PEN and Charlie -Warning Post includes images insulting to religions (edited to clear up an unclear sentence)
PEN America is giving Charlie Hebdo an award - Freedom of Expression Courage Award - and the following writers have walked out of the gala. The writers are Francine Prose, Peter Carey, Michael Ondaatje, Rachel Kushner, Teju Cole, and Taiye Selasi. The reasons for the walk are variously cited, ranging from the understandable -the award is for press who are suppressed by governments (and Carey is the only one to say this) -to the less understandable - Charlie Hebdo shouldn't insult different culture. And it seems for some of the other authors that this is the issue.
I have no doubt that if I were a Muslim and saw a a Hebdo cover such as the one below, I would be insulted and upset.
But the magazine seems to insult everyone. Take, for instance,
And quite frankly, as an fan of a certain Gaulish village, the below offends me
(images from Bing gallery)
So it's okay to insult a majority religion in a country, but not a minority one? I suppose, you could make the comment that the Hebdo borders on (or outright is) racist because of the issues of immigrantion in France, and that is more problematic. I don't read Hebdo, in all honesty even if I was in France, I wouldn't, but a look at the Bing image gallery, seems to indicate that the magazine makes the Islamic cartoon characters look like their Jewish ones as well as the fact that women should protest the magazine. But it does raise the question - is racism worse than judging someone based on their religion?
It also raises the question, one that a PEN speaker raised, do we only celebrate the freedom of those we agree with?
And I'll go a step further than that PEN rep. I say that if we do, then we are simply guilty of another form of censorship. No one is forcing me, or anyone, to read Hebdo. We have the right to read or not read. Just as they have the right to publish, and should have the ability to do so without getting shot.
However, I also think that if a writer feels, for whatever reason, that Hebdo doesn't deserve the award, they have the right not to go to the gala without getting slapped down or boycotted (and perhaps this is why I am rethinking my boycott of Harpercollins). And I say that from my personal choice. I will also say, if you want to boycott them, go right ahead (not that you need my permission). It is your freedom of speech to boycott as it is theirs.
And I respectfully disagree with them. And that is what life is about, respecting different views.
Without killing each other.