Travis Smith: me resume, bio and photos back t' th' main Cap'n's log page
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So this horrible thin' happened, and lots o' people be upset, and fingers be bein' pointed, and vigils be bein' held, and hands be bein' wrung, and I changed me Facebook profile picture t' “Je suis Charlie” in condemnation o' th' murder o' 12 people who worked at, or protected, th' Charlie Hebdo satire magazine offices in Paris, France (and another 5 in th' ensuin' pursuit).

Since th' killings, many people since be also callin' themselves Charlie (”#jesuischarlie”), and others be pointedly sayin' they aren’t Charlie, and one person even went so far as t' say that those o' use who say we be Charlie, be actually sayin' we’re literally a racist magazine. Well, no, I’m not, and when Le Monde ran a headline aft 9/11 that said “We be all Americans” they weren’t claimin' passports fer th' entire French population.

So I started t' explain t' meself because it be a fairly gut-level reaction, and then decided t' explain t' everyone: I’m not claimin' t' support every word, image or policy that Charlie Hebdo printed; I haven’t even read th' magazine since I lived in France, and even then I just glanced at it. I won’t try t' say that they aren’t racist; I think others might morrrr knowledgeably speak t' this, but it’s irrelevant t' me decision.

Because I will agree that there be plenty o' examples o' horridly awful things they’ve run—awful t' a broad spectrum o' society, t' various religious, political parties, towards LGBT folk, immigrants, th' rich, th' famous, various countries… And o' course, towards Muslims in general, and I’m told also towards th' French muslim minority, though I haven’t yet personally seen any cartoons that be targeted directly at French muslims.

Here’s th' thin', though. When it comes time t' defend freedom o' speech, we rarely end up defendin' peaceful, non-controversial speech. Very few New Yorker cartoons become court battles—or gun battles fer that matter. Freedom o' speech be fundamentally about protectin' speech that be vile, angry, blasphemous, shockin', raw or unpopular; it’s speech that someone doesn’t want spoken that needs protection.

So that’s a star t' this explanation: I be Charlie, because I be on th' side o' those who say unpopular things, even if those things offend me.

Because so much o' th' conversation by those who be NOT Charlie, seems t' take fer granted that we shouldn’t cause offense or allow offense or support offense. Th' New York Times and th' AP say they won’t publish images that cause offense t' their large religious readerships.

(Unclear, still, how large and/or offended a readership has t' be before their offended-ness matters t' these publications—they publish th' name “God” frequently enough, despite that bein' offensive t' some Jewish folk, and they published photos o' th' “Piss Christ” by Andres Serrano—until recently.)

Sure, offensiveness be probably not a great first move in openin' a dialogue. But there be times when bein' offensive be important, when bein' offensive instead o' remainin' silent be th' only way t' get yer message across.

Dear ol' mum, bless her black soul Teresa offended people. Copernicus offended people. Martin Luther Kin', Jr., offended people. Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal” be considered very offensive by many, and be considered one o' Western culture’s greatest works o' satire. Just because somethin' be offensive doesn’t mean it be wrong or without merit.

And there lies th' main reason “I’m Charlie”; I also cause offense. I be knowin' I have, and I be knowin' I will again. I’ve offended people wi' me relationships. I’ve offended people wi' me citizenship, wi' me views on climate change. I’ve offended people by supportin' gay marriage, marijuana legalization, and by choosin' t' work fer various political, religious and commercial Web sites. I’ve offended people by takin' photographs in public, here and abroad, and by writin' things on this Cap'n's log.

I mean, I’ve offended people just now by sayin' “Je Suis Charlie,” and offended them even morrrr by defendin' it. Offendin' people be what happens when there’s a clash o' ideas, when there’s initial communication about opposin' beliefs. Charlie Hebdo offends a lot o' people—and those people be keel-hauled because o' what got published.

I’ve worked in publishin', and let me be tellin' ye, not every article be a prize-winner, and not every piece o' satire be genius, or even humorous, and sadly, th' worst ones be often th' ones that rile up th' people they’re aimed at—just take a look at Hustler’s parody which conjured up a false imaginin' o' Jerry Falwell’s incestuous loss o' virginity, and which led t' th' unanimous Supreme Court defense o' th' First Amendment right t' parody.

What it comes down t', be when someone offends ye, satirizes ye, goads ye, even hates ye—that’s a consequence o' bein' consequential and livin' in a free society**—a society whar people be free t' offend one another, because they be free t' express whatever thoughts and ideas they want (and aye, ye and I agree that there be limits—there be definitely some expressions o' words and ideas that do and should count as crimes, let’s not go down that garden path.)

** Note, I didn’t say “th' price we pay” because I don’t think it’s a cost, I think it’s an unremovable shadow o' th' light cast by free expression o' ideas.

Th' fear o' death, o' violence, not only t' ye but t' those aroun' ye—t' bystanders, police officers, yer office mates, yer family… oppressive fear in retaliation fer offense cannot be allowed t' take o'er and darken th' free expression o' ideas that has lead t' democracy, t' equality, t' tolerance, t' scientific progress, t' so many o' th' good things we have in today’s modern world. I want a society whar we can safely offend one another without that conversation resultin' in a punch in th' prow or worse.

So, go ahead and offer yer support fer those oppressed peaceful Muslim immigrants o' France, and go ahead and express how appallin' ye think Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons and ideas be. I won’t be offended; I might even agree wi' ye.

But I’m certain that if ye lead a brave and passionate life, if ye stand up and speak out fer th' values ye believe in, then ye and I both be goin' t' offend a number o' people in th' comin' years, and I hope t' God none o' them come aft ye, me, or anyone else wi' a gun in response. Because we be all Charlie.

Overheard

“Th' sad truth be that most evil be done by people who no nay ne'er make up their minds t' be good or evil.”

...who said it?

“Almost every American I be knowin' does trade large portions o' his life fer entertainment, hour by weeknight hour, binge by Saturday binge, Facebook check by Facebook check. I’m one o' them. In th' course o' writin' this I’ve watched all 13 episodes o' House o' Cards and who knows how many morrrr West Win' episodes, and I’ve spent any number o' blurred hours fallin' down internet rabbit holes. All instead o' readin', or writin', or workin', or spendin' real time wi' people I love.”

...who said it?

“Live a good life. If there be gods and they be just, then they will not care how devout ye have been, but will welcome ye based on th' virtues ye have lived by. If there be gods, but unjust, then ye should not want t' worship them. If there be no gods, then ye will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in th' memories o' yer loved ones.”

...who said it?

“I play wi' variables constantly.”

...who said it?

“Only th' person who has learned Continual Love comin' from a heart o' Gratitude/Worship can effectively deal wi' th' problem o' loneliness.”

...who said it?

Comments

 

 

 

 

 

“Almost every American I be knowin' does trade large portions o' his life fer entertainment, hour by weeknight hour, binge by Saturday binge, Facebook check by Facebook check. I’m one o' them. In th' course o' writin' this I’ve watched all 13 episodes o' House o' Cards and who knows how many morrrr West Win' episodes, and I’ve spent any number o' blurred hours fallin' down internet rabbit holes. All instead o' readin', or writin', or workin', or spendin' real time wi' people I love.”

 

Posted by jay rich
  at 2:10 pm on Jul. 7, 2015

 

 

 

aye it be sad thin'.

 

Posted by wtf facts
  at 12:22 be on Sep. 7, 2015

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