Skip to content

Je Suis Un Caricaturiste, Je Suis Charlie

January 12, 2015

Last week, on January 7th, Islamic terrorists killed 12 people at the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo, a French satirical weekly newspaper. The paper is notorious for its cartoons depicting and mocking Muhammad, the founder of Islam. Five of the 12 victims were cartoonists.

Cartoonists around the world responded by drawing tribute cartoons to show their support for the newspaper. “Je suis Charlie” (“I am Charlie”) became synonymous with
“I support freedom of expression.”

I felt compelled to do one myself. I expanded the catch-phrase to “Je suis un caricaturiste. Je suis Charlie.” (“I am a cartoonist. I am Charlie.”).

blank vertical space, 32 pixels high

Charlie Hebdo tribute cartoon Paris shootings Islamic extremists French flag at half-mast, bullet-riddled pencil, pool blood, ink bottle as mosque

blank vertical space, 32 pixels high

Here’s something to keep in mind when you look at any editorial cartoon, including mine above: they’re unfair. Why? Because they’re one-sided. They make no attempt to provide a balanced view, no attempt at nuance. They’re expressing an opinion, and they’re trying to make their point as forcefully as they can. It’s simply the nature of the beast.


The point of my cartoon is simple: I support freedom of expression. I consider it essential. Does it mean I approve of every cartoon that gets published? No.

Until last week, I had never heard of Charlie Hebdo. I’ve since learned the paper delights in mocking religion. All religion. It doesn’t single out Muslims for ridicule. It regularly mocks Christians, Jews, Buddhists.

I find many of its cartoons hateful and offensive. It’s the sort of thing that gives free speech a bad name. But you don’t ban free speech because some people are rude and vulgar. And you don’t respond to rudeness with moral evil: you don’t kill people for being offensive.


Here’s a close-up detail of my cartoon. A bullet-scarred pencil as flagpole, with the
French flag at half-mast for the murder victims. An “ink bottle mosque” and star and crescent, linking the murders to Islam. Instead of spilled ink, a pool of blood.

blank vertical space, 32 pixels high

detail image Charlie Hebdo tribute cartoon Paris shootings Islamic extremists French flag at half-mast, bullet-riddled pencil, pool blood, ink bottle as mosque

blank vertical space, 32 pixels high

Am I saying that all Muslims are extremists and murderers? No. Am I saying the Charlie Hebdo murders are linked to Islam? Yes. Al-Qaeda has claimed responsibility and has threatened more attacks.

Islam has some very harsh things to say about “infidels” and unbelievers. Such teachings are a root cause of Islamic terrorist attacks, the most notorious being the 9/11 al-Qaeda bombings in America. I don’t know how to solve this problem, but I do know problems need to be acknowledged before they can be addressed.


I mentioned that cartoons have no room for nuance. They do not include all the facts. Here’s an important fact you may not be aware of:


On Friday, January 9th, two days after the Charlie Hebdo killings, there was another terrorist attack in Paris: a gunman killed four people at a Jewish supermarket. A Muslim shop assistant who worked at the store saved the lives of other shoppers by hiding them in a cold storage room in the basement. He then escaped from the building, and gave information to police, who stormed the building, killed the terrorist, and rescued the shoppers.


A second fact: the two terrorists who killed 12 people at the Charlie Hebdo office, also killed a Muslim police officer as they fled the building. The brother of the slain officer later said at a news conference:


“…You must not mix up extremism with Muslims… The madmen have no colour nor religion. Stop… having wars or burning mosques or burning synagogues because you are attacking people. My brother was Muslim and he was killed by two terrorists, by two false Muslims.”


Free speech is good, free speech is vital. Some people abuse free speech by saying hateful and offensive things. You do not kill people for that.

Islamic terrorism is a deadly serious problem. It is wrong to deny the problem exists. It is also wrong to condemn all Muslims for atrocities committed by Islamic madmen.

blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

    *       *       *       *       *       *       *       *       *       *       *       *       *       *       *       *blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Ever found yourself conflicted, torn between free speech and censorship?

Have you been following the Charlie Hebdo story? Care to share your thoughts?

Hope you’ll leave a comment.

blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

If you enjoyed this post, please click the Like button below.

If you’d like to share this post with others, please click Tweet or Facebook or StumbleUpon or one of the other Share buttons.

I also invite you to get updates. Just click the Get Updates button in the sidebar below the Portfolio Thumbnails, or click + Follow in the blog menu bar.

blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

If you’d like to buy prints or greeting cards, click on any of the large preview images in the sidebar below the Get Updates button.

blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

Other Posts You Might Enjoy:


Six Little Bullets, Standing In A Row…

The Long, Long Fuse

Ben Franklin Flies Kite, Discovers The Political Cartoon!!

blank vertical space, 32 pixels high

Recommendation testimonial for Mark Armstrong Illustration from Jeannine Saba editor covent gardener magazine

blank vertical space, 32 pixels high

blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

blank vertical space, 40 pixels high

blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

39 Comments leave one →
  1. January 12, 2015 2:09 PM

    well MR AMSTRONG? .. i will leave to you my opinion about this criminal story happening together with 100 and 1000 children Syrian or Bangladesh or Africa in masive case ..
    i have respect to your opinion and many others ..everyone have to express free .. yes free and respect too NOT fight with offend and provocation way ..the big Q is why be come so big terror ? not i am free to speak ?
    this gazzet charlie no one knew so now become the most famose in WORLD
    tell me please do you real feel sad for victime’s or happy for income’s ?
    why to fight so OPEN in excuse FREE ? i am not agree even JEWiSH supermarket killing for no one at all .
    Emigration is one of big theme for social and political life in world France have (not exact 5milion) emigrant WHO ARE FULL DISCRIMINATION . if one state can not keep big numbers emigran they have to find solution .there have solution but no one care about this
    in END of the story the people who fighting for religion or freedom are not terrorist .Terrorist make the politice around inworld because they don’t like ?
    if RoubinHood WAS one NOW have masive Robin Hood’s
    SOCRATES SAY EVEN ONE TERRORIST MAKE POLITIC ” SO did this have right to do? YES .. the way they do is completly wrong .but they thinking the only way is killing
    because they don’t have other power )excusia ..
    do not make provocation (to the fanatic and poor people) they don’t know other WAY .
    Norway massacre ? the man after be come with psychologic problem’s for excuse
    so let say for them psychologic problems too .


    • January 23, 2015 5:04 PM

      Thank you for your comment. I’ve read it thru several times. I know English is not your first language. I find it hard to understand what you’re saying. That’s OK. I’ve approved your comment “as is,” so other readers may judge for themselves.

      You mention immigration. I know there is much tension between Muslim immigrants and the native populations in France, England, Germany. This seems to be due to a failure of Muslims to assimilate– to become part of their adopted countries. This need to stay apart, to withhold loyalty, in a sense, from their new countries, breeds suspicion. New immigrants do face discrimination and resentment– that’s a sad truth in every country, in every age. Immigrants break down those barriers over time, by working hard, learning a new language, new customs, and trying to fit in. You don’t have to renounce your roots and who you are, but you do have to grow new roots, build new connections, and try to become part of the larger community. Immigration without integration is doomed to failure.

      You seem to reject the terrorism and bloodshed of the Charlie Hebdo shootings. Good. You also denounce the needless provocation of Charlie Hebdo’s drawings which mock Islam. I agree. I don’t like any of Charlie Hebdo’s anti-religion cartoons. I’m sure there are many people who feel the same way: mocking other people’s religious beliefs is rude, vulgar, and in poor taste. One cannot, however, use such bad behavior to justify killing people. Rudeness and vulgarity do not justify murder.

      You also seem to be saying that fanatics and poor people are seduced by terrorists, who prey on their feelings of powerlessness. Terrorist leaders hold out guns and murder as the only way to fight back the “satans” who are keeping poor people down. I agree that poverty, joblessness, and hopelessness are a big part of the equation. These are all “provocations,” terribly serious problems that need to be addressed– but they cannot be embraced as an excuse for terror. That builds walls, hardens hearts, and leads nowhere.

      Thanks again for sharing your strong feelings on the matter. I apologize for my late reply due to illness. I hope we can both continue to walk a path that respects others’ feelings and religious beliefs. Free speech must endure. It will always be subject to abuse by those nursing a grudge. Those abuses must be denounced, but they cannot be used to justify violence and murder.

      One last thought: killing others while crying “Allahu akbar!” (God is great!), is, for me, the ultimate sacrilege. Christians, Jews, and Muslims all believe in a single God. A single author of Life. To think we could somehow honor or praise Him by killing a fellow human being has to be the ultimate contradiction. To do so, is to defile the work of His hands.


  2. January 12, 2015 2:36 PM

    Excellent analysis and I agree -of course- with everything you say!
    Democracy is about respect. Respect for all beliefs and -obviously- all life. I do not agree with insulting anyone’s religion and needless to say no one is justified to take another man’s life. Not for ANY reason [religion included].
    Your cartoon, my dear friend, says it all.
    Génie absolu! 🙂


    • January 24, 2015 10:53 AM

      Ah, my dear Marina, thank you for your lovely comment. Do forgive this terribly late reply. Alas, I’ve been sick. Armstrong the Artistic Colossus, laid low by a flu bug– it’s an outrage! Why is it always the good who suffer?? : )

      I loved your line about respect for all beliefs and all life. Now there’s a prescription for a better, happier world. The world today demands a tough balance: staying vigilant, gathering intelligence on terrorist cells and working to defeat them, improving economic opportunity so people aren’t trapped on the margins, encouraging voices of moderation and consensus, etc. Every person who lives their life in a way that says violence is not acceptable can make a difference. I’d like to think so, anyway.

      Thanks for being one of those lovely people who teaches by example, dear Ms. Kanavaki!! : )

      Liked by 1 person

      • January 26, 2015 6:39 AM

        What is this I hear about a flu bug? I thought I gave specific orders. Bugs were ordered to stay clear of genius artist Mark Armstrong. Heads are going to roll – you can be certain of that.
        I hope you are feeling much better now and are bug free. There is only so much insubordination I can handle!
        I know someone who is an example of integrity and kindness and this is none other than YOU, my dear friend! Be well! 🙂


        • January 26, 2015 10:18 AM

          Heads are going to roll?? That explains all the lettuce I see bouncing past my desk this morning… : )

          Thank you, dearest Marina, for your marvelous good cheer that blasts bugs to kingdom come, raises spirits, and causes the day to shimmer with the glory of a thousand suns!! That’s quite a talent you have there, my dear. Among others… : )

          Liked by 1 person

        • January 26, 2015 11:58 AM

          Well lettuce, bugs etc better behave, we only have one Mark Armstrong, who’s far too important to mess with!
          A very happy new week, my dear friend! 🙂


  3. January 12, 2015 10:55 PM

    Beautifully stated, Mark. My hat’s off to you and all others who pick up a pen and create. My post on Saturday, Jan. 10th, was “Silence Gives Consent” and it forcused on Je Suis Charlie. I ran 3 editorial cartoons with it, including one from a very talented editorial cartoonist, Jeff Parker, that I used to work with. You are absolutely correct. No one should be painting everyone with the same broad brush. We should all be appreciated as individuals. As Maya Angelou once stated, “We are more alike, my friend, than unalike.”


    • January 24, 2015 9:59 PM

      Thanks for that lovely comment, Judy. Thanks, too for your own post on the Charlie Hebdo shootings– truly excellent. Please excuse my late reply. That mean ol’ flu bug done laid me low… : (

      Now that some time has passed, one can see there’s a very simple surface narrative: good guys spoke out “bravely” (using crude, insulting cartoons to mock Islam), Islamic bad guys killed cartoonists and others while shouting “Allahu akbar!” (God is great!), believing Islam supports killing unbelievers and those who mock Islam.

      Now I wouldn’t necessarily extol someone who draws nasty cartoons as a “good guy,” but I do believe freedom of expression is vital, and must be defended absolutely (which means, in this “liberated” age, having to put up with every manner of crudity and vulgarity). I can sympathize with Islamic anger over vulgar cartoons. But that cannot justify the moral evil of murder and terror. And it’s no good pretending that Islam wasn’t a factor. It was the motivating factor. Denying that only pushes the atrocity to a new level.

      That said, there are painful truths that must be acknowledged. Like a lot of modern satire, Charlie Hebdo seems to embrace mockery for its own sake. They rejoice in mocking all religion. Nothing to be proud of, in my opinion. They do it because they can get away with it. Freedom of expression becomes nothing more than a license to be vulgar, to engage in needless (and very lazy) provocation.

      And, as you say, Judy, you can’t tar all Muslims with the same brush. The Islamic connection is there, for the Charlie Herdo shootings, and many other terrorist attacks— but not all Muslims embrace killing and extremism. It’s a great pity that more Muslim voices are not raised to condemn terrorism, to argue that killing in Allah’s name is a contradiction and an abomination.

      Ah, well, too much blabbin’, time to stop. Terrible tragedy, very, very difficult social and political issue. Bottom lines, for me: freedom of expression must be defended at all costs, no matter how badly it’s abused. Killings and terrorism are moral evils that must be condemned and fought. Islam drives much of today’s terrorism– that fact must be faced. Even so: every Muslim is an individual, and like all human beings, deserves to be judged by his own actions, not those of murderers who claim the same religious faith.

      Thanks again for all your support, Judy, and sorry to be so long-winded!!


  4. January 12, 2015 10:56 PM

    By the way, Mark, I loved your cartoon on this subject. It hit all the right notes.


  5. January 13, 2015 6:53 AM

    This was a most excellent post. I agree with everything you’ve written and how you’ve presented it here.


    • January 25, 2015 1:24 PM

      Thank you, AnnMarie. My sincere apologies for this late reply. A mean ol’ flu bug knocked the stuffin’ outta me, and I went from Hercules to Casper Milquetoast in a hurry… : (

      Certainly a terrible tragedy to begin the new year, most demoralizing in so many ways. We’re all drawing closer in cyberspace, and yet the real world seems more than ever awash with name-calling, twisted thinking, violence, suspicion. One always hopes and prays these horrors will lead to more dialogue, a greater push for respect and understanding, but one can almost hear the whole mad cycle building up again, ready to blow some new powder keg.

      Thanks so much for your support. Guess we’ll all hafta just keep praying and trying to foster goodwill in our own little daily exchanges. : )


      • January 25, 2015 5:04 PM

        I’m so sorry you were under the flu bug’s powers – it’s a nasty beast!
        I too hope, pray, beg, rain dance, write, sing…that one day humans will be humans. I’m youthfully optimistic with a 51 year old’s wrinkles.
        So very many upsides to technology, the big downside is the immediate reactions it provokes and the flames of preconceived notions it stokes (didn’t mean to rhyme there).
        Let this be the year that goodwill becomes ‘greatwill’
        You take care of yourself 🙂
        AnnMarie 🙂
        ps Beautiful reply, by the way 🙂


        • January 26, 2015 10:33 AM

          Speaking of beautiful replies… thank you for same! A rain dance for a more human humanity?? Best idea I’ve heard recently!

          Your inner poet said it very well: technology has made it easier than ever to “stoke” negative emotions. It’s hard to resist pushing “hot buttons” for some momentary rush, especially when we can remain safely anonymous in cyberspace.

          I have a feeling your youthful optimism will always be an effective wrinkle cream! Thanks for your good cheer and good influence, AnnMarie!! : )

          Liked by 1 person

  6. January 13, 2015 1:14 PM

    I think your tribute is powerful. I can’t even imagine how hard it would be to create a tribute such as this in cartoon form. And I agree with everything you’ve so eloquently said here.


    • January 25, 2015 1:40 PM

      Thank you, dear Linda. Sorry to be so late here. Got popped by a flu bug, who showed absolutely no respect for my esteemed person. Is there anything worse than being disrespected by a microbe?? Being trapped in an elevator with a Funyun-eating foole?? Hmm, yer right– I guess I got off easy… : P

      Thanks for all your support. Demoralizing way to start the year. Seems like we roll from one atrocity to the next these days. We need freedom of expression, we also need restraint, moderate voices, and civil tongues. Hope we can all take a tip from St. Francis, and pray: “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.”

      Thanks for being the cheery and good influence you are! : )


      • January 28, 2015 1:20 PM

        Ah thanks Mark! And you are so right, Our world is changing so rapidly. I will keep St. Francis’s prayer in my mind as I go forward! It’s a wonder simple mindset that covers it all, doesn’t it?

        I hope you are feeling better! But now I hear from the news that you guys back east are snowed in? Yikes! I hope you’ve stocked up on Funyuns in case “you know who” should get lost in a blizzard and end up at your door! (He can smell Funyuns from a mile away — maybe it’s better to get rid of them all!)


        • January 30, 2015 9:11 AM

          Ha! That “end of the world” blizzard didn’t quite live up to its hype. This is what comes of listening to meteorologist and glacier apologist Al Gore. We got about 16″ here, but since Al was predicting 25″, we can’t complain. Except about Al, of course.

          And now, my dear Linda, I must go sprinkle anti-blubber granules around the house, and put all my Funyuns in air-tight containers!! : )

          Liked by 1 person

        • February 3, 2015 12:12 PM

          Ha ha!! Poor Al. I really like the way your mind works, Markie MacGiggles!


        • February 5, 2015 9:04 AM

          It seems to work especially well when it malfunctions!! : )

          Liked by 1 person

  7. January 13, 2015 6:54 PM

    You wrote this flawlessly Mark and as a cartoonist, I’m certain you were saddened by the events in Paris. I’ve heard about the magazine, their reputation sort of precedes them; was I offended by some of their stuff? Yes, but would I use that as an excuse to commit murder? No!

    Radical Islam is now mainstream, they would get angry at very little or no provocation. Few days ago, Boko Haram (an Islamic group in Nigeria) murdered almost 2,000 innocent villagers, most of them women and children 😦 it’s even sad writing about this, but as civilised people, we ought to. Would radical Islam change soon, I doubt it. We are in this for the long haul I guess, and hopefully, we will beat it!

    Thanks for sharing this my friend, and do enjoy the rest of your week!
    Love and blessings to you!


    • January 25, 2015 3:50 PM

      Hi, Seyi. Thank you so much for your comment, and your heartfelt engagement here. Please do excuse this very late reply. I’m afraid I was zonked pretty hard by a flu bug, and The Mighty Cartoonist was down for the count for the past couple of weeks.

      Boko Haram (which translates as “Western education is forbidden”) is a true horror. It’s full name (which translates as “People Committed to the Prophet’s Teachings for Propagation and Jihad”) leaves no doubts about its Islamic roots. Their stated aim is to impose a stricter form of Sharia law across Nigeria. They’ve shown no compunction about killing men, women, school children.

      Here in the U.S., news media are often at pains to impose an artificial “de-coupling” of “Islam” and “radical extremism”– as if pretending that Islam is not a motivating force behind many terrorist attacks somehow helps the situation. How, I wonder? No situation can be addressed if one suppresses key facts. Same thing with President Obama: he seems incapable of publicly acknowledging the link between Islam and terror. It solves nothing, it helps no one, it perpetuates the problem.

      At the same time, it’s clear that not all Muslims embrace killing and terror in Allah’s name. Boldly stating the Islam-terror link while making it clear that the link does not exist in the heart of every Muslim has to be one the most delicately nuanced communication challenges in the history of mankind. Hopefully there are public leaders willing to take on that challenge. Each of us is obliged to take it on every time we speak on the issue. As you say, we face a long, long road. We have to stay engaged, and united against terror and violence.

      Thank you, dear Seyi, for being a bright light, a bold voice, and a good example.

      Liked by 1 person

      • January 29, 2015 7:45 AM

        Hey Mark, I’m sorry to read about your flu bug, the weather has been terrible for a while now. I hope you feel much better now.

        I hope the Islam problem would be resolved soon, like you said, unless people finally recognises the fact that the problem has to do with Islam, it would take a while to find a lasting solution.

        I hope you’ll have a great weekend my friend. Take care and God bless you!
        🙂 🙂


  8. soul . to . earth permalink
    January 15, 2015 9:42 PM

    Just like you, I’d never heard of Charlie Hebdo. Pope Francis’ honest comment said it best: “There are so many people who speak badly about religions or other religions, who make fun of them, who make a game out of the religions of others. They are provocateurs……Joe Sacco’s sketch also spoke volumes.

    Terrorism is the ONLY crime called out by religion alone than by the nature of the crime itself. 😦

    To end on a positive note, kudos for being a caricarturiste not drawing lines of deliberate separation. Merci beacoup, mon ami ! 🙂


    • January 26, 2015 11:44 AM

      My dear Radhika! A thousand apologies (we’re having a sale today: buy 500 “sorries,” get 500 mea culpas free) for being so late with my reply. I was minding my own beeswax, when I was attacked by a flu bug, and reduced to a shell of my former self, which was pretty much a shell to begin with… : (

      Love the Pope Francis quote. Agree 100%. And I did see Joe Sacco’s very thoughtful cartoon commentary. I admire his comment because he calls Charlie Hebdo on needless provocation, without excusing murder because someone was provoked by a vulgar cartoon. I don’t know
      why it’s so hard for so many reporters and politicians to state two equally true facts: needless provocation is unkind, unhelpful, and immature, and you don’t kill someone because they’ve insulted you or your religion or something you hold dear.

      True, I can’t think of any other crimes (besides terrorism) where one hears the motive attributed to religion. But it’s also true that not all terrorist acts are Islam- or religion-based. A lot of terror over the past 50-60 years has been politically motivated. The Red Brigades of Italy come to mind for some reason. I think it’s very clear that the Charlie Hebdo killers were Islamic extremists. And I think that troublesome fact needs to be clearly stated. It’s also vitally important to state that this fact does not equate to or justify a wholesale condemnation of every practicing Muslim.

      Thanks for your usual astute and illuminating comment, mon ami. You are a voice of reason, a kind and gentle heart, a seeker of harmony, and a force for good in ye olde cosmos (not necessarily in that order). : )

      Liked by 1 person

      • January 30, 2015 4:07 PM

        I agree with all of what you’ve said except I still can’t agree it was based on religion (even an extreme version of it). Here’s why:

        In a way, those Church priests who sexually abused so many innocent children were also terrorists whose reign of terror created countless victims and brought death – by suicide and that of the victims’ psyche. They didn’t have to use weapons to cause so many to lose faith and trust in the Church (or even God). As ordained representatives of the Church, they were supposed to follow, do and spread God’s work and word.

        Even so, I would never call them “Christian terrorists or Christian extremists” because their criminal acts had nothing to do with their religion. This is why there was no real justice for their victims because no legal jury or judge could ever exist in a place of worship. Removing the religious label will only reveal sex offenders…….won’t it?

        So, no matter how much criminals claim to dedicate their crimes to a religion, I’m never buying into their lies.


        • January 31, 2015 10:38 PM

          Thank you for this extraordinary and very thoughtful comment. You make a fascinating case. I have always considered child sexual abuse monstrous, but I’ve never thought of it as an act of terrorism.

          Your “decoupling” religion from child sexual abuse by priests appeals to me for this reason: As previously mentioned, I’m a Catholic. I cannot excuse the sexual abuse of children or teens by priests or any other adult. It incensed me, however, that, in reporting the scandal, the media implied that most priests were abusers. False. According to a study conducted by John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, about 4 percent of priests committed an act of sexual abuse on a minor between 1950 and 2002. And the 4% figure is “roughly consistent with data on many similar professions.”

          The media reports also implied that most child sexual abuse is found in the Catholic Church. They ignored the fact that an appalling amount of child sexual abuse takes place in public schools.

          I don’t mention any of this to excuse Catholic priests who have committed child sexual abuse. It’s inexcusable whoever commits it. I’m also saying I agree with you: child sexual abuse has nothing to do with religion. These acts are committed by disturbed individuals who work in close proximity to children: in churches, scouting organizations, schools, etc.

          Re the Charlie Hebdo attacks, the fact remains that the terrorists cried “Allahu akbar!” (God is great!) as they killed people. That tells me Islam was a factor. It raises certain questions: Does the Koran encourage killing unbelievers? Does it send mixed signals on that point? Do some Muslim clerics encourage that interpretation? Etc. etc.

          That said, I think we’re in agreement on a key point: people who commit child sexual abuse or cold-blooded murder are about as far removed from “religion” as one can get. Christian, Muslim, doesn’t matter. In my own soft-headed way, I think of “religion” or “practicing one’s faith” as an attempt to align one’s thoughts, words, and actions with those of God, Allah, The Almighty, The Creator, or whatever else you’d like to call The Wholly Other who called the heavens and earth into being. At it’s most rudimentary, religious faith is trying to line oneself up on the side of Life and Love. No abuser or killer can claim that orientation. They have gone very badly astray.

          Finally: when I was younger and even more foolish than I am now, I used to think one had to win arguments, or “hold one’s own,” or at least battle to a tie. Dumb. It’s wrong to think of any honest, well-intentioned exchange of views as an argument. It’s a discussion, a sharing, and everybody wins when everybody gets heard, and hopefully comes away with a wider perspective and a different point of view.

          Your comments always achieve that happy result, my dear Radhika, and I thank you for offering them with such kindness and sensitivity. I am in your debt.

          Liked by 1 person

        • soul . to . earth permalink
          February 1, 2015 12:35 PM

          Wow, well said! 🙂 Thanks also for allowing this dialogue and for being, as I’ve said before, such a great Elder…..’tis much needed in our times.


        • February 1, 2015 1:19 PM

          Elder: a small tree or shrub with pithy stems, typically having white flowers and bluish-black or red berries.

          Me and my pithy stems will continue to do our best on behalf of the plant and animal kingdoms. Thank you very much… : )


  9. January 23, 2015 11:52 AM

    So I am the first person to comment here?? Hmmm.

    I agree that cartoons and satire don’t always give a nuanced view. I’m sure there are some moderate Muslims who appreciate some religious satire.

    Freedom of speech comes with responsibility in expression of it. Yes, one does not respond in violence…to words of another. It must be action that is more productive and healing for whole community long term.

    Real example of violation of freedom of speech and hurtfulness:

    Librarians do have to deal with censorship and freedom of speech. I have been one by formal training and career-wise until recently. A close friend of mine who was a library director in southern Ontario (rural area), discovered inflammatory, racist cards against blacks, in several library books on Canadian history. She called the police in order to have this registered. This type of action is chargeable as an offence under the Canadian Criminal Code.


    • January 26, 2015 12:14 PM

      Hi, Jean! Ha! No, you weren’t the first commenter. The poor sap who wrote the blog post got clobbered by the flu shortly thereafter, and has been lying insensible ever since. How does that differ from his normal state, you ask? Never mind… : )

      Freedom of speech does, indeed, come with responsibility, but even when it’s abused, one does not respond with lethal violence to an insulting word or picture. You said it very well.

      I’ve read a bit about Canadian hate crime laws. I know they’re well-intentioned, but I have have serious misgivings about them. It’s so hard to draw the line. Where does free speech end, and “hate” begin? It’s even murkier than trying to define pornography. I think there are many people who would consider Charlie Hebdo cartoons as “hate speech.” But where do you draw the line? You get to the point where someone argues that making the statement “Islamic teaching implies that it’s OK to kill unbelievers” is a hate crime. If a judge agrees, your right to free speech is taken away– you can’t speak what you believe to be the truth in a public forum. To me, that’s censorship– and that’s setting the stage for some serious state oppression.

      Don’t get me wrong: I absolutely loathe the idea of nastiness stuck in library books or anywhere else. It’s hurtful, it’s cowardly, it makes the world a darker, unkinder place. Years ago, any librarian would have tossed the offensive material. If she caught someone doing such a thing, she’d have revoked their library card. It would have been part of the job. I’m sure every librarian has encountered coarse behavior, and naughty kids doing naughty things. Calling the police? They’ve got a lot worse things to worry about. One can’t legislate morality or good manners, IMO.

      Sorry– enough spoutin’ off from yours truly! Always good to see you, Jean, thanks for checking in! : )


  10. January 24, 2015 6:02 AM

    You cut right to the chase of the matter! Compliment! That is a particular topic and the world has to deal with! Religions has been abused all the time back in history as a good reason for violence and missuse of power.
    I hope the bombing in Paris will be a trigger for a new discussion.
    One thing I can observe is that islamic people stand up and say ‘that is not what we want. We came to life in germany because it is a free country’!
    This twist is most amazing, because all the time before they tend to nurture their ethnic backround. Now it’s the very first time to stand up for the rights they’ve here.

    I think all kinds of extremism grows on poverty. The right-extremism scene for example doesn’t differ in that point.
    We life in a very fast and intricate world. Extremists of all shades offer simple answers. That is most seductive. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have simple answers for all problems?

    Freedom of expression is an important right in our society, even if we don’t appreciate an opinion.
    You, my dear Mark, did a great job with your illustration to a serious and precarious topic.

    Nous somme charlie!


    • January 27, 2015 8:58 PM

      Thanks, dear Tutti. You’re right, of course: violence and killing in the name of religion is nothing new. Been going on for centuries. The brand cooked up by Islamic extremists seems particularly cruel and insidious, but they’re certainly not the first to bring dishonor on their faith by killing heretics and unbelievers.

      Must agree: poverty, hopelessness, and a sense of being marginalized all appeal to a person’s dark side. Easy to be seduced by people with twisted minds and murderous agendas when you feel you’ve got nothing to lose. As you say, the issues are complex, the work of peace and understanding is grueling, frustrating, interminable. So much easier to pick up a gun, and win a free ticket to Paradise for killing people. Yup, you can wind up believing some mighty perverse things when you make Allah over in your own image.

      That’s very encouraging, your experience that Muslims in Germany are willing to stand up for democratic values, and reject the kind of oppression they’ve experienced in their native lands. I hadn’t heard that before. Would be glad to read more, if you have links you can share.

      Thanks for your kind words and support, and for sharing your views and helpful perspective. Viva la Tutti! Je suis bratwurst!! : )

      Liked by 1 person

  11. January 25, 2015 7:46 AM

    A post to educate those younger and less experienced in the ways of the world. I had not heard the story about the supermarket or that the policeman was a Muslim thank you and on the subject I can only add that I am sorry Charlie Hebdo have become a household recognised name because of such a horrific event. Respect for life is seriously lacking in our world today and I fear for the future generations.


    • January 28, 2015 9:56 AM

      Thank you for your very kind comment, and do forgive my late reply. Got way behind on comments (among other things!) due to a battle with the flu.

      Glad you found the post informative. Yes, as with many stories today, there seemed to be a lot that got lost in the television sound bites and the usual social media feeding frenzy. Some facts get distorted, others get suppressed if they don’t fit media narratives. It’s very difficult to get the full story nowadays, very easy to let talking heads do our thinking for us. (insert big sigh here)

      I agree with you about respect for life: it’s become much diminished over the past 50-60 years. I think it contributes to a lot of other ills: bad manners, rudeness, vulgarity passing for “entertainment,” a tendency to demonize those we disagree with, etc, etc. Easy to despair about it, but that’s really not an option. We have to hold tight to right values, and do our best to live them out every day. Hmm… please pardon the sermon!! : (

      Great to hear from you, thanks again for your comment and being a good influence! : )


A penny for your thoughts. I'm on a tight budget here.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: