I’m still thinking about the Charlie Hebdo tragedy. I tend to do that when I have conflicting feelings about something — unresolved internal issues.
By the time we’re 14 or so, most of us have realized that ridiculing someone — another student, a little brother, a parent, a friend — is not the best choice. Same with their point of view, or their belief system. Would you ridicule those? Whether in a personal conflict, or a competition, or an attempt to influence someone (a parent?) we’ve figured out by then that it’s more likely to make things worse, and not at all likely to influence positive change. We see it for what it is: an attack.
Unfortunately, some of our less civilized fellow humanoids will not react well. A friend may “un-friend” us. A parent may actually smack a face — regardless of how much we wiser parents (in our view) may disapprove. It’s pretty much guaranteed nothing good will happen.
But some people do it anyway. Some teachers even do it to young students. For some reason they haven’t realized that will discourage a youngster — make him feel stupid or embarrassed. He’s likely to avoid speaking in class.
Through my decades, I’ve come to feel that people who use ridicule are doing it because they’re not very articulate, or they lack even a handful of facts to toss into a decent argument. Deep down, they know ridicule doesn’t work — but they just don’t have the skills that might have made a difference. It may be a lazy habit. Or they just don’t have the heart for it. I see it as similar to anger and violence which are so often the only tools of the powerless. They’ve been reinforced in that behaviour, by friends, parents, teachers. Some become very sophisticated at it. They grow up to make fun of ridiculous things (yes, sometimes ridicule is aimed at ridiculous things.) It can also be called ‘satire’.
I hadn’t spent a lot of time thinking about this. It’s just a part of life. Then suddenly, a handful of people famous for using “satire”/(ridicule?), are killed by two well-trained gunmen. Men who would likely be counted among the politically powerless, had they not been given the training and the guns. They may even have seen themselves as victims. Now, they are simply awful. They are dead — and the horrified focus of a billion people. Including me. For a brief moment in time, I don’t give a damn why the shooters did this.
For me, it’s a shocking end of 14 life stories; two ‘bad guys’, 12 ‘good guys’, and in between, some ideas about ‘sacredness’ and ‘satire’. The Sacred vs. Satire. Just ideas.