Charlie Hebdo Or Sometimes Cartoons Ain’t Funny

Each month we at Boom Bap Radio will bestow  the award of “The Douchey McDouche Bag” award on the biggest dickheads in the news.  This category is not limited to politicians or entertainers or even athletes – there’s room for everyone on this bench.

However, each month one person stands out as the absolute winner of our coveted prize.

The award is based on the name I gave a menial worker from a big box department store, who insisted that my item was no longer in stock without looking. This douche actually made me order the item online and had a whole five minute explanation of why the product was not available days after Christmas. Evidently it was shipped back to some remote warehouse – over the hills and far, far away.

Imagine my surprise when about an hour later –while walking to the other end of the store I found piles of my item, neatly stacked and very much available.

So this one goes out to that collared shirt wonder, who obviously knew nothing, but before he knew a whole friggin’ lot –Douche Bag!! Hey dickwad - this award  goes out to you  – You Douche!!!

The January 2015 Douchey McDouche Bag Award

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As we entered 2015, we were faced with our normal conundrum, who, oh who, could take our monthly douche prize?

As has been the case for as long as we’ve been checking for douches, one always emerges before month’s end. This time we had to “hop the pond” to crown our champ, but we were game.

So off to Paris we went and all along the way all I could think was: “so many douches and so little time.”  For our purposes, January 2015 was when basic concepts began to defy logic.

It was when France became relevant;  when cartoons were deadly; when somehow a few bad apples defined the whole bunch and when one of my favorite comedians got it all messed up in the game – it’s the January 2015 Douchey McDouche Bag Award.

On this historic journey we learned so many things; some we didn’t know and some we already knew.

Did you know the term “douche” was first used around 1766 and came to use from France via Italy. According to good ol Wikipedia: the word “douche” comes from the Italian word “doccia” a word for “conduit pipe” and docciare “pour by drops” to douche. The internet encyclopedia goes on to theorize the term may have been derived from “doccia water pipe, probably back-formation from doccione conduit, from Latinduction-ductiomeans of conveying water, from ducere to lead—here today it means shower, as it does in most other European languages.”

For our purposes it means someone or a group of someone’s who do something reprehensible despite not needing to do so, just because they can.

I personally almost failed French as a youngster and quickly realized with all of its singular and plural possessives and gender needs, this language of love is confusing and pretty tough to apply to everyday life.

We also learned that the smart-assed French treat current events and issues in the news with reckless abandon and will throw some snarky satire at you and your issue regardless of good taste or forethought.

In fact, some of the things they find funny are subject to opinion, just like here, but if you don’t understand, I’m sure there’s some smarty pants who will say it’s because you’re a dumb American.  You know the French, they’re pretty complicated and tough on commoners like those of us from the colonies.

Such was the case in January with an obscure magazine named “Charlie Hebdo.”

The magazine, which is kind of named for Charlie Brown, but as a goof on former French President Charles DeGaulle, gained a national focus in January when it was attacked by religious extremists.

For Charlie Hebdo, this last fact became a problem when the satirical publication decided to make fun of the prophet who is the face of arguably the largest religion in the world, as well as the leader of terrorist para-military group – ISIS, in one fell swoop.

To that end we learned our final lesson of the month: That no matter how it is illustrated, cartoons aren’t always funny, in fact, sometimes they are downright douchey.

Also we learned that free speech as it is, can be costly.

But here’s where the spritz of water and vinegar became a necessity.

Once the religion of the extremists was learned, the ongoing scapegoating of Islam seemed to kick the douchiness up a notch as politicians, comedians and the news media began a war of words against the religion instead of against the extremists who are perverting its message.

Already attacked in 2011 for cartoons depicting the religion’s prophet, Charlie Hebdo continued to make religious jokes and this time caught ire of Muslims around the world and most notably to disciples of ISIS or ISIL when it’s leader was depicted in a Twitter tweet.

Followers of the terroristic organizations made a decision that goes beyond douchiness and voiced their displeasure by shooting up the newsroom at the magazine instead of a strongly worded Twitter reply tweet.

In all, 12 people were killed that day, including four cartoonists and the magazine’s editor, Stephane Charbonnier and seven other journalists. Charbonnier had been placed under police protection in recent times after receiving death threats in the past.

Charbonnier and his fellow staffers were killed during an editorial meeting, which are often brutal, but rarely deadly. The magazine’s last tweet on social media site Twitter before the attack showed a cartoon of the ISIS leader.

Two days later French law enforcement tracked down two of the suspected gunmen who went out in a hail of bullets outside of a printing plant where they had taken hostages.

Police identified Cherif Kouachi, 32, his brother Said Kouachi , 34 as the attackers in the magazine killings. Authorities said the two brothers were linked to terrorist militant organization al-Quaida.

In a nearby Kosher market, police cornered a man identified as Amedy Coulibaly, 32, who was also said to be tied to the terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo. The man, who killed four people in a deli, died during the shoot-out.

After Coulibaly’s death, French authorities hunted his wife Hayat Bourmeddiene, who reportedly escaped from France and entered Syria to join ISIS.

We’re On A World Tour

As if shooting up a newsroom full of writers and cartoonists was not douchey enough, the response to the killings and the responses to the response, as it were, could have wiped out the entire stock of feminine hygiene products in any mid-sized hamlet.

As it turned out, the murder of 12 journalists and police after publishing a religiously reprehensible cartoon somehow sparked a religious confrontation between Muslims and non-Muslims all across the world.

The night after the attacks, thousands lined the area outside the publication in a show of solidarity in various areas throughout Paris.  The mourning went international as signs stating: “I Am Charlie” and “Je suis Charlie” popped up all over Europe in areas from Trafalgar Square in London to Madrid, Nice, Rome and Brussels to name a few.

charliehebdomourners

As protests in support of the magazine and free speech rose around the world, Muslims in countries from Algeria and Pakistan to Niger identified the murders of police and journalists in France as a philosophical and religious confrontation worthy of riotous behavior.

Rioting was sparked in many cities and in Pakistan the French flag was burned along with effigies of Francois Holland, as Muslims called for a ban on the magazine. Others honored the memory of the brothers killed in France after assassinating the journalists.

One of the largest protests occurred in Lahore, Pakistan where chants of “Down with Charlie Hebdo and Death to blasphemers” were fashionable.

In Chechnya thousands of protestors lined the streets in the mostly Muslim area and proclaimed death to France and again the end to the magazine. In Jalalabad, Afghanistan protestors demanded the French Embassy in Kabul be shuttered and that the French government issue a formal apology to all Muslims for the hub-bub.

Back in America, segments of our society seemed swole that we weren’t involved in the public protests and conversation, so a rift had to be initiated to get us in the dialogue.

Conservatives, still upset the administration did not commit troops to Syria and Iraq for the battle with the Islamic State, found their opportunity to tweak President Obama over the massacre at Charlie Hebdo.

Of course it’s his fault.

Obama was painted as aloof when he didn’t drop everything he was doing and fly to Paris for a show of solidarity against terrorism. Dubbed the “Unity March,” the event attracted 40 leaders from across the world and about 3.5 million protestors across France, which was the largest demonstration in that country’s history.

By sending the U.S. Ambassador to France Jane Hartley, it was said America continued to lead from behind and missed an opportunity to show the world its commitment to fighting terrorism.

I guess the last 14 years after the attacks during Sept. 11, 2001 and the billions spent Obama claimed security risks prevented him from attending the rally against terrorism.

With the opportunity largely missed and Ambassador to France Jane Hartley, not respected as a large enough presence, the White House seemed to take a “mulligan” and drop itself firmly into a “douche zone” that allowed attacks from the likes of GOP Sen. Ted Cruz and others.

Cruz and the GOP said Obama’s lack of attendance highlighted America’s lack of leadership on the international front. Not too surprising from a political groups that saw Arab Spring as an opportunity rather than a political uprising.

Remember Cruz and his douchey lot thinks the United States should still be at war in Iraq and Afghanistan; bombing Iran and fighting rebels in Syria and Libya.

No Laughing Matter

Just when I was prepared to dismiss this incident as something douchey, but certainly something foreign to good old fashioned douchiness here in America, one of my favorite comedians brought it right on home and into my living room.

Home Box Office (HBO) talk show host Bill Maher dove in and attacked the topic with zeal.

For Maher, a committed atheist, all religion is something to be ridiculed and the divider of all humans. To some degree, I don’t disagree with him on this point.

However, several months ago Maher normal irreverence toward “religulous-ness” turned darker and more focused when it came to Islam. For a middle aged man who was raised Catholic and is also part Jewish, it’s not completely surprising that Maher would emerge from Cornell with a jaded view of world religion.

I am a fan of the former Jerseyan, but have found it difficult to listen to his ongoing harangues against an entire religious community.  Maher’s “Islam-a-phobia” or bigoted view of Islam is disgusting and lacks context, especially in light of all of the things done under the banner of Christianity, like slavery, hangings, as well as the oppression of women and homosexuals.

Honestly, I have often agreed on his philosophical outlook on “religion,” as a thing, because largely I agree with his central point.

Religion is wonderful in its goal of worshipping a singular being or group of deities in pursuit of understanding the need or usefulness of human existence. However, flawed and frail, humans often pervert the true goal of religion, which is essentially a celebration of the human condition.

As Americans, we should be especially cognizant of the role religion can play in a society.

The rebels who founded this nation left England largely because of a need for religious freedom from the Church of England.

Well in today’s America, where religion is used as an affirmation for being righteous and a way to condemn others who are not as holy as thou, it’s ironic that anyone would be surprised there are other religious zealots using worship of God to control the masses

Maher often laughs at the religious right and the Conservative pols they employ in regards to their views on Islam and Christianity. Not long after the attacks on the U.S. embassy in Benghazi, Libya the comedian stopped laughing and instead began siding with the very people he lampooned.

During this new offensive, Maher joined those vilifying the religious belief of millions and began characterizing the face of student activism and radical fundamentalism as the face of Islam. Maher equated the religion with terrorism, just like the right wing nut jobs that he so routinely ridicules.

Episode after episode Maher has criticized the entire religion by pointing out the violent and disagreeable methods of followers who use their worship of a single God to murder and maim people in an act of war.

As horrible and bellicose as those actions have been, and they have been, objectifying an entire religious community by loosely categorizing those terroristic actions as “crazy Muslim shit…” is inaccurate and generally stupid for such a smart guy.

You know things are screwed up when I find myself supporting Ben Affleck, a Bostonian from usually racist Southie over my fellow Jerseyan.

In the end, once we sink to that level of singling out entire groups for the provocative actions of a few, all religions and races become fair game and the next thing you know unarmed men who happen to look a certain way start getting shot down in the streets because of preconceived notions.

Even atheists like Maher should know, someone in his immediate family was probably stripped of their rights and placed in a ghetto for following Judaism.

No one who has fought for human rights and Civil Rights against Christian based terror groups like the KKK and pseudo religious governments like ours during the 19th and early 20th Century, should know the danger of believing radicals define the mainstream of any society.

As President Obama has repeatedly stated, the UN and world community is at odds and at war against the ISIS terroristic group, not a religion.

To this end, two douchey acts, one murderous and another psychologically damaging, don’t make a right.

We can no more support the slaughter of unarmed journalists with a wrong-minded opinion, than we can support the unilateral denouncement of a religion because factions that follow it are jihadists. The combination of murder for political theater and religious intolerance it has received back from the western world has distorted a set of beliefs that have provided context and structure to the human experience for thousands of years.

Good show humans!

So this one goes out to you, jihadists, journalists and comedians, you have earned the Boom Bap Radio Douchey McDouche Bag Award for January 2015. You newsroom slaughtering, religion bashing, bigoted douche bags!

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