London Terror Attack 22/03/2017 #WeAreNotAfraid

London has always been attacked by terrorists. We know that. But this never has, nor ever will, stop us leading our lives freely. I can say hand-on-heart: WE ARE NOT AFRAID.

© 2017 Bryan A. J. Parry

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Fear the Beard! #FearTheBeard @guardian @Independent @libertyhq @realDonaldTrump

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I’m getting really angry now. Half the people I know didn’t go to one of London’s festive highlights this year: Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park. Why? ISIS… No joke. I have friends who’ve lost a lot of money from cancelled clients due to… the terror threat.

Sorry, but what the f*ck!? Is everyone a coward? Has everyone lost their minds? There’s very little chance of getting bombed or attacked. Yes, it is a possibility, and that is why the security services and police work hard to keep the public safe. But we can’t lose our heads and become fearful. We’re more likely to get glassed by a random twat down the local. That is a fact.

So why is terrorism so scary now? We’ve always been a target for terrorism in London going back hundreds of years. Guy Fawkes, anyone? The IRA?

Disturbingly, there is a racist undertone to this current panic, a racism which is helping fuel the fear. Hundreds of years being bombed, but now ‘cos these guys are brown, got beards, and speak a guttural language (y’know, like the Black Speech of Mordor Orcs in LOTR!), all of a sudden we need to lose our heads.

And the media don’t help. The portrayed otherness of Muslims, combined with a pod people-esque enemy next door slant to the story, is helping to fan the flames in a bid to have juicier sexed up news. It is disgraceful. But as the Roman philosopher-emperor Marcus Aurelius said, ‘We are in control of our reactions, and our reactions makes something good or bad’. If we let the terrorists, and the media, make us fearful and consequently change our routines — for example, by not going to Winter Wonderland type events –, then we are not being prudent and sensible. Rather, we are letting fear and cowardliness win. We are letting the terrorists win.

Democracy and our free way of life are based on a fearless, quiet, going about of our own business in confidence. We have nothing to fear but fear itself — for fear has always been the enemy of democracy and freedom. Nero and the fire in Rome, to the burning of the Reichstag in 1933, to 9/11 and the Patriot Act, fear has always led to an erosion of our freedoms and our free way of life. Back in 1859, John Stewart Mill warned us in On Liberty that totalitarianism doesn’t just come from the state and state agencies — society can itself be the tyrannical agent.

Don’t let the terrorists win. Don’t fear the beard. Go about your normal business; our democracy is at stake. Save democracy; go the Winter Wonderland. And use my ironic hashtag: #FearTheBeard.

© 2015 – 2016 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from http://img.wonkette.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/osama-bin-zombie.jpg

 

#Je Suis Charlie 2

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The two runaway men who carried out the massacre on the offices of Charlie Hebdo, Said and Cherif Kouachi, have been captured and shot. Police forces stormed the Kosher butchers where they were holding numerous individuals hostage. In total, twenty people or more have now died in this tragedy.

Of course, the death of these terrorists does not mean the end of terrorist attacks on our free way of life (Oh, God help me, I sound like George W. Bush or some other improbable American politician there; at least I didn’t say “evil-doer” or “mission accomplished”). We need to remain strong and confident in our values and not allow the spectre of terrorism to either stifle our free speech nor be used by our politicians to restrict our freedoms.

Unfortunately, I am rather disappointed and disturbed by the reaction to these shootings.

Yes, the popular support for Charlie Hebdo has been encouraging and inspiring. Far less encouraging, however, has been the reaction of the press. So far as I can tell, not a single British newspaper has republished the Charlie Hebdo cartoons. Someone please tell me I’m wrong and that I overlooked a front page somewhere. I just cannot believe that all of our newspapers have failed in their duty so miserably… again! (2005 Danish Cartoon Controversy, anyone…?)

The respected Guardian newspaper “justified” not reprinting the cartoons at the centre of this massacre by basically saying, ‘We’re not a satirical magazine, so we don’t have to’. Well, sorry The Guardian, but you are a newspaper and need to report the news. None of this massacre has any context or makes any sense at all unless the cartoons in question — not other cartoons from Charlie Hebdo, but the specific cartoons that the terrorist shooters were “avenging” — are republished.

Please do read The Guardian‘s entire pathetic justification. The following extract is particularly telling.

In social media, the call has been loud – and aimed at several British newspapers, including this one – to take a stand by publishing the very images that made Charlie Hebdo a target. For the most vociferous, republishing a sample of the magazine’s usual fare, which the Guardian has already done, is not enough: they insist that true defenders of free speech would reprint Charlie Hebdo’s depictions of the prophet Muhammad, especially the crudest, most scatological examples.

That case is straightforward. Since these are the images the gunmen wanted to stop, the surviving free press is obliged to deny the killers that victory. No other gesture can show that we refuse to be cowed by their crime. By repeating Charlie Hebdo’s action, we would demonstrate our resistance to the edict the terrorists sought to enforce on pain of death. We show that Charlie Hebdo was not alone.

There is an appealing simplicity to that stance, but it rests on faulty logic. The key point is this: support for a magazine’s inalienable right to make its own editorial judgments does not commit you to echo or amplify those judgments. Put another way, defending the right of someone to say whatever they like does not oblige you to repeat their words.

Each and every publication has a different purpose and ethos. Charlie Hebdo is not the Guardian or the New York Times, nor is it the Daily Mail or Private Eye. The animating intention behind its work was to satirise and provoke in a distinctive voice, one that would not sit easily in other publications. Other publications can defend – and defend absolutely – the necessary diversity of press voices along with an editor’s right to offend. But the best response is not to be forced to speak in a different voice. The Guardian felt that at the time of the 2005 Danish cartoons controversy, and we feel it now. As Simon Jenkins argued on these pages on Wednesday, terrorists’ chief goal is to make us change our behaviour. It’s best to deny them that victory.

[emphasis in bold is mine]

Yeeeah… I could perform a media student-style dissection of that crock, but I’d rather save my time. I only need to say the following two things.

One: newspapers are supposed to report the news, and by not reprinting the original cartoons the newspapers deprive readers of the essential context at the heart of the news — imagine 9/11 being reported with no pictures of the planes going into the Twin Towers. Can you even imagine that such a thing would have happened? Of course not.

Two: note the Orwellian inversion of logic that, in order to not “change our behaviour”, as the terrorists want us to, we need to thwart the terrorists by persisting in our established behaviour of being cowardly as ever and not fighting back by printing the original images. What on earth?? Peace is war, cowardice is defiance — apparently.

Will it take the merciless slaughter of a British cartoonist, such as the Guardian‘s own Martin Rowson, before our newspapers stop sliming their way out of their duty? What is the point of a free press if they will not report the news — the core of the news here being the original cartoons?

Well, bollocks to our cowardly newspapermen! I suggest we plaster the offices of all of our newspapers with print-outs of the original Charlie Hebdo cartoons. I would also commit to not buying any of their papers anymore — except I long ago grew sick of the sludge that passes for news with these cretins, and so no longer read the mainstream newspapers.

P.S. Here’s a wonderful response to the media’s cowardice by Don Asmussen. Thanks to Jerry A. Coyne for posting it on his blog.

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featured image from http://eyedrd.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/Charlie-Hebdo.jpg
Don Asmussen cartoon from http://www.gocomics.com/badreporter/2015/01/09

© 2015 Bryan A. J. Parry

2015 Shooting at Charlie Hebdo

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The offices of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo have been attacked by Islamist gunmen. 12 people are currently confirmed dead including the editor. This was supposedly done in response to the magazine’s publication of cartoons offensive to Islam.

This is a tragedy. But we cannot lose our rationality and we cannot shy away from the truth. Let’s be clear about this:

  • These gunmen no more represent the majority of Muslims than The Westboro Baptist Church represent the majority of Christians. We MUST NOT allow ourselves to start viewing Muslims as outsiders or terrorists. Yes, there is a serious issue concerning how religion motivates (destructive) behaviour and deeds. I myself am an outspoken secularist and atheist and have been speaking out for years about the dangers of religion (see my YouTube channel for various such videos). But we cannot as a society become divided by the actions of these terrorist scum.
  • Even if Charlie Hebdo‘s publications were in violation of good taste or incitement to hatred laws, then the law and discussion would resolve the situation — NOT KILLING PEOPLE.
  • We CANNOT and we WILL NOT allow our free society, a society which has literally taken all of human history to build and which is unrivalled in prosperity and freedom for all, to be diminished, damaged, and ultimately destroyed by the acts of scumbags, people who are enemies of mankind. Satire and comedy are weapons of freedom and free use of them must be defended. Therefore, in solidarity with Charlie Hebdo and the family, friends, and colleagues of those who have been killed, I republish the following images from the magazine. I call on everyone to do likewise, just as we did after the Jyllands-Posten “Danish Cartoons” attacks.

© 2015 Bryan A. J. Parry

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featured image from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/picturegalleries/worldnews/11330196/Paris-shooting-Gunmen-storm-Charlie-Hebdo-magazine-office-in-pictures.html

images from Charlie Hebdo taken from http://www.publiusforum.com/images/charliehebdomuhammedcartoonssept_large.jpg, http://www.theglobaldispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Charlie-Hebdo-Muhammad-insult.jpg, http://wp.patheos.com.s3.amazonaws.com/blogs/getreligion/files/2012/09/Charlie-Hedbo-18-Sept-2012.jpeg, http://vladtepesblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/charlie-hebdo-toon-1.jpg, http://eyedrd.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/Charlie-Hebdo.jpg, https://twitter.com/LesNews/status/552816012396331008/photo/1