"If absolute power corrupts absolutely," the actor
The answer, according to a lot of people, is yes.
Upon receiving the George Polk Career Award last month,
"By punching downward, by attacking a powerless, disenfranchised minority with crude, vulgar drawings closer to graffiti than cartoons, Charlie wandered into the realm of hate speech, which in
Putting aside Trudeau's tendentious misreading of
In March, the prestigious writers' group PEN America announced it would honor the magazine and the surviving staff of Charlie Hebdo with its Freedom of Expression Courage Award at its gala Tuesday night. In response, more than 200 members of the group protested the decision.
"Power and prestige are elements that must be recognized in considering almost any form of discourse, including satire," they wrote in an open letter. "The inequities between the person holding the pen and the subject fixed on paper by that pen cannot, and must not, be ignored."
"A hideous crime was committed," novelist
Maybe so, but however lamentable that "narrative" may or may not be, it doesn't obscure the fact the murders actually, you know, happened. Facts are stubborn things, and sometimes they lend credence to storylines that storytellers find inconvenient. For instance, the attempted shootings at a "draw Mohammed" event in
This obsession with the idea that the heinous acts of the "powerless" are somehow justified runs through vast swaths of literary and journalistic cultures. (How many commentators rush to defend rioters on account of their sense of "powerlessness"?)
Many journalists recite
The problem is that they define the powerful and powerless based upon their own preferred narratives. When the truth interferes with the narrative, the truth must be bent or jettisoned.
Meanwhile, Trudeau and the PEN dissidents have a very funny definition of courage. Trudeau has won awards and wealth by taking at best droll and more often clichéd potshots at Republicans at no personal risk to himself whatsoever. But he thinks it is cowardly to openly defy those who are eager to murder the mockers.
I'm no fan of Charlie Hebdo's anti-religious bigotry, but I am even less enamored with murderers who believe that their grievances justify the slaughter of cartoonists. And I have nothing but contempt for those who ridicule the courage of the slain because they proved inconvenient to their oh-so-comfortable narratives.