Am I really Charlie? On freedom of speech, double standards and true satire (warning – graphic images)


Let’s be very clear at the beginning of this blog – there is NO justification for the murderous acts of violence perpetrated against the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists. Their deaths are a crime against free speech and the values for which democratic societies are built upon, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t wider issues involved in these killings and wider perspectives that need consideration.

For me, ‘true satire’ understands and highlights the unfair power structures within a society. If your only success as a satirist is to provide ammunition for the oppressors within society, then you have failed as a satirist and are merely racist or bigoted. In my mind there can be no question that Al Nisbets cartoons last year were offensive and racist…


…rushing to defend his right to free speech ignores the racism and bigotry he generated. When Malcolm Evans was sacked from the NZ Herald for daring to publish a cartoon suggesting Israel was the new apartheid state


…the NZ Press Council not only backed the Herald’s right to sack but also their right to censor any Letters to the Editor that criticised their sacking of Evans. When it came to Nisbet’s cartoons however, the NZ Press Council had no problems with the offence he caused. The message was clear, offending Maori and Polynesians is fine, offending Israel is a sackable offence. This double standard when it comes to Israel has been again mirrored in the Charlie Hedbo killings, I don’t remember a massive “I am Palestinian’ free speech social media campaign when Israel was slaughtering Palestinian journalists in Gaza last Summer…


In my mind there is little doubt that the cartoonists at Charlie Hebdo were more troll rag than cutting edge satire, but the right to offend is enshrined in our free speech. Those being offended however should always be the dominant powers in society, not the minority, that’s why Derek Fox’s comments have some validity. His point that the majority culture has free reign to insult and belittle the culture of the minority is genuine, but it can’t stretch far enough to justify the killings.

TDB Recommends

Nothing can.

France has been a frontline in the public crackdown against Muslims by banning the wearing of head scarfs and in supporting the oppressive regimes many Muslims live under, it has also had difficulties integrating refugees from being alienated. True satire would recognise these power imbalances, it would recognise that if the West wants to end the barbaric medieval views of extremists like ISIS and Al Queda they would stop propping up the oppressive regimes that generate this kind of radicalism. True satire would draw the link between drone strikes and terrorist recruitment. True satire would poke our conscience rather than reinforce racist stereotypes.

Nothing can justify the murder of cartoonists, but if the West wants to stop monsters, we should be prepared to acknowledge the monster making environment we continually generate for our economic and geopolitical interests.


    • I couldn’t disagree with Martin’s post more, there’s no such thing as “true satire” as he describes it – it reminds me too much about the Stalinist diktats about what constituted proper art and literature. (Socialist Realism or nothing).

      We need to stick to our principles that freedom of speech is paramount, and we should all be expected to be occasionally offended by someone else exercising that right.

      These Islamic monsters are created by “our economic and geopolitical interests” only in the sense that they are caused by the inevitable clash between modernity and medieval religious beliefs.

      Should all magazines be submitted to a censor before publication? Of course not – I suggest we follow the example of the Muslim policeman killed during the attack on the Charlie Hebdo offices, and the quote attributed to Voltaire – “I disagree with everything you say but will defend to my death your right to say it”.

        • I think your concept of “true” satire is repugnant and you are missing the point.

          In Iran, satirising Islamic Fundamentalism would be presumably “punching up”, however in France it is apparently (according to you) “punching down” and is wrong.

          Free speech is paramount, power structures vary from place to place, but freedom of expression allows all sides to see the others viewpoint and to be either persuaded, unimpressed, or offended by them.

          Surely the lesson from Charlie Hebdo is that more tolerance on the part of the offended is required, not more restrictions on freedom of speech.

        • Charlie Hebdo from the perspective of a french leftwing blogger.

          Quoted from blog ‘Letter to my British friends.’

          “It is only by reading or seeing it out of context that some cartoons appear as racist or islamophobic. Charlie Hebdo also continuously denounced the pledge of minorities and campaigned relentlessly for all illegal immigrants to be given permanent right of stay. I hope this helps you understand that if you belong to the radical left, you have lost precious friends and allies.”

          Read full article here:

  1. Actually I find people walking around with their faces covered to be offensive, I am not going to shoot any of them.
    Any organization or political group or religion or even country should be able to be criticized, including Israel, I don’t have a lot of time for them myself, but this religious ning-nongi-ness that continues ever onward is just plain straight out ludicrous and I don’t care who is offended, just don’t be thinking you have the right to shoot me.

        • ROSEMARY,
          Perhaps the latest Palestinian moves to bring them before the ICC for their conduct during the last Gaza “war” will be a start.

            • “Here’s the difference between us,” Netanyahu said. “We’re using missile defense to protect our civilians, and they’re using their civilians to protect their missiles.”
              I see you have bought into the Netanyahu quote, without knowing its veracity, despite the fact the man as been known to lie in the past.
              Gaza is an extremely crowded area so, exactly where the previously democratically elected government (Hamas), would suggest its citizens go to escape IDF bombs and missiles is a mystery.

              • Very true Yogi.

                And where do the missiles come from that Israel use on the Gazza, the USA.

                If the Americans withdrew their support then perhaps Israel would not be so brazen in attacking the Palestinians.

                • Might have read/heard it wrong at the time but I’m sure during the last ‘flare-up/ assault’ the US sent more missiles through to Israel because it was running out?!
                  Wouldn’t this be the ultimate solution?

      • @*Stuff the Politicians* – hear hear. I have been saying this for a long time and virtually get shot down in flames as a result, more often than not being called anti Semitic!

        If the West, particularly the US and it’s *friends*, including NZ, were to speak out and condemn the atrocities committed by Israel over the past 50 plus years, perhaps applying sanctions to the state, then the possibility of a more peaceful and less threatening world, might become a reality.

        When it comes to criticizing Israel in this regard, the US and its sycophantic allies are so damn hypocritical!

        • @ Mary.
          People need to read and read more about the situation re Israel instead of turning a blind eye to suit there own beliefs.
          A good start would be John Pilgers books, a man of much wisdom in that area.

          • STP,
            May I also suggest another good journalist, Robert Fisk, who has reported extensively on the Middle East and did a TV series on “Why Muslims Hate the West”.

            • Robert Fisk is another of many writers who do not like what they see of Israel, yet another is Noam Chomsky.
              I also believe that many Israelites do not like what their warmongering Govt get up to either and have left for parts of Europe and elsewhere.

          • Mary. Utube James Traficant, a true American heroe, a congressman and a “man” accused of being anti Semitic because he had the balls to take on the system. May he rest in peace.

  2. There is good satire and there is humiliating and demeaning comment…week after week, year after year as this cartoon mag did. The stuff I have seen actually makes me sick, but I guess if they say they are lefties than that makes it all OK?

    • The Times (London) have published an article, “French satire is no laughing matter, it’s more like a fistfight”. It explains how/why French satire is different from English (and our) satire. What we find vulgar and crude is understood and ‘respected’ in France. It may pay to read and understand the differences before commenting (this applies to Martyn and Curwen).

      • The brilliant cartoon on the ‘title page’ of this article is laugh-out-loud funny, clever and serious, all at the same time. Translation: 100 lashes if you don’t die laughing.

    • Delia,

      Someone similar to you asked “who are Charlie Hebdo, and why are they doing this”?

      I answered simply with this website as a background to why French protect their freedom to criticise, due to their past Government’s brutality, a position until now we have never yet experienced, but FJK is brewing up the same systematic oppression of the poor in NZ so read and learn.

      The French people overthrew their ancient government in 1789. They took as their slogan the famous phrase “Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite”–Liberty, Equality, Fraternity. Equality, or doing away with privilege, and still fights for this dream today.

      Many of the older world countries have much history to support their causes where we in the new world are basically shallow and fail to understand the importance of principals that others long fought for in the past.

      • @ CLEANGREEN – many thanks for the historical link. It’s recommended reading.

        The French culture demands the people continue in revolutionary mode to preserve for future generations what their ancestors fought for. And long may that spirit survive.

        Perhaps the link could be forwarded on to John Key, Bill English, Steven Joyce et al as a gentle reminder! No need to ask why!

      • And the French artfully took down the previous Multi Lateral Agreement on Investment (MAI), they being the repository for the paperwork, New Zealand is for the TPP. The French pulled it after the World wide outcry.

        Wonder if Aotearoa – NZ could take down the TPP?

        France is working along with sectors of Germany on the TTIP.

        In the spirit of focusing attention on the big lie I made the following inputs to the Countering Terrorist Fighters Legislation Bill as part of my evidence before they made their Urgent decision on the 9th of December, which happened to be UN International Anti Corruption Day 😉

        Select Committee paper;

        and an oral presentation made Friday 28th Nov. here;

        The select committee had only one critique of my paper and presentation. Labour’s Phil Goff reported he was a part of the 2003 Cabinet that made the decision in Feb 2003 to not go to the Iraq War with the coalition of the willing. It made the subsequent Jun 2003 decision to participate in reconstruction to satisfy USA requirements for our trade and export lobby to access the ‘oil for food’ program. He said our troops were there only to ‘nurse maid’ the engineers, where as I inferred they were shooting it up.

        Importantly he said paraphrased ‘we’ll be happy to know that on that occasion our intelligence service made it clear there was no justification for the 2003 shock and awe attack and invasion of Iraq.’

        This begs the question of the big lie by the coalition of the willing nations led by Blair and the USA neo-cons?

        It also begs the question of the big lie by the Western despotism to gain the globe’s assent to the attack on Afghanistan in the aftermath of the September 11 crime. I provide a view in the linked papers to the Foreign Affairs Defence and Trade Select Committee which considered the bill and will be soon addressing itself to the NZ Korea FTA and down the track potentially TPP. Here’s the text of the Korean deal, noting ISDS in Chapter 10 on Investment, expect similar in TPP;

        Event the title of the Select Committee identifies the reality of the interests concerned in our foreign policy and National Interest and the propagandized view or lenz through which our media would have us view the world and the globalist project to merchandise our Eden spaceship home.

        What is it we do?

        That is the issue. We know lots – how do we act on it?

        Age of Stupid?

        Whilst the film depiction is exaggerated reality – the ‘limits to growth’ and its clash with ‘neo-classical brick brained economic fear/greed/scarcity based intellectual non thinking’ will carry on cannibalising the globe, ‘you’re either with us or against us’ – remember.

        Well what’s the answer?

        Oh for the will to publicly and openly address these large big lies. 2015?

  3. All cultures have ‘monster making environments’, but not all produce the barbarity we witnessed in Paris yesterday. Also, how do you justify the killing of the policeman outside the newspapers premises, himself a Muslim? What was he doing to incite such barbarity?

  4. The article started off well and then descended into a load of nonsense about only the dominant powers should be offended, it is akin to saying it is wrong to be racist (which it is) except against white people.
    Just remember everyone has the right to be offended but nobody has the right not to be offended.

    • I’m guessing the idea of dominant privilege (and in particular white privilege) is something that you are unfamiliar with.

      Satire can be used to speak truth to power (Evans), but it is often used as a belittling bullying tactic to further diminish those without a voice (Nisbet) and is fully defended on the latter as free speech.

      We in NZ are privileged indeed – we don’t have to clear with invading forces a community meeting so that we are not targeted by drones – and then get targeted anyway, because the intel has not been communicated. We don’t have wedding parties bombed, and our family homes destroyed, and then have those who come to rescue and help survivors targeted in repeat attacks ten minutes later. We don’t often see our Western journalists and citizens targeted by inexcusable violence, so it really hits home when it happens. But it has been happening repeatedly around the world for many years.

      We are sufficiently immune from such atrocities that are regular occurences in other parts of the world, that we somehow believe that our hurts are more – the violations are heinous. The family of the Palestinian journalist shown, would have grieved for him as much as the Parisian families will be doing. But the Charlie Hebdo loss will be shared by the Western media, the Parisian and French people and those who join the JesuisCharlie campaign, and will be acknowledged.

      I don’t know the name of the Palestinian journalist shown, and can’t remember the campaign that accompanied his death. His loss will be mourned by his friends and family only, and those people likely already have suffered unacknowledged atrocities and grief.

      There is no excuse for violence.

      But we should also not excuse the violence that occurs by ourselves or our allies, and give the same recognition to the atrocities that are committed in our name, or with our accompanying silence and lack of attention.

  5. Let’s be very clear at the beginning of this blog – there is NO justification for the murderous acts of violence perpetrated against the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists.

    Immediately followed by a whole lot of justification for murderous nutcases getting angry about Charlie Hebdo cartoonists. Top work.

  6. Am I missing something here?? Free speech, all means bring it on, but use common sense for heaven’s sake. Is the justification of being able to exercise inflammatory free speech the be all and end all in today’s world of journalism. Each and every one of us is a heart beat away from serious conflict with unstable nations just itching to make a right old mess of things for us all. North Korea with a leader with a high opinion of himself who could make life something we cannot even begin to imagine, the Middle East with so many murderous factions trigger happy and Israel mixing into the stew of it all with its mate the USA as buddies. Lord love us – satire and cartooning is great for a laugh and a nudge nudge in an ideal world and our world is anything but an ideal world. Are these so called satirists just arrogant adrenalin junkies who get their jollies off pushing the bar to see how far they can go with their unimaginative insults. Have they no idea in their small brains how simple it is to start a war – insult someone hard enough and we will all be in it up to our eyeballs. The West’s armament industry must be salivating each and every time some nutter pushes the bar and we teeter on the edge.

    How about something as refreshing as well-researched in-depth current affairs that engages the brain in a positive way. Okay the journos’ would have to do some real work for a change, actually seriously good satirical stuff about what’s going on and preferably in their our own back yards. Smacking people around the head over their beliefs or colour is so old hat and we should all be over it by now. Belief systems, colour etc need to be on the open forum and discussed by all means but actually do some real ground work and research and deliver your findings with intelligent dissection, understanding, integrity and depth. So please journalists/satirists how about pulling your finger out and put your cheap-shot lazy work to death and produce something of quality for a change. Venturing into Religion as far as satire is concerned is a sensitive topic – be warned but Politicians are open slather so go for it, they are big enough and ugly enough to take it and deserve it anyway. How about we all grow up and engage our brains in constructive ways – being mean and ugly in thought is too bloody depressing for words.

    The French Publication Charlie Hebdo were well forewarned when they were attacked a while back, but they were lucky that time and were able to continue their provocative work– this time they paid the price. Freedom is precious but it has to be treated carefully or it will come back and bite you on the behind. Live by the sword you die by the sword. The Editor of the publication was irresponsible in allowing his staff to be in danger and should have had them working off site at their own homes – how ironical – he was an atheist and anti-religion and in his own way was just as fanatical as the extremists that took him out.

    • Hello Barbara,
      I have a different viewpoint to you, but your piece has made me think!
      The point you have made is profound, penetrating and cleverly insightful.


      • Catherine Murgatroyd Brady erm… if you are going to write an argument, write one that actually makes sense!

        Like · Reply · 48 mins

        Catherine Murgatroyd Brady This is what you call BULLSHIT

        Like · Reply · 47 mins

        Catherine Murgatroyd Brady Number 1. The writer alledges that the journalists ‘lived by the sword and died by the sword’. I strongly advise the writer goes to spec savers, because the last time I checked, a sword and a pen looked very different.

        Like · Reply · 46 mins

        Catherine Murgatroyd Brady the writer does not understand the meaning of the metaphor, which is supposed to compare like for like.

        Like · Reply · 46 mins

        Catherine Murgatroyd Brady this is the same as me saying to someone ‘you have insulted my mum, so i will kill yours’. A fair like for like would actually be ‘you insulted my mum so i will insult yours’.

        Like · Reply · 45 mins

        Catherine Murgatroyd Brady the fact that the writer dares to make a stupid comparison demonstrates they are using language to mania[ulate people and i find it hard to believe people are that stupid! Also, how were innocent shoppers in the Kocher supermaker ‘living by the sword’?! they were also butchered for buying a loaf of bread! Next time the writer considers shopping, maybe they actually hole themselves up in their home and do all shopping online!

        Like · Reply · 5 mins · Edited

        Catherine Murgatroyd Brady Number 2. perhaps the reader needs a geography lesson. I do not doubt there is a lack of freedom of speech is Isreal but this is FRANCE – why are the journalists being equated with some isreale facists?!

        Like · Reply · 43 mins

        Catherine Murgatroyd Brady Also, the Isreale facists who this writer deplores so much only sacked someone, they didnt murder someone. Please try and make a more relevavnt comparison.

        Like · Reply · 42 mins

        Catherine Murgatroyd Brady NUmber 3. the suggestion that the managemeent at the journalist organisation should permanently have all their staff working at home and because they didnt they should have predicted to be butchered is possibly the most inane comment ever written and totally unrealistic – what plannet is this is person living on?

        Like · Reply · 36 mins

        Catherine Murgatroyd Brady Number 4 – the writer is supposed to be writing about hypcocracy but the irony is they are totally hypocritical! They are saying on the one hand they believe in freedom of speech, and complain that the Isreale’s dont offer total freedom of speech, but then are quite happy for the French to be murdered for the having freedom of speech.

        Like · Reply · 35 mins

        Catherine Murgatroyd Brady The second we start cowering to bullies who want to frighten us into having no freedom of speech its game over.

        Like · Reply · 34 mins

        Catherine Murgatroyd Brady Also, do people not understand that the sattirists send up all types of groups in society, not just muslims, so why is it ok ,for example, to send up Catholics or jews but not muslims? the journalists are NOT there to only satire muslims, satirists send up every group!! it is their job! the suprise is not the satire but the outrageous reaction from these terrorists.

        Like · Reply · 18 mins · Edited

        Catherine Murgatroyd Brady Also in reality do you honestly beleive most muslms would murder someone over this? No they would not! these terrorists were looking for an excuse to commit terror, the fact that is was these journalists or their trivial cartoon is totally irrelevant. Terrorists capture inncoent aid workers and also murder those.

        Like · Reply · 21 mins

        Catherine Murgatroyd Brady Please dont credit these irrational muderers who do NOT represent muslim society with a rational or just reason for doing what they did or pretend that it coud have been reasonably expected. get a grip.

        Like · Reply · 20 mins

        Catherine Murgatroyd Brady According to this writer, people invite murder upon themsleves merely by going to a work or going to the local kosher shop because the writer believes that these people ‘live by the sword’!!! This would be commedy gold accept it is a disgusting insult to the victims and their families, have some human compassion!

    • Live by the sword you die by the sword.

      I’m tempted to ask the basis for your claim that the staff of Charlie Hebdo staff were “living by the sword,” but won’t as I suspect the answer would just make me want to bang my head on the desk.

      • Please.

        That’s her privilege speaking.

        You know. The latest thing in guilt trips without remedy or direction. Just –

        feel baaad because you happened to end up in a particular gene pool.

        Patronising to those who didn’t get the same, no?

  7. While I like most am a strong believer in freedom of speech I and am completely against the violence caused by those who try to oppress it.

    However I do not see the point in throwing fuel on the fire and doing that which already has it’s death warrant asserted to it’s full. To publish such works one must then be prepared or crazy.

    While overseas I watched on the news as a Minister and Lawyer were both executed by men who were to become martyrs in the name of Islam… These two men (both the minister and lawyer) were attempting to lift the blasphemy laws and defend a Christian in Pakistan. This Christian lady was accused of insulting their God and she was to be stoned, executed or jailed (she swore she was innocent)… I am unsure if anyone was prepared to take up her case after her lawyer was shot 28 times by his own body guard. I guess my point is that it’s far worse a battle inside the countries which follow Islam than it is outside their own borders.

    The people who move to open up free education and even get an education suffer hugely. Just look at the students of the military executed recently… 128 of them was it? President Bhutto and Malala Yousafzai to name a few more. My love for freedom of speech and true democracy cringes when I think of comments or images which involve the possibility of assignation in the tag line. One must remember this happens every day in some countries… people who wish to stand up against oppression must be prepared as it is a very realistic possibility.

    Even as I type I feel myself being cautioned as to how I do not offend anyone who might be affected. There are what… 2 billion Muslims on planet earth and they all believe that their higher power should not be represent in a physical form. How is going against that helping to decrease the violence attached when we in the Western style culture are ‘meant’ to be leaders in the way societies can better work together… especially when it’s not our own belief but that of a foreign based religion.

    I wish the families and those affected all the condolences in the world.. and I hope they get through ok. I also hope that people wake up and stop throwing more fuel on a fire that has been burning for 1500 years. In my view, if anyone wants to help they need to keep leading by example… showing the rest of the world the systems we have in place are the better option. The changes in thinking come from the joy of knowing that that change is the better option. Sadly with the rest of the worlds political atmosphere and current Western New World Order.. we have our own Freedom of speech battles rising as Martin brings up in this article quite well.

    I guess my point is that this is not only a battle of West verses East, or Christian vs Muslim… but a battle of who can say what and where… and this is a battle many Muslims share with us today. And they too have lost people they love and believed in dearly in the name of change and a move away from the old ways of thinking. The world is simply not ready for peaceful solutions yet.. although I wake up hoping for a worldly shift in thought everyday.

    The way I see it the drawings were always going to get an extremists attention and become the martyrs wet dream target (if that’s even who committed this hateful crime). It was like waving the carrot in front of the donkey.. only this time the donkey had it’s feed. 🙁

    A salute to the cartoonists is in order and I’m sure their names will be written into the history books as long as our fragile systems can keep them… Like president Bush said.. it’s like the wild wild west out there. Probably the only wise words I ever heard him speak.

    • “they all believe that their higher power should not be represent in a physical form.”

      Yes. But no.

      There have been pictorial representations of the Prophet (PBUH) made by Muslims in past times.

      Just some sects object. The same thing happens with the other People of the Book. You know: moderate Jews and Hasidic Jews. Catholics and Amish. Like that.

      I guess it depends on the hadiths and commentaries created between the passing of the Prophet (PBUH) and the present, and who chooses to follow them. There were lots of Learned Blokes who created hadiths for the power and the glory.

      As blokes ever do.

  8. The editor was not as fanatical as the extremist that took him out. When you take somebody out, it usually means for dinner or to a movie. He was murdered in cold blood, something that he never did to anyone else. So how that can be in his own way as fanatical as those that murdered him is beyond me and the rest of the civilised world.

  9. @ Martyn Bradbury . A sane and common sense Post . In my humble opinion .

    A situation I watched evolve between two strangers at a party once, many years ago .

    Guy # 1 said something flippant yet witty to Guy #2 .

    Guy #2 ” Went ” Haw , haw , haw . Very funny mate ” and meant it . It was an innocent enough gibe . Nothing cruel or mean really .

    Enter Guy # 3 . He knew Guy #2 and said . ” You gonna take that fuckin’ shit from that cunt ? ”

    Guy #2 thought about it while wading about in a brain full of beer and said ” Actually , no, I’m fuckin’ not . ” and said ” Fuck you cunt ! ” to Guy # 1 .

    As that situation escalated into an outside-on-the-lawn shit kicking , Guy # 3 smiled on at his handiwork .

    The manipulative perversions of Haters , psychopaths and profiteers is chilling to witness . It’s a special kind of evil . Not that I’m a God botherer .

    Love , interestingly , is what would have worked best there . No one at that party would have suffered a broken eye socket and humiliation if Love was the predominant emotion .

    On this world of ours . Love requires great courage to express and to condone . Love , is about the most human of all emotions I suppose . To love unconditionally and without prejudice is an enormously difficult thing to do and even harder to maintain in our world of merchandising and banking .

    It’s much easier , and much more profitable to Hate sadly .

    I was in a Muslim country recently and it was the oddest experience . I didn’t feel as if I was hated . I didn’t feel threatened at all . I was smiled at by women in head scarves , I was treated with respect by men who looked un-earthly I have to say . Beautifully dressed , elegant men and women ….. and yet fabulously different .

    What/ who is that which is the # 3’rd man ? The inciter of hate and violence ? The catalyst of destruction ? Who is that ? Is it us ? Is it you ? Is it me ? Are [ we ] the inciter of unspeakable horrors exacted on innocent’s and artists ?

    Is it ok to take up a machine gun and kill in the name of Love to protect oneself from Hate ?

    There are 8 billion people on Earth ?

    Clearly , we all need our own planet .

    Me personally ?

    Release The Virus I say .

    • That’s easy for you to say, but would you if you had the virus?

      Who do you hate, guy 1, guy 2 or guy 3? which one would you prefer gets the virus?

      You were doing well till you became a looney lab geek.

      Hitler and Nazi Germany. Monsatan, or hate oneself?

  10. One of the issues described here is clear, the commercially dependent, advertising revenue generating media, is NOT free, as they claim.

    There are of course many shades and levels of MSM and other media, and how they perform, how “independent” and “free” they really are. And “freedom” in itself can mean anything, the “freedom” to denigrade, to apply bias, to write articles or anything else that is preferring a view, selective reporting and emphasises some stuff, and neglects other facts that may be relevant.

    In fact, I believe NO media is truly 100 percent “free”, as all media, MSM and also blogs, will be “mindful” of who they write for, same as who “finances” or otherwise “supports” and enables them.

    What we have with the terrorist attack on the cartoonists or caricaturists at “Charlie H” is of course a kind of attack on the media, and their freedom to do what they wish to do. But to call this an attack on “the freedom of thought” and “freedom” itself, is turning it into simplistic sloganising.

    That suits the powerful, who rather defend the “freedom” to lash out who they may distrust or dislike also, or who belong to groups that “cost” society, so need to be “put into their place”.

    Where is the “freedom” of reporting, and spreading truth, like there was the attempt to do, in the follow up of Nicky Hager’s book ‘Dirty Politics’. The MSM only dealt with it over just a week, then went into “moderation” mode, and then simply swept all reported, scandalous activities aside, and facilitated the reelection of a government that they “can live with”, given the fact MOST MSM are now in firm private, commercially operated hands, earning dollars through advertising, and paying taxes into government coffers.

    The blogs have been ridiculed, are being shunned by a fair few now, were attempted to be discredited altogether, as they were all lumped into the same drawer, to defend the status quo, also the involvement of many MSM journalists in ‘dirty politics’. It was convenient to sweep ti all under the carpet, to have Farrar and Slater try to “clean their acts up” a little, and distance themselves from all that happened.

    So the attack was on the left and progressive blogs, claiming they are “all the same”, trying to make “scores” and “hit out”.

    Now where is the truth, where are the facts, they are not to be found anymore, Hager has to fight before a court to protect his other work, as the police were happy to comply and harass him.

    “Criminal behaviour” were the allegations, “stolen emails” were the words used, while in earlier, other reports it was accepted they were “leaked”.

    The momentum was won, a government having a dim view of true freedom re-elected, now prepared to bring in yet more spy and surveillance laws, more controls, more commercialisation and selling of assets, and nobody talks anymore of the “Sky City Deal”.

    It is so convenient for the liars and hypocrites, to exploit the death of some innocent “journalists” in Paris, to push their OWN agenda, and justify the further limitations and restrictions for all freedoms of us. How shameful of them, thanks for the Daily Blog at least presenting a differing, more discerning view on what is going on.

    I am not “Charlie”, I am an Aucklander feeling daily the economic and social pressures and the lack of freedom there really is, as there is only the “freedom” to choose from very limited choices, like who to work for, who to spend your money on, and who to make richer and wealthier before others.

    This society is breaking, and will break more, like others are, and what happened is also the fact, that the war in other places is now reaching the capitals of countries that pull at some strings behind of what goes on in Iraq and Syria, make NO doubt about it.

    • Mike in Auckland, Thanks for the insight into the Quran it seems like many written documents as open to any interpretation the reader wishes to place on their wish to believe.

      I do know and have for many years that Muslins are masters of deceit, as a weapon or way of succeeding in their goals so your video sort of bears this out pretty clearly here, and we regard it as part truth.
      I do think that Part three of the Quran should be publicised clearly to all by the MSM but don’t believe they would ever have the balls or backbone to place such thought provoking thoughts in the public domain. .

      • “I do know and have for many years that Muslins are masters of deceit”

        Must have got it from their older siblings then. Christianity and Judaism aren’t exactly clean-handed.

        ‘…And so are they all, honorable men’. (Early Shakespearian attempt at a Tui billboard.)

    • Your presenter could equally present that same case based on Biblical scripture and, if he had a clear view of recent history, cite examples of persecution resulting from it – the expulsion and persecution of Palestinians for example.
      If he were an Historian he might have learned that for centuries, Muslim Jew and Christian co-existed for the most part (particularly under Ottoman rule where non-Muslims often rose to high positions – see Sassoon Eskell) for example. If he lifted his gaze from his navel he might also be astonished that, despite the centuries of Muslim majority rule in parts of the World, Judaism, Hinduism, Sikhism Christianity and many other religions not only survived but flourished (google “Golden age of Judaism).
      I am always astonished at folk who can witness the invasions of Palestine, Iraq, Lybia and Syrian by the West and attribute the blowback to religion in the manner that this fool does.

    • With respect to the link and the information it contains.
      As with all such source material cherry picking and an incomplete view of the context may give a false / distorted view.
      Another caveat is that the speaker / author is a self professed evangelical Christian which does open concerns as to bias and accusations of hypocrisy.
      Never the less given the narrator certainly impresses as authoritative with respect to the Koran and Hadiths and much of what he says correlates with my knowledge and observations of contemporary behaviours.

  11. “… but if the West wants to stop monsters, we should be prepared to acknowledge the monster making environment we continually generate…”

    Which exposes itself ever so gently in a New Zealand Prime Minister trumpeting the importance of a free press? A New Zealand Prime Minister who thought the world would end when a reporter left a recording device on a cafe table in Mount Eden?

    • 1000% Pete.

      FJK should not use Freedom of the media or free speech as his mantle while he suppressed our Satirical “Planet Key” video and the song before the election criticising his Government because he found it offensive.

      Then as an affront to our freedom of speech he dressed it up in a legal injunction using the Electoral Act, as the excuse to ban both satirist pieces.

      As he as Executive leader, he could have easily overturned that Electoral Act with an executive order in a heartbeat if he believed so vehemently in the freedom of free speech right?

      He is a liar, a Judas priest as well as a Carpetbagger.

  12. Lets try an experiment shall we?

    1. Invade Israel to bring about “regime change”.
    2. Arrest and/or assassinate Israeli political leaders and Rabbis who object.
    3. Deploy drones to eliminate any opposition to regime change (issue apologies for “collateral damage” to schools, hospitals etc).
    4. Repeal all European laws outlawing anti-Semitism in Europe and set up a magazine specializing in cartoons of big-nosed rabbis in obscene poses characterising Judaism as a violent, nihilistic religion.
    5. Count the days until said magazine is attacked.

    • I didn’t know about this when I posted the above. Apparently we don’t need 1 – 4.

      “With God’s help, the journalists at Haaretz will be murdered just like in France. Death threats follow publication of cartoon in Israeli newspaper….
      A raft of death threats came in. “We must do what the terrorists did to them in France, but at Haaretz,” wrote Facebook user Chai Aloni. “Why is there no terror attack at Haaretz?” wrote Moni Ponte.

      “Let the terrorists eliminate them,” wrote Daniella Peretz. “With God’s help, the journalists at Haaretz will be murdered just like in France,” wrote Miki Dahan. As Danit Hajaj put it, “They should die.”

      “Haaretz is where the terrorists should have gone,” wrote Riki Michael. “Death to traitors,” added Moshe Mehager. “I hope that terrorism reaches Haaretz as well,” wrote Tuval Shalom. “With God’s help, [there will be] a Hamas operation that kills all of you, like the journalists in France,” wrote Ruti Hevroni.
      – See more at:"

    • ‘set up a magazine specializing in cartoons of big-nosed rabbis in obscene poses characterising Judaism as a violent, nihilistic religion.’

      Already thriving in assorted Middle Eastern nations.

      The art work often leaves a lot to be desired but the sentiments are limpid in this intra-semitic hate fest.

      ‘We don’t eat pigs, and you don’t eat pigs, Seems it’s been that way forever…Why not not eat pigs together’ Tim Minchin.

      ‘Give peace a chance’? Yeah, na.

  13. Yep – I think you got it pretty right Martyn – freedom of speech is there to serve proper ends, not to incite controversy to sell tatty ads. I wouldn’t march in defence of Whaleoil or the Hustler, let the police deal with those who commit violence against them.

    • If you wouldn’t march to defend the rights of those you politically oppose but who like you uphold the freedom of speech as sacrosanct you rather miss the point to which most of us in the West, in our secularism and inclusiveness are at in 2015.

      Freedom of speech is a cornerstone, a central tenet of our values system and I am with Voltaire on this one

      “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it’

      Voltaire also said:

      “Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.”

      This is how I feel about religion in general and Islamic extremism in particular.

      • Freedom of religion is also an important right. I might defend Whaleoil if he confined himself to political comment – but his dishonesty, use of blackmail, and deliberate gross offensiveness are on him.

  14. Thank you Martyn, for being one of the very few to make these important points. Satire against the powerless is not clever, it is simply insulting. There are a lot questions around what sort of publication Charlie Hebdo actually is.

    The other thing we should be wary of is that these attacks are not used as justification for increased surveillance.

    And it looks like conditions are very miserable in Gaza over their winter. The only way they could get the worlds attention was to die in their thousands, and now that isn’t happening the world turns away.

  15. Great Article. In particular the West MSM and government bias towards Israel. That is the elephant in the room for any discussions about terrorism. Israel is allowed to bomb UN schools and pretty much do whatever they like with no real consequences while other nations are denounced as terrorists when it is actually individuals authorising it, not the government.

    The Herald firing the cartoonist Even, for example. Where is the freedom of Speech there?

    How about if we caught Arab agents stealing passports in Christchurch post Earthquake – I’m pretty sure that would be considered outrageous but if it is Israel then no problem.

    There is a double standard and terrorism needs to be cleaned up in all formats and religions.

    There is a reason NZ and many Western public schools have to be secular. In addition having people with different religious views mix together encourages tolerance.

    The Standard had an interesting article today that looked at what the readers of the right wing Kiwiblog think we should do. Pretty concerning and getting close to hate crimes in my opinion. If an Islamic person said Nuke the West they would be arrested but fine the other way around.

    On the right David Farrar at Kiwiblog put up a post soon after the incident occurred at 3:42 am. At the time of writing this post 439 comments have been made. I will bullet point some of the more extreme but reading the whole list is distressing, both for the lack of humanity and for the intent to punish a whole religion for the actions of a couple of extremists. The comments, which were mostly the most popular comments made, included:

    “[B]etter would be for every town and city council in the west to erect a large billboard insulting Islam in a prominent location, preferably on the outside of Mosques and perhaps inside as well, and make it permanent …”
    “When are we going to stop importing them?”
    “The Islamic Fascists have already won. Start knitting a prayer mat for your grandkids – they will need it.
    “[N]uke the whole area of Iraq and Syria which is currently held by these animals.”
    “Repatriate the bastards from every western country, they are neither use nor ornament and I don’t want my taxes feeding, housing, and supplying them with money.”
    “[It] seems that the left (who are nothing more than scum) will use any tragedy for their own political gain. What this tragic event does show is that multiculturalism is indeed a massive failure.”
    “What more proof do we need of the VILE and BARBARIC nature of Islam?”
    “Be careful what you say even here my friends. The local scum leftwing Muslim cuddlers will be flat out petitioning DPF to strike out of existence those not drinking the multiculturalism Koolaid.”
    “Ban ALL immigration of muslims. Export ALL non-citizen muslims, be they tourists, refugees, visitors or immigrants. License ALL practicing muslim citizens. Ban preaching of religious seperatism (of any kind). Start treating anyone convicted of terrorism-type offenses the way they treat their victims (public death and dismemberment). Ban ALL trade with any country overtly (or proven to be covertly) supporting islam in any form.”
    “One religion started this, is it too much to ask that our “leaders” recognise that whether we like it or not, a war *has* been started and we either win it, or start chopping our carpets into prayer mats? In any war, there are enemy combatants, enemy non-combatants, neutrals and allies and I simply don’t see any Muslims in that last category.”
    “All the apologists should be sent to talk to the various islamic terror groups.”

  16. I am extremely disappointed at your post Martyn. As a fellow cartoonist, I find your article to be highly selective and poorly researched. You admit, that you have no prior knowledge of the Charlie Hebdo magazine and your research for your strong opinions on this is based only on a google search. No wonder people are confused in response to this. This is not a corporate funded media outlet like our own. They are not a hugely profitable rag but a truly independent ‘left wing’ satirical cartoon magazine. It was designed to be inflammatory and promote the antiestablishment ethos that ‘firebrand’ left wing political movements used to be famous for, with an emphasis on left wing libertarianism values rather than christian-based ethics. This is why they offend, and are purposely anti-religious in tone. In the Charlie Hebdo world there are no sacred cows. To even honour the magazine itself as something sacred is against the ethos of the magazine itself. It is designed to be satirised and not to be taken so seriously. There is an element of irreverent french humour in all of this. As Philippe Val (publisher) stated during a 2007 court case in defence of their Muhammad cartoons “It is racist to imagine that they can’t understand a joke.’ I would love to live in a country where we could run such an independent magazine but sadly who here would buy a satirical cartoon magazine. We are driven to consume, driven to buy only what is already sanitised and filtered through American programmes like X-Factor or New Zealand’s got talent. What is next, should the creators of South Park go in hiding every time they offend. Religion was the original power structure used by the wealthy elite few to enslave and control the populace. Now that the Western world has moved on from their religious overlords, the corporates have rushed in to fill the power vacuum. Don’t for a second romanticise our old masters, they will enslave you just as quickly. The cartoons were not directed at individual groups but the icons of religion itself with Charlie Hebdo publishing just as many anti-christian cartoons. It seems to bear the same resemblance to the left wing antics leading up to our own election. There was a lot of sentiment against the current political regime and yes a lot of anger. We had the planet Key song, but most of all I want to reference the Kill John Key song. Was the content appropriate, probably not, but the sentiment for change, and the frustration felt at the untouchable corruptibles in our society was completely valid. Do we call this Musician right wing. I think not so don’t insult the Charlie Hebdo magazine by comparing it to a right wing blogger who represents corporate interests and is aligned with the ruling political party. Remember the left wing activism before the election was also branded as anti-Semitism and tried to turn a bigger picture protest into a personal one. What was a legitimate challenge to the status quo got lost in the moral backlash. The media ran constant articles repainting the anti-Key sentiments we all felt into ugly anti-Semitism This is the same for the Charlie Hebdo cartoons. The French have fought for centuries against the oppressive powers of state and religion. As for pushing boundaries, you wouldn’t know you are imprisoned until you reach out and feel those walls. I honour those french cartoonists that continually push for freedom. These are the heroes that define our cage.
    ‘Je Suis Charlie.’

    • Remember also the hatchet job the media did on They drummed up sympathy for John Key using his jewish parentage to accuse the left of Anti-Semitism. They then use’s german parentage to paint him as an up and coming Hitler. Given a questionable investment in war memorabilia that included an early edition of Mein Kampf and wallah mission accomplished. It is a classic strategy of the right, to use the lefts own moral outrage against itself. So while everyone is distracted fighting amongst each other to be the most holier than thou, the reptilian overlords take over the world. Distraction is the media’s main propaganda tool also. Look here people, so we look and miss what is really going on.
      We all need to think bigger picture. Distraction is a weapon, like in 1984 where the chief distraction from everyones imprisonment was a constant fictional war between war between Eurasia and Eastasia.

    • Great comments D-man. Martyn this post is lazy, superficial and doesn’t make sense. Have a read here:

      You say that satirists that only provide ammunition for the oppressors are bigoted and racist, and while this may be true, a quick bit of research into the cartoons of Charlie Hedbo will show you that this was not the truth of this magazine.

      Is satire sometimes offensive, crass and uncomfortable? Yes. That’s the point of it. You of all people should have some understanding of the cartoonists who try to push the boundaries in public discussion.

      By the way, Al Nisbet doesn’t work for Charlie Hedbo.

      • I would suggest that if satire is crass it is not satire. Satire depends on wit for its degree of success. Crass means so crude and unrefined as to be lacking in discrimination and sensibility. This is the antithesis of wit.

  17. According to some more cursory “research”, Charlie Hebdo is a left-wing French publication that frequently satirizes religious fundamentalism in all its major forms, including Catholicism, the Christian Right and Judaism. They appear to have focused mainly on radicalism in relation to Islam.

    These murders were nothing more than a violent attempt to suppress opinion in a democracy. It’s actually quite chilling that anyone would want to characterize it another way.

    • Oh please – “a violent attempt to suppress opinion in a democracy” – get a grip. A couple of crazed, mad and radicalised loonies on a shooting rampage would be far more accurate. And maybe a little evaluation of why they were radicalised wouldn’t go amiss either!

      Yes it is a tragedy but it is disgusting for this to be used as a “freedom of speech” issue – that is just letting the ridiculous and corrupt Governments of the West off the hook. I’ll give you some examples of freedom of speech so you can put your indignant energy to good use:

      – banning of the Planet Key satirical song
      – raiding of Nicky Hagar’s house
      – NZ Herald’s role over Dong Hua Liu
      – persecution of journalist James Risen by the U.S. Govt
      – persecution of CIA whistleblower on torture John Kiriakou by the U.S. Govt (and of course all his claims now shown to be accurate in the Senate report on torture)
      – murder of journalists in Gaza by Israeli IDF.

      These are issues of Freedom of Speech you need to be really looking into, oppression by the state, not some easy patsy headline grabbing murder of journalists by crazed criminals. I can’t make it any clearer.

      • The “crazed loonies” slaughtered people with the intent of deterring media organizations in France from publishing any opinion piece that criticizes or mocks Islam. It’s very much a matter of Freedom of Speech.

        • Not to the extent of the global outpouring we are seeing. This is due to hysteria whipped up by Govt and media to attach Freedom of Speech to a criminal activity – but hey, I’ll be generous and give you 10% Freedom of Speech and 90% murderous crime. And that 90% is worth some exploring, though of course it won’t be by the media.

          True “Freedom Of Speech” is about suppression by the state (the powerful) against the people or individuals (less powerful). E.g. no right for the public to review the TPPA that will be signed in our names.

          But everyone getting together, marching, pontificating about poor Charlie Hebdo is just to make them feel those good ol’ democracy values Goosebumps – well I hope it feels good, cause it changes nothing.

          Not one NZ’er should be saying “Je Suis Charlie” until long after they have said “I am Nicky Hagar”. And to think, in NZ it wasn’t about a bunch of tacky cartoons, but a real work of journalism that raised very serious questions and that was swept aside by the dominant Party in collusion with MSM.

      • Can’t you see the difference between governments (rightly or wrongly) following the legal process in regard to the leaking of confidential information, and an execution squad killing cartoonists as well as numerous other innocent people who just happened to be in the vicinity at the time?

  18. Free speech is a very valuable right we enjoy in the west. To be murdered for it is absolute insanity as we can all agree. I used to defend Islam and the freedom of Muslims to believe and practice their faith from the Islamaphobia I encounter all the time.. Now, my patience has been worn thin. I feel I was continually defending a group who seem to refuse to defend themselves. Though it is not the majority of Muslims who believe in such slaughter and insanity and are not to blame, it would be in their best interest (I feel) to speak out publicly, decrying this madness – yet I hear nothing. My tolerance has run out

    • Honestly, you’d change religions wouldn’t ya? If I was a christian, and radical Christians were causing this much harm, I’d throw in the towel and become a Bhuddist

    • Your comment deserves an answer. Both Hamas and Hezbollah have spoken out to say that Moslems are more harmed by the violent killings of the extremists than they are by these sorts of publications. And I am sure that Moslems do speak out and say this is not Islam. The press simply doesn’t report on this.

      I felt myself that ‘I am not Charlie’ for the same reasons Mr. Bradbury has presented, but these are very clinical things to say at this time when another big city faces extreme violence in its midst. And I understand both sides – the passion being expressed by those in the streets demonstrating and needing to be heard, passion and pain for their way of life that is, as well as grief for people struck down. And also, those who don’t want this episode to descend into tit for tat as 9/11 did, who are watching the mainstream distortions.

      Be kind to both the French and to the Moslems. They both suffer.

  19. I have finally had a gutsful. For years since 9/11 I have made myself unpopular by believing and commenting that muslims were being oppressed by the West.
    2 days ago Boko Haram a jihadist muslim army killed around 2000 children, women, and elderly in a Nigerian village on the Chad border. There were few males (except for older ones) killed because they ran fast enough to get away.
    Yesterday the same group strapped a 10 year old girl into a bomb vest and sent her into a market where 19 were blown to bits.

    The silence from the major Islamic Nations is deafening. I believe they don’t give a toss about the suffering these vermin are causing on even their own people
    Fuck the lot of them.

  20. Whilst not totally in disagreement rarely do I find so much to find fault with in Martyn’s articles / opinions.

    With respect to the NZ Press Council and the NZ Herald’s treatment of Malcolm Evans I am in total agreement and one hopes there is some remedial process being pursued.
    Martyn’s view with respect to the Nisbet cartoons and the NZ Press Council’s double standards are also correct.

    In Disagreement;
    The ethical rationale presented and the conclusions derived are not up to the fine standards one has come to expect from Martyn.
    E.g the following statements;
    • For me, ‘true satire’ understands and highlights the unfair power structures within a society.
    • Those being offended however should always be the dominant powers in society, not the minority.

    It follows that if both these are true then any power structures within wider society that are not dominant are not open to satire.

    Therefore a minority can abuse the rights of others within their sub group and the rights of others without fear of satire and/or criticism.
    While well intentioned, the rationale behind this position are symptomatic of the Pardox of Tolerance trap into which many have fallen.

    A conflation of situations, events and wrongs
    • “The message was clear, offending Maori and Polynesians is fine, offending Israel is a sackable offence. his double standard when it comes to Israel has been again mirrored in the Charlie Hedbo killings, I don’t remember a massive “I am Palestinian’ free speech social media campaign when Israel was slaughtering Palestinian journalists in Gaza last Summer.

    Many, including myself, are becoming increasingly critical / despairing of Israeli policies with respect to the Palestinian people however the mental contortions required to conflate the Hedbo assassinations with journalists killed in the Gaza bombings bears resemblance to the type of polemic normally associated with extremists.

    The absence of both historical and contemporary evidence supporting the conclusions.
    • True satire would recognise these power imbalances, it would recognise that if the West wants to end the barbaric medieval views of extremists like ISIS and Al Queda they would stop propping up the oppressive regimes that generate this kind of radicalism.

    Western society has been in low level conflict with the forces of ignorance, superstition and prejudice etcetera for 400 years and it is right to recognize the battle is not yet over and satire is one of the weapons to be continually employed.
    However, hindsight is a wonderful thing and whilst the majority of the “western” policies and intrusions into the Middle East have been misguided and/or stupid and/or covetous, driven by hubris and criminal they are exacerbating not causal factors in the tragedies within these countries and this applies equally to many of the issues facing a large proportion of their diaspora.
    The cultures of the Middle East, much of sub Saharan Africa and their Diasporas are dominated by the ethics and social-economic practices of pre-enlightenment (pre scientific method / evidence) culture. Irrespective of the original foundations the majority (unfortunately in may only be a small majority) of western societies have seen their socio-economic / ethical systems morph into varying degrees of a liberal orientated culture.
    Contrary to the claims the history and writings of Mohammed and his followers are those of an expansionist, intolerant suppressive culture, as were most earlier societies
    Due to the perceived “immutability of the word” and the integration of religion into everyday life Islamic cultures are highly resistant to change / literal inclined interpretation of revealed wisdom. The very word Islam means submission to the word, there are two worlds in Islam; the House of Islam (Peace) and the House of War, Women are subservient to men in most cases indeed they are deemed to be only the worth of half a man, beating for disobedience is approved and make up the majority of the denizen of hell; the purported tolerance of other peoples is only where that people submit and pay a tax (of course there have been softer applications such as Ottoman Empire but these were a rarity and normally to balance other power factors), thought suppression is the norm not the exception (blasphemy law, apostasy law, marriage law) – this is to mention a few of many human rights issues.

    One huge though well intentioned misunderstanding of many cultural relativists is that toleration will bring about change – the evidence does not support this irrespective of the wealth of the country.

    The major ethical error, one that is potentially disastrous for the survival of liberal society, made by Martyn and many others for whom I have huge respect is what philosophers call the Tolerance Paradox.
    Note as with many such philosophical matters a detailed examination makes one’s head swim, in summary one can refer to the conclusions of reputable philosopher such as;

    • Karl Popper, “that we are warranted in refusing to tolerate intolerance” and ;
    • John Rawls, “that society has a reasonable right of self-preservation that supersedes the principle of tolerance: “While an intolerant sect does not itself have title to complain of intolerance, its freedom should be restricted only when the tolerant sincerely and with reason believe that their own security and that of the institutions of liberty are in danger”.

    Finally I rest my cautions to the well intentioned cultural relativists with a quote by an intelligent, talented courageous woman who has been relentlessly abused, hounded and persecuted in her battle for women rights in the Muslim World;

    • “Tolerance of intolerance is cowardice.”

    Ayaan Hirsi Ali

      • Martyn, how is the satirising of religion in Monty Pythons Flying circus any different. They also faced a constant battle with censorship and was considered crass by some. There is a global movement in support of freedom of speech, one of the founding principles of democracy and you are quibbling over wether their satire is high-brow or low-brow. I am sending you the T-shirt ‘I missed the revolution.’

        • I would suggest that there are great differences at play here and that they all come back to my point regarding punching up and not down.

          Monty Pythons brilliant send up of Christianity is a perfect example of what I would consider ‘true satire’ because from a cultural perspective, it is people within a culture critiquing the most powerful influencers within that culture. What we see however in the ‘satire’ of Charlie Hebdo seemed more crass racism than cutting edge satire aimed at a despised minority. That doesn’t justify the cold blooded murder of CH staff, but it’s hardly the shining example of free speech some seem to be needing to turn it into.

          • The rationale for your stance is correct in most cases where the culture / group is a minority numerically, subject to disproportionate power or some such other unequal position. However where these unequal power positions do not exist perhaps this is an example of the peril of unqualified application of a desirable practice.

            Approximately 1.8 billion people are adherents of Islam. Within those countries that are predominately Islamic that cultures proscriptions are totally dominant. Criticism / satire and other forms of free expression are severely supressed. Similar albeit less overt suppression is at play within the diasporas.
            Therefore if commentators from other polities are wrong in satirising then who shall? Is it ethical to take such a hands of position as suggested?

            From the perspective of our own societies if we refrain from criticism then this reluctance provides ammunition for the extremists. One has only to look at the nasties / racists coming out of the woodwork post Hebdo.

            • Good point – but how did those extreme versions of Islam occur?

              In Iran it was a response to a coup organised by the US. In Saudi Arabia the authorities use a warped version of strict Islam to keep control of the country which is fine by the US. In Iraq ISIS is on the rise because of the bullshit invasion by the US.

              Radical Islam is a response, you want to blame it, look at why it is there.

              • It was a response to events long before our time.

                Centuries ago, in fact.

                Blaming the Wicked West is convenient and serves to shut down discussion.

                However, those with the will to power need no coaching from the johnny-come-lately foreigners. The fractricidal spats are Not Nice. Mostly we agree. But, as we’ve seen in Ireland, interference simply means that the fighting family rounds on the do-gooders to shut them up so the fight may continue.

                (And the Irish fights go back at least to the 1500s. ‘No Irish, no blacks, no dogs.’)

                This does not necessarily coat all the people of a nation with the same tar. They have sheeple, too.

              • I could not agree more with respect to indefensibility the Iraqi incursions and the shameful avarice drivers behind the support of many of the middle east and other regions nasty regimes.
                It is a sad state of affairs that not one government had the moral fibre to lay war crime charges against Bush, Cheyne, Blair, Howard etcetera. Where we probably differ is whether these incursions were causal or exacerbations of already existing problems.
                The Independent has some opinions from Yasmin Alibhai Brown that are thought provoking.
                PS: As a poor pensioner I really miss watching Citizen A – Beware the Evil Empire

              • Radical Islam is not a response to anything the US did – its been around since before the US was involved in the Middle East, before the continent of America was discovered in fact.

                Radical Islam is simply diehard religious fanatics holding on to a medieval understanding of the place of religion in the world and fighting whoever opposes them, whether its the US, France, Israel, the Soviet Union or Russia, the Shah, the Syrian govt. or the Nigerian govt. They opposed Saddam Hussein when he ran Iraq, and the Americans when they removed him.

                The Hebdo terrorists were not motivated by years of oppression but by extreme and irrational religious beliefs which have been around for centuries.

                Will these beliefs be defeated by enhancing free speech or by restricting it?

                I don’t know if the Charlie Hebdo magazine was puerile drivel or quality satire, but either way something significant would be lost if any magazine was forced to close or to self-censor their writing due to fear of repercussions by these events.

  21. You should have stopped at the first paragraph. The left point of view seems to be, “I don’t condone the murder of those cartoonists but. . .”

    It’s actually victim-blaming pure and simple, similar to agreeing that while a young lady is free to wear revealing clothes, she shouldn’t be surprised if she gets raped.

    Your point of view offends me. Derek Fox’s point of view offends me more. If i murder you both, is it partly your fault?

  22. The fact that you and many others are questioning whether they were right in what they published means the terrorists actually won. By murdering twelve people they have got us questioning the merit of a right for which millions upon millions of our forebears died – freedom of expression. We’ve always had the right to speak freely about inoffensive and uncontroversial things, the right to offend people (without inciting hatred) and have a different opinion to others is the true meaning of free speech.

    • No you are missing the point Jay. This was much more a terrible and tragic murder by crazed and radicalised nutters than it was suppression of precious “freedom of speech”. Most energy should be spent on finding the criminals. There are a number of much more relevant examples of Freedom of Speech (I listed some above) that are not getting any coverage – why not? Because they are about the Powerful doing the suppressing.

      This is an easy example being pushed by Govt and MSM as and it is being willingly supported by millions of people who all know that things are wrong in our society and have latched onto this issue because it is so black and white and EASY. The onus is on us to look deeper and try harder.

  23. You may not want to hear it but why are there millions around the world gathering to scream about the Hebdo scenario,all the major news channels and media are constantly showing footage building up the “noise” about terrorists, terrorists who were supposedly dumb enough to leave an identity card behind!!!
    My belief is USA is in trouble with the dollar and is in danger of collapse, the way big countries get out of trouble has been in the past to start a big war,in this case muslims are being the scapegoats, I dislike muslim sharia law control as much as anyone,but I think the Hebdo event was staged and a false flag to stir up anti muslim sentiment maybe, look out Iran.!
    If USA can stir up big nations they can get the war paid for by those nations, bingo! war paid for and USA gets out of jail free.

    • And i think that this post was written by an operative from the gcsb looking to foment unrest.

      In other words, your theory is totally absurd, and even worse – an insult to the memory of the dead. Thankfully you live in a great country where others will defend to the death your right to say foolish things.

      I imagine that in this alternative world you live in the police, all the witnesses, and the three gunmen are in on it too?

      • No just an ordinary person who read things other than the Herald,who tell us nothing.
        No one is disrespectful of the “ones’ who died.
        Maybe you are a National supporter who think all leaders are honest and have our interests at heart.
        I think more of the millions who died in previous wars.
        Its a common held belief that Iraq didn’t have weapons of mass destruction, it was an excuse to invade,and how many lives were ruined by that debacle. Not all beliefs different to yours are foolish , some people thought George Bush had the right to invade Iraq, even though it was proved they had no weapons of mass destruction,and he knew it.
        You listen to your ideas I will listen to your imflamatory words, you are one who by calling others names could start a nasty agument .

        • Elle, I think this is possible. But more likely is that this is a very convenient attack for western Govt’s and the MSM to push to a willing public who don’t really understand Free Speech. It is bringing people together. It looks like such a clear cut issue when in fact they were just a couple of crazed and radicalised gunmen. It takes the public focus off many other more important issues.

        • The Iraq war and the missing WMD is a good example of why false flag operations are unlikely to be formulated. The US had plenty of opportunity to place WMD material in Iraq to justify the invasion. The fact they didn’t suggests there isn’t a shadowy conspiracy afoot to fool the wider population in to supporting war.

  24. Sharp, unintended satire around the freedom of speech happens all the time on NZ blogsites.

    I know they own the channels, but Farrar and Slater publish almost daily comments about individuals, describing them in such terms as “propagandising communist scum”, yet will edit out comments about the comments, or the attitude of those making such comments. Or ban those with the temerity to challenge the vile bile.

    Then they get on their high horses about the sanctity of free speech. The air must be rather thin in those lofty intellectually superior positions to lead to the peculiar brand of logic and world view.

    • One does try to suppress the demons of prejudice and personal slurs.
      However, Mea Culpa, I must confess to occasionally going off the deep end – its the evening tipple.
      Despite this control and very minimal / restrained postings on Whale Oil Mr Slater appears to be highly adverse to contrary opinions and responds to criticism that is is in no way analogous to Oniscidea.
      Therefore it is with a degree of pride I can to declare that I am one of those banned on “Whale Oil”.

  25. The ultimate satire (or more probably irony) is that all this is done in the name of God and what makes it even more ridiculous is that there probably isn’t one.

  26. It is hard to take your argument seriously when you misrepresent the laws in France regarding Muslim Women’s dress. There is no law against the head scarf, to ban them would require the law to ban all head wear. The law refers to the wearing of the Burka (full face covering) and the Niqab (where only the eyes show).

  27. one does not condone murder as this was but one might add that wasnt it France who sent their “terrorists” to N.Z to blow up the Rainbow Warrior???,,,,i agree with Martins discourse….. its like poking a snake with a stick then being outraged when it bites ya

  28. One concerning issue that appears to be evidenced at times like this is the unfortunate valuing of western and white lives over those who fall outside that category. The free reign to publish cartoons that would clearly insult Maori as against the sanction/censorship that comes against publishing anything anti-Israel, or anti-Key is just one example. The media’s overwhelming attention to the events in Paris, as compared to the complete neglect of atrocities in other parts of the world is another (The NZH is yet to run a story about a car boming in Yemen which occured on the same day and killed five times as many people).

  29. Martyn,

    I am struggling to understand what point you are trying to make.

    Are you trying to say that free speech has no value unless it is used to attack the majority culture or power elite?

    And therefore, in the case of the Charles Hedbo killings, that Charles Hedbo should not be held up a an icon of free speech, because the speech they were killed for had no value?

    That’s not to say that they should have been killed for their speech, but just that that speech had no value and so they shouldn’t be held up as icons of free speech martyred for courageously going about exercising their rights…

  30. “Firstly, a few words on Charlie Hebdo, which was often “analyzed” in the British press on the sole basis, apparently, of a few selected cartoons. It might be worth knowing that the main target of Charlie Hebdo was the Front National and the Le Pen family. Next came crooks of all sorts, including bosses and politicians (incidentally, one of the victims of the shooting was an economist who ran a weekly column on the disasters caused by austerity policies in Greece). Finally, Charlie Hebdo was an opponent of all forms of organized religions, in the old-school anarchist sense: Ni Dieu, ni maître! They ridiculed the pope, orthodox Jews and Muslims in equal measure and with the same biting tone. They took ferocious stances against the bombings of Gaza. Even if their sense of humour was apparently inacceptable to English minds, please take my word for it: it fell well within the French tradition of satire – and after all was only intended for a French audience. It is only by reading or seeing it out of context that some cartoons appear as racist or islamophobic. Charlie Hebdo also continuously denounced the pledge of minorities and campaigned relentlessly for all illegal immigrants to be given permanent right of stay. I hope this helps you understand that if you belong to the radical left, you have lost precious friends and allies.” – OLIVIER TONNEAU,

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