Another year, another attempt by violent religious idiots to stem the tide of human evolution; the kind of thing that obliterates the notion that we will ever be free of faith-based nonsense, but also a clear reminder that vigilance against ignorant, theological hatred is a lifetime endeavor. And it is one I have embraced for as long as I have sustained memory. As a slight token, I am sipping java right now from a Banned Books mug I received as a gift whilst doing a book signing this past summer, each one of them a result of the tireless work of religious idiots.
And let’s be clear from the outset, what happened in Paris this week has less to do with what has come to be the normal geographical and ideological power plays used by groups like ISIS or ISIL or al Qaeda, propagated under the convenient guise of religious fervor. Trust me, Michele Bachmann and Glenn Beck are more genuinely motivated by their faith than al Qaeda. Even Osama bin Laden gave up on the whole Allah bullshit after a while. His was a Saudi revolutionary, skillfully perpetuating the preternatural hatred for Western (read that Judeo-Christian) nations in the Middle East to his own ends, as old a ploy as the jingoistic Nazi crap of the 1920s, but without an actual nation to defend; other than the symbolically vapid “nation of Islam,” of course.
What went down in Paris in the killing of ultimately 12 victims (ironically, a nice round Biblical/Qur’an type number), including five cartoonists, an economist/journalist, and two police officers was akin to say a fundamentalist Christian attack on homosexuals or Catholic bombings of abortion clinics, and to a lesser degree that PMRC goofiness that set a rage in me so deep I worked every bone in my body to elect George W. Bush president in 2000 against pompous moralist, Al Gore. And as much as anyone with half a brain may deduce that I would regret such an obvious blunder on my part, remember this: a cold cynic is merely a damaged romantic on a rampage.
This war against free speech and free expression has been raging for as long as religions have been threatened by the inevitable march of progress and enlightenment. It is Galileo being jailed for the temerity to speak the scientific truth or a Monkey Trial denouncing biology as heretical crimes against society, or votes to keep fellow citizens from enjoying similar rights.
The most dangerous threat to faith—which may say more about how weak faith is than its opposition—appears to be satire. Yes, comedy. This is what is deemed by religious loons as the most harmful cudgel in which a modern society can throw at their religious belief. In this case the target was the Charlie Hebdo newspaper, the European response to the American Mad magazine or the precursor of The Onion, lampooning all sorts of sacred cows, both secular and religious. Of course, mocking zealots is as easy and in some cases as lazy for the comedic mind as pointing out that Donald Trump has a spectacularly bad haircut or that Chris Christie happens to be freakishly rotund or Rosie O’Donnell overtly masculine.
But the Muslims apparently have a loophole in the “can’t take a joke” quotient, as it is even forbidden for worshipers to even lovingly portray the prophet Muhammad in any form. My guess is that Muhammad had a pretty good idea that his brand of stupidity was rife for mockery and it wasn’t worth all that Christian blubbery to also fall victim to the obligatory derisive caricature. Either way, here in 2015, where science, technology and intellect has mostly ruled the day, Third Century cretins take all this quite literally and help to lend credence to murderers shouting, “The Prophet is avenged!” (It is important to point out that I have chosen here to capitalize Prophet not for respectful reasons, but to better illustrate that Muhammad being a “prophet” in moniker is tantamount to noted gambling icon, Jimmy the Greek.)
Look, what we do around here is mostly satire. It is our life’s blood and the one art form that jarred me from whatever probable stupor I was likely going to be stuck in for the rest of my days. So, for me to roll out my usual, “What the hell is everyone so crazy about with satire? It’s not harming anyone! Leave us alone!” will not fly this week. Because if done correctly; if worked through with some serious chops, satire had damn well better be threatening and concussive and scare the living shit out of those with their heads firmly planted in the sands of time.
This is why the victims of Charlie Hebdo are our martyrs, like Niccolò Machiavelli, the Marquis de Sade, Thomas Paine, Oscar Wilde, Carlo Collodi, Lenny Bruce, Alan Berg, Bill Hicks, and a shitload more I’m forgetting. I have a deadline, after all.
I need to take a moment to celebrate our patron saint, Mark Twain, who managed to have his books banned on several occasions over decades of brilliance (even after his death), yet remained an internationally beloved figure that made a fortune selling himself as an enchanting personality. Somehow, in one of the great feats in American art, he was indestructible. In essence, Twain is a satirist’s Christ figure, and one that is not taken lightly around these parts, I assure you.
As a sidelight, I wish to weigh in quickly on the North Korean hacking of Sony Pictures to help put the kibosh on what was sure to be another hilarious cinematic romp (this is the sarcasm portion of our program) with The Interview. Although obviously it does set a dangerous precedent for any outside source, whether religious kooks or rogue nations, to force the hand of the aforementioned freedom of expression, the entire episode following the threats of “9/11-type attacks” on movie theaters was a matter of commerce, not art. The art was created, paid for, and set to be viewed. The way it would eventually be viewed by the public is at issue; to gain profit for all that money invested. This is known in modern parlance as a business decision. If theaters would rather play the penguin movie than take a chance on crazies firebombing their establishment, then that is their choice.
Certainly, with no distribution, Sony could not justify putting the thing out. All of this is merely the pangs of industry, not some affront to artistic integrity or attack on free speech. If anything, that whole ordeal was a perfect metaphor for how much “art” actually plays into the Hollywood construct. Believe me when I tell you (and not just because the option on my novel came and went for nearly a decade without a peep) there are plenty of fine films that never make it, because, well, it doesn’t reek of possible dollars.
And so, I am here to formally declare a satirical jihad on all religions that make it their business to cease the flow of blessed mockery that helps us better cope with their lunacy.
They can hit us, kill us, and even halt a few Hollywood craptaculars, but it cannot stop us. We are legion. There are too many of us. We will keep coming with witty asides on absolutist farce and mocking pictures of your stupid prophets and their asinine anti-humanist miasma masquerading as sacred. What is sacred is pure, unadulterated satire. May it long live.