Wednesday, January 21, 2015

On Satire and Obscenity

Sometimes you need to take a step back and appreciate the absurdity of the world.

Like how twelve French journalists were murdered over cartoons. In all the commentary and nombrilisme over the Charlie Hebdo attack, you often see that point left out. These people were murdered over cartoons, that is the exact reason the attackers who were posthumously claimed by Al Qaeda Yemen gave for their bloodbath. They were pretty unambiguous, as reactionaries often are since nuance is one of those things for wishy-washy liberals.

Although, going by the reaction in Anglo-American media, those same wishy-washy liberals can lock it down like the best neocons. First you had all the cable news companies "refraining" from showing the cartoons because they're pussies so as not to offend, then you had dozens of online lefties - even the excellent Jacobin! - offering the argument of "Yes murder is bad but Charlie Hebdo is racist."

Now that's pretty damn absurd too. And it's a rare case of a commie agreeing with a Catholic:

Religious freedom and freedom of expression, [Pope Francis] said, are fundamental human rights. But they are also not a total liberties... "If [a close friend] says a swear word against my mother, he’s going to get a punch in the nose," he explained. "One cannot provoke, one cannot insult other people’s faith, one cannot make fun of faith."

Yep, Pope Franky is totes for free speech but wants you to understand that it'll get you ganked. Like how you should expect sexual assault if you go out dressed like a whore.

John Dolan, in a bit of a rant, makes the point that Anglo-American culture just doesn't get French satire. That's certainly true, the gleeful irreverence of French comedy being alien even to liberal Americans. That's also what makes it so goddamn brilliant, the utter lack of sanctimony. That's why Republicans are so unfunny and also why AlterNet publishes the occasional complaint about The Daily Show - sanctimony is as American as Apple Pie or crediting upper middle class protesters with ending the Vietnam War, as opposed to the bravery and ingenuity of the Viet Cong.

That deeply normative sanctimony is why so many Americans are dithering over Charlie Hebdo. They know the proper response should be "free speech," but there's just something too salty about those anarcho-atheist Frenchies. The charge of "racism" even uses the very broad American definition, which is obsessed with skin color, rather than the French concept which has much more to do with national identity. In France, if you drink wine and sneer at religion you're In, whereas in America even Darius Rucker still gets shit from country fans just because of his melanin.

The only sensible thing out there is this article by sci-fi fantasy author Saladin Ahmed. He examines the "punching down" of Charlie Hebdo's vendetta against Islam without condemning them. And thank Allah for that because it moves past the shaky - and blitheringly ignorant - debate about racism and brings us to the much more real problem of the rising right-wing hysteria in Europe over what's a meager single digit percentage of Muslims in the  population:

"In an unequal world, satire that mocks everyone equally ends up serving the powerful."

There are real issues of power here that the attack on Charlie Hebdo has brought up for discussion. French Muslims are as powerless as Shias in Saudi Arabia while being just as demonized - though they likely don't get whipped and beheaded as much as said Shia. Truly bold satire denigrates wealthy Sunnis like the House of Saud and the Catholic Church that continues to retard sexual health in the developing world while molesting children. Speaking truth to power is a vital necessity of any free and progressive society.

So in that spirit, here's a caricature of Sarah Palin getting hammered in the ass by Joel Osteen a closet-case pastor:

"So, did you see the upstairs?" Madame President's hand was roughly kneading inside his back pocket. "They've got this new... thing."

Damn woman! Couldn't She leave him be for just one evening? "Love to."

She dragged him up the wide staircase. He could feel eyes flitting to them from the now drunk crowd. "There they go again," they would all be thinking. Bad enough Feely had to pleasure the goddamn whore but now everywhere he went, everyone he met just saw him as one more of her playthings - and oh how many She'd already had!

That was one of the many elephants in the room he'd learned of in this town, how She'd been fucking everyone but Her husband since the moment She took office. He'd seen all the anonymous blogs, claiming firsthand accounts of the affair - even the paid journalists couldn't keep a straight face anymore in denying it. His congregation had a field day once getting righteously pissed over executive infidelities which left him wondering if now they didn't care or they were really too dumb to notice.

The second floor was empty, save for the two of them and - as always - Klein. He gave the usual nod, a silent "I've cleared out anyone who might hear her moose noises." Feely had to admit that, despite the work he did, he genuinely liked Klein. He was quiet, professional, and never judged. And that chiseled jaw line -

"Let's do a quick one in the bathroom," She said, Her tongue slithering over his ear.

It didn't bother Feely as much anymore. He'd gradually learned how to tune everything out while still "performing." Alcohol usually helped, as did Her seemingly endless supply of cocaine. Really - he frantically told himself - he actually enjoyed this blanked out mental state. It gave him time to relax, to remember happier times of sneaking past Anita to go cruising Denver for a tight-assed boy and some meth -

The brief reminiscence died - as always - to Her slobbering grunts of, "Fuck my pooper! Fuck my pooper!"

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