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Glossy News Classics V. Wallace Runnymede’s Charlie Hebdo Essay (1/2)

Glossy News Classics V. Wallace Runnymede’s Charlie Hebdo Essay (1/2)


Charlie Hebdo occurred for me when I had not  been long in the business of satire writing.

I grew defiant; the greater the fear, the greater the perversity and stubbornness.

This essay is a lot longer than our usual fake news humor or opinion pieces; it’s pretty much a long-form piece.

However, I hope you still take the time to read it, as it may be of interest to some of you.

The essay also appears in the first volume of my free ebook series of satire compilations, Wallace Runnymede Satire Catastrophes.


Dedicated to the unforgettable and shining martyrs of Charlie Hebdo and Hyper Cacher.

I am still Charlie.

To start off a series of fake news satire anthologies with a volume on religion seems very appropriate, given the vicious massacre of the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists, and the other vicious murders which were committed on the same day at Hyper Cacher.

Some of these murders have already been conveniently ‘forgotten.’

But despite my allusion to these vile assassinations, I am not unaware of the mobilization of the massacre by cynical opportunists.

In the second edition of this essay, which you now see before you, I must also mention the November massacres in Paris.I notice that those who were more outraged by the cartoons of Charlie Hebdo than about the Hebdo and Hyper Cacher massacres, have been reluctant to ‘victim-blame’ the people massacred in November.

Not that I am terribly comfortable with the infantilizing term ‘victim.’ And yet, I am even less comfortable with the rank opportunism and career decency surrounding political Islamist terrorism. More precisely:

How can it be that the dark-as-ink Charlie Hebdo brought it on themselves, as did (presumably) all the other people who were massacred on that day…

But that the people murdered in November 2015, by contrast, were white as the driven snow?

The inconsistency, or more properly, cynical hypocrisy, is striking. The ideological environment surrounding freedom of speech, politics, religion and theocracy is deeply toxic at present.

But there is another form of opportunism as well. The opportunism of those whose batons of power polish the temples of the dissident satirists they will one day put to the sword of discipline, in the name of securitization.

Satirists, whether full-time or part-time, paid or unpaid, should all be aware of this trap.

Yes. Let’s repudiate the disingenuous troll-trickery of political leaders who weep blazing ‘Blair tears’ for the people murdered in Paris, while building the foundations of a future police state of comprehensive surveillance…

As all the while, they relentlessly and remorselessly bang the drum for war, for the exalted glory of The Everlasting Name: waving aloft the ever-burning and blazingly wounding bigot’s banner of ‘The Greater Good.’

I still believe the words written in part two of The Fastidious Liberators: Open Letter From the Dead:

This Greater Good you propagate is not good for anyone but you.

If one remembers that it is not only superstitious notions of God that cause trouble, but also the false deity of an unexamined ideal ‘Humanity,’ then one might not go so far wrong.

But it is not only a question of recognizing superstitions that occur in ‘non-religious’ forms. It is also important to remember the value of the social and ideological functions of satire, including (or at times, even especially) the more ‘blasphemous’ pieces. After all, everything is ‘blasphemous’ from a particular point of view.

If I am a man who is conscious of the power dynamics in my relationships with the women I know, and I say that ‘women should be equal to men,’ this is ‘blasphemous’ or ‘hate speech’ to self-styled ‘Men’s Rights’ activists.

If I am a believer in sexual toleration, and I believe that ‘gay people are not sodomites who are all on a one-way trip to eternal hellfire,’ this is ‘blasphemous’ or ‘hate speech’ to moderate (!) Christian Dominionists and moderate (!) Political Islamists alike.

If I am myself someone who is ‘medically incorrect,’ and I say that ‘eugenics is a vile and vicious ideology, and eugenicists are repugnant and depraved,’ this is also ‘blasphemous’ or ‘hate speech’ to Neo-Nazis and other eugenics sympathizers.

So who decides what is blasphemous or hateful?

Whoever has the power to do so.

But of course, this does not mean that all opinions are equal.

I will, however, say that I do not believe that religion is either a ‘force for good’ or a ‘force for evil’ in some one-sided sense.

For, superstition and dogmatism are great evils, but I do not think that the history of religion is merely or even primarily a catalogue of backward, primitive errors, as so many of the ‘New Atheists’ seem to imply.

Of course, if it is not the intention of any New Atheists, to imply such, then perhaps there is something very faulty with their rhetorical and communicative strategies. This would not perhaps be so surprising, given that much New Atheist rhetoric is deeply problematic.

For example, I consider the late humanitarian interventionist and former Luxemburgist radical, Christopher Hitchens, to be an intellectual suicide bomber who destroyed himself and the consciences of anyone who stood by and approved of his disingenuous, militaristic sophistries.

But my view, unsurprisingly, is not the view I have associated here with the New Atheists.

Rather, I would say, first of all, that everyone models the world, and that everyone uses language to do so. And in this light, I see religious language as merely a form of modelling the world, or what the scholar and critic Fredric Jameson calls ‘cognitive mapping.’ I do not think religious language has to be viewed as radically defective in this goal; even if, admittedly, religious language is often not easily susceptible to precise confirmation or refutation by credible empirical methods.

In general, I do not see why every form of ‘knowledge’ (however defined) must necessarily have to be subject to strict criteria of verification or falsification.

Hence, to see Professor Richard Dawkins and Mehdi Hasan debating about whether it is possible to fly on a winged horse to Jerusalem was really rather distressing.

You either believe it, or you don’t.

Quite frankly, if someone believes that children must be deprived of blood transfusions (Jehovah’s Witnesses), or of all medical care (Christian Scientists), or that women are the property of men, or that gay people are sodomites who are all going to eternal hellfire, or that disabled people are suffering the results of our evil and atrocious deeds in the past…

Then that concerns me very deeply.

But on the other hand, if someone personally believes that Jesus literally turned the water into wine, that Muhammad made the moon split in two, or that Sri Krishna performed many wondrous miracles, then in all seriousness, that does not trouble me in the least. There are more important things in life to worry about.

Yet even so, concerning ‘limits’ to satire, I will affirm that I do reserve the inalienable right to treat religion as not pristine, as not above theoretical critique, or above satirizing, or above ‘blasphemy.’

And I have little to no respect for anyone who makes religion exceptional, in terms of the inalienable right and sovereign prerogative to criticize and satirize; an entitlement and a ‘privilege’ that can and must be shared be all like, without neither cavil nor complaint.

‘Shame on me,’ indeed!


Part two follows in five minutes.


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