This might be the strangest combination of labels that we had on this blog, ever. Because today's post is a follow-up piece on our post Nous Sommes Charlie which contains both a more personal comment from me on freedom of speech and some dark kinky humour.
I have to admit that I am a bit reluctant to say about myself that I am Charlie Hebdo, because I am not as brave as those who died in the recent dastardly attack driven by ill-will and blind hatred. The news shocked me and made me incredibly sad. As Ludwig and I already wrote in our recent post, we consider freedom of speech one of the most important human rights and yes, even though some people don't like it, that freedom of speech includes blasphemy.
Unfortunately, this isn't the reality in Germany. We still have a blasphemy paragraph in the German Criminal Code which says: Who insults the content of religious or ideological beliefs publicly or through dissemination of writings in a manner that is likely to disturb the public peace, shall be punished with imprisonment up to three years or a fine. This paragraph means that the caricaturists of Charlie Hebdo could theoretically have been imprisoned according to German law, if only there had been enough religious people going nuts because of their cartoons. As critics have pointed out, this law confuses perpetrators and victims - it defines as the "disturbers of the peace" not those people who respond to religious satire with violence or threats of violence, but the people who created the satire. This is sick and wrong! I hope that this medieval relict will be disposed as soon as possible. Unfortunately, I don't think that this will happen. Conservative politicians in Germany even called for a tightening of the law not too long ago.
On the other hand, fortunately freedom of speech is usually rated higher than claims of blasphemy in the legal practice. For instance, German stand-up comedian Dieter Nuhr was accused of revilement of creeds and religious societies by a German Salafi because of his critical satirical statements about Islam. The public prosecution department decided not to bring a charge against Dieter Nuhr. They stated that what Dieter Nuhr does can easily be recognised as satire and that his works lack any signs of xenophobia.
On the day we published our post about Charlie Hebdo, I once more became aware how lucky I am to live in a land which grants people freedom of speech (even though there is still room for improvement) and where I can write a blog without the fear of being persecuted. Because on that very same day, Saudi Arabian blogger Raif Badawi received 50 whip lashes for "insulting Islam". His "crime": He created an online forum on which people could critically discuss Saudi politics and Islam. His verdict: 1,000 whip lashes, 10 years in prison and a fine of about $ 267,000. The whipping is carried out weekly, so he still has 19 whippings to come, death in small increments.
But, what can we do about oppressive regimes and terrorists? I realised that as someone who lives in a country where I have the important human right called freedom of speech, I shouldn't take it for granted. The first thing I can do is exercise this right and voice my opinion on the matter. For instance, I've already signed Amnesty International's petition for Raif Badawi. Defending freedom of speech also means trying to defend other people's right to put forward their opinions - not just in cases like this, but also and just as much so in cases were I disagree with the opinion being put forward.
The second thing I can do is to see the fanatics for what they are, bullheaded and ridiculous people. When I looked for material for our post about Charlie Hebdo, I was reminded of a clip I wanted to share with you, anyway, because it is a great caricature of the stupidity of terrorism and it even has a brief reference to kink. I think one of the best things to do in times of horror is to laugh into the face of those who try to take our smile away. So, here is a Jeff Dunham video for your enjoyment. If you don't know Achmed the Dead Terrorist already, you can find his introduction video on YouTube.
For those of you who aren't into morbid humour: You are of course entitled to your preferences and opinion. Please don't watch the clip and look for something else that makes you happy! Time is much too short to waste it on things one doesn't like.