The novelist Will Self, and cartoonist Martin Rossen debate, or rather seem to generally agree on, the limits and responsibilities of satire, who the easy targets might be, and critically, where the real scrutiny and ire should be aimed, but usually isn’t.
It made me wonder why not? The Charlie Hebdo editors, artists and staff were victims of a brutal murder by lunatics. They were fully entitled to print and draw what they like, in a free society, which includes the right to offend. But why bother offending, for its own sake? Rossen makes the excellent point that Charlie operate in the “Situationist” tradition, of Guy Debord etc, ie. they provoke for its own sake, then wait to see what happens. But why bother (?) when Muslims living in the west are an easy, 99% innocent, yet tabloid-popular target? Who in the west does the tough work and picks on the powerful? Who targets the media barons, on industrialists exploiting Chinese workers (and often poisoning the earth, rivers and soil), the financial billionaires who write their own laws, the moguls and the oligarchs? Nobody, it appears.
That made me wonder in turn why this Paris story is so, not over-reported, the murders were disgusting and naturally created outrage and revulsion. But who decides the news? So is torture repulsive, (as well as useless, apparently) So is rendition, so is imprisonment without the possibility of trial. Where’s the satire, outrage and comment there? Interesting to see the right-wing press suddenly falling over themselves to emphasize with Paris. Their empathy is conditional, convenient and suits their own agenda. Where was the empathy for the local innocent Iraqi taxi drivers who was the victim of local tribal score-settling and who ended up being water-boarded to death? Where are the satirists and novelists and cartoonists then? Who picks on the powerful anymore?