What do the Sony film, The Interview, and the #parisshooting have in common? They both claim to represent, guard, or promote honorable traditions, but in fact do not. Think about it:
- How can the lewd, disrespectful, and lascivious movie known as The Interview possibly represent anything that pleases God? Or,
- How can a plucky French pundit who sketches obscene comics about political and religious figures in the name of “free speech” be a hero of democracy?
The Bible says that “if we want to have no fear of authority,” then we should “do what is right and we will receive praise from the same.” Under no circumstances can penning, and publishing, obscene comics of the prophet Muhammad be construed as “doing what is right.”
Now clearly the attackers do not represent the “lawful authority” St. Paul had in mind. But they can stand for a metaphor of such authority, for the sake of argument. Which is partly why Stephane had a bodyguard.
Was the attack and murder then the cartoonists’ fault? Let’s distinguish. They are guilty for foolish publication of material that displeases God. That’s his guilt, and he would be guilty of that if he were alive today. (May he and the others rest in peace.)
Therefore, this is not, as Secretary of State Kerry said, “part of a larger confrontation…between [civilization] itself and those who are opposed to a civilized world.” For, the editors of Charlie Hebdo are, in their own way, also guilty of opposing a civilized world.
“Surely there’s a place for satire; surely there’s a place for persons of high mindedness to allow themselves to be made fun of.”
Granted. But while you might possibly think some fool would ever be justified if he lampooned your mother by drawing her in the nude on the Op Ed pages of the Wall Street journal, or President Obama, or Mother Theresa, or Jesus, Christians know better.
We “let our light so shine before men that they may see our good works and glorify our Father who is in heaven,” and so declare confidently that this kind of ridiculous filth honors no one–and certainly not “civilization” quote unquote–no one save the perverted mind of its author.
Stephane once said, “You have to disarm terrorists and extremists with humor,” which is true: disarming an opponent with humor is often shrewd. But Jesus said we are to be both shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves; drawing cartoons “pornographic, violent, humiliated and [humiliating]” cartoons of Mohammed is neither shrewd nor innocent.
Which is why I say, “Je ne suis pas Charlie.” That is not a freedom worth defending.
But also, je ne suis pas Ahmed. Those men who planned, and then exacted, their own private vengeance for what they deemed to be a capital offense or a kind of “war crime” are guilty for their crime as well and deserve to be punished.
That being the case, however, don’t lose focus in the hype of the cry of “foul” on behalf of “democratic free speech.” While the terrorist is guilty, so is the journalist in this case. Don’t confuse idolatry with heroism, but remember: not all speech is “free.” Even by human standards, inciting violence, or crying “Fire!” in a movie theater is unlawful.
To conclude, I am not rejoicing today. Though I never knew Stephane “Charb” Charbonnier, I grieve his death, and that of eleven other persons, who didn’t, strictly speaking, “deserve to die”–certainly not in this way. But that’s not what I mean when I say, je ne suis pas Charlie.
- To those who say, “nothing is sacred,” I say, “Je ne suis pas Charlie.”
- To those who say, “without freedom of speech, we are dead,” I say, “Je ne suis pas Charlie.”
- To those who say, “I’d rather die standing than live on my knees,” I say, “Je ne suis pas Charlie.”
No, “je suis” means both I am, and I follow. And in that light, I am in solidarity with all followers of Jesus Christ, honor bound to see things no longer from a worldly point of view, but, as best as I can, from the point of view of God and God’s revealed will, His Word, the Bible.
That word is clear at least about this: He is not an enlightened, western, upper middle class, liberal arts, twenty-first century progressive European-American. He is the LORD God of Hosts, and Il aussi ne suit pas Charlie.
*Note: “innocent” is in quotes because no one is innocent before a holy God, and even in a tragedy, God Himself mysteriously still reigns as sovereign and just, working His Most Holy Wise and Powerful plan in the midst of a fallen and broken world.