Friday, 16 January 2015

So What's the Difference? (Charlie Hebdo and Slutwalk)

Obviously, Charlie Hebdo, free speech and religious sensibilities have been at the top of the news recently.

First of all, let me say that I believe in free speech. However I have no desire, nor do I see the need, to publish reproductions of those cartoons that many Muslims find so offensive. On the other hand, I can't see how millions of people can be as upset as they seem to be over them, to the point of committing violence and even murder. It just doesn't seem to be worth it. Having said that, I guess I wasn't out on the streets protesting the Viet Nam war, back in the day either. I just don't get that riled up over stuff.

So... having said that I agree with anyone's right to publish cartoons such as these, even my own right, had I the inclination, one might take the position, as many surely do, that it may not be wise to do so, knowing what the consequences might be. This thinking , I believe, is not uncommon. In other words, they might be saying that Charlie Hebdo had it coming; that they should have known what would be the consequences of doing what they did.

However, this brings me to the title of this post, and raises another area where I suspect people holding this same attitude might think quite differently, even expressing their thoughts in a strident and aggressive manner. That is, the idea that women should be careful how they dress, or where they walk alone, in order to avoid sexual assault. I suspect, and forgive me if I'm wrong, that at least some of those who blame Charlie Hebdo for bringing on their fate themselves, might also be those who would condemn, equally as adamantly,  those who say that women should not dress provocatively, or walk alone in dangerous areas, to avoid sexual attacks.

Just saying. Publishing  those cartoons, just to make a point regarding freedom of the press is really just the conservative version of Slutwalk, and vice versa.

Obviously, publishing cartoons does not justify murder, just as a woman wearing as much or as little as she chooses does not justify rape. But I believe there is cause for caution and good judgement in both cases, those who would argue for it in one case should examine themselves to see if they are being consistent in their thinking.

Take Care


Warren said...

John, I'm curious. Can you point to examples where the same person condemns the attack in one case but not the other? Or justifies the attack in one case but not the other?

Warren said...

My first comment was too oblique. By attack, I mean: (1) an attack on a publication that prints "provocative" material; and (2) an attack on a woman who wears "provocative" clothing.

John K said...

Hi Warren,
You do ask the most difficult questions. I can't give you a concrete answer. It's more a sense I had from watching panelists on various news channels and comments on Twitter. I thought I was rather careful not to make too strong a black and white case, but I just wondered if there were some who might say that Charlie Hebdo should have been more discreet in their publishing (several times the phrase was used, "poking a wasps' nest), who might take offense at a woman being told to dress more modestly to avoid being attacked.

Warren said...

There are doubtlessly people who hold views as you have suggested. I'm just wondering if they are sufficient in number or influence to warrant a post? I suspect that many more people feel that restraint is often wise - even if something is permitted by law. There is no necessary connection between holding such an opinion and believing that attacks on people who do not show restraint is warranted.