Thursday, January 8, 2015

Je Suis Charlie

"Disarm them with Humor."
-Stephane Charbonnier, slain Cartoon Editor of Charlie Hebdo (2012)

Laughter is a powerful medicine.  Laughter is contagious.  Laughter is also a dangerous weapon in today's world where the pen is (and perhaps always has been) mightier than the sword.  Art can serve as an instrument of humor in the right hands.  French magazine Charlie Hebdo has for years utilized their staff's talent for satire through printed cartoons.  These commentaries have caused world-wide debate with brush strokes taken at the religions and politics both of Eastern and Western denomination.  

After dealing with their office being firebombed a few years back, the magazine has now suffered a much more insurmountable tragedy.  Much of their staff were murdered in a blaze of bullets this week by terrorists during an assault on their home in Paris.  In the ultimate act of censorship, zealots took the lives of artists and staffers who illustrated their takes on religious extremism through the publication.  Their deaths serve as both the ultimate irony and exemplification of the power of art.

Today I stand in solidarity with the staff of Charlie Hebdo, the people of Paris, and artists all over the world who express their view through their art and words. Je Suis Charlie.  Let your losses not be in vain but a catalyst for the change needed for a sensible and tolerable world.  My illustration in response to this tragedy depicts the Prophet Muhammad.  This in itself is frowned upon by the same doctrines which the terrorists who attacked the magazine with guns claim to defend.  However I wanted to go a step further in creating something (maybe) as offensive as today's act of terrorism.  To stretch to these lengths, I've illustrated a hand using a pen to desecrate the image of Muhammad with a childish and baseless attack.  I find it childish and baseless also to murder journalists and cartoonists in the name of your God. Guns and pens can do good or do irreparable harm in the right hands.  I don't see the hand in my illustration as my own but rather that of the invisible enemy religious extremists see in the Western world.  It all seems so silly... but nobody is laughing when lives are lost.

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