I’ve known about Charlie Hebdo for many years. I didn’t much read it because my grasp of French borders on the lower part of zero, but I knew what it was about: satire. Yes, it took the piss and for the sin of taking the piss out of religious superstition it’s editor and many workers were today murdered.
It’s definitely a 9/11 moment for me, a shock that has lasted all day and for most of the evening and like the smouldering buildings of 2001, those mobile phone videos just won’t go away. One word I have heard a great deal to day is ‘offended’ and in this instance, muslims being offended by cartoons. Well, I’m sorry but no one has the right to not be offended, no one or no one group is exempt from being offended. It’s the price we pay for having a plural society, where people can hold different and often contradictory views. If you are offended about someone saying something unflattering about your God, just think how I feel when someone takes the rise out of Brian Wilson.
My problem with religion is that it is probably not true. No one can prove that anything in the bible or quran is true, no one can prove whether any of these biblical characters ever existed at all. You would certainly hope that the God of the Old Testament was made up because he was a seriously unpleasant person. Of course, I cannot prove that the bible is not true, but it is not my place to do that. But cartoons are real. They are an art form, created by real people with fabulous talent. And tonight there are less of them.
As I do tire of saying, we really need to address the world’s relationship with religion. I have no real problem with people having their own religious superstition to their various gods if it makes them feel better. I think it’s better and healthier to rely on facts, on what we know, based on evidence, so I would welcome people testing out religious views in relation to the science that we know to be true. For example, we know that evolution is a fact and with every day we are learning more about our origins of how we got here, some 13.7 billion years ago. How God fits into this, I don’t think we know, largely because he probably doesn’t fit in anywhere.
It’s down to education in the end, or rather at the start. Allow children to make up their minds and religious folk probably won’t like it when they do. The trick by religionists of all Gods like to catch the kids early before it’s too late.
We can’t carry on living in a world where people are murdered, or threatened with murder, for making a film (Theo van Gogh), or for drawing cartoons (Paris, but attempts were made halfway around the world because of what happened in Denmark), for writing a book (Salman Rushdie) or for being in the World Trade Centre.
Teach your children well, no faith schools (of any faith), no religious privilege in society, secularism.
Most people are atheists about all the Gods apart from the one they believe in. Some of us go one God further. Wish I’d thought of that one.