Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Je Ne Suis Pas Charlie!

Cat chases mouse. Mouse outsmarts cat. Mouse slips away. Always and EVERY time! Cat never ever catches mouse.

Substitute Elmer Fudd for Cat. Replace mouse with rabbit. And lo and behold, the story line is the same.

How long can you stretch this theme? Apparently, forever! Tom & Jerry and Bugs Bunny have been among the most successful cartoon franchises for longer than I care to remember.

My brother, all of 67 years, still watches them, still guffaws in glee! Me, I stopped watching cartoons even before I grew facial hair! Ok, they’re now called Animated Films, and, along with my brother, Pixar and Disney are also laughing – all the way to the bank!

Ok, so what makes a good cartoon?

The first requirement of a cartoon, the sin qua non of course, is that it evoke mirth. It be funny. Even if you don’t actually guffaw or ROFLOL, it simply MUST raise an odd chuckle, or at the very least, bring a smile to your lips. Right?

The next requirement is that it be subtle. It should poke fun with the delicate touch of a rapier, rather than a sledgehammer. No place for slapstick or tomfoolery. None at all!

Also, it should be in good taste. Lavatory humour should stay in the lavatory.

Lastly, it should not be offensive. Of course this is totally subjective, in that one man’s food is another man’s poison etc, what is offensive to me may be side splittingly funny to you. But suffice it to say that all grey areas must be avoided. There’s plenty to poke fun at without stepping on anyone’s toes!

Viewed in the light of the above, do Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons pass the test? An emphatic NO, the more emphatic the better! They are downright vulgar, in pathetically poor taste, extremely offensive and evoke only disgust – with nary a trace of humour anywhere!

I could point out the link where one can view them, but believe me, they’re disgusting and SO not worth the effort! 

Believe me, I have seen graffiti on the toilet walls at Fergusson College that was more artistic, had better taste and was way more hilarious! My favourite being the one-liner some genius had scribbled  `Yahaan jo bhi aaya, gaya haath mal ke’.

Michael Angelo's David
Of course there have been geniuses who have caused offence. Michael Angelo’s nude David, or his fresco The Last Judgement in the Sistine Chappel raised a lot of hackles, and even brought the nature of his own sexuality into question.

Nearer home, Hussain’s depiction of Hindu Goddesses in the nude caused the sort of reaction that exiled him to Dubai.

But these are works of genius. I am tempted to include Rushdie’s `Satanic Verses’ in that category, but good friend Samina will wring my neck and hang me out to dry!

Charlie Hebdo’s nonsensical `satire’, on the other hand, never rises above gutter level. Along with the abominable YouTube movie `The Innocence of Muslims’ it ranks as the most asinine piece of garbage ever churned out in the name of free speech.

But would I kill the cartoonists for their rank bad taste? No matter how offensive I find them? Most certainly not! At best, I’d dump the magazine in the trash can where it belongs.

Free speech is a myth, and all the brouhaha surrounding it is pure bunkum! No freedom can ever be absolute. Will free speech allow a man to yell `Fire!’ in a crowded theatre, and cause a stampede? With freedom comes responsibility.

So the groundswell of outrage and protest world wide, the million strong rally at Paris, that had over 40 heads of state in attendance, was basically a protest to allow people to print the vilest of garbage without fear of life and limb!

Or is it a protest against any form of radicalisation, a cry for reform within organised religion, particularly Islam? That I can agree with, but not at the cost of basic decency and good taste.
The latest cover

As if to remove any lingering doubt from any of our minds, the very next issue of the magazine again had a terrible caricature of the prophet Mohammed on its cover!

So no, as the title of this piece says, I am NOT Charlie!

It was Voltaire who said `I disapprove of what you say, but will defend to the death your right to say it!’

He probably hadn’t seen Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons!


  1. Kudos to you Harish, for saying it as it is! Charlie Hepdo and his publication suffer from 'Islamophobia' and have to be derided for their tasteless humor. Charlie Hepdo was racist as well, in as much as his obsession against everything Islamic. As Thomas Deltombe defines the function of "Islamophobia", " Encoding Racism to make it imperceptible and therefore socially acceptable."
    Great writing as usual!

  2. Harish
    Great writing.
    Witty where reqd, Hard hitting where needed.
    Need lot of courage to write.
    To put is simply SUPERB

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  4. I agree in toto. Very well put!
    Someone had to say this.