TOM THE DANCING BUG: Doonsebury's Charlie Hebdo Problem



I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so hard at someone being shot. Well, there was one other time…


I respect the punching down point, but THAT is a matter of kindness and morals, while free speech (not to mention violence) are matters of law. At any rate ,it’s kind of amazing to see a cartoonist willing to call out a colleague as respected as Trudeau.


He’s been airing his upset on his blog and Twitter feed for a while now (probably since he originally drew this comic, I guess). I’m not sure I would have heard of Trudeau’s column otherwise.

Never heard of… how old am I?


I mean specifically Trudeau’s bit on “punching down”, not Doonesbury itself. That I read Doonesbury every day and feel that it offers something unique is perhaps a true sign of how much I have aged.

If anyone is interested in reading Trudeau’s original words on the subject, which were part a speech he gave a few weeks ago, here they are.

Fair warning, it may challenge your ability to get or stay as outraged at Trudeau as Bolling seems to want you to be.


Trudeau’s error is in not understanding French or French culture. The Charlie Hebdo cartoons he finds offensive were satirical examinations of things that bigots believe.

In other words, the French are capable of doing what MAD Magazine does, or what NATIONAL LAMPOON used to do: make fun of bigots with bigot-shaped objects. This is an honorable way to punch upward, going back to Swift and beyond.

Trudeau’s normally very perceptive. I don’t know how this got past him, except for maybe the language difference, or the way the cartoons were presented completely out of context, as if they represented the true beliefs of the murdered cartoonists.

[edited to fix spelling of Trudeau — which I thought I’d already fixed]


There were an awful lot of French that weren’t in on the joke, either, and didn’t find the cartoons funny. Of course, most of them were immigrants, so they don’t count, right?

French cultural, despite the clichés, is not monolithic. Their empirical/colonial legacy is a pluralistic polyglot society, as much as LePen and his ilk would try to deny.


Of course. A lot of people don’t understand that Colbert was faking it, too. Every culture has its share of the totally oblivious. Optimist that I am, I always forget.


“I’m aware that I make these observations from a special position, one of safety.”

But is that safety because he’s in the US or safety because he doesn’t criticize people who have shown they will hurt you for mocking them.
From such a privileged position, doesn’t everything look like punching down?

Wow, a cartoonist exaggerating a point in order to satirise it. Whatever next?

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Well said and illustrated by Bolling. Trudeau and the other reprehensible cowards in the “I’m in favor of freedom of speech…BUT” crowd seem to forget that this same group of murdering fanatics are just as deadly serious about women driving or homosexuality.

In their haste to decry any slights to multicultural progressivism, they’re all too willing to forget centuries of “insulting” satire of the entrenched powers of church, govt, racism, etc. They also conveniently forget to point out just who is the decider on whether a goddamn cartoon can be offensive enough that it serves as justification for cold-blooded murder.

If they’re so willing to relinquish free speech, they should at least be honest about being cowardly, bleating sheep. Speech with endless restrictions is not “free”.


This is a really dumb cartoon by Bolling. Charley Hebdo’s Muslim insulting cartoons were legally protected free speech already, rightly so as far as I’m concerned, and obviously murdering the staff was completely illegal and the perps were killed. Cop killers rarely make it to court.

Obviously anti Jewish cartoons in France are not protected free speech. And also obviously insulting the weak and powerless is a fairly useless use of satire.

And also obviously France immediately began rounding up people whose satire was not protected free speech I.e. Supportive of the dominant anti-Muslim narrative.

And as for the rogues gallery walking arm in arm in support of free speech? Now that was the end of satire, as was said of Kissinger winning the Nobel peace prize…


but that’s the point… Charlie Hebdo wasn’t insulting the weak and powerless. They aren’t anti-muslim. And that’s what Trudeau and lots of other people keep getting wrong. Needless to say I am against anyone being killed for expressing their opinions. period. But the artists at Charlie Hebdo were killed because they were misunderstood as insulting a group which they weren’t intending to insult.


I think there are anti-muslim sentiments in france, but those are the people Charlie Hebdo was satirizing.


I think you are wrong. They enjoyed causing offence. This is, and should be, completely legal. Unless you are offending the wrong people of course. So it’s illegal to deny the Shoah, and I kind of understand why it is in some countries, but it’s perfectly acceptable to express that the slaughter of millions in the Maghreb and in indo chine is something that one should feel a certain nostalgia for. French mass murder of Muslims and other nonwhites being not all bad obvs.

Lots of people like causing offence and they think it’s big and clever rather than petty and stupid. Their murder is still utter tragic.

Looks like a bunch of other people don’t get it either.

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At funerals, it’s traditional and polite to celebrate the deceased’s good points and play down their bad points. Nonetheless, getting murdered by psychopaths does not retroactively validate everything you did.

And I’ve never had much patience for the “I’m not a jerk, I’m satirizing jerks by acting exactly like a jerk!” argument. That just sounds like trolling to me.

Free speech means you have the right to be a jerk. It doesn’t mean that you should.


If that were the case, mad magazine wouldn’t exist. They were always being “jerks” spoofing superman or Murphy brown or Madison Avenue. Stephen Colbert is being a “jerk” spoofing republicans. Well I don’t really think they are being jerks. It’s just satire of its pointed in the right direction. That is, making fun of people who are opressing or taking advantage of others. Which if you go case by case, is the context of all those Charlie hebdo covers people found “offensive”.