Drawing The Line: Our Media Is Not Charlie Hebdo

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I grew up with Bill Watterson and Gary Larson. Just about anyone else who did can remember back to the days where their parents had a stack of Calvin and Hobbes or Far Side anthologies on the bathroom floor.  My love of cartoon illustration led me into drawing comic books in Jr. High instead of doing math assignments. I attended instructional crash camps by John Romita from Marvel. My love of story telling through panels and pictures became a failed endeavor of story boarding and film which eventually led me to a career in illustration and digital design. That has led me to this silly little blog-zine. Instead of Calvin And Hobbes collections, my shelves are now stacked with Taschen hard cover anthologies and typography manuals but I’ll never forget where it started. These are the thoughts I’ve internalized over the past four days, trying to ingest the act of terror in Paris against journalists, artists and cartoonists.

For the first time in years, I miss my pens.

Cartoon illustrators are the stand up comedians of  journalism. Each one of them has a slightly skewed perspective on the world and the only way to express it without going mad is through their drawings. They laugh at tyranny and absurdity because they have no choice. No one else will.

While people all over the world try to make sense of this latest massacre, our media and our White House grapple with how best to appeal to the delicate sensitivities they have been cultivating with their progressive ideological audiences. They are slowly coming to grips with the fact that there is nowhere to hide anymore. For every blustering sound clip of Al Qaeda being “on the run”, there is another horrific act on innocent people. Elitists in media are forced to reconcile their message more, hiding behind the imaginary backlash of a myth called “Islamophobia”. Except this time it was liberal elitists in France that were attacked. It’s a joke Charlie Hebdo would have appreciated.

Instead France is now marching.

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George Clooney in an acceptance smug, er, speech at the Golden Globes this past Sunday said “They didn’t march in protest, they marched in support of the idea that we will not walk in fear. We won’t do it.” But Hollywood has been an industry walking in fear for over 20 years. They refuse to produce any motion pictures portraying radical Islam in a negative light.

Batman and Robin was a far greater offense than anything Charlie Hebdo ever published.

Throughout the 1980’s, villains in action movies were always Soviets (Rocky 4, Red Heat, Firefox) because that’s who America was fighting. But the last major film Hollywood produced with a fictional radical Islamist was basically True Lies in 1994. James Cameron even cancelled a sequel to True Lies after 9/11 and stated “Terrorism isn’t funny anymore”. So films today are still scripted and saturated with Russian villains (Jack Ryan, Die Hard 4) instead of the villains real people are facing at their jobs around the world and the box office is suffering. Even in Clooney’s film Syrianna, for which he won an Academy Award for, we see a child is electrocuted in a swimming pool, an envoy with American Citizens is obliterated by a US air strike and an American Spy is tortured. But at the end of the film when two young radicalized Islamists aim their raft strapped with explosives at a large tanker, in an attack reminiscent of the USS COLE, the camera fades out.

The highest grossing film of the 2014, Transformers: Age of Extinction, had Chinese Government delegates on set to approve of script and story, so the film could open in theaters overseas to maximize their box office receipts. Iron Man catered to the Chinese the exact same way. The last people standing up and telling us how brave they are in the face of terror and human rights abuse is anyone from Hollywood. Hollywood is afraid and they are the largest of cowards, because they have the loudest microphone. The last film that exposed radical Islam for the laughingstock it should always be greeted with was Team America and just a month ago, that was banned from theaters.

We were told we can’t watch that.

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“We can do whatever we want to Jesus, and we have. We’ve had him say bad words. We’ve had him shoot a gun. We’ve had him kill people. We can do whatever we want. But Mohammed, we couldn’t just show a simple image.” Matt Stone, co creator of South Park and Team America said in a 2006 interview. When confronted with explanations of religious sensitivity from peers and media censoring radical Islam, Stone called bullshit. “You’re afraid of getting blown up. That’s what you’re afraid of. Comedy Central copped to that, you know: ‘We’re afraid of getting blown up.'”

No one is more afraid than Hollywood but they certainly aren’t alone.

All the brave provocateurs in the media standing up for The Interview just barely three weeks ago suddenly vanished. AP, CNN, ABC, NBC, NPR, Fox News,  New York Times, Reuters, Boston Globe and on. They all stood up and demanded theaters screen The Interview. The content of the film didn’t matter we were told, all that mattered is that we support our right to free speech. Yet those same networks and outlets would not air illustrations that twelve people were murdered over. Barack Obama did not stand up as he did with The Interview and boldly declare that not showing Charlie Hebdo’s illustrations was “A mistake”.

In fact Obama didn’t do much standing at all this past weekend.

Several of these outlets stated that the decision to not show any of Charlie Hebdo’s work was an issue of safety for their employees. That’s fair and good except these are the same people preaching for the past three months that they are the lone voice of the voiceless and the brave truth tellers, as they stood filming the torching of buildings in Ferguson, Missouri. If network and print media fear for their safety in doing their job then they no longer get to criticize American soldiers for doing theirs. That same rule applies to New York City Police Officers as well.

The same media outlets citing safety concerns over not publishing illustrations of Muhammad are the same people who have absolutely no qualms posting names and addresses of gun owners. Network and print media has no problem bludgeoning people over the head with the mean facial expressions by police officers while white washing eye witness accounts of acts of Islamist terrorism.

Popular new media websites published images from the pages of Charlie Hebdo but they’re honestly not to be congratulated either. It’s their job. This is how ideologically poisonous the climate of news journalism has become. When news sites think they’re committing an act of bravery for doing something they are supposed to do.

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You are not Charlie if you censor what they died for. You are not Charlie if you hold up a sign with words or hashtag instead of an illustration. You are not Charlie if your news outlet refuses to publish photographs of Stephane Charbonnier with his illustrations.

You are not Charlie if you choose to stand in a crowd with a sign but not alone with a cartoon.

If our President was Charlie Hebdo, he wouldn’t have blamed terror attacks in Benghazi and Egypt on our First Amendment. He would not have jailed the creator of some obscure random YouTube video and produced his own with Hillary Clinton standing side by side in front of four flag draped coffins. If Barack Obama was Charlie Hebdo, he would tell the world that we stand by the artists and journalists that were slaughtered, instead of telling the world the future must not belong to them.

If Eric Holder was Charlie Hebdo, he would not have ordered the Department of Justice to intervene in the Washington Redskins trademark protection lawsuit. This order came down through the DOJ just two days after the massacre in France. If Eric Holder was Charlie Hebdo, there would be no tapping of journalist’s family member’s phones and personally signed and issued subpoena’s of journalists notes.

If Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert were Charlie Hebdo, they would not only not fear telling jokes about Muhammad, but about Barack Obama as well. If Twitter or Facebook were Charlie Hebdo, Brendan Eich would still be the CEO of Mozilla. If Hollywood was Charlie Hebdo, their studios wouldn’t have caved to anonymous hackers just three weeks ago.

If our collective media was Charlie Hebdo, Lois Lerner would be behind bars. Our media and our President is not Charlie. They are the WWE.

That is really all “Legacy” media has become. A large group of loud personalities, each with their different graphics, screaming into microphones and cameras while people cheer or boo and when it comes time to take a punch to the face, they fake it.

Media who proudly stands on a mountain and declares they are the gate keepers of freedom of speech when they are escorted out of a fast food restaurants shrink when called to defend the freedom of expression of those they politically disagree with. Because political ideology is now paramount, nothing else can be. That’s the price of six years of the exhaustive protest culture that dominates the lives of everyone from celebrities apologizing for jokes, to random nobodies tweeting on airplanes. So jokes about Muhammad aren’t okay. Race jokes aren’t okay. Aids jokes aren’t okay. Rape jokes aren’t okay, unless of course they are being told by progressives in entertainment whom media adores.

Leftist media isn’t just scared of radical Islam. They are scared that their words have no meaning to the ideology they protect. At the White House press briefing yesterday, when confronted with past comments former Press Secretary Jay Carney made about Charlie Hebdo’s “poor judgement“, Josh Earnest stated that the White House believes it is up to the news outlets themselves to judge whether or not to publish the Illustrations of Charlie Hebdo. This response speaks volumes about what the current administration believes the limitations of the born right of freedom of expression are. To them it’s apparently whatever the New York Times says it is. That’s a world that none of us should choose to live in. Any religion that cannot stand being the butt end of a joke is one not worth following. Any God that refuses to be pranked is not one worth kneeling before.

To die in the name of Allah does not make one a Martyr. To die laughing at him does.

 

 

– SM –

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  1. John Reply

    Your piece is spot on. I was really disappointed that the networks didn’t show the pic. Talking about you Fox News. You really let me down. You really showed your ass.

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