Thursday, January 15, 2015
Satire posted by Richard SeymourIf it's true that it was 'Al Qaeda' affiliates who conducted the massacre of journalists and Jews in Paris, then we really have reached the end of days.
After all, this isn't a powerful global organisation. It isn't even the type of concentrated hub that could have pulled off something like 9/11. And yet, they've achieved not only a seminal atrocity, but also the bleakly, darkly comical result of sending Europeans scattering to defend crudely drawn images of goat-fucking imams and "sex jihadists" as the very pinnacle of European values, the apex of free expression. And look who's gloating behind the rictus mask of official solemnity. The ranks of hypocrites, murderers and war criminals never looked so serried as during Je Suis Charlie. Give them a pile of bodies, and they're in their element.
As is often the case at moments like this, this has triggered a fatuous discussion of the limits and ends of satire. Does satire have responsibilities? Would we allow this in other countries? What about the French context? Is offence really a good justification for suppression? Is one man's cartoonist another man's toilet wall defacer? And if we criticise cartoons about Muslims and Islam, doesn't this give cover to religious obscurantists and Islamists and clerics who wield power in 'their communities'? I am baffled by all of this.
Here is a question. Leave aside how much 'power' various clerics and Islamists really wield (and it's quite difficult to disaggregate the facts from scaremongering hype and bullshit, cf. Tower Hamlets). If you really like scabrous, dark, relentless, unhinged satire, why the fuck would some scribbled sketches about 9 year old prostitutes (drawing from the venerable 'Mohammed is a paedo' line of Prophet-baiting), or imams pumping the livestock (drawing from the 'rural idiot' line of Muslim-baiting), or sex jihadists (drawing from the 'let's take away their burqas so we can see their arses and fannies' line of Muslim woman-bothering), in any way satisfy you? What are you, fucking five?* Ha ha ha ha, that man has a nob. That man has a nob and a beard and he's humping a goat. Ha ha ha ha. Ha ha ha ha ha. Muslims, eh? Imagine being a Muslim. Ha ha ha.
Another question. If you're interested in subversive comedy, and you like the idea of some jokes that really stick it to Daesh, or the latest Al Qaeda franchise, or religious bigots, is it really impossible to disentangle this from the most hackneyed, obvious, stupid, tabloid observations about Muslims. Yes, Muslims are different. (Different from what? Let's not go into that: remember, we're supposed to be mocking the Mussies here.) Many of them have beards. They tend to have darker skin as most of them are from countries where the average melanin rate is a bit higher. Their sartorial choices befuddle us. (Who is 'us'? Again...). And indeed there is this one Muslim guy, right, who has a hook where his hand used to be - *titter* - and an eyepatch! That's pretty funny. Right? Ha ha. Then there's the veil. What are they hiding behind that veil? Eh? A bomb, probably. Ha ha. Because they have bombs. Ha. Or, bruises because their brown-skinned husbands don't treat them right. Ha. Or, a penis. Ha ha ha ha. They have a penis. Ha ha.
All of which, we can be certain, wounds Daesh to the quick, and gives relief and comfort and joy to their victims - whom, we are piously reminded, are overwhelmingly Muslim. Don't take this the wrong way. Look. If this is how you relax at the end of a hard day, if this sort of thing gives you relief from the stresses of the world, if it helps you sublimate the terror and anxiety that derives from events like the massacre in Paris, as well as your wider existential anxiety about your place in the world and the verities that seem to be in flux, then you're a total fucking moron. How dare you call this horseshit 'satire'?