The killings of cartoonists and staff at Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine in Paris by religious extremists last week, and the other related shootings, affected me more than most news do. It’s probably because I identify with other artists, especially with people who draw. And I’ve been to Paris just last May for the first time in 22 years, and will return there this spring, so the place is often in my mind.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the shootings, and what they mean. About how someone could get killed over a drawing. Obviously, it was a barbaric act by people who may or may not care as much about religion as they say, by people who may be violent, unstable, disenfranchised, misguided, unfulfilled in their aspirations, looking for belonging, or just ignorant tools in a greater plot for dominance. I don’t know, and I can’t relate to, or even understand their motives.
But most of all, I want to make a case for blasphemy. I am all for it. I think it is important as a tool to criticize organized religion. Religion should not be above criticism. I have no problem per se with the big prophets: Mohammed, Jesus, Buddha — they were all searching and finding a lot of wisdom to share. It’s what people have made of their wisdom, how they’ve been interpreted, that is the problem. So even if you cover yourself with the mantle of religion and belief, it should by no means give you a free pass to be above criticism, and yes, satire and parody. Of course, everyone is entitled to their opinion. What you must not do, is physically injure, enslave or bully others.
While I personally would not take on Islam to criticize and parody, since it is not my religion, nor my background, and I don’t know that much about it, I feel completely entitled to make fun of Christianity, which is part of the culture I grew up in. I participated in the Christian religion for a while. But I don’t go to church any more because I realized it was dysfunctional, and moreover, I disagree with the whole patriarchal system that shockingly, most evangelical churches still follow to this day! So as I have been getting older, I have returned to existentialism as my preferred life philosophy. But I admit that I don’t have the final answers, and I firmly believe that you don’t either.
Here’s some blasphemy (or as close as I can get) that I’ve been sketching over the last few years. Yay for blasphemy, and uncensored art and writing!