Ever since the odious terrorist attack against the editorial staff of Charlie Hebdo on January 7th 2015, we have been told repeatedly that the cartoons published in that magazine are offensive, vulgar, provocative, etc. Is that really the case? David Rand
Atheist Freethinkers’ new site Atheology features David Rands blog post: “Charlie Hebdo Cartoons: Respectful of Muhammad.”
Rand begins his post by saying,
The cartoonists of Charlie Hebdo had and continue to have a reputation for producing drawings that shock. This is sometimes true, but it is far from always the case. In particular, the depictions of Muhammad in the magazine reflect on the contrary a very human and often friendly image, even a flattering one.
First, Rand outlines his “goal” in writing the post
to set the record straight regarding the nature of the controversial cartoons, i.e. whether and why they might be considered shocking. Or not. At the same time, I will explain how the refusal of many media to publish the cartoons is even more cowardly than one might think.
I must emphasize that my purpose here is not to claim that these artists were and are “innocent” of producing offensive cartoons, as if to do so were a crime deserving of murderous repression. They are neither innocent nor guilty because blasphemy is not a crime in France and should not be one anywhere. There is absolutely nothing that could possibly justify the fate of the victims of this attack. The massacre was an atrocity; a religious, Islamic, Muslim atrocity perpetrated in the name of Islam; anyone who denies that must be morally and intellectually bankrupt. (My emphasis)
Rand goes on to fully support his claim that many of the Charlie Hebdo cartoons are respectful rather than offensive with an analysis of selected cartoons:
The cartoon below
shows a saddened and compassionate Muhammad.
is a jovial, good-natured chap
As atheists, and thus rationalists, confident in the individual’s ability to practice free criticism, we do not hesitate to analyze objectively that which is put before us, rather than following the trend of demonizing that which others would hide from us. To judge the cartoons, the best approach is to display them and expose them to critical scrutiny, which is exactly the opposite of the religious attitude – and we know to what obscurantism such an attitude leads. In the West, freedom of thought and the right to express it are fundamental values which everyone should be proud to exercise: to defend and assert these freedoms is a necessary consequence of respect for oneself and for one’s own dignity.
If we do hesitate to analyze objectively that which is put before us because what is put before us makes us uncomfortable, we should analyze why we feel discomfort.
Is this cartoon offensive and vulgar?
No? Then tabarnac, why would people think the cartoons of Muhammad published by Charlie Hebdo are offensive and vulgar? Are they cowards? Are they intellectually bankrupt?