The skankworks.net is primarily a written blog and, for this article at least, we will decline to use pictures. You know the ones we mean – you’ve all seen them, and they contain material that doesn’t bear too many repeat viewings. It would be unhealthy. We begin then, on the presumption that you already know, more or less, the gist of what happened in Paris on Jan 7th 2015.
As with every major news event the twitter hashtag storm follows. For the first week of the year we have, #Jesuischarlie. A rare apprearance for a French-language hashtag in the Internet Viralsphere, but not the first. Last year was the Quenelle, remember?
The quenelle is a French-inspired gesture against fascism, swiftly reversed by our brave hero journalists who discovered that such people as the working classes or those who have immigrant blood in their lineage daring to express opinions of their own stretches the boundaries of free speech simply too far. The gesture has been more or less successfully suppressed and is now largely associated in the public mind with caricature two-minute hate figures such as nazi-skinheads and radical islam.
So as in 2014, 2015 opens with similar French free-speeching flavour, garnished with blowback (there isn’t a word for blowback in the French dictionary yet, but there will be soon).
The vast wandering cud-chewing herds on social media were very quickly corralled behind the “I am Charlie” motif. Very quickly. Like, within a couple of hours. In English being a Charlie is a perjorative. It means you are easily fooled. Being a proper Charlie means you are very easily fooled – maybe even as easily as all those people in Europe who are standing out in the cold demonstrating in favour of journalists who lie to them and police who fail to protect them.
We considered showing a cartoon of two men getting married and in the voice bubble the words, “until AIDS do us part”, but that would be illegal. Despite what you might think about free speech, portraying all gay men as being diseased is not only wrong it does harm. So we’d have to take it down, get our accounts suspended, and maybe get busted. We can however describe such a theoritical image for the purpose of, so to speak, illustration.
Or maybe that picture of the cop – with whom we wholeheartedly empathize and which we will not show – with the hashtag #handsupdontshoot. Would that really fall within the boundaries of free speech? It could probably be excluded on grounds of taste alone, but there are without doubt many in the burgeoning ghettos of America with whom such an image will resonate. Such places as our “hero journalists” never go. Talking of America, where are the comments about “cheese eating surrender monkeys” that we frequently hear on those few occasions when France declines to participate in a US-led war? Conspicuous by their absence now that France is “on side”.
But France has been “good”, if you will, ever since Sarkozy. They dropped planeloads of weapons, including AK47s, to militant Islamists just across the water in Lybia a few years ago. All at the French tax-payer’s expense. In spite of a change of government in Paris, the policy of supplying liver-eating psychopaths with arms, cash, and training continues in Syria, and included a free pass to any Frenchmen who wanted to go join Syrian, ahem, “activists”, for a while. Although one concedes that this same policy also allowed many Frenchmen of an altogether different political persuasion to participate in last year’s defence of Donbas.
So there’s two independent groups of battle-hardened French fighters making their way back to the homeland. One experienced in defending against fascist attacks, another experienced in cutting heads off tied up helpless prisoners, into a melieu, pardon our French, of a rising tide of increasingly Islamophobic far-right rhetoric and impending economic crisis. How’s that going to work out?
The conspiracy theories have been slow to get off the ground thus far, with most of them centered on a deconstruction of the one available grainy youtube video. Not much for them to go on, really. To help out, one might question why the getaway vehicle – the one they hijacked away from the scene of the crime – was never described. Not to presuppose French contigency planning, one would have thought it mandatory for the police to give proper warning to the public to be wary of a carful of armed psychos driving around town with guns blazing. Getting back, briefly, to the #jesuischarlie hastag, it was the US Embassy in Paris that were amongst the first to use it, subsequently picked up and promoted by just above every corporate media in the world. Hardly what we’d call, “spontaneous”. About as sponteous as the fraudulent Kony2012, it seems.
As for the following day’s reports of possible police actions to capture the suspects coming in from all over France, one can only presume that either the French police have called in Jacques Cleuseu to lead the investigation, or they havn’t got the slightest idea where these guys are. Pretty soon they will have to start considering hauling any suitable muslim guys off the street and pinning it on them. A job that may have been done for them with the, conspiracy theorists take note, discovery that one of the assailants “left his ID card at the scene”. That helps.
Maybe the cops simply shooting them down like dogs would be in order as it would a) placate the burgeoning lynch mobs a-gathering in Europe’s town squares, b) avoid a potentially embarrassing trial. God forbid it might come out that their motive included something a little bit more substantial than a George-W-Bushean “hatred of our freedoms”.
So what are the things that all those people now called Charlie are asking for? We may try to compile a list with links later on, but for now here’s a summary of the key demands that we’ve seen:
- More military attacks on muslim countries (including use of nukes)
that was to expected really, no surprise there.
- Torture more of them
This is from single-issue conseratives. Their response to the CIA Torure Report. Apparantly the attacks in Paris, they say, wouldn’t have happened if we had allowed the CIA to torture even more folk. .
- Introduce US-style gun ownership laws
Incredibly many people – gun nuts – are suggesting that if the victims had been allowed to carry guns it wouldn’t have happened. Two of them did have guns. Guns that they were trained to use, and guns that they had legal authority to use. It didn’t help anybody. In fact, it just got them shot all the quicker.
- Shoot them down on sight
As noted above, this is a preferred option for many. Instant bloodlust gratification, the stress-relieving solution provided to us by our own evolution: If something threatens you, run from it or fight it. (Note: In some parts of the Western world the above acknowlegement that human beings have evolved is probably considered borderline hate speech, and there are a lot of people that would like to have you shot for believing in it). French police, no matter how justifyably jumpy they may feel after seeing what happened to their colleague, will probably have reason to pause however given the appalling episode of Jean Charles de Menezes when their British counterparts were in similar hot-pursuit a decade ago.
One thing “Je suis Charlie” doesn’t seem to be asking for, or even about, is that their own governments stop slaughtering their way through muslim lands in pursuit of ever-dwindling cheap-money resources. Not exactly forbidden speech, but the suggestion that French foriegn policy in the middle east could possibly have anything to do with the Jan 7th attacks will get you labelled a crank.
Free speech never did and never will extend to telling truth. Ask Julian Assange about that. Such a truth, for example, is that if you hit somebody, and you keep on hitting them, even after they are down, someday, somebody, is going to come along and hit you back. You should have learned that in the playground. But no. It’s because they hate our freedoms and want to take away our cartoons and comics.
So we’ll all go out into the streets, clutching biros in our hands, and catch colds in order to demonstrate our support for journalists who lie to us, who help corrupt politicians to start wars in our name in the full knowledge that some of us are going to become targets, and in support of a constabulary who decline to investigate their corrupt war-mongering leaders and/or fellow officers who would shoot us down with no more hestitation than the other guys if, or more likely when, ordered to.
We leave you with, counterpoint:
When a US soldier illegally in Iraq shoots and kills a wounded Iraqi squirming on the ground in pain while only there to defend his community, it’s “awesome”.
The French “Je suis Charlie” can be translated into English as “I am Charlie”, or “I follow Charlie”. The dual interpretation is, we think, part of its appeal that contributes to its success as a hashtag. We choose here to focus only the former interpretation.
— Male Tears #4648 (@MT8_9) January 9, 2015