Re: Charlie Hebdo: A Death in My Family

The following is my reply to a post by another Brother: Charlie Hebdo: A Death in My Family


I appreciate your thoughts but I disagree on some points.

because they were exercising their free speech

There is the right to having free speech and being able to say what you want. I'm all for that. However there is also being repeatedly disrespectful to another's views/beliefs/religion. This is no longer free speech, this is being uncivil and absolutely disrespectful to others. While I don't think they should have died/deserved to die, I do think they were guilty of not exercising civility. Just because you can say something, doesn't mean you should.

constantly threatened with death for doing something as simple as writing funny cartoons

One man's funny is quite offensive to others. You don't attack other's beliefs, especially religion. You respect the rights of others to believe what they want. You don't continually mock one's religion/God/prophet in satirical illustrations that some even offend people NOT of the religion being mocked. They weren't being funny, they were being mocking, nay, derisive and full of hatred in their magazine.

We as Masons are taught through our ritual and through our culture that we have a bond to the fraternity and each other

We are also instructed that we are all on the level and that we shouldn't judge others for their beliefs. We've also learned as Masons that it's not fun to be persecuted... I mean the wiki entry Suppression of Freemasonry is a good starting point. Let me ask you this Brother, how would you feel if someone took something sacred to you, let's say Freemasonry, and began making hate-filled 'satirical' cartoons about Freemasonry. You'd be mad. Now what if you were devoutly religious and someone started taking your God/prophet/important religious figure and started making cartoons about them showing them doing idiotic thing, carrying out acts of a sexual or romantic nature with a person or animal that your religion prohibits etc? You'd be mad.

Pardon my language, but what really chaps my ass, is the fact that there WERE Brothers working at this publication. We shouldn't be making fun of the beliefs of others, whether we find it comical or not (because they probably won't). These satirical comics that Charlie Hebdo were producing were funny to some but grossly offensive to others. That's just unacceptable. 

I also felt pride that my brothers were there, doing things that stood for something and shaped the world.

I'm sorry, I don't take pride in bullying and bigotry. They weren't making cartoons saying why they preferred their belief over the belief of their target, they were showing extreme prejudice and bigotry for a specific group of people that make up a significant portion of the world's population.

but Michel and Bernard were the ones who actually were going out and doing something. They were the ones with the guts. The ones without fear.

They were the ones showing cowardice, afraid of the beliefs of others and lashing out against those beliefs with disrespectful illustrations that they claimed to be tasteful satire. Disgusting.

I'm truly sorry that these individuals were killed but let us take some good from this tragedy. Let us see it as a reminder to be more civil and tolerant of the beliefs of others, to be more respectful of the beliefs of others. There is absolutely no reason, in a civil society, that those comics should have been created and published. 


A response to my disagreements has been posted

Let me address it

We shouldn’t judge other people for their beliefs? Where in the ritual is that?

Not necessarily degree ritual but there are two things you do NOT talk about in Lodge. Religion and politics. Even in the York Rite with Templar stuff you must admit you are a Christian but you are never told to look down on those that aren't Christian. 

If Bob is the Worshipful Master and has on a cornstarch blue tie, I don't stop a degree "Hey Bob, what the hell man, cornstarch blue is so silly, Brothers laugh at Bob for his tie, everyone knows royal blue is far superior, oh Bob you are so silly"...

If someone made comics attacking Freemasonry, I would be THRILLED to offer a rebuttal.

Well, 2 men did make a rebuttal to the Islam-mocking comics. They did it with bullets. Because that's how some people think, not everyone can be civil and laugh off when you mock their beliefs or belief system, it's something they are passionate about and they may be from a culture that has developed a mindset in them that violence is an acceptable solution to everything.

Bullying? Charlie Hebdo was a publication with 45,000 papers circulated per issue.


  1. verb

    gerund or present participle: bullying

    1. use superior strength or influence to intimidate (someone), typically to force him or her to do what one wants.

Is 45,000 more than the billion plus Muslims on the planet? No. Is a publication with a subscriber base of 45,000 of significant influence? While it's only 0.068 percent of France's population, 45,000 isn't a number to laugh at. Say each subscriber had an average household of 2.5 you now have 112,500 eyeballs looking at it also several of 'cartoons' are readily available online (and likely were prior to the shooting) which can be circulated via email, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr etc considerably amplifying the number of eyes seeing them.

They target a problem and show it in a humorous or thoughtful light

A man in traditional middle-eastern garb open-mouthed kissing an artist in a Charlie Hebdo shirt. A bare, and ample, bottomed depiction of the most important prophet in Islam in a suggestive prone upright position with what appears to be Woody Allen filming him from behind... how are these targeting problems in a humourous or thoughtful light? These are two guarnateed ways to absolutely offend Muslims one blatantly showing homosexuality which is not supported in Islam or in primarily Islamic countries the other hinting at homosexuality and depicting the CHIEF prophet of Islam which you just don't do. These guys KNEW they were going to get people very upset with them, there are examples in recent history that received national coverage from similar illustrations. They weren't trying to bring light to a situation they were intentionally attempting to offend a significant portion of the world's population!!!

Afraid of the beliefs of others? Citation needed on this one.

Read literature on bullying, preferably from a behavioral specialist. You'll find that generally bullies are hiding behind a mask of anger/aggression/violence or even sarcasm as a shield. Something in their life has caused them enough fear to need to lash out at others. Sometimes they lash out at the cause of their fear which you'll see as physical confrontation with the person, or someone from a group, that has scared them. Sometimes it will be a soldier coming home from war afraid of what they saw and did and they'll become self-destructive or lash out at their friends and family (generally their partner or children). Sometimes it will be a weaker individual that just happens to be around, the bully on the playground picks a kid smaller than himself to lash out against because someone in his life scares him and he can take some comfort in terrorizing another weaker human being. These attacks can be verbal or physical, a satirical comic can be motivated by fear, hatred or uncertainty. Intentionally drawing comics that are guaranteed to offend is either idiocy or fueled by hatred/fear/intolerance.

Many Masons lost their lives question and attacking the power structures of monarchal Europe and we should all admire them for their work.

I agree 100%, but this publication wasn't fighting for their own freedom from oppression. They weren't taking up arms and heading off to terrorist camps, they were disrespecting more than a billion people with cartoon images that were sure to offend. If they wanted to make a difference they should have written articles on the oppression of women and of basic civil rights in some countries were crimes against humanity take place on a regular basis. They should have poured that time and effort into interviewing women that have been maimed for being women, little girls that were forced into marriages with men several decades their senior, They should have used their audience to bring awareness to groups that exist that are trying to peacefully work to bring about change. They could have been making funny comics for sick children in hospitals to help their quality of life in dark and scary times, not provoking individuals that believe in a violent and radical Islam.

For my readers that aren't Freemasons and are a bit more curious as to Freemasonry please don't take these cartoonists as an example of what a Mason is in regards to their 'satirical' view of the faith of others. If you want to learn more I'd recommend you check out Brother Hodapp's book Freemasons For Dummies 

Freemasons For Dummies
By Christopher Hodapp