Je Suis Charlie
Taking time to write a blog post about the Charlie Hebdo killings seems stupid. I have a lot of shit on my to do list right now. Commenting opens a can of worms. And, of course, if I say something controversial I may be misunderstood or pigeonholed in a negative light. I’m a little neurotic. The last concern is probably unwarranted (and is undeniably selfish). But it’s there.
And, let’s face it, it’s not like I’m Neil Gaiman or Stephen King or Stephanie Meyer. It’s not like my two cents about Charlie Hebdo is going to make headlines. It’s not like there’s a demand for me to make a statement about things.
Even so, I feel compelled to say something. I feel it’s necessary.
Because, like the staff of Charlie Hebdo, I’ve often criticized religion. Sometimes in harsh, colorful and – dare I admit it in these walking-on-eggshell times? – scatological and irreverent terms.
After forty-one years on this planet, I’ve come to this conclusion: religion is a speeding bus that takes a lot of people where they need to go but runs over a lot of pedestrians in the process. And when the inevitable collisions happen, they’re always hit and run (sometimes, but not always, accompanied by cheers from the passengers on board). Sometimes (as with the fundamentalist Christian ex-gay movement), the injured pedestrian amazingly manages to pursue the bus, bang on its windows, and beg to be let in. The bus driver esteems himself merciful to let the limping man come aboard.
There are lots of reasons people get on buses. They advertise that they’re going to a desirable destination (far better than wandering aimlessly or, heaven forbid, staying put where you are). Infinitely better than admitting there is no desirable destination, that this grubby street corner is it, that the universe is just one grubby street corner after another. Moreover, one can share an esprit de corps with one’s fellow passengers (far better than traveling alone).
American Christianity was the make and model of the bus that ran me over, and so my fiction often addresses my concerns about that institution. Earlier in my career, this took the form of transgressive satire in fiction and performance art. As far as I can tell from the few cartoons I’ve seen, some of this work came close to the flavor of Charlie Hebdo. In more recent times, my emphasis has been less on satire and more on exploring the horrific nature of the Christian faith. (And yes, I do not think “horrific” is too harsh a word for systems of thought and behavior which offer solace, but only if granted submission in return).
But, as it should now be abundantly clear, a bus is a bus is a bus…
What pisses me off the most about the attacks is that they’re clearly an attempt to intimidate those who would satirize the Muslim faith. And the chilling effect is already taking place, particularly among my friends on the far Left (who seem to have spent a cursory five seconds mourning the deaths but have gone on now for five days wagging moralizing fingers at many of the corpses).
One would think that punching at god (or someone who claimed to speak for god) would be the ultimate “punching up”.
Based on this blog post, you may assume that I belong to the Right. And…here’s the kicker, I don’t. I’m generally anti-war. Definitely anti-torture. Appalled by the flagrant violation of privacy underway with domestic surveillance. Deeply uncomfortable with nationalism. Anti-Guantanamo. I condemn any and all vandalism and violence towards Muslim individuals and mosques in the wake of this attack (and all others).
But I feel the need to stand up with my peers at Charlie Hebdo, my brothers in blasphemy. And, in closing, fuck the terrorists. Fuck em in the ass.