Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Thinking About The Charlie Hebdo Case

Cover by Renald "Luz" Luzier
 who over-slept and wasn't killed
in Charlie Hebdo attack.
I do find the attack on Charlie Hebdo to be a blow against all journalists and free expression.

To their credit, the magazine has carried on, although "to their credit" does have some baggage. One reason for the violence is many Muslims object to depictions of the Prophet, and as shown at right, the cover of the very next issue of Charlie Hebdo did exactly that.

But, it’s also important to note that much of what appeared in that French satirical magazine would be considered beyond the pale for almost any American publication. It has published anti-Catholic images as well as all sort of images that some interpret as almost hate speech against Islam.

It certainly reflects a very French hostility to religion in general.

My media class this spring is going to deal with the cultural impact of media, and of course the murder of 11 journalists in January is an important media event to reflect on.

So, students, click on these:
  • What your professor wrote in the immediate wake of the attack.
  • A recent news story that reflects on the controversy in France about Muslims being jailed for supporting the attack.
  • Jon Stewart’s pithy observations right after the attack. Also, questioning the consistency of French attitudes about free speech.
  • Some thoughts from Pope Francis on the attack and its violent aftermath.
Here are some questions I would like to us to talk about:
  • The Pope said that free speech has limits. Charlie Hebdo is part of a strong history of rather extreme anti-clerical commentary on the left side of French politics that attacks—not just Islam, but most organized religion, including the Catholic Church. Is Pope Francis right? If you agree, then who should set and enforce the rules?
  • There has been violence and attacks against Christians since the massacre in Paris, but the death toll in Africa from such terrorists attacks by Islamic militants has been much higher. Why is there so much more attention on Paris and Charlie Hebdo?
  • As we proceed through the semester, we’ll be talking about the cultural influence of media. There are lots of interesting things to think about in this case in those terms. How did the perpetrators become radical? Why do we sometimes demands that all Muslims condemn such an attack, but don’t, for example, require all Christians to apologize if an American drone kills innocent Pakistani civilians? What does this case say about what we “value” in our media?
Students, we will discuss these in class, but please do comment on this post here with your observations. You all have g mail accounts, so you should be able to use those to sign in to blogger.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Comments on the Passing Media Parade

It's an exciting time, to say the least, to be a media professor.

I'm planning to use this as a forum to comment on what I observe about media trends and history. I also write a monthly column for "The Corridor Business Journal," and don't plan to repeat any content here--this blog will more for informal media commentary.

In addition, students in my media courses may appear here now and then as guest writers.

So, on with the show ....