Yesterday’s mass shooting of editors and other staff at “Charlie Hebdo,” a French publication known for satire, most prominently of matters related to Islam, demonstrated some people cannot tolerate humor.
Religious extremists exist, be they in Islam, Christianity or Judaism—all, by the way, from the branch of religions arisen from the concept of Abraham—and have carried out other atrocities in history. Christians flayed the head of the library of Alexandria—Egypt, not Madison County, Indiana—for matters unrelated to overdue fines on scrolls checked out by library patrons. To describe the strife in Palestine, one need understand a great many aspects of the area’s history, a task few care to undertake.
The cartoons in “Charlie Hebdo” that attracted so much ire appear to have concerned the prophet Mohammed. The Koran—in case folks out there have passed on that read, it is the holy book of Islam—forbids depictions of the individual who claimed to have spoken to an archangel and to have been given the various passages that make up The Koran.
There were a lot of people, of Islam and of other beliefs, who found some of the cartoons offensive. That is a bummer. Satire is “the use of irony, sarcasm, ridicule, etc., in exposing, denouncing, or deriding vice, folly, etc.” The American College Dictionary, 1962 ed., p. 1078. If those people found the cartoons offensive, they need not have purchased copies of the publication.
There are several courses of action to take in this incident.
First—and most obvious—capture, charge, and give a fair trial to the individuals who carried out this act.
Second, we need—hold on, don’t turn away from this as it’s important—to discuss Islam. People need to read the history of the religion, why it has appeal for some downtrodden people, and try to glean why a very small group of people who profess belief in Islam would go out and kill cartoonists.
Ignorance of the belief system in question only serves to fan flames to attack all adherents to Islam.
I am an atheist because I have studied religions. A principle dynamic of religion is a basic confidence game—people do not want to die, and religions offer, in various forms (heaven (Christianity), reincarnation (Hinduism), a planet somewhere light years away (Mormonism)—so people can believe and cheat the “house” in the great casino that is life. Whether the croupier is clad in the vestments of a priest or the robes of an imam, my view is the same.
I also understand that Islam appeals to a great many people because, as one of its tenets, believers are taught to give what amounts to two point five percent (2.5%) percent of what they make to—not the church or the mosque, but—the poor.
So if you want to deride a belief system, study it first. One should not accept the interpretation of others as to what the religion teaches. If you are curious about Judeo-Christianity, read the bible. If you think scientology is weird, watch an episode of “Star Trek.” Actually, Spock made more sense than “Dianetics.”
Oh—and before I forget, I want to say that guns were very important in yesterday’s homicides. France has strict laws against guns. When one deals with individuals who work with organized groups of international terror, firearms are easier to obtain and transport. Those individuals got those guns into the country. Each day in the United States we lose people to gun violence. Twelve deaths might make page 6 of a daily newspaper, and mention as a side story on one of the TV newscasts.