I'm gonna have to go ahead and kind of disagree with Taibbi on this one. And I'm gonna do it, first, by describing a Charlie Hebdo cartoon, not showing it to you, which is what annoys Taibbi in the first place:
So, imagine a cartoonish "congo" line of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost (the latter depicted, quite humorously, I admit, as a Triangle with an All-Seeing Eye in it, a la the U.S. dollar), in that order, each sodomizing the one in front of Him. The cartoon was supposed to lampoon, I suppose, those Christians who were opposed to gay marriage.
Oh, OK, if you must see it, look here: http://www.buzzfeed.com/
Besides that, Charlie Hebdo seems fond of depicting Arabs as big-nosed, towel-headed oafs and Jews as, well, pretty much the same, except with black hats and squiggly sideburns. And black people as monkeys. This goes to show, says the lib'rul media, that CH are equal-opportunity offenders. Which not only gets them off the hook, but somehow exalts them. ... Wait, what?
My cultural bona fides: I am not a reverent person; and I possess an above-average sense of humor, even a love of dark and inappropriate jokes. But this stuff just isn't that funny. Still I doubt myself, because of cultural differences. Is it just me? Because all I keep hearing is how much of an institution this caricature magazine is in France; how it represents a quintessentially French irreverence that cuts across the political spectrum, class, education and age groups. It would be as if -- don't laugh! -- Mad Magazine were on every American's night stand.
OK, if that's really the case, then I call a no-call. A truce. I won't judge Charlie Hebdo out of ignorance. But I'm certainly not going to say, "Je Suis Charlie." Because I'm not. I don't get it. Je ne comprends pas! I don't get this irreverent brand of 14-year-old fart and dick humor that is, the media assures me, in fact very clever, and very French.
|The medieval forebears of Charlie Hebdo?|
And now on to Taibbi's main argument, that the Western press were hypocritical pussies for not publishing some offending Charlie Hebdo cartoons for their readers to give them a flavor of what they publish.
First, it's important to note: We don't know exactly which cartoons offended the alleged terrorist murderers. That's not a small detail. Were western editors supposed to select and publish a bunch (and how many?) of anti-Muslim or -Arab cartoons to, like, give their readers context?
Second, related to that, the story here is not Charlie Hebdo's cartoons. If that were a story worthy of the Western press, we would have heard about them already. The story is how alleged Arab-Muslim terrorists allegedly murdered Charlie Hebdo staff and an Arab-Muslim police guard.
Third, Taibbi cries "hypocrisy" and "double standard" that some U.S. papers once published (and have maintained in their archives) photos of the offensive-to-Christians Piss Christ art installation, but not any anti-Muslim Charlie Hebdo cartoons. Taibbi's assumed reasoning being, the media isn't afraid to piss off prudish Christians, (and probably enjoys it, too), but it is scared to offend scary hard-line Muslims who might shoot them.
So here's the difference: Piss Christ was a legitimate national news story; and whatever some obscure French caricature magazine published one week (certainly more of the same) is not. (I've seen similar cartoons in British lads mags -- NYT, get the republishing rights, and don't skip the tits!) Back to point #2. The story is not the cartoons, it's the murders.
Fourth, in this age of the Internet, does Taibbi actually think that readers of the New York Times really can't find, in about 2 seconds, examples of Charlie Hebdo cartoons if they really want to? This isn't 1975 anymore, when the NYT and Washington Post held the keys to the nation's information. The NYT Ed's. simply decided they weren't going to be one of the ones to show us this stuff. Is that really so cowardly and hypocritical?
Finally, I just don't agree that these cartoons are striking a blow against terrorism, or for freedom. Yes, Charlie Hebdo enjoys the right, the freedom to publish their puerile French fart humor... But an Aegis missile in the heart of global Islamism Charlie Hebdo is not. It's just not. I'm sorry.
On a personal note, even though he's wrong this time, it's good to see Taibbi back where he belongs, at Rolling Stone, after playing at media start-ups with dickhead billionaires.
By Matt Taibbi
January 8, 2015 | Rolling Stone