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Friday, 9 January 2015

Charlie Hebdo, the attack and the expected further emergence of the CAPS-LOCK brigades.

I've had enough, I'm getting out
To the city, the big big city
I'll be a big noise with all the big boys
There's so much stuff I will do
And I will pray to a big god
As I kneel in the big church
Peter Gabriel – Big Time (with small lyrical change)

Wednesday, my first whole day in The Netherlands after the wonderful winter holiday with my loved ones in Russia, had everything to be a good day: the weather was good, I was driving in my fancy, new car and it was my first official day as a freelance software testing professional.

In other words: I was simply ‘happy in Holland’ and it would become a very good day indeed. What could go wrong…?!

A lot… to say the least.

A sheer five minutes and one horrendous, brutal attack later, the lives of twelve people in Paris, France had been ended: four cartoonists – including editor-in-chief Stéphane Charbonnier– of French humour magazine ‘Charlie Hebdo’, six other personnel members of this French magazine and two police agents, who were specially assigned to protect the threatened personnel members of Charlie Hebdo, after a long period of life-threatening warnings from Islamist splinter groups.

The official representatives of mainstream European politics (except for François Hollande, who finally made a big impression on me, with his heartfelt speech of grief and anger), as well as the mainstream media, mainly uttered their dismay and grief in the usual statements of shockedness, sometimes hollow sounding phrases about defending the freedom of speech and by administering the ‘obligatory’ support, by printing the – in some newspapers strategically blurred – cartoons of Charlie Hebdo. You could call it very much business-as-usual in such situations, sadly enough.

I was sad, when I heard the news. Plainly and simply sad, that the extremists among us had ended yet another topic of discussion – freedom of speech regarding religious questions and statements – with the usage of blunt, brutal violence and a massive bloodshed among people, who in some cases simply did their protective or administrative jobs.

The biggest ‘crimes’ of the Charlie Hebdo people can only have been a massive load of often painfully topical cartoons and, besides that, perhaps an occasional display of bad taste and a few corny jokes, without the intention to really deeply offend people. Sarcastical humour that bit and stung, like it sometimes should do, but never violated people´s rights and deepest personal feelings, in my humble opinion.

Nevertheless, some ‘enlightened minds’ have decided, at a certain moment in the past, to give the poor people of Charlie Hebdo, as well as their protectors, the death sentence. 

Although the alleged perpetrators have not all been caught yet – at the very moment that I write this article – and a lot of questions remain (“Why such ‘efficient’ and ruthlessly operating terrorists are so stupid to leave their ID’s in a stolen car?”), one thing is already sure: this will lead to a further rise in power of the CAPS LOCK-brigades!

The CAPS LOCK-brigades are people from the political edges (extreme right wing and left wing), influential pressure groups, the outspoken, ‘edgy’ media and dogmatic believers and fundamentalists, who are used to ventilate their opinions in CAPITALS and with exclamation marks!!! These are people, who will never possess the power to change or even reassess their opinions, as these are carved in marble for eternal usage.

Personally, I feel more comfortable with opinions that are based on shades of grey than with the ones which are very much ‘in your face’ and/or based upon the presumed black and whiteness of things and situations. I prefer opinions, columns and articles that really try to dig into the backgrounds of actions, taken by people, than by simply judging such people as madmen, lone wolves and/or terrorists. Especially the usage of the expression ´terrorist´ is often – but definitely not in THIS particular Charlie Hebdo case – rather based on where one sits than on objective criteria; hence, the adversaries of many Middle-East regimes are called terrorists by the powers that be in such Middle-Eastern countries.

Although I generally love well-drawn cartoons and well-written columns and especially the ones with slightly biting and stinging, sarcastical humour, I don’t like cartoons and columns that seem simply there to offend groups of people for their opinion or (religious) background. There is a fine line, between sarcastic, but topical humour, and offensive humour for the simple purpose of being offensive. Personally, I prefer to ignore authors, sites or magazines [by the way, I am not referring to Charlie Hebdo in this respect - EL], when these seem to belong to the latter category.

But the idea that you can kill groups of people for the purpose of avenging a certain offence, made in such cartoons or columns, appals me deeply and makes me very, very sad and angry. Especially, when the justification is found in religious or political reasons and dogmas.

All people should be free to live according to their own religion or political view, when it is not offending the basic laws and human rights of individual people, but other people should be preserved from the unvoluntary effects and consequences of such religions and political beliefs. In other words: live and let live and don’t forcefeed others with your religions beliefs and political ideas!

But that is unfortunately not how all people think about such things. And now, in the aftermath of this terrible offence, the CAPS LOCK-brigades are looming from all sides.

Ready to:
  • declare a war of the free word against large religious groups, belonging to a certain belief, while advocating the eternal right to offend everybody and their sister in the name of the same free word;
  • sweep all individuals of these religious groups in the corner of potential terrorists and killers and ready to condemn this whole religion as the source of all problems;
  • offend such and other groups of people with even more offensive statements, cartoons and articles, in the name of the free word: because they are worth it;
  • accuse leaders of less radical political flows of being cowardice, soft on terrorism and even of being political wimps and losers;
  • accuse everybody, who does not agree with them and their religious or political beliefs of being blasphemic, racist, a terrorist and a threat to society, antisemite and/or discriminative;
  • implement the idea that there is only black and white and that one is either ´for us or against us´
  • implement their dogmatic opinions upon others: when necessary with the use of violence;

The CAPS LOCK-brigades will be on the loose, while the reasonable and nuanced people will further retreat in their trenches and express their opinions in obvious, hollow statements of discontent and disapproval, not able to find words that really have impact on the rest of the population. 

And so, the war of the CAPS LOCK-brigades against the rest of the world will get into another leg, in which the latter not only seem losing the battle, but the whole war. A saddening view for the direct future of us and of our children and parents.

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