11 January 2015

A Lot of Damn Gaul

Charlie Hebdo web page
Charlie Hebdo web site today

France is America’s oldest and quintessentially closest friend. France helped us win wars, they helped us become a nation. They gave us the Statue of Liberty. France helped us launch our first World’s Fair Exposition. They wrote our history books. They gave us the underpinnings for our market economy. And, they warned us about 9/11.

Look at a few of the American cities with French names: St. Louis, Louisville, Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Des Moines, Des Plaines, Boise, Terre Haute, Charlotte, Versailles, Vincennes… merely a hint of our rich history with the French. What happens in France is important not only to us, but to the rest of the world.

On Wednesday, armed gunmen struck at the heart of liberty: freedom of the press, freedom of speech, and freedom of religion. Terrorists virtually decapitated an insolent little magazine called Charlie Hebdo.

What is Charlie Hebdo? ‘Charlie Weekly’ is an in-your-face satirical magazine that lampoons extreme politicians and religionists of any stripe. Charlie often takes on Muslim terrorists who seem to have little knowledge or regard for fellow Muslims or Islam itself.

Why should you care about an irreverent, puerile, often offensive magazine, one that jabs at politicos, fundamentalists, and hypocrites? Even when rude and crude, issues and ideas have to be discussed. After an earlier bombing of Charlie Hebdo offices, editorial chief, Stéphane ‘Charb’ Charbonnier, said he’d rather die standing than live on his knees.

He died doing what he loved. Who can ask for more?

a 3½ minute explanation of Charlie Hebdo

Following is a sampling of the outpouring from illustrators, journalists and cartoonists around the world. Intellectual property rights belong to the individual artists.

© Rob Tornoe

from Canada, © Ygreck, a brilliant cartoonist

a pun, where ‘canard’ means both duck and newspaper:
“Ducks always fly higher than guns.”

from Middle East Monitor

from India © Dhimant Vyas

from al Jazeera

Arabic News: “How we avenge the cartoonist’s deaths.”

from an Alabama teenager “I become what I hope to be.”

from South Africa © Brandan Reynolds

from South Africa © the (in)famous Zapiro

from India © Satish Acharya

“A call to arms, Comrades” © Francisco J. Olea

“I am Charlie” © Jean Jullien

from Yemen © artist unknown

from UK © Dave Brown The Independent via J.K.Rowling

from amazing French/English illustrator © Lucille Clerc
(not Banksy as originally attributed)

“Oh no, not them!”

from Australia © David Pope

from Nederlands “Immortal” © Joep Bertrams

© Fèlix Barrios

A mean and malicious death… “Cabu? For once, you are early.”

© Matt Davies “Where’s the trigger?”

Tignous casket
coffin of Tignous, from our French friend Micheline

Je suis Charlie.
Note: Illustrations © 2015 by their respective copyright holders.


  1. Thank you for these brilliant cartoons!!! What talent!!!! Thelma Straw in Manhattan

  2. As a former journalism major and magazine editor for several years, the situation offends me. As a human being, it horrifies and saddens my heart.

  3. A great collection.

  4. You're welcome, Thelma. I've had a couple more sent me that I've added in.

    Doesn't it, Fran. I was stunned.

    Thank you, Janice. It's encouraging to see artists rise to the challenge when major publications have shied away.

  5. Those who remember the 60s and especially underground newspapers like the East Village Other, know the mythical cartoonist R. Crumb. He’s been living in France the past few years and mostly staying out of politics… until now. He’s given an interview and he's submitted a cartoon or two to the French opinion magazine Liberation, who've temporarily taken in the remaining staff of Charlie Hebdo. He says he wouldn’t insult one’s prophet, but he couldn’t stand by and be the Cowardly Cartoonist.

    Here are some of Liberation’s collection of cartoons about Charlie Hebdo (including a zing at the gutless Sony debacle).

    Thanks to Fran for the tip!

  6. Assassinations never stop thinking or creativity: if nothing else, it amps up the reason for both.

    A couple of other ways to look at this horrific act:
    (1) Always beware of people who say, "You can't say that!" "How dare you mock me!" "No one can make fun of MY beliefs!"
    (2) If you have to kill everyone who disagrees with you, you don't have any ideas to agree with.

  7. Eve, point 2 is especially pertinent, if only they had insight. But in retrospect, loonies seem to clump together whether it's Jim Jones, David Koreshi, or some other self-described prophet.

  8. I hate to hear people who are outside the mainstream called "loonies." Not to be disagreeable. But I think this is the sort of polarization that leads to what we're seeing in acts by fundamenalist terrorists. Just to put things in perspective, I lived in Waco at the time of the Branch Davidian standoff, and my son attended school at their original campus in the city. I stood on the roof of the building where I worked with my colleagues, watching the wind lash the flames of the compound into a frenzy ... knowing there were children inside. I saw dazed ATF agents at the Wal-Mart getting more ammo that first morning it started (yes, really), and I had looked at property that neighbored the Branch Davidian property. Those people shopped at the grocery store where I traded. Everyone in town knew someone there. And the religion department faculty at the university (Baylor) read with great interest and respect David Koresh's theological papers. It was scary. It was a tragedy. Innocent people died. A lot of people did things they later regretted. And all of this is true for both sides. People are complicated. I don't know if the Branch Davidians would have engaged in violence, and I don't know if they engaged in child abuse as it was said. (I was called in to do some forensic analysis of one small piece of that evidence and it suggested maybe there was.) But I don't think any of the people involved was a "loony." I think they were idealistic (both sides), afraid (both sides), determined to win (both sides), and willing to engage in violence (both sides). And everyone but everyone lost. Terrorism is a terrible terrible thing. But the one thing we cannot and must not let us do is polarize us into "us vs them" ideas that allow us to paint whole groups of people as "loonies." It just makes things worse. I say this with all due respect, as merely my own take on things.

  9. I liked the way the French people turned out en mass to show solidarity against the terrorist's way of doing things. And, I'd be willing to bet that not many of those attending the rallies were followers of that particular publication. Instead, they were there to support the freedom of expression without the person(s) expressing that freedom being subject to murder.
    Good for the French for standing up and being counted.

  10. Anon, you are right to call me on my flippancy. Normally, I would expect myself to make many of the points you eloquently express.

    The loss of life distressed those who followed it. I believe I recall hearing that the ATF had to purchase ammunition locally. Afterward the fire and building collapse, blame was hurled about like toxic mudballs, much of it unfair.

    Baylor’s interest in Koresh’s papers escaped me. Do you know what captured their attention?

    But I also grow frantic when people die in Jamestown, Heaven’s Gate, the Family / Children of God compounds, and other parts of the world. In particular, the Heaven’s Gate cult seemed exceptionally well educated, which made their actions all the more inexplicable. That’s frightening when education and intelligence proves no defense. I suppose I lump Branch Davidians into those groups; kindly forgive me if I’m wrong. As you say, people are complicated and often have belated regrets. At times, that includes me.

  11. RT, I know you enjoy the French and French history. As you suggest, Charlie Hebdo's circulation was small, about 60 000 copies as I recall. I'm not sure our mutual friend Micheline was a regular reader, but she was familiar with the work of some of the contributors. Her older daughter, Michele, walked in the demonstration today, estimated to be at least 1.3 million participants. That's a cathartic manifestation!

  12. Earlier, I quoted a figure of 1.3 million attending the rally in Paris, but the French Interior Ministry is saying 3.7 million attended. Either is an astonishing number! The photos of the demonstration are impressive.

  13. Leigh, you are the one who's eloquent now. :-)

    I deplore the loss of life, too. It's terribly tragic, and it hurts. I guess I am trying to learn, as I age, to remember that the people who do these things suffer, too. In the end, it's all tragic. I agree with you there, and I agree that it's almost unbearable to see people who have had their emotions ramped up to a pitch of near-insanity for whatever reason take other lives with theirs.

    The people in the religion department were given the papers to read as part of the investigation, but that -- and many other things about the investigation, including things that happened at my son's school and the forensic item I was asked to identify -- simply vanished. No one ever spoke of them. But the scholars I knew were deeply impressed by Koresh's theology and said it showed a high level of education and insight. Obviously they did not think this gave him cause to be party to all that happened or to play whatever role he played in precipitating it. (He was, after all, stockpiling weapons and ammunition to an alarming degree. That's what got the ATF interested to begin with, plus complaints by some people who had been in the group and left it.)

    Beyond that, I don't know. These people did not talk about the papers in detail, and perhaps had been instructed not to.

    And of course, none of it helped those children.

  14. Anon, we often forget that the Puritans were considered kind of a weird cult and apparently England was glad to be shut of them. They weren’t kind to outsiders either. I believe they hanged a couple of Quaker women.

    And then we had the Salem witch terror. It seemed kindness, compassion and common sense were in short supply. Now we have the Westboro Baptist Church.

    In a free society, I don’t see an answer. After generations of Irish Christians killing one another, Ireland has now enacted blasphemy laws making it difficult to criticize or challenge any religion.

    Germany’s approach is to declare some fringe sects as cults. I don’t know if that discourages anyone from joining.

    The basic question: How can a democracy prevent a perversion of religion into terrorism?

  15. GREAT post, Leigh.

    And fuck those extremist bastards. Especially the one who executed the wounded French policeman right there on the street before they loudly congratulated themselves and drove away.

    I do not consider Islam barbaric at all. But the Lunatic Fringe, while cloaking itself in any number of "isms", is actually a "Take All Comers" kinda deal. These guys had more in common with the Timothy McVeighs of the world than with the prophet Muhammed.

  16. Reminds me of a cartoon Time (I think) reprinted after Martin Luther King was killed: King is talking with Gahndi, who says "The oddest thing about assassins is they think they've killed you." (My apologies for the spelling!)


Welcome. Please feel free to comment.

Our corporate secretary is notoriously lax when it comes to comments trapped in the spam folder. It may take Velma a few days to notice, usually after digging in a bottom drawer for a packet of seamed hose, a .38, her flask, or a cigarette.

She’s also sarcastically flip-lipped, but where else can a P.I. find a gal who can wield a candlestick phone, a typewriter, and a gat all at the same time? So bear with us, we value your comment. Once she finishes her Fatima Long Gold.

You can format HTML codes of <b>bold</b>, <i>italics</i>, and links: <a href="https://about.me/SleuthSayers">SleuthSayers</a>