Friday, 9 January 2015



If They Can’t Take a Joke…


Paris is one of the world’s great cities simply because of her history. From the Reign of Terror, through Nazi occupation to the student riots of 1968, she’s been around the block a few times; seen it all and then some. In the wake of the slaughter at the editorial offices of Charlie Hebdo, she will be a little quieter than usual this week but she will recover, as she has in the past and as she must now.


There is not a rich tradition of ink and paper satire in Canada even though there’s plenty of material. Then again, unlike the Old World immigrants who built this nation, we’ve not had to endure the tyrannies of emperors and kings, of communism and fascism - merely the Harper government. As with every place in the world, there is always room in our provinces and cities for a welcome prick, the nub of a pencil or the nib of a pen. Satire is an elegant tool. Wielded with scathing expertise, cartoons, poetry and prose slice and dice those buffoons who most fear lampoons. Nothing beats a gag to cut a cretin or a gang of them down to size.


Radical Islam deserves our scorn and derision. There’s something Pythonesque about Islamic State who has changed its name more frequently than the Judean People’s Front. Are we ISIS or ISIL this week? There is the head-scratching contradiction of utilizing modern social media to return the planet to the good old days of the 7th century. Apparently the West isn’t all bad: wasn’t a stash of porn found in bin Laden’s compound? And we’ve been aware for some time now that the collective of holier-than-thou barbarians is without humour.


There was heartening news in this morning’s press. Charlie Hebdo will not miss publishing an issue. In fact the next press run will be increased to one million copies, a substantial upping from the standard 60,000. Such is the power of print, an irreverent weekly going smack-down against ideologically insane misinterpretations of the revelation of Allah. One suspects that Muhammad, secure in paradise or wherever he may be, isn’t overly bothered by earthly caricatures. The Prophet’s concern would be the alarming and violent schism infecting his faith and affecting the globe; these past couple of decades must’ve seemed like an eternity while watched from above.

So, Charlie Hebdo akbar! And if they can’t take a joke or a million more like them…

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