Tuesday, May 30, 2006

I'm blasphemous. Consequently I exist


"Cogito, ergo sum" is being turned into "I'm blasphemous, consequently I exist" by Charlie Hebdo the French satirical weekly that published the Mohammed cartoons. Wednesday the weekly is going to publish a special issue of 79 pages with blasphemous texts and cartoons of - in some cases - partly or wholly undressed clerical personalities.

This is supposed to be funny. Anyway, we're dealing with Charlie Hebdo. So perhaps it will be funny. Among others there will be a drawing by one of the paper's cartoonists in which he is himself drawing the prophet Mohammed as an SM dreesed in leather. By way of revenge the prophet inflates his ego and threatens to bring about a tsunami and bird flu. The cartoonist reacts by erasing the drawing.

Charlie Hebdo sold a lot more papers in February when it published the Mohammed cartoons. Perhaps it wants to repeat the success. Perhaps it wants to express its credo that man only exists when satirizing. Anyway, there is no doubt that the Mohammed cartoons case is going to be a never-ending saga. On Sunday the 28th the cartoons were published again by the progressive Danish paper the Politiken. A triumphant chief editor, Tøger Seidenfaden, declared in Danish media that this showed what the matter was really about. When you didn't do it in harm's way, no harm was done. The Jyllandsposten, he said, published the cartoons as a deliberate provocation, and then the muslims naturally felt provoked.

Maybe Tøger Seidenfaden is right. That remains to be seen. It is also possible that people have just lost interest in the cartoons.

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