Category Archives: Humour

Charlie Hebdo: “Let’s convey the message that we are alive! And that we’re not leaving out our criticism of religion.”

The first editorial meeting of Charlie Hebdo since the outrages attack on their press office which killed ten members of staff. Translation via Slate, from the original article in French here by Isabelle Hanne of Libération.

The article below is on a Creative Commons licence to be shared by all.

Charlie Hebdo’s editorial meeting will have lasted more than three hours in all. In addition to layout, subjects, and deadlines, they must also talk this Friday morning about the dead, the injured, tributes, funerals. The conference room where Libération usually holds its daily meeting is occupied on this occasion by the satirical newspaper’s survivors. The room, lit from one side by a large, round window, is at once overheated and open to the four winds to let cigarette smoke float out.

On the large round table are computers loaned to the group by Le Monde. Sitting around the table are Willem, Luz, Coco, Babouse, Sigolène Vinson, Antonio Fischetti, Zineb El Rhazoui, Laurent Léger … In all, more than 25 people, with gray faces and swollen eyes, the hardcore, close friends or occasional collaborators, are there to prepare the next edition of Charlie Hebdo. It must come out next Wednesday, with 1 million copies to be printed, about 20 times their usual circulation.

“I could see everyone at the hospital,” begins Gérard Biard, the editor-in-chief of Charlie. “Riss’ right shoulder was injured, but the nerve wasn’t hit. He was clearly in a lot of pain. The first thing that he said was that he wasn’t sure that we could continue to publish the newspaper.” Fabrice Nicolino, struck multiple times in the attack, “is doing better,” even if he “is of course suffering a lot.” Patrick Pelloux, an emergency room doctor and columnist for Charlie, explains the jaw injury of another victim, Philippe Lançon, also a journalist for Libération. Simon Fieschi, Charlie’s Webmaster, according to Pelloux, has been “put in an induced coma.” A young woman breaks down. “You don’t have to feel guilty,” Biard comforts her. Everyone hangs their head in silence. The woman who’s crying is journalist Sigolène Vinson, who was at the editorial meeting at the moment of the attack on Wednesday but was spared by the attackers.

Biard moves on to the dead. How to organize the funeral services? And the national tribute? With what sort of music? Still no flags? “We shouldn’t use a symbol that they would have hated,” notes someone sitting at the table. “They killed people who drew little cartoon men. Not flags. We must remember the simplicity of these people, of their work. Our friends are dead, but we’re not going to put them on display.” Everyone agrees.

A journalist explains that a crowdfunding campaign, spontaneously created on the Internet by strangers, has already collected 98,000 euros in less than 24 hours. Charlie’s survivors are inundated with subscription requests that they can’t handle at the moment. Charlie Hebdo’s lawyer, Richard Malka, speaks. “There’s money arriving from everywhere. Assistance, space, personnel to deal with requests …” “We have received support from lots of media sources,” echoes Christophe Thévenet, another lawyer for the newspaper. “There are donations, already 250,000 euros from the Press and Pluralism Association, the million euros pledged by Fleur Pellerin [the French Minister of Culture and Communication]. … You are going to have finances like never before at Charlie!” The lawyer would know something about that: He’s the one who developed the newspaper’s regulations and who runs the paper’s general meetings. These past few months, the weekly had put out a call for donations to try to replenish its coffers, which were in bad shape.

“So, are we doing the newspaper?” asks Biard, who, it’s apparent, wants to fight to the finish. “What do we put on its pages?” “I don’t know, what’s in the news?” asks Pelloux. Nervous giggles. Biard starts again: “I’d be in favor of doing a quote-unquote normal edition. Let the readers recognize Charlie. That’s not an exceptional edition.” “Not even hurt!” calls out someone at the table. Some people mention the idea of leaving blank spaces where those killed Wednesday would have written or drawn. In the end, the team is against the idea. “I don’t want there to be material emptiness,” argues Biard. “They must all be there, in the pages. And Mustapha too.” Mustapha Ourrad, the copy editor, is among the long list of those killed in Wednesday’s attack. “Then leave in my mistakes!” joke Pelloux and the others.

“Oh, hey! Fidel Castro is dead!” thunders Luz, sticking up his middle fingers upon discovering the news (which would quickly be disproven) on his cellphone. Reporter Laurent Leger tries to refocus the debate on the newspaper: “I think we shouldn’t do obituaries, we’re not going to do a tribute edition.” The editors debate the content of the newspaper. Biard: “I hope that people stop calling us secular fundamentalists, that they stop saying ‘Yes, but’ to free expression.” Leger: “I think that we can also say that we were very lonely these past few years.” Luz: “This edition also needs to talk about what comes next.” Corinne Rey: “Let’s convey the message that we are alive!” Malka: “And that we’re not leaving out our criticism of religion.”

Charlie Hebdo is a curious newspaper: It doesn’t really have sections but “spaces” allocated for each author, each cartoonist. For the spaces of the deceased, the team decides to find previously unpublished material to print. So, in the edition that will hit newsstands Wednesday, there will be some Charb, some Cabu, some Wolinski, some Honoré … During the discussions, there are sobs here and there, like brush fires that light up only to be extinguished in the arms of a neighbor. There are hands grasped and wet eyes.

Malka clears his throat: “Manuel Valls [the French prime minister] just arrived on the premises.” The team sighs, spreads out, chats. Accompanied by Fleur Pellerin, the minister of culture and communication, who sports a “Je suis Charlie” sticker on her chest, and a horde of outside journalists, assistants, and communications people, the prime minister shakes the hands of those present, releasing some news on the ongoing situation in Dammartin-en-Goële—“The two gunmen are in a trap”—before bidding them to be “full of courage.”

Biard ventures to say: “OK, the journalists are gone? The ministers are gone? For Page 16, what are we going to do?” The question is lost in the sound of Coke cans opening, people snacking on pains au chocolat, muffled sobs, police sirens outside. In his corner, Pelloux jokes, “So it’s a real editorial meeting, then, it’s mayhem, we’re really back.”

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Daily Mail: Sandwichgate

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Answering the call of the Daily Mail headline “Is There No One Left In Britain Who Can Make A Sandwich?” patriotic Britons attempted to live up to the Earl of Sandwich.

On twitter they responded:

Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog

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[Added tweets to original post]

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Richard Dawkins Mistakenly Rails Against Blocked Website

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Move over honey pot, because steaming down the track was a new locomotion of a commotion for Richard Dawkins:

https://twitter.com/richarddawkins/status/525988792982044673

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If you read his screen grab, the answer presents itself – to prevent a few users slowing down the internet watching videos, streaming is blocked. Needless to say, there were too many good puns to be had to just point that out …

Free thought does require you train yourself to read the small print. Not just for religious terms and conditions.

So “The God Delusion” lecture was not being blocked after all … this would never have happened, rationally, on a replacement bus service as above.

Update:

Incidentally, here is the lecture Dawkins was looking for:

Update:

Dawkins apologises:

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Video: David Cameron Conference Speech Parody

Set to Eminem’s 2002 track ‘Lose Yourself’, the rap slices together moments from the Prime Minister’s party speeches over the years.

It was released the day a new EU law came into effect which allows comedians to splice together or parody other people’s work without risking legal action. [The Independent]

(N.B. some use of mother farmers in video, but in a pulp fiction sense)

The British Prime Minister’s actual speech to the Conservative Party Conference did reach moments of self parody.

Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog

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Dawkins Endorses Anti-Muslim Twitter Account

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Richard Dawkins promotes following @jihadistjoe on twitter. The following screen grabs are from the same day Dawkins endorsed, but just before he tweeted his endorsement.

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Jesus and Mo cartoons strike the balance between humour and biting satire by tackling outrages religious ideas and thinking with irreverence. @JihadistJoe however plays on Muslim streotypes, using far right propaganda that all Muslims are a danger to society. Regrettably the cartoons @jihadistjoe uses hark back to the dark days of caricature designed to make bigotry and prejudice acceptable by being regularly seen.

Treating Muslims as extremists or their supporters because they follow Islam is anti-Muslim bigotry. The insidious suggestion is secretly (without being honest or duped) they work to undermine democracy and society. To point out believing this is a crazy conspiracy mindset that goes against everyday experience with Muslims in the UK, is to be met with the suggestion you are a willing dhimmi or a useful idiot.

Secularism is about promoting rights for all as equal citizens. Religion does not have preferential treatment in public space over others, citizens are free to believe or disbelieve without penalty or favour. The state does not control faith, and promotes a pluralistic society where individual rights are paramount. We are truly free to think for ourselves and understand God or the world around us, and form our own moral compass, as law abiding citizens.

People deliberately overlook the contributions against extremism by Muslims who champion secularism. Dismissing the concern secularists have against anti-Muslim bigotry. Just two examples of pluralism and secularism in action: Maajid Nawaz chairman of Quilliam anti-extremist think tank, has recently mean made an honorary associate of the National Secular Society. While atheist Peter Tatchell has become a patron of Tell Mama, the anti-Muslim bigotry charity.

When Richard Dawkins endorsed the account, he accused one person that pointed out how bad the account was of lacking humour and judgment. Yes Richard, humour might be down to personal taste, but if you cannot see what the account is promoting (at odds with secularism) then your own judgment has to be called into question.

We cannot let the extremists define us nor should we side with them. We can stand for human rights without using prejudice and bigotry.

    Update 6 July 2014:

Whilst most people seemed to get that suggesting Muslims “breeding” and having places to worship as part of “Jihadist support team” (the iceberg beneath the surface) are anti Muslim sentiments in line with extreme right wing views on Muslims, a few remain unconvinced or see this as isolated bum notes of an otherwise funny account. Whose aim is to use humour to target hatred at terrorists not Muslims. The other is how dare I be concerned about this account when people are being killed and oppressed in the name of Islam?

We need to fight bigotry and dehumanization of people by anyone.

On that note here are a few more tweets to see the focus is not on terrorism by islamists but Muslims too.

When discussing these things with @jihadistjoe online he said the context was “The Project” by the Muslim Brotherhood. A coordinated effort, to penetrate all levels of society with a “cultural invasion” with the aim “to progressively infiltrate, confront, and eventually establish Islamic domination over the West.” [Link he provided via twitter]

@Jihadistjoe did not explain where he was getting the cartoons from or where they were originally published. He also declined to reply on this blog.

A global conspiracy believer who uses it to justify his use of bigotry against Muslims has been promoted by Richard Dawkins. That saddens me as a fan of his work and as someone that writes about secular issues.

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London South Bank Student Union Apologise

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The Student Union (SU) have apologised to the President of the Atheist Society for removal of posters (see above), and released the following statement today at 3PM:

    Both the Students’ Union and its elected representatives encourage and promote debate of all religious, political and social issues. We will always listen and respond to complaints made to us by our students but we do not condone censorship; we encourage and promote debate of all religious, political and social issues at the Students’ Union.

    A complaint was made as the result of the interaction of individuals at a student-led event. In regards to the removal of the “Flying Spaghetti Monster” poster, a Union staff member did remove the poster but did so with a misunderstanding of Union policies. It is not currently nor has it ever been the Union policy to censor student groups or the materials they produce and as such this was not an authorised act and we have now ensured that staff know that they should not do this. The refusal to reprint the poster was an extension of the same misunderstanding of our process and we have now rectified this.

    We have apologised to the Atheist Society for the actions taken and the distress that it has caused. From a Union perspective the ‘Flying Spaghetti Monster’ Poster has not been banned and we have agreed with the Atheist Society to reprint these posters and distribute them on campus for them. They will also be displayed inside the Union’s locked poster boards in order to prevent them being taken down by other students. We respect that all students are able to have opinions, but as a Union we wish to support the promotion and growth of any Union Society or activity without having to be subjected to harassment by fellow students. We remind students that the appropriate response to opinions they may find offensive is to engage in healthy debate respecting the rights of others to hold views or beliefs differing from their own.

    In regards to the removal of the Atheist Society stall from the Fayre, this was due to a Pre-Planned Volunteering event, because of which resources and space were limited. To accommodate the situation we used a first come, first serve policy with the remaining tables and backing boards to make the best use of them. However, we do not wish to make excuses for posters having been removed and will from now on ensure that the policies the Union stand for are being observed by all our staff and all societies and members of the Union are treated fairly and equally. In recognising the distress caused to the society by our actions we have met with and apologised to The Atheist Society President and Vice president.

    We recognise that poor communications on our part meant that the Atheist Society was not aware of the switch to first come first serve in regards to the Refreshers Stalls and this subsequently meant that they lost out on their space at the fayre to the LGBTQ Society. As such we will be looking into better communications and general relations with the Atheist Society and all LSBU societies.

    The Atheist Society are as welcome at the Students’ Union as any group or Society and we completely respect and support their right to freedom of expression and free speech. We will continue to support the Atheist Society in this manner.’ [Photo and statement from BHA]

One would hope not just better training of SU staff members but someone available to contact so such matters can be addressed before any action is taken. Hopefully all Student Unions will notice this sort of issues cropping up in the media and start making sure they do not end up looking like incompetents or censorious.

Now hopefully they can also treat the president to a nice dinner as “compennesation.”

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As mentioned in a previous article on “pastagate”

Satire is the sauce that lets the meatballs go down, and noddles brought to a simmer bring out the full texture and richness to be had. Denying students such a rich diet is a betrayal of an education which they are paying for. To be challenged, taken out of their comfort zone, and be stronger and more determined in what they believe as graduates than before they embarked on improving their minds. [He]

Cloe Ansari [President of Atheist Society] has it spot on – this is not how a university that promotes argument, challenge and debate behaves. Regrettable that an investigation is needed before the University or the Student Union can say this poster should not have been removed in the first place. [He]

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London South Bank Student Union Reply On Banning FSM Poster

Yesterday wrote about this poster, advertising the London South Bank Atheist Society (SBAS), which was banned from being displayed at a refreshers fair (second term freshers fair essentially).

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    LSBSU reply to Incident involving South Bank Atheist Society

    11th February 2014 5:31 pm

    “As a Students’ Union we encourage and promote debate of all religious, political and social issues. We will always listen and respond to complaints made to us by our students but we do not condone censorship; we encourage and promote debate of all religious, political and social issues at the Students’ Union.”

    “We would like to state that the incident reported arose as a result of the interaction of individuals at a student-led event. It does not the reflect the policy of the Students’ Union.”

    “No individual or student group is being or has been banned from Union activity. We will be meeting with the President of the Atheist Society this week to discuss what happened, any concerns she may have and how we can continue supporting them and their members.”

    “As a student-led organisation, we want to see all of our societies develop and grow and we will be contacting all of the societies to ensure that they are able to feedback any concerns they may have and work with us in future to ensure we continue offering them the right level of support and representation.”

    Barbara Ahland,
    Students’ Union President
    London South Bank Students’ Union

Note that this is involving the Student Union (SU), rather than the University as they pointed out on twitter:

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My point is based that two hours after statement nothing on twitter still from the Student Union who did not even use twitter to promote. The statement itself makes no mention of the poster being prevented from being displayed, and whether this was sanctioned by an employee/agent of the Student Union, and whether such action would be in breach of their policy.

As LSBA commented on statement:

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The incident as reported by The British Humanist Association on the superimposed Flying Spaghetti Monster (FSM) poster being banned:

SBAS displayed the well-known image of the FSM on their pre-prepared stall the day before the freshers’ fair last week but when they returned to the stall the following day found that the posters had been removed. When they went to print some more to replace the missing posters they were stopped by union representatives who said that the posters had been deemed offensive and that it was the union that had removed them. Initially SBAS were told that it was the visibility of Adam’s genitals that was offensive but when SBAS offered to blur them out, they were told the problem was religious offence, because it was based on religious art. Their stall was removed by the student union authorities the next day and their official complaint against this action was still unanswered by the time the fair was over, preventing them from exhibiting.

President of South Bank Atheist Society Cloe Ansari commented ‘This incident is just one of a catalogue of attempts to censor our society. I never expected to face such blatant censorship and fragile sensibilities at university, I thought this would be an institution where I could challenge beliefs and in turn be challenged. All I have seen is religious sensibilities trumping all other rights with no space for argument, challenge or reasoned debate. It is not what I expected when I came to university.’

Cloe Ansari has it spot on – this is not how a university that promotes argument, challenge and debate behaves. Regrettable that an investigation is needed before the University or the Student Union can say this poster should not have been removed in the first place.

A balls up regarding Adam’s genitals. Religious offence photoshopping God as a Flying Spaghetti Monster. The prevention of a Society exhibiting at a refresher fair apparently not the same as banning Union activity – when a principle activity of a society is to get members.

Flaccid response by the Student Union, as Michelangelo might have depicted.

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