OUTSTANDING Cabinet member. Say Secretary of Energy or Secretary of the Interior. She could make LIBTARD heads explode.”

And who among us would deny the importance of a policy based entirely on exploding Libtard heads? Not the Founding Fathers, no sirree, who wrote the Constitution and protected our rights to carry without having to explain our faith or creed to Harvard elites who would mock and jeer and cast the first fish upon the water. Amen.

palin ready for hillary

Governor-lite Palin is considering, she says, and who could doubt her sincerity, which is an attribute needed to be presidential like Reagan, to run for the highest office in the land or the entire world in 2016 though she hasn’t made a decision yet, and won’t until she prays to Jeebus and also Reagan.

american sniper

I wrote about Chris Kyle a couple of years ago, shortly after he was murdered on a Texas gun range. I didn’t know very much about Kyle at the time. I was familiar with his name, of course, and I’d heard about some of his exploits. I was aware he’d worked with a couple of ghost writers and had published an autobiography, though I hadn’t yet read it (I bought it a few months later and labored through it). I knew just enough about Chris Kyle to say he was “one of those guys — the ones they make American movies about.” And hey, they did. American Sniper.

Scene from American Sniper

Scene from American Sniper

Last weekend I watched the movie. I watched it during brunch, at a ‘brewhouse’ theater where you could have a mimosa and a mediocre omelet while you watched the actor playing Chris Kyle stretched out on a rooftop, picking off Iraqis. As a movie — more specifically, as a war movie — it mostly worked. There were lots of explosions, some nicely directed scenes of urban combat, and enough attention to military detail to please anybody who likes that stuff (and yeah, I admit it, I like military hardware). I also thought it did a fine job of showing how destructive repeated deployments were to the troops and their families. So yeah, as a war movie, it was pretty good. But the thing about war movies is that they aren’t really about war; they’re about the people who fight in wars. War is the environment in which the movie takes place. There’s no concern about why the characters are at war, or the socio-political events that led to war. American Sniper mostly ignores all that. Oh, there are a couple of bullshit scenes showing an attack on a U.S. embassy, and the collapse of the WTC on 9/11 — neither of which had anything to do with the invasion of Iraq. But all that matters to the movie is the suggestion that there are bad guys who need killing, and Chris Kyle is just the guy to do it. And that’s as faithful as the movie gets to Kyle’s autobiography. The movie has almost no nuance, Kyle’s book has none at all. Chris Kyle was not a nuanced sort of guy. Where the movie shows Kyle emotionally distressed after having to decide whether or not to shoot a woman and a child, Kyle’s account of the event shows no distress at all. None. Of course, in the book Kyle only kills the mother — but he makes it perfectly clear it didn’t bother him.

Bradley Cooper (as Chris Kyle) sighting in on an Iraqi mother

Bradley Cooper (as Chris Kyle) sighting in on an Iraqi mother

There are a LOT of discrepancies between the movie and the book. There are a LOT of discrepancies between the book and the facts. Chris Kyle, to be blunt, lied about a lot of things in the book. When I first wrote about him, I stated that “[b]y all accounts, Chris Kyle was a nice guy. A nice guy who killed a couple hundred people.” He was a nice guy who thought killing ‘bad guys’ was fun. Chris Kyle claimed to be a simple person, but there really are no simple people. He wasn’t any one thing. He probably was a nice guy. Most of the time. Unless he had a reason to kill you. Unless he believed he had a reason to kill you. He was a hero. A hero who shot people in the back when they weren’t looking. But also a hero who wanted to be the first guy through the door when clearing a building. He was, I’m told, a good husband and father, who was also perfectly shitty at being a husband and father. He was a liar. He was a damned good soldier. Some folks, having read his book and seen the movie, are calling Kyle a sociopath. They may be right. But if you have to have a military, you want people like Chris Kyle in it. If you’re going to send people to war, you want to send people like Kyle. You want sensible and rational leaders, but you also want a sprinkling of semi-disciplined sociopaths.

Kyle on a training course after retiring from the Navy

Kyle on a training course after retiring from the Navy

One of the best novels written about war and the people who fight wars is Piece of Cake, by Derek Robinson. It’s about RAF Hurricane pilots in WWII. There’s one scene in which a character describes a group of fighter pilots.

“They’re all a bit mad, you know. They wouldn’t do it unless there was a damn good chance of getting killed, would they? So they can’t be completely normal. They’re not what you’d call model citizens, any of them. More like vandals, I suppose. They’re just itching to be turned loose with an eight-gun Hurricane on some lumbering great bomber. I mean, that’s your average fighter pilot’s attitude, isn’t it. Show him something, anything really, and deep down inside, his first reaction is: What sort of a mess could I make of that with a couple of three-second bursts? Herd of cows, double-decker bus, garden party — makes no difference what it is, that’s the thought in the back his mind. Not surprising, really. I’ve often thought it’s a damn good job they’re in the RAF, otherwise they’d all be out there blowing up banks.”

Replace ‘RAF pilot’ with ‘Navy SEAL’ and you have Chris Kyle. When I wrote about him before, I said “I haven’t a clue whether I’d have liked him or not, but I can guarantee you this: I’d have loved to have a beer with him. This was a guy with stories to tell.” I stand by that. The stories he told might not be true, but they’d be worth listening to.

Chris Kyle

Chris Kyle

I also said this: “Chris Kyle deserved better than this — better than to have been shot down on a gun range in Texas.” I’m not so sure about that anymore. Maybe that IS what he deserved, I don’t know. It’s a sad end, no mistake — but I suspect Kyle would have preferred to be shot down rather than die of old age. And I suspect he’d be okay with being killed while trying to help another soldier.

As for the movie — hey, it’s just a movie. Nobody expects truth from a movie. Especially a war movie. The only thing you should expect from a war movie is drama and explosions and heroic sacrifice. You know, the sort of stuff that will lure future Chris Kyles into joining the military. Which is where they belong.

Maybe the saddest thing about the life and death of Chris Kyle is that it’s been turned into entertainment — something to watch in a brewhouse theater, while sipping a mimosa and eating a mediocre omelet.

ADDENDUM: In the piece I referred to “a couple of bullshit scenes showing an attack on a U.S. embassy, and the collapse of the WTC on 9/11 — neither of which had anything to do with the invasion of Iraq.” That’s inaccurate. As Doug Gastélum pointed out, those events were used as the foundation for the invasion of Iraq. It would have been more accurate to say Iraq had nothing to do with the attacks of 9/11 or the bombing of the U.S. embassy. We just invaded the nation anyway.

As Texas Governor Rick Perry would say, oops.

joni’s got a gun

Next Tuesday Barack Obama, President of These United States, will deliver the annual State of the Union address. Traditionally, following the SOTU speech, the opposition party is given the opportunity to respond. This year the Republican response will be given by Senator Joni Ernst.

Who, you are asking, the hell is Joni Ernst? Let me answer that. She’s the newly elected Senator from Iowa. Seriously, she was just sworn into office a few days ago. But who IS she? She’s Sarah Palin Lite. She’s Palin without Palin’s intellect and gravitas. She’s Palin, corn-fed and less coherent. She’s Palin on mood stabilizers. She’s Palin castrating swine instead of shooting at elk. And yeah, that castrating swine bit? I’m not even joking. That’s actually how she got elected..

This was probably the most effective advert run by a Republican in the last election cycle. It put Joni Ernst on the map, and got the attention of the Old White Guys with Deep Pockets. They bought her a bunch of political advisers and media consultants, who managed to tone down her Crazy Quotient enough to get her elected. (And dude, Ernst scores HIGH on the Crazy Quotient — which I’ll get back to in just a bit.)  Once the OWGwDP began to groom her, Joni stopped talking about policy and focused her campaign on the fact that she was an Iowa country mom who wore a uniform, rode a motorcycle, loved guns, and spent her childhood lopping the balls off pigs.

After she was elected, Senator Lindsey Graham gave her a plaque with a pig castration tool mounted on it, inscribed Make ‘Em Squeal, Joni.

ernst make them squeal

Ernst’s other major claim to legitimacy is her military service. She’s a lieutenant colonel in the Iowa Army National Guard, the commander of the 185th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion. That’s the one thing I really truly actually respect about Ernst. She put on the uniform and she served. And don’t knock the logistics folks; a military unit is only as good as its equipment and supplies.

But Joni doesn’t get a free pass just because of her military service — for a couple of reasons. First, her media handlers often refer to her as a ‘combat veteran’ because her unit served in Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003-2004. Which sounds cool. Except that her support unit was stationed in Kuwait, and while her unit did run convoys into southern Iraq, I feel safe in suggesting that as the company commander, Joni never got behind the wheel of one of those convoy vehicles. She isn’t a combat veteran.

ernst in uniform

Second, despite her long military career, Joni seems unaware of Article 88 of the Uniformed Code of Military Justice.

Any commissioned officer who uses contemptuous words against the President, the Vice President, Congress, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of a military department, the Secretary of Transportation, or the Governor or legislature of any State, Territory, Commonwealth, or possession in which he is on duty or present shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.

That’s right, it’s a court martial offense insult the president. But just a year ago, Joni said “He (Obama) has become a dictator.” She’s also flirted with violations of UCMJ Article 94, which states that anybody subject to the UCMJ who advocates “revolt, violence, or other disturbance against that authority” is guilty of sedition. In a speech to the NRA, she said:

“I do believe in the right to carry, and I believe in the right to defend myself and my family — whether it’s from an intruder, or whether it’s from a government, should they decide that my rights are no longer important.”

When she joined the Iowa National Guard, Joni swore an oath that she would “obey the orders of the President of the United States and the Governor of the State.” Which, you know, actually IS the government she’s toting a handgun to defend herself from. So she can either be a good soldier or she can be somebody who is arming herself against her own government — but she can’t be both.

But wait…that’s the low end of Joni Ernst’s score on the Crazy Quotient. At the high end? Agenda 21. She believes this is some United Nations conspiracy to usurp democracy in order to deprive US citizens of their property rights in order to…well, that bit isn’t clear. But dammit, foreigners want to kill family farms and take away our golf courses. At a candidate forum, Joni claimed United Nations agents have begun

“moving people off of their agricultural land and consolidating them into city centers and then telling them that you don’t have property rights anymore.”

Joni is also an advocate of nullification — the completely discredited notion that state rights can trump federal law. In a candidate questionnaire she said as a Senator she’d support:

“…legislation to nullify ObamaCare and authorize state and local law enforcement to arrest federal officials attempting to implement (it).”

That’s right — Joni not only believes in a crackpot legal theory, she also thinks it’s okay to arrest and prosecute Federal personnel who are following Federal law. I suppose we should be grateful she doesn’t advocate castrating them.



And let me remind you once again — this woman is a Senator in the United States Congress. Elected right here in Iowa, the heartland and all that (and really, I apologize for all of Iowa). And even though she’s only been in office for less than two weeks, she’s the person chosen to give the Republican Party’s official response to the president’s State of the Union address.

My country, I love it dearly…but we are so fucked.

excited to actively announce and all

Jeb Bush. The ‘smart’ one. Seriously, they actually call him that in news articles. The smart brother in the Bush family. He’s running to be the President of These United States. Sort of.

I am excited to announce that I will actively explore the possibility of running for president of the United States.

That single sentence by itself should be enough to disqualify Jeb Bush from ever becoming president. No human being wrote that sentence. It could have been produced by an Announcement Generator app. More likely, though, it was sweated over by a cadre of highly paid public relation monkeys who’d been instructed to come up with something that would convey the aura of enthusiasm without actually committing Jeb Bush to follow through on the announcement. You know, in case it turns out absolutely nobody on the fucking planet actually wants him to be the President of These United States of America. It’s a pissy-pants statement if I’ve ever heard one (and I have).

Let’s unpack this turd burrito, shall we?

I am excited to announce…

Excited, right. C’mon Jeb, you’d probably be more excited looking in the refrigerator late at night and finding there’s still some lasagna leftover. You’re not really excited by this, and neither is anybody else. This isn’t even a real announcement. An announcement is a public notice that somebody is doing something — getting married, having a baby, starting a new job. Nobody ever announced they were exploring the possibility of looking for a different job. “Dear friends, I’m excited to announce I’m actively exploring the possibility of seeking employment.” Jeebus in the freezer, really?

…that I will actively explore the possibility…

See, one of the first things they teach you in the Acme Writing Academy is to avoid passive language. It’s important to use words that suggest excitement and activity. Words like ‘excited’ and ‘actively’. But what this really means is you’re going to have your staff start calling the guys with deep pockets. You’re going to try to find out if any of them might be willing piss away some of their big bucks in an attempt to insert another member of the Bush family into a political position from which he can help the guys with deep pockets get deeper pockets. There’s no ‘exploration’ here; you’re just going back to the well.

…of running for president of the United States.

Yeah, That sounds much nicer than the subtext — which is this: who else are the guys with deep pockets gonna turn to? Mitt Romney, the human blancmange, again? C’mon. Chris Christie? Sure, he’s the guy you’d call if you want to close the bridge from Newark to Tel Aviv, but nobody takes him seriously. Who else have the Republicans got? Jindal, that pencil-necked geek from Louisiana? Rick ‘Oops’ Perry? Ted Fucking Cruz?

I have had it up to HERE with your bullshit -- it's MY turn, dammit.

I have had it up to HERE with your bullshit — it’s MY turn, dammit.

What Jeb Bush is actually saying is this:

Get on board, bitches — it’s my turn. You ran my brother (who, can I just say this, is so goddamn stupid he couldn’t pour piss out of a boot if the instructions were written on the bottom); you ran crazy ass John McCain, whose only accomplishment was to get shot down in Vietnam; and then you ran Romney. Mitt Dancing Horses Romney, for fuck’s sake. It’s my turn and I’m probably the least embarrassing rich white guy you got (and yeah, we all know it’s going to be a rich white guy, so shut up).

Oh, the 2016 election is most certainly going to be the stupidest election ever. I can hardly wait.

what did they expect?

“What did they expect?” I don’t know how many times I’ve heard this comment made about the massacre at Charlie Hebdo. “What the fuck did they expect?

The implication is that since the editors and cartoonists knew that images of the Prophet Mohammed offended Muslim extremists, they should have expected a violent reaction from them. Because they knew Muslim extremists were capable of massive acts of immoderate and irrational violence, they should have expected to be firebombed or stabbed or shot. Because they knew something like this might happen, they shouldn’t publish cartoons of the Prophet.

In other words, Charlie Hebdo should let extremists decide what they ought to publish.

But let me actually answer the question. What did the editors and cartoonists and support staff of Charlie Hebdo expect? They expected people who were offended by their magazine would choose not to read their magazine. It’s that simple.

If you’re offended by rap music, don’t listen to rap music. If you’re offended by South Park, don’t watch South Park. If you’re offended by Sarah Palin, don’t listen to Sarah Palin. If you’re offended by photographs of naked people, don’t go to exhibits that show photos of naked people. If you’re offended by Charlie Hebdo, don’t buy or read Charlie Hebdo.

So let’s turn that question to the Muslim extremists? What the fuck did they expect? If they knew Charlie Hebdo published outrageous cartoons of the Prophet, they should have expected to be offended. So let’s consider their options.

Option 1 — Don’t buy or read Charlie Hebdo.

Option 2 — Gear up and slaughter as many people who work at Charlie Hebdo as they possibly can.

This is not a difficult decision. I don’t think it was unreasonable for the staff of Charlie Hebdo to expect folks to choose Option 1.

je suis toujours charlie

First, let me make a request. If you have something to say about anything I’ve written here, I’d prefer you say it in the comments rather than send me an email. That way your point of view will be most accurately represented.

I received some email (well, a few emails…okay, three…I received three emails) that I think deserve a response. Two of them essentially suggested Stéphane Charbonnier and his compatriots at Charlie Hebdo were at least marginally complicit in their own murders. Neither writer actually said that directly, but it seemed implicit. I should also say both writers were firm in stating that there was absolutely no justification for the murder of the twelve people killed in the attack. Both were explicit in stating they were passionate supporters of free expression. However, both took the “don’t poke a stick at a mad dog” approach.

Charbonnier was an egotistical narcissist. He knew he was provoking a group who responded to insults with violence, yet he insisted on doing it — and now there are twelve families who’ve lost loved one. All because Charb wanted to be a bad boy.

And this:

They knew those offensive cartoons of Muhommed [sic] would be insulting, they didn’t have to publish them, but they did anyways. What did they expect? That the terrorists would write a strongly-worded letter to the editor?

Were the editorial staff of Charlie Hebdo being reckless? Yeah, probably. But that’s the thing about free expression, isn’t it. If you limit it to ‘reasonable’ speech, then it’s no longer free expression. If free expression doesn’t protect the extremes, then it’s worthless.

"I am the Prophet, fool."

“I am the Prophet, fool!”

The third email misinterpreted my point entirely. Or maybe I simply wasn’t as clear as I’d hoped to be. Here’s the meat of his email:

It’s long past time people started saying fuck you to Muslim terrorists. They should republish every comic that insults Mohammed.

I wasn’t saying ‘fuck you’ to Muslim terrorists. Well, yeah, okay, I was saying that, but not JUST to Muslim terrorists. I was saying ‘fuck you’ to ALL extremists who think violence is an acceptable way to express disagreement or to silence those who disagree with them. That same ‘fuck you’ applies to Christians who shoot abortion providers, to Sovereign Citizens who shoot law enforcement officers, to environmentalists who set traps that hurt or kill loggers, even to that woman in Vancouver who put logs and rocks on mountain bike trails.

Let me also say this: if anybody is using the attack on Charlie Hebdo to justify their hatred of Islam, then that ‘fuck you’ applies to them too.

Little Jesus

Little Jesus

Finally, there’s this — a comment addressed to me on Facebook that was unfortunately removed before I could respond:

Greg, respectfully, if someone firebombs Westboro Baptist Church, are you going to change your avatar to ‘Je Suis GodHatesFags” by the same rationale? They operate under the same freedoms and would have been attacked by the same type of motives.

It’s a tragedy that this all happened; to pretend it was an attack on free speech is naive. It was an attack by twisted people against deliberate antagonism and provocation. I’m not excusing anything; the murderers were wrong in the worst of ways. But nobody gains anything by cartoons showing Muslim women with burkas shoved up their asses, or someone else’s prophet being born out of a man’s asshole, or posing in a pornographic film, or whatever, unless bigotry and dehumanizing people for the sake of doing so is your thing. It’s not for me.

That’s a perfectly valid response, and those are valid opinions. Would I change my avatar to Je suis GodHatesFags? No, of course not. But I would defend (and have defended) the right of the Westboro Baptist Church to express their ugly opinions. Here’s the difference between the WBS and Charlie Hebdo: the WBC is claiming only one viewpoint (theirs, of course) is valid and deserving of respect, whereas Charlie Hebdo has been saying no viewpoint is deserving of unqualified respect.

Nobody gains anything from the Charlie Hebdo cartoons? I disagree. Yes, many of them are offensive. Deliberately offensive. Intended to offend. But Charlie Hebdo has been an equal opportunity offender; they offended everybody with equal enthusiasm. I’d argue that society at large gains from that approach, if only because it expands the range of acceptable opinions.

hebdo offensive4

Is this offensive? Yes, totally.


Here’s a true thing: the writers and cartoonists at Charlie Hebdo did nothing to elevate the marketplace of ideas. But they certainly contributed to it. They actively participated in the marketplace of ideas. They took the position that nothing is so important that it can’t be mocked. They said the more important a person or an idea is, the more that person or idea needs to be mocked. Nothing is sacred.

Yes, a lot of their cartoons are offensive and childish and mocking and unfair — and bless them for it. Are some of their cartoons racist? Yes…and no. They certainly used racial and ethnic stereotypes, but from what I’ve seen they used them to mock racial and ethnic stereotypes (which, by the way, is the same approach used by R. Crumb). Are some of the cartoons cruel? Yes. Do they make a point? Yes. We may not all agree with their point or the way they make it, but it’s hard to argue that the cartoons are…well, pointless.

Is THIS racist? Well, yeah, it is.

Is THIS racist? Well, yeah, it is.

One way to look at Charlie Hebdo is through the lens of that Hans Christian Anderson tale of the Emperor’s New Clothes. Charlie Hebdo is the crude, irritating, badly-behaved child along the parade route who makes farting noises and points and laughs and makes fun of the Emperor’s bare ass.

Are there better ways to point out the Emperor’s bare ass? Yes, absolutely. But if we’re to protect free expression, we have to defend the right of publications like Charlie Hebdo to be offensive. It’s not necessary to approve of Charlie Hebdo. But it is important to support them — especially now.



je suis charlie

I’m only vaguely familiar with Charlie Hebdo, the French satirical magazine — and I’m only familiar with it at all because it’s so often been involved in controversy. I became aware of the magazine in 2011 when the magazine’s office was firebombed for publishing an edition with this cover:


100 lashes if you are not dying of laughter.

It’s a cheezy cartoon, but a great line. One hundred lashes if you’re not dying of laughter.

Today at least twelve people died — were killed, to be exact — in another attack on the magazine, Three more were wounded and are in critical condition. Two of the dead are police officers — one who was detailed to protect the magazine office, and another who apparently responded to the scene on a bicycle. The rest of the dead were employees of the magazine — the editor, cartoonists, writers, support staff.

They were killed by two or three masked men armed with Kalashnikov rifles. Killed for publishing cartoons and articles that offended some Muslim extremists. The operative term there is extremists. It’s always the fucking extremists who engage in this sort of cowardly bullshit. And it IS cowardly, and it IS bullshit.

Stéphane Charbonnier, one of today's dead, outside the firebombed office of Charlie Hebdo in 2011.

Stéphane Charbonnier, one of today’s dead, outside the firebombed office of Charlie Hebdo in 2011.

It’s cowardly because this is the act of people who are afraid. If you’re confident in your faith, then an insult to it can’t hurt you. Be offended by the insult, certainly, but to silence the people who made the insult — to silence them by killing them, to hope to silence others by the killing — is effectively saying your faith and your religion are too weak to withstand mockery. And it’s bullshit because all this does is heap more scorn and loathing on the religion these jackasses are trying to ‘protect’.

Charlie Hebdo attackers killing a police officer as he's defenseless on the ground.

Charlie Hebdo attackers killing a police officer as he’s defenseless on the ground.

People will talk about finding an ‘appropriate’ response to this attack. There IS NO APPROPRIATE RESPONSE to extremists killing people over cartoons and caricatures. There is only a range of inappropriate responses. Here’s my personal inappropriate response:

Fuck you.

Fuck you, if you think this is going to help your cause. Fuck you for being so stupid and hateful and afraid. Fuck you if you think this will stop people from mocking Islam or the Prophet Mohammed. Fuck you, because I’m going to buy a subscription to Charlie Hebdo, even though I don’t read French. Fuck you with a passion for thinking you can silence people who disagree with you. Fuck you for thinking you have the right to shut people up. Fuck you and your pathetic guns, and fuck you and your stupid masks, and fuck you for shitting on Paris and on France and on the world. Fuck you, you gutless jerkwads, you deserve any ridicule that’s directed at you. Fuck you in the neck.


You think you did something brave? You think you struck a blow for Islam? Well, fuck you. You made Charlie Hebdo famous. You made people all over the world stand up and say “Je suis Charlie.”

And when I say “I am Charlie” what I’m really saying is this: fuck you. I hope you and every other extremist in every cause and in every religion is listening. Fuck you. All of you. Fuck. You.