Giving murders an American perspective

Monday, April 27, 2015

Americans tend to be insular in our cultural outlook. The January 7 massacre of twelve people at the offices of the French satirical weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris, France, is a tragedy that we don't relate to in an emotional way.

The rallying slogan of sympathizers with the slain cartoonists, "Je suis Charlie' meaning "I am Charlie," seems foreign to us in more than just language.

There is a tendency for Americans to seriously consider the question of whether the provocative nature of the cartoons in Charlie Hebdo makes the cartoonists at least partially responsible for their own murders.

To give an American perspective to the tragedy, consider the adult-oriented animated series 'South Park'. That comedy is no example of cultural sensitivity.

One episode featured religious founders, including Jesus and Mohammed, in absurd and irreverent situations. If a group of religious fanatics, of any religion, assassinated the creators of South Park for that irreverence, the overwhelming majority of Americans would be outraged, without qualifications regarding the lack of tastefulness in the series.

Those who must qualify condemnation of the murders with a statement such as, "But the cartoons are so offensive," do not understand the principles on which the