Death to The Critique

I am trying to find the right balance for addressing the whole Charlie Hedbo massacre.

I am having to take people’s word for it that they have a history of racism, homophobia and sexism…since I do not read French?  Their cartoons lack any context.

And yes, one can (and should) be able to hold their work to the light and determine if it is effective or not.

And yet…death is not a consequence of failed satire.

The cartoons they published were not worthy of mass murder.  Not one cartoon.  Not a hundred.  Not a million.

The only acceptable consequence is critical examination.

One may find Charlie Hedbo’s satire wanting, but that is a crime unworthy of death.

And just as Charlie Hedbo is deserving of critical examination…so to is religion…from the polite religion of many to the violent ideology of a few.

Where is the line of not supporting Charlie Hedbo cartoons one finds offensive, but supporting their freedom?  It seems more and more in this world, you are unable to offer critique without being accused of “against” the subject of critique…or critiquing the specific subject means you are really condemning other groups.  If you’re critical of the cartoons published by Charlie Hedbo, you oppose free speech and are promoting censorship.  If you condemn people acting out a violent ideology, no matter how specific you are, you somehow are condemning all members of a larger religious group.

People who bomb clinics and kill doctors who perform abortions are almost without fail conservative evangelical Christians.  People understand that a condemnation of people killing doctors and blowing up clinics is not an indictment of all conservative evangelical Christians.  Yet, I already see the talk turning to making sure people do not “blame Muslims.”  And rightly, that needs to be a part of the conversation.  Acknowledging that these radicals were not motivated by the same ideology of the overwhelming majority is an important distinction.  But then, all criticism of violent extremist ideology is indicting all Muslims.

The ability to critique beliefs is what actually was being attacked.  These guys were not defending their deity or prophet.  They were denouncing being critically examined.  And we should always stand against that.

Culture Is Vacuous-And By Culture, I Mean…

Maybe it is just my age…but I am genuinely tierd of listening to people go on about how vacuous our culture is and how it ties to societal ills.  Not because our culture has no facets that are vacuous.  It certainly does.  But usually when people are making that criticism, they really are decrying that people might take the time to discuss stuff they find unimportant.

It is also a criticism I see friends and aquaintences making based on stuff they see on VH1 and E!  And that is kind of the problem.  If your criticisms are based on shows dedicated to light and fluffy material, it is going to heavily skew how you are perceiving the culture at large.

While it can be amusing to shine a light on a dumb tweet, Facebook post or news story, that makes for a terrible jumping off point for cultural commentary.  I mean, do people post dumb things on Facebook and Twitter?

But you know what?

People also post witty, thoughtful and good things on Twitter and Facebook.  I see thoughts and ideas that challenge the status quo, that make me think about how and why I believe what I believe.

And unsurprisingly, those people complaining about the vacuous nature of society never see themselves as part of the problem.  Instead, they are the ones “shining a light” on it.  They are not expressing an epiphany borne of introspection.  Rather it is merely a chance to lash out at “culture”.  The commentary is often vague complaints about Kardashians and the so on.  Maybe the fact that I read nuanced thoughts and discussions regarding problems within culture leave me simple wanting moer than complaints about how hollow culture is in general.

As frustrating as some of those vacuous regions of our culture can be…the critics can be equally frustrating.