Deyan Ranko Brashich
After the assassination of editors and cartoonists at France’s Charlie Hebdo satirical newspaper one million demonstrated Sunday in Paris condemning this savage act with the rallying cry “Je suis Charlie/I am Charlie”. They are not Charlie, I am.
Charlie Hebdo is crass, mean, in bad taste, an equal opportunity offender throwing barbs and insults at targets of any and all sexual, religious and political persuasion. It is a blunt instrument devoid of the minimal finesse and sophistication of a vintage Mad Magazine. It has no socially redeeming value except as a beacon for freedom of speech and expression at its most offensive and insulting level. That is why I love it.
I confess that until last week I had never heard of Charlie Hebdo, never read it. Having lived in France I occasionally read Le Canard enchaîné, the satirical political weekly and except for some political commentary I find it boring, a publication that time has passed by.
This week I educated myself by skimming though several years of Charlie Hebdo’s covers and reading a sample of the articles. The content and the cartoon covers were calibrated to engage the intelligence of a retarded, sorry “intellectually disabled” 15 year old or just a plain old fashioned bigot with a grade school education. The front pages were journalistic and design embarrassments. The cartoons were grotesque primitive cave drawings not even close to the work of Mad illustrators – Jack Davis, Don Martin, Harvey Kurtzman – but I loved them, breaths of fresh air, devoid of hypocrisy and political correctness.
I love the cover that has the Pope taking Berlusconi’s confession and absolving him of his many bunga-bunga sex parties. The Roman Catholic Church has long been complicit in keeping that fraud in power. I applaud the cover that has an Imam cautioning you of a penalty of 100 lashes if you laugh at Islam. In real life in Saudi Arabia it was 1,000 lashes with a whip to be administered over days. I concur in finding unseemly French/American competition over the survivors of Haiti’s disastrous earthquake.
Who can fault the cover recognizing that love, make that sex, is stronger than hate featuring a gay Arab in a lock-lipped kiss with Charlie himself? Who can disagree with the article on the religiously motivated killings in Egypt that finds the Koran full of shit and not bulletproof? Who can object to ridicule of politicians espousing family values while engaging in extramarital flings fueled by Viagra?
I do not find the topics and the images offensive. They are grounded in reality. The majority of the millions that demonstrated in Paris and elsewhere found Charlie Hebdo offensive and in bad taste – they are protesting only for the freedom for some to be offensive and in bad taste. They miss the point.
The assassinations took place because the many failed to protest and act against the excesses, the crimes, the depredations that have been made in their names and with their acquiescence. They, the protester, are not Charlie Hebdo.
Deyan Ranko Brashich, an attorney, was a longtime Washington, Conn., resident and a frequent contributor. He is the author of Letters from America and Contrary Views. His contact and blog “Contrary Views” is at www.deyanbrashich.com .