Charlie Hebdo and Victim Blaming

Over the past couple of days there has been an huge outpouring of support for the ten murdered journalists of Charlie Hebdo and the two police officers who died defending then. #JeSuisCharlie and #JeSuisAhmed have both been very popular hashtags on Twitter.

But sadly there has also been some unpleasant mealy-mouthed victim-blaming. Some comes from the usual suspects on the religious right, both reactionary Catholics and fundamentalist Protestants. But there’s also some coming the culture warriors of the left, and this repellent piece by Arthur Chu is one of the worst. If you’ve never heard of him, Arthur Chu is a one-time game show contestant who has more recently become “internet famous” in the back of his public opposition to GamerGate. His line on Charlie Hebdo is “Murder is terrible, but…” using the conjunctive in the same way as the infamous “I’m not racist, but…”. It’s classic victim-blaming in the same way as “She shouldn’t have worn that skirt if she didn’t want to get raped”.

I’m hearing a lot of accusations of racism directed towards Charlie Hebdo from self-appointed experts who are quick to judge but understand little of French culture or French politics. Most of these people are American, and many of those seem ignorant of much beyond the American suburbs. They give the impression they understand French culture about as well as Post-9/11 warbloggers understood Arab culture. The idea that you can’t judge any cartoon without understanding its context seems to escape them.

The BBC obituaries of the twelve who died paints a very different picture, and doesn’t leave you with the impression that the victims were in any way racist or right-wing.

Satire is supposed to mock the powerful, the pompous and the self-important, so we shouldn’t be surprised when social authoritarians of the right ot the left have a problem with it. But if you really think mocking violent extremism is “punching down”, you moral compass urgently needs recalibrating.

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4 Responses to Charlie Hebdo and Victim Blaming

  1. I try to put the order of operations the other way around to make my position clear: that I didn’t find some of what the mag published to be defensible does not mean I think they “got what they deserved”, or some variation of that. That only means I myself wouldn’t have printed such a thing or paid for it, not that there’s no place in the public discourse for it. But sometimes I wonder if even that position is asking for too much nuance from some of the folks out there…

  2. Tim Hall says:

    Coping with nuance is not some people’s strong point.

  3. Amadan says:

    The online vomit that is the Social Justice movement will make a conservative out of me yet.

    Arthur Chu is of course too stupid to recognize that a lot of people saying “Je Suis Charlie” recognize that Charlie Hebdo was often puerile and offensive, and that’s beside the point.

  4. Tim Hall says:

    Chu is a Manichean. If people with White Privilige say bad things, then the correct thing to do is side with their opponents, even if it means siding with Islamist terrorists. (OK, so I exaggerate. But not by much).

    This screencap, if genuine, gives an insight into his thinking. It’s not impossible to imagine him getting caught up in actual, real, terrorism at some point. He’s got the totalitarian end-justifies-the-means mindset for it.

    As for his male feninism, much of that comes over as projected self-loathng to me.