Je Suis Charlie

who has damageed Mohammed more

Saturday 1334  –  10.01.15

If you are new to my blog take a look at my About page here

Like many other people around the world I have been thinking a lot about the shocking murders, in Paris, of the cartoonists and others who worked for Charlie Hebdo, a satirical newspaper with a circulation of around 60,000.

I have been moved by the tremendous outpouring of support from around the world, facilitated by social media. The hashtag #JeSuisCharlie is estimated to have been shared on twitter nearly 4 million times in 5 days which is extraordinary.  I shared it myself.

more sacred than religion

Throughout this piece I will also share some of the responses  to the killings, from other cartoonists.

I have read a great deal of cynical comment, in papers, and on Facebook, about “the independentmasses” being used for political gain and the whole response to the killings being orchestrated but I do not believe that; certainly not in the first few days. That opinion belittles the individuals, such as myself , who spontaneously felt this killing was an assault on our own freedom of expression and wanted to show that.

Pen is mighttierFrom what I know of Charlie Hebdo, which was nothing before the attacks on Weds, it is a satirical magazine that is very irreverent, bordering on cruel, in its degree of biting mockery of a wide range of establishment, religious and others figures and organisations; almost certainly not the kind of publication I would buy ( even if I could read French ! ) . Of course I am free to choose whether I read it or not and that’s the crux of the matter isn’t it?  No-one HAS to buy it or read it and that includes those extremists who carried out this terrible act. 

I am very much in favour of a degree of free expression which is surely one of the cornerstones of a civilised world, ( I know that whether ANY of the world is very civilised is open to debate but let’s not be too pedantic ).  The place of satire in the world has been established for centuries and if we look at the definition of it we will see how it can have a very useful purpose.

“Satire is a genre of literature, and sometimes graphic and performing arts, in which vices, follies, abuses, and shortcomings are held up to ridicule, ideally with the intent of shaming individuals, corporations, government or society itself, into improvement.”

So bearing that definition in mind we can see that inevitably someone is going to be offended by whatever a satirist writes or in this case draws. Charlie Hebdo was well-known for offending many religions not just Islam; indeed I believe the Catholic Church sued Hebdo several times. more

Whilst an individual has the inalienable right to be offended by what a satirist produces what they do NOT have is the right to insist that the satirist, or any one else for that matter, stops producing material that might offend that particular individual. 

drawing heartOf course with freedom of expression comes responsibility and I would certainly not see hate speech or speech which incites violence as being acceptable.  In this country, and I’m sure in France too,  there are laws which publishers have to follow to protect against those worst excesses and that is as it should be because it certainly would not be safe for everyone to say just exactly what they wanted.  

So it is right that there should be limitations but publishers should not be put in a position where they feel unable to publish something because of fear that they or their staff will be killed if they do.

 To me the outpouring of support was about just this point, showing that people are not afraid and will stand against censorship by extremists.

Not afraid

Satire must survive these killings because it is a powerful tool for scrutinizing organizations, countries and religions , and this is essential to shine a light into the darkest recesses and show injustices that still prevail.  

Islam  is not and should not be above this scrutiny because of political correctness or fear, if for no other reason than there are still injustices carried out in many Islamic countries, for example against homosexuals, which make these countries worthy of scrutiny. Did you know, for example, that apostasy ( declaring self non-muslim in this case)  is a crime in 23 out of 49 Muslim majority countries?  with varied punishments, from child-custody loss, annulment of marriage or fines, through imprisonment or flogging , to the death penalty. 

Issues surely worthy of scrutiny?

He drew first.

Having said that what I definitely do NOT want to see is a backlash against Muslims because of the actions of those murderous extremists. This tweet I saw a few days ago about sums up the injustice in that :-  

Muslim shooter = entire religion guilty

Black shooter = entire race guilty

White shooter = mentally troubled lone wolf

please One final thought which I know seems to go against everything I have said above but which is personally very important to me is about kindness.

Many of you who have been following this blog for some time will know that I think this world needs more kindness not less.

So I have to question how useful unkindness, in the form of vicious mocking of others, really is, in moving humanity forward?  Can you have kind satire?  Probably not and it seems the unkind variety has been shown to produce societal change throughout the centuries so I will just have to live with it and not read it !   

As ever I welcome your thoughts.

Saturday girl signing off ’til whenever.

.

You can find my photography blog Photomania here 

.

Here is an invitation to join me on Kiva http://www.kiva.org/invitedby/hellenjc

and you can read more about Kiva here https://hellenjc.wordpress.com/2014/12/15/a-hand-up-not-a-hand-out/

rubbing out

.

A Midsummer’s day Protest against Austerity Measures in the UK.

_1674

Saturday 1363 -21.06.2014

If you are new to my blog take a look at my about page here, you’ll better understand how this blog came about 🙂

_1690I could have had a relaxing day pottering in my garden today; bathing in the midsummer sun but instead I got myself up and travelled to London to join up to 50,000 other people in a march and rally against the austerity measures in this country. The march was organised by  The People’s Assembly against Austerity and I encourage you to find out more about this organisation by clicking here or on their facebook page here

I don’t need to tell many of you that the governments austerity measures are causing extreme hardship in the Uk with millions of people who are actually working living below the poverty line. It is sadly ironic that the  “traditional” family, of one parent working and the other staying at home to look after children, that the Tory government purports to support! make up a huge proportion of those who are unable to earn a living wage. This should be _1684an embarrassment to a government that espouses the idea that work is the best way out of poverty.

The number of people using foodbanks in the UK has tripled in 2013/14 with close to a million people being given 3 days emergency food supplies according to the Trussell Trust – more about this here including statistics about causes etc.  This is a national disgrace for such a comparatively wealthy country. I have written about the increase in food banks before and you can see that post here

_1677The irony of marching against Austerity was not lost on me as we marched through a part of London, Regent Street’s “mile of style”, which is dedicated to getting people to spend as much money as possible, on things they don’t really need, but which appeal to their vanity. It’s full of shops, spas etc! see the 2 in the picture left of this who were out having a break from their pleasure!

One of the appropriate chants from the marchers was “Stop shopping, Save the NHS”

How on earth do we educate our seemingly money driven , greedy, apathetic society that people are more important than things.

You will see from my photos that there were many groups represented at the march from Unions to CND to Stop the War, socialists, environmentalists, housing , disability rights and justice campaigners. This is because every part of society, except it seems the rich who have got richer, are affected by Austerity measures. 

_1695 _1694_1692 _1693  _1691 _1689 _1687 _1688 _1686 _1683

_1680 _1678 _1676

When the march entered Parliament Square for a rally and festival, which included contributions from politicians, writers, poets , musicians  and comedians, we passed under a statue of Winston Churchill and I took this photo as the union Unite went by him . I wonder what he would have made of this all !!

_1685

Speakers included many representatives of Unions including the National Union of Teachers, Unite and the Fire Brigades Union, writer Owen Jones, MPs Caroline Lucas, Dianne Abbott and Jeremy Corbin, the poet Stephen Morrison Burke and musicians as well as comedians Francesca Martinez, Russell Brand and Kate Smurthwaite as well as many others.

..

There was some humour in the banners too, including this pink confection with Pom Poms…

_1679

..but this banner also carried very serious messages including this below..

_1681

————

Update Sunday morning – Sadly this march which began right under the BBC’s windows was ignored by them until a storm of complaints from myself and I’m sure hundreds or maybe thousands of others resulted in this on the BBC facebook page along with a 25 sec film with no commentary.

“Many of you have been asking to see coverage of Saturday’s anti-austerity march through central London.
It was the first demonstration organised by the People’s Assembly campaign group, which included politicians, union leaders and celebrities.
 Organisers say tens of thousands protested against the impact of cuts around the country.”
Still no sign of any report on the BBC News website at time of writing- it’s just not good enough from a news agency that claims to be impartial but proves it is anything but! 
————

Finally I will leave you with a quote from the People’s Assembly  –

“We face a choice that will shape our society for decades to come. It is a choice faced by ordinary people in every part of the globe.

We can defend education, health and welfare provision funded from general taxation and available to all, or we can surrender the gains that have improved the lives of millions of people for over more than 50 years.”

and my favourite banner from the march from psychologists against austerity….

Equality is the Best Therapy

Amen to that !

As ever I welcome your thoughts .

.

Saturday girl signing off.

.

You can find my photography blog Photomania here 

.

_1675