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More thoughts on Charlie

Further to my comments the other day, here are a few other, related articles to consider. First, there’s Will Self writing for Vice on “the awkward truths about our fetish for ‘free speech'”:

The memorial issue of Charlie Hebdo will have a print run of 1,000,000 copies, financed by the French government; so, now the satirists have been co-opted by the state, precisely the institution you might’ve thought they should never cease from attacking. But the question needs to be asked: were the cartoonists at Charlie Hebdo really satirists, if by satire is meant the deployment of humour, ridicule, sarcasm and irony in order to achieve moral reform? Well, when the issue came up of the Danish cartoons I observed that the test I apply to something to see whether it truly is satire derives from HL Mencken’s definition of good journalism: it should “afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted”. The trouble with a lot of so-called “satire” directed against religiously-motivated extremists is that it’s not clear who it’s afflicting, or who it’s comforting.


Je suis Charlie

These days I’m generally loath to be a knee-jerk bandwagon hopper. I say that because, after reading with disgust about the murder of 12 people in yesterday’s attack on the Paris-based satirical paper Charlie Hebdo, I admit that it set off alarm bells, a distress signal warning of an incipient new wave of Islamophobia of the kind that polluted the cultural waters in the wake of the last cartoon controversy.

And one can read all sorts of motives and reasonings into the situation at large. At the top of my mind, there’s the privilege of self-professed non-conformists in poking fun at any and everything around them, in possible/probable ignorance of the very tangible effects of a society that’s marginalised those of minority ethnicity, both figuratively (cutting them out of the public discourse) and literally (encouraging ghettoisation in the banlieues). On closer view the Charlie Hebdo team probably mean well, and publish in good faith, but everyone has their blind spots.


On the fiscal treaty referendum

A couple of weeks ago, I commented among friends in response to this article in The Irish Times, and specifically the quotes from our Minister for Finance (and Fine Gael member) Michael Noonan. His pathetic, transparent attempts to butter up the electorate and play on our egos made me sick, quite frankly, and it prompted me to get some things off my chest.

With today being the day we go to the polls, I think it bears repeating:

I’m seriously considering writing ‘Fuck you’ on the ballot paper. There’s nothing democratic about this referendum, it’s the illusion of choice. Only the whims of the banks and the markets will dictate where Ireland and Europe go from here; is the Government completely ignorant of this, merely naive, or in on the take? Take any one of those three, it doesn’t matter — the powers that be (there’s a conspiracy-theory phrase for ya!) are trying to convince us, the citizenry, that the decision is in our hands, so that when we make a bad one they can pin the blame on us. Fuck that shit.

A lot can change in two weeks, especially with a decision as complicated as this one (and that’s the point really, as it’s so complicated that it’s quite unfair to expect the electorate to make a truly informed decision). I remain convinced that whatever way we vote, it will be effectively meaningless in terms of the economic situation in the long run.

But if there is something to worry about, it’s the notion of changing our constitution to institutionalise a system that’s clearly failing.

Think about it.

Now that Ireland’s SOPA is law, what next?

So the proposed legislation dubbed ‘Ireland’s SOPA’ has been enacted into law by Statutory Instrument, despite vociferous opposition from that section of the public clued in to such things. And now the junior minister responsible, Seán Sherlock, has launched a public consultation that, he says, could lead to new laws which would supersede the current one.

Leaving aside the notion of holding a public consultation after the proposals in question were already made law through the back door, we see that Minister Sherlock has made a gesture of sorts to his critics, calling on “those people who were exercised by the statutory instrument” to “engage in the very nature of copyright [and] engage on the issues within the consultation paper”.