Garry Trudeau vs. Charlie Hebdo

“Spare me your sanctimony about ‘punching down’ – when someone brings a gun to the fight, punching down is a kindness,” wrote Jason Kuznicki at the time of the Charlie Hebdo massacre. His words well anticipated the spectacle of cartoonist Garry Trudeau (“Doonesbury”) now suggesting that it is “hate speech” to challenge the claims of a major world religion some of whose fanatical adherents regularly menace cartoonists, journalists, scholars, and artists around the world. Eugene Volokh dissects Trudeau here, keeping his temper better than I suspect I would have done. And more from Amanda Kendal in the U.K.; pursuant to points both Volokh and Kendal make, the arbitrary and manipulable nature of the “punching up/down” discourse is an important clue to its intended use as a mechanism of control.

Earlier on Trudeau and Doonesbury here and here. More: David Frum; Jesse Walker (Trudeau inaccurate re: actual editorial posture of Charlie Hebdo); Ken at Popehat (“journalists who confront and defy blasphemy norms are helping to make the point that religious offense is no excuse for murder. If that’s punching down, let’s punch harder.”)


  • There is one point that hasn’t as far as I know really been addressed, namely the claim that, although at the world level, Muslims are numerous and powerful, within France they are an oppressed minority, as a result of which it is inappropriate for a French publication to criticize or insult t hem. While many French Muslims are indeed alienated, and while there is indeed anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim sentiment, French Muslims are by most standards quite well off. The great majority of them have French nationality and are not at risk of deportation. They are not confined to refugee camps or detention centers.The welfare system means that they are neither starving nor homeless. They have access to health care and to free public education. They are not at risk of violence either from the state or from individuals. They are free to practice their religion and to speak and write what they like. To a large extent, their alienation is the result of their own decisions not to integrate and their rejection of the secularism of the French state.

  • I had vaguely fond memories of Trudeau’s Doonesbury strip from my college days in the early 1970s, but had lost track of him in recent decades. Then I heard last fall that he had “jumped the shark” with a series of strips taking Rolling Stone’s UVA article at face value even after it had been discredited. Now I find that he is a truly despicable human being who would deny others the same protections he had enjoyed himself. Last year those protective of his reputation should have chloroformed and stuffed him.

  • […] Reminder: as you lie bleeding to death on your office floor for drawing satire, Garry Trudeau will sneer at you for “punching down.” Greg Lukianoff and Patheos’s “Terry Firma” weigh in on the “Doonesbury” cartoonist’s sad contribution to the Charlie Hebdo discussion. Earlier here. […]

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