The freedom to say outrageous things is one of the most endearing tenets of true democracy. Witness a fiery fellow known as Thomas Paine.
A couple of brash Democratic Nations were born by and of the rape and oppression of a monied class who had to control every piece of information, whisper and loyalty in order to continue their reign: these United States and the ballsy Rèpublique of la France.
Both countries produce and value satirists, that rare breed who strive long and hard to share their truth — and keep us citizens sane while slogging through the bullshite of democratic politics. (And up their game heroically to correspond to the historical asshattery.)
As Jon Stewart so emotionally said last evening in his poignant segment regarding the tragic death of Charlie Hebdo’s stewards, staff and artists, vid below, being a master of satire should never be a life-endangering skill or an “act of courage”.
I’ll confess, I’ve been watering up at the sight of a pencil about this blow — but no time as painfully as when the photos and bios of the slain men came on the small screen, decades of Gallic wisdom and vinegar behind them, smiling wryly and piercingly at once. The wealth of luminary minds and histories that were executed in that room parallels the earlier weighty French losses of voices like Locke and Rousseau.
Nicole gave me the honor of a chair at her table speaking about Hebdo yesterday, link to the show “The More Things Change … ” here with apologies for the thematic frogs in my throat; as I happened to do undergrad study in Paris and knew the weekly and the people.
I have never felt more French as I do today. Off with their heads.
In 2012, cartoonist Luz explained the pointed point to the AP. “We treat the news like journalists. Some use cameras, some use computers. For us, it’s a paper and pencil, a pencil is not a weapon. It’s just a means of expression.”
From Oscar Wilde to Mark Twain, Bill Maher and Stephen Colbert, satirists have completed societies and pithily altered the courses of cultures. They go there — ergo, we are forced to open our apathetic or lemming eyes and damn well go there too.
They dared … and they gave us courage. Much as Nicole’s strong Progressive voice here at Radio or Not, along with comrades in humor and truthiness, Laffy and Amy Simon, keep daring and speaking up to motivate and inspire.
We each, in a democracy, have the fundamental right to put pens in the air when we just have to care.
My fondest hope is for Grumpus McCain to heartily bellow from the head of the new Senate class that “We are all Parisiennes today!!” He just can’t keep that Francophelia under wraps as he should.
Certainly homegrown terrorism, Islamist Extremism and the growing violence globally are matters to take up by the best minds and leaders with dispatch, this was simply one facet that wore the tragedy mask immediately for moi.
Condolences of course to the families of the police who also lost their lives for the cause of guarding Freedom of Speech. And Liberté herself.