Thursday, 8 January 2015

JE NE SUIS PAS CHARLIE HEDBO (I AM NOT CHARLIE HEDBO)


I am a staunch defender of free speech.  As a consequence of the ministry I work for I am probably more of a defender of freedom of expression than most.  But I am no Charlie Hedbo.

In eight years of ministry, having posted thousands of advertising displays with Scriptural content on Canada’s public transit systems, Bus Stop Bible Studies has not received a single complaint from any other religious group. This is how freedom of expression is supposed to be. Respectful.

There is a distinction between freedom of expression and freedom of deliberate offense.  When the Atheist Bus Campaign ran in Toronto and elsewhere in Canada several years ago many were offended – we were not.  When the Humanist Association of Ottawa proclaimed there is ‘probably no God’ and ran into resistance from Ottawa Transit we publicly defended their right to express their opinion.  

On page A6 of today’s National Post [January 8, 2015] there was a reproduction of a Charlie Hedmo cartoon of Jesus sodomizing God the Father.  The distinction between this cartoon and the Atheist Bus Campaign should be obvious; one is a depiction intended to offend the other is an expression of opinion.  The latter is defended by the Canadian Charter of Rights, the former is not.

A red cape does not stop a bull, it simply goads it into charging.  To quote the apostle Paul, “…for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.”  Charlie Hedbo is a professional goader. When the response from Islamic fundamentalists is a virtual forgone conclusion, is it reasonable to ask the questions: Did the Charlie Hedbo staff not just commit mass-suicide?  Were these not evil people murdered by evil people?  Is there anything defensible in the actions of the murdered or the murderers?

Christie Blatchford commented in the same edition of the paper, “I only wish there were more for whom nothing — nothing — was sacred, and properly so, because nothing is. But we aren’t all Charlie Hebdo, alas, and never will be.”  To Ms. Blatchford I would say, your freedom of thought and opinion are sacred and no one has the right not to be offended by your thoughts and opinions.  Conversely, your right to intentionally offend is not sacred nor defensible.  I hope you never get your wish!

All this jumping on Charlie Thebod's bandwagon reminds me of what Paul said in Romans 1, “They invent ways of doing evil…” and “...they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.”

When there is a sudden and bloody mayhem the automatic response is for the body to start pumping adrenalin.  My mind goes into overdrive. As a Christian I struggle to come to grips with my own feelings surrounding these tragic events.  The taking of life, any life, is a tragedy.  As long as there is life there is hope.  Should I mourn the loss of these retched souls any more than the millions of lost who die every day?

CAUTION: If you are looking for samples of Charlie Hedbo's cartoons on-line they are extremely offensive/pornographic.

PS  One incidental thought... A distinction between Islam and Christianity; my God does not need defending - He defends me!