Archive for freedom of expression

nothing’s sacred [Charlie Hebdo repost]

Posted in Books, pictures with tags , , , , , , , on August 18, 2022 by xi'an

[Reposted a tribune by the Charlie Hebdo writers in Le Monde, 15 August]

The assassination attempt on Salman Rushdie is a reminder to those who seem to have forgotten that the basic freedoms of modern society, such as the freedom to create and express oneself, are constantly threatened by totalitarian ideologies around the world.

These hateful and contemptuous ideologies are based on political or religious theories whose self-proclaimed legitimacy raises questions. Salman Rushdie’s case forces us to question the place of religion and sacredness in our modern world.

If freedom of conscience gives each person the right to think what he or she wants about the origin of the world and its creation, the truths of religious revelation cannot impose their precepts on the whole of society. But for several years, we have noticed that religious practices are becoming more and more intrusive and authoritarian – when they are not outright threatening. This slippery slope seriously affects the subtle balance of democratic societies and creates a climate of insecurity, intimidation and violence that is no longer acceptable.

This is the goal of religious fanatics: to dissuade, through terror, the creation of works that challenge their dogmas, which are based on little more than a few visions from great mystics.

Can our modern societies be built around texts written by exalted minds? Nothing is sacred. The paradox is that today the mobilization to condemn the attack on Salman Rushdie seems stronger than the mobilization of artists to continue producing works that will perpetuate his vision. After those who have already been murdered, like Theo Van Gogh, and those who get stabbed during lectures, like Salman Rushdie, who will be left to continue their thinking and their struggle?

While global warming endangers living organisms on Earth, religious intolerance and unbridled mysticism threaten minds by suffocating them with prohibitions and irrevocable sentences.

To those who repeat: “We love death as much as you love life”, we must oppose limitless creativity and incessant insolence. No amount of moderation will allow us to enjoy the slightest indulgence from fanatics. The response must not only be political, through laws that protect freedoms and repress those who attack them. It must also be cultural and intellectual. We must never cease to challenge, using arguments and ideas, the dogmas and narratives of these so-called “sacred” books, which seek only to burn all others and to put to death those who wrote them.

Je ne plaide pas pour l’Histoire, Je n’en ai rien à faire, de l’Histoire. Je veux plaider pour aujourd’hui, pas pour demain.

Posted in Books with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 13, 2020 by xi'an

Here are some excerpts from the final argument of the Charlie Hebdo lawyer, Richard Malka (as I presume that publishing the integral plaidoirie would be a breach of copyright):

Le sens de ce procès c’est évidemment, et d’abord, de juger ces accusés. C’est de démontrer que le droit prime la force. Tout cela est déjà énorme, et dans n’importe quel procès ce serait suffisant. Mais pas là. Pas au regard des crimes commis. Les attentats de l’Hyper Cacher et de Charlie ne sont pas que des crimes. Ils ont une portée politique, philosophique, métaphysique. Ils convergent vers la même idée, ils ont le même but. Quand Coulibaly tue des juifs, il ne tue pas que des juifs, il tue l’autre. Charlie Hebdo aussi, c’est l’autre. Le sens de ces crimes, c’est l’annihilation de l’autre, de la différence. Si l’on ne répond pas à cela, on se sera arrêté en chemin.

Je ne plaide pas pour l’Histoire. Je n’en ai rien à faire, de l’Histoire. Je veux plaider pour aujourd’hui, pas pour demain. Pour les hommes d’ici et maintenant, pas pour les historiens du futur. Le futur, c’est comme le ciel, c’est virtuel. C’est à nous, et à nous seuls, qu’il revient de s’engager, de réfléchir, et parfois de prendre des risques pour rester libres d’être ce que nous voulons. C’est à nous, et à personne d’autre, de trouver les mots, de les prononcer pour recouvrir le son des couteaux sous nos gorges. A nous de rire, de dessiner, de jouir de nos libertés, face à des fanatiques qui voudront nous imposer leur monde de névroses et de frustrations. C’est à nous de nous battre pour rester libres. C’est ça qui se joue aujourd’hui.

Alors vous voyez, on n’a pas le choix. Renoncer à la libre critique des religions, renoncer aux caricatures de Mahomet, ce serait renoncer à notre histoire, à l’Encyclopédie, aux grandes lois de la République. Renoncer à enseigner que l’homme descend du singe et pas d’un songe. Renoncer à l’égalité pour les femmes, qui ne sont pas la moitié des hommes, à l’égalité pour les homosexuels, alors que, bizarrement, dans 72 pays au monde, les mêmes ou à peu près que ceux qui ont encore une législation contre le blasphème, l’homosexualité est encore une abomination.

touche pas à mon prof!

Posted in Kids, pictures with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 18, 2020 by xi'an

c’est reparti ! [bis]

Posted in Books, Kids, pictures, Running with tags , , , , , , , on September 25, 2020 by xi'an



Posted in Statistics with tags , , , , , , on September 3, 2016 by xi'an

27053069The current burkini bans and the ensuing controversy are yet another indicator of the low standards of the French political class as a whole. Rather than acknowledging that terrorist and (even less) psychopath attacks cannot be always prevented and that a democratic society has to live with the possibility of such dangers, politicians of both sides engage into a blame game and try to cater to far-right and xenophobic voters by introducing anti-democratic measures such as this absurd ban. Measures that have no impact whatsoever on the security threats but strongly infringe upon civil liberties. The reasons advanced by the dozen of mayors who imposed such bans are non-sensical: from hygiene (walking or bathing on one of those beaches can quickly demonstrate this is not a shared concern!), to good manners (no matter how one defines this term, beaches are the last place to seek good manners!), to public order (if wearing a specific dress leads to verbal or physical aggressions by other beach-goers, the aggressors should be prosecuted, not the aggressed), to women rights (because the few women involved visibly cannot make their own choices) and to security (of whom? the wearer who could drown in 30cm of water or the watcher who could choke upon one’s extreme-righteous rage?!). No, the real and only reason is to exclude muslim gear from beaches, once again to cater to the extreme portion of the electorate. Further, as noted by many commentators on this ridiculous affair, this ban only impacts women, while no French policeman goes asking male sunbathers about their religious or political opinions… Local and State authorities would be definitely inspired in creating support against social, religious and sexual harassment on women, rather than adding to this harassment.

As someone permanently opposed to dress codes, whether imposed by State, religions or social environment, I obviously object to such bans as a privation of liberty. The way and the reasons people dress or undress the way they dress or undress is their business, it does not have to account for the feelings of the onlookers, and one does not have to provide justification for wearing long sleeves or a scarf on a beach. Just as one does not have to wear long sleeves or a scarf to obey social pressure. The very few times I could not avoid standing on a beach with no shade, I chose to cover myself as much as possible. And did not feel I needed to give a reason for my attitude. The same should apply to everyone: Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité!

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