I’m Not Charlie. I’m The Doorman.

All must by now be aware of the murderous attack on the offices of the French magazine ‘Charlie Hebdo’, leaving so many dead or seriously wounded in its wake while the security forces thrash around in the search for the culprits.

What appears to be the cause of the attack? The publication of rude drawings of Mohammed with more or less witty commentaries. Alongside rude drawings of rabbis, priests, popes and politicians with equally more or less witty commentaries which have, so far, led none of the groupies of those so attacked to assault the offices with kalashnikovs.

I was never a fan of Charlie Hebdo…it drew on the tradition of the muck raking pamphleteering of the nineteenth century where fact could be overlaid by scatalogical innuendo to bring down opponents, allied to the more modern French passion for strip cartoons- Bandes Dessines – where ‘strip’ seems to be the main interest where female subjects are concerned. Macho, sexist, downright rude.

But sometimes extremely funny.
Mohammed bewails his sort…how hard it is to be worshipped by stupid bastards.

I also disliked it because it was run, edited and supplied with material by people who used and misused their perceived views of ‘les beaufs’ – the Parisian hoi polloi – to reflect views not publicly acceptable in their own social, PC milieu, however much those views were subscribed to sub rosa.

There was always a whiff of de haut en bas in a publication which appeared to be designed to allow the ‘haut’ to revel in the perceived views of the ‘bas’ without admitting that those prejudices mirrored their own.

France has been on a terror alert for years…there is a programme called ‘Vigipirate’ which seems to consist of putting crush barriers in front of small rural primary schools and not much else. It costs a fortune to administer and is..as events have proved….totally useless.
Ah, says the spokesman, that’s because it was it was designed to reassure the public rather then to be effective.
So you can’t park outside the school without the police moving you on but you can attack a building already subject to threat just as you please.
Or so it seems.

One of the editors of the magazine had a personal police bodyguard…who died in the attack.
Would it not have been better to have had a police watch on the premises? That way the poor chap on the door of the building might not have died.
Still..he’s not a journalist…not someone who matters…except to his family.

It reminds me of the attitudes of an earlier age which we thought – hoped – were forgotten…

All quiet along the Potomac

Not an officer lost, only one of the men, moaning out all alone the death rattle.

I sincerely hope that this incident will not prove to be an excuse for governments to further restrict the liberties of their citizens in the name of ‘security’…because ‘security’ it is not….

The services listening in on Tante Fanny’s conversations with her neighbour did nothing to prevent this incident: neither did the mad restrictions on what you can do with your own money when you move it through banks…and where were the CCTV cameras which are supposed to prevent crime and do nothing of the sort.

How could the police reaction have been so late and so puny in scale, giving rise to the death of officers? They might well be called upon to face danger in their job, but they don’t have to be put into danger by the poor planning of their superiors.

How could the perpetrators drive off through Paris without let or hindrance?

In meeting the threat of terrorism, this incident shows that the authorities have put in place neither prevention nor cure.

Already, politicians are playing games…the Front National should not be allowed to join in a march showing solidarity with the victims, trumpets a Socialist Party politician….
Already this appalling crime has become a debating game for the talking heads.

I hope that people will not let it fade to this…when marching, when putting up ‘Je Suis Charlie’ on their Facebook page, I hope that people will show their determination to defend freedom of expression -including against their own governments.

49 thoughts on “I’m Not Charlie. I’m The Doorman.”

  1. Another interesting perspective, Helen. I had many of the same questions. As we beef up our police forces, enforcing laws on the law-abiding, why are the criminals and rogues seemingly free to move about freely, esp. when they have been in prison for terrorist activities? It all seems window dressing. And shall remain so, until we rise up and demand real, accountable actions on behalf of the public. Until we as free people say, “No more,” and mean it.

    1. This has been worrying me for years….we seem to have a parallel society where known criminals seem to be subject to no restrictions while we find daily, law abiding, life more problematical at every step.
      We have to break the current political system where we are allowed to vote only to justify the tenure of power by political parties who are mirror images of each other…and to do that we have to have confidence in ourselves and in others, not allowing ourselves to be persuaded that one group of people is bad and another good…..we must see real people, not the stereotypes our masters put up in order to divide and rule.

  2. I am reminded of the whack-a-mole game where you smack the little bugger but another one pops up someplace else (your goal being to hit as many as possible before your token runs out). Such is similarly true with these mad men who try to justify their extremist views by killing of the innocent. News reports suggest there were some serious security short-comings surrounding yesterday’s attack in Paris, but until that next ‘pop-up’ can be accurately predicted (and appropriately secured), I’m afraid there will be more doormen casualties. Sadly, this club of victims is becoming way too big. 😦

    1. What worries me is exactly that…the authorities know that there is a threat – the premises were fire bombed a couple of years ago – and they form no preventative plan.

      Perhaps old fashioned policing would be more effective than listening on on our phones and computers…having police known to local communities and taking back into main stream society the seemingly ‘no go’ areas in towns. But you would need to back that up with offering top rate education, not cut rate as it is at the moment, and you would need an economy that can offer decent jobs – something that current politicians seem unable to undertake.
      Knock out the very real social grievances, allow decent people to live decently and you will sap the support for these filth.

  3. Well said, Helen. It’s not a publication I know nor do I think I would have been very tempted to read it if I had. I am rather taken by the description that Tails Around the Ranch uses in the comments box above – seems, literally, to have hit it on the head!

  4. I think most of what is passed off as antiterrorism measures is a sham, put in place to make us feel better, but in reality not doing a single thing to create a safer environment. In fact, they have done quite the opposite, as it seems with each new measure we give up more of our freedom. I find the whole thing quite depressing. There doesn’t seem to be any light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to extremism.

  5. . . in the flooding emotions, some genuine others very passing, what seems to be overlooked by so many are two points: examine the causes and ask ‘who benefits?’

    1. Yes….but we won’t see much of that in the press, unfortunately which is why I find the pro Charlie Hebdo articles hypocritical…
      I tried to comment on your last post on what is happening in the U.K. but couldn’t get it to work. I’ll have another go….

      1. seems to me that the bulk of the MSM is controlled and on message which is why it is basically useless as a source of accurate info. Social media is awash with bandwagon crocodile tears at each distraction which means it is down to each of us to dig out and filter alternative sources. Sorry if you are having troubles with archers I’ll do some checking to ensure you are not being binned automatically

        1. Thank you for checking….I’ll try again today.
          I agree about the MSM….it makes you look for newsletters, press from countries not controlled by Murdoch, blogs…anything to break through the curtain which conceals reality.

  6. Charlie Hebdo and Private Eye serve as balloon prickers. They know no fear or favour and from that point of view can be valuable thought provokers. I agree that the humour is often unpleasant and scatalogical and very male oriented. It is for those reasons I never read either magazine, but the cartoons are widely disseminated and often pin an issue rather nicely, if simplistically. The main reason I never read them is because taking in the occasional cartoon is one thing, but much of the humour and satire of the articles is written by and for an in crowd and I don’t quite get it. It irks me somewhat that the main beneficiary of the whole ghastly event is likely to be Michel Houellebecq, who I strongly suspect is a self aggrandising creep. I’m suspicious of the political machinations behind Saturday’s march too. That’s a whole different thing to the spontaneous rallies of last night. I think there is much to be admired about the journalists and cartoonists who died, but I feel sorriest about those who were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. To be honest, the person I feel most sorry for is Corinne Rey, who let the gunmen into the building. She has to live with that now.

    1. Yes, that poor woman! But had there been a proper police presence she would have been spared that and those people would still be alive. I cannot understand the lack of precaution….

      I agree, once you get organised marches being set up you get politics involved, whereas the vigils were spontaneous, and i don’t trust any of the political parties to do anything about the background to this atrocity.


      1. I read an interview with the CH staffer who was at a funeral yesterday morning and didn’t get in to work until later. He said that up until a few months ago there had been a police car parked outside the building at all times. He didn’t seem to know why the police had discontinued it. I presume a decent interval had been seen to be passed with no further trouble so they thought it safe to stand down.

        That’s another person to feel sorry for — the poor Muslim policeman who was just passing on his regular round! No police car, so he gets it. My understanding is that the gunmen blasted their way out as well. A police car blocked their way but retreated under a hail of bullets.

        1. You would think that if they provide a personal bodyguard for the editor then it might be an idea to maintain security on the building!
          Yes, that poor chap….unaware of what he was walking into…and the Noddy car hardly stood a chance…brave men to try, though.

  7. Hear hear. There is little point defending freedom of speech and personal freedom if the resulting terror response strips those ideals away from us.

    1. I think that governments are, in a way, quite happy to have terrorism stalking the world….after all, they are well guarded, other people suffer and they can then ratchet up their control mechanisms.

  8. As always, Helen, acutely observed and well informed. I can’t really comment on the preparedness of the security forces but I do think the job of ‘homeland’ security is an almost impossible one. A game of whack a mole as Tails around the ranch has so aptly written. Hit it when it pops up and a bit late at that. Reactive not preventative. And continuing the animal metaphor, it is doubly difficult as the rats are already in the nest. Like you Helen, my blood boils & have some difficulty keeping my temper when I have to go through airport security. The result of so-called strengthened levels of security is that the rest of us are inconvenienced, nay humiliated by the measures. Take off your jacket, your shoes, your belt. Show us your toiletries in your little plastic bag. Line up in an orderly manner. I’m really not at all sure how effective that is nor whether those precious resources are being targeted in the right place.
    Whatever you may think of the Charlie Hebdo publication, random, brutal butchery and bloodshed cannot be excused. I consider that in their own way, they were portraying truths as they saw them, through the medium of caricature. Braver in their style of journalism than many publications – New York Times, Telegraph to name but a couple…who have chosen to blur the images of the caricatures on photos in their publications, cowards that they are. Publish and be damned. Not their by-line. True journalism does not live in their HQs. Where I do absolutely agree with you, Helen, is on the education and jobs front. This problem has been a long time in the degeneration and rehabilitation will be a long time in the coming. If education does not inspire and evangelise and provide hope for the future, a future where people can see education is worth entering into because, in the end they will have choice, an occupation and/or the means of gaining said occupation, then there is really no contest with ‘terrorist groomers’. They will win hands down every time. An attractive, real alternative has to be offered to those marginalised by the system. Until that happens the violent extremes of ‘death at any cost, until death’ approach is likely to be reproduced.

    1. I did not like Charlie Hebdo, but you are quite right to say that they published in line with their views. They shouldn’t have had to suffer death for that.
      And the nature of the cartoons republished in the world press demonstrates quite clearly that that world press hasn’t the guts of a louse.

      Education and work worth doing are essentials if this phenomenon is to be turned round….but i just don’t see governments doing anything effective about something so vital.

  9. Indignation is not license to murder. Our own united front is to carry on. Sadly, that is the broadest brush of all painting, and along the way many suffer from the effect of rabid indignation. I do not comprehend the nuances of France, but the unprovoked attacks all over Europe are unsettling. Yet here in America we have not answered “Never another Sandy Hook:” children die every day, probably every hour, from gun violence. Now police officers are being ambushed. How is that purposeful indignation? I cannot provide an answer.

    1. Were I to commit murder every time I felt offended the ranks of politicians would have been considerably thinned.
      But i haven’t grown up in a system which did not want me, which discriminated against me so that I turned to a perversion of religion whose activists made me finally feel part of something.
      It isn’t an excuse…how could it be….but it is something our societies need to sort – and rapidly.

      The gun thing in the U.S.A. has always puzzled me….

  10. Such a horrible tragedy. My thoughts go out to the victims’ families and all those involved. I didn’t know much about the magazine, so I enjoyed reading your take on it.

  11. I think you hit the nail on the head. It strikes me that our national defenses against terrorism were developed to fight large scale, organized group actions whereas the new terrorism paradigm is the so called self-radicalized individual – the “lone wolf” – against whom our elaborate systems are significantly less effective. Fundamentally, the purpose of terrorism is to instill fear and that makes the lone wolf approach especially worrisome because these persons are nimble in their horror and difficult to identify in advance. I fear there are people who will look on the Charlie Hebdo attack as a manual for future acts of terror.

    1. One of the by products of emasculating the citizen is that the citizen then leaves everything up to authority to deal with….the civil community, which could have a deal of persuasive power, withers away and does not provide support or cohesion, leaving vulnerable people,open to the terrorist grooming process.
      I fear that you are right.

  12. I don’t know the magazine at all but clearly their irreverent attitude to Islam infuriated a lot of religious fanatics. I think the obvious message from the attack is that if people are determined to kill they’ll find a way of doing it, whatever the security measures or personal precautions. In this case, all they had to do was threaten Corinne Rey so ruthlessly that she had no alternative but to enter the security code and let them in. Unfortunately with thugs like that around nobody in this world is guaranteed safe.

  13. Helen, I knew nothing of Charlie Hedbo before this terrible event and even less about the efficacy of the French police/government. I read your post more to learn than to comment. But here I go….what troubles me so is the feeling that we may grow wobbly in our commitment to freedom of expression in this time where worrying about offending someone….anyone….trumps common sense. Brilliant, wicked, insulting, and offensive satire has always had its place in keeping the pols somewhat in line. Christopher Hitchens wrote about being offended by “your being offended.” Me too. But what is the allure to these young men and women that they can be so easily led into paramilitary strikes against their own countrymen?

    1. I don’t care for Charlie Hebdo, for the reasons stated in the post…but yes, of course, there has to be freedom to offend, to criticise, to take the mick…
      Just look at Swift….

      I think that these young people don’t recognise where they and their parents live as their country…have no tie to it.
      Their allegiance is to a form of religion which offers the recognition that the society in which they live denies them.

      Not an excuse…far from it…but a disengagement which governments have to recognise and treat.

  14. Have you noticed how the msm are bewailing the threat to free speech just weeks after they tried to gag Eric Zemmour? The hypocrisy is making me gag.

    There is no free speech in France and hasn’t been for years. Those that try tend to be dragged before Chambre 17 for incitation à la haine, a catch-all phrase that can be applied indiscriminately.

    1. It hadn’t escaped my notice….any more than had the politicians arbitrarily deciding which parties could join in Saturday’s march….
      National unity my….foot.

  15. I’d never heard of Charlie Hebdo until this happened and I know nothing of the state of preparedness or otherwise of the French authorities where terrorist threats are concerned. But I would guess that it is impossible for them to keep tabs on every potential terrorist, however intense the surveillance and other forms of restriction of freedom. What really worries me is the mindset that makes young people seek martyrdom in such a way. Dealing with people who are willing, even expecting, to die is very difficult as they are unlikely to be open to rational persuasion. I’m just hoping these two sieges can be ended with as little bloodshed as possible.

    1. I agree about the difficulties of surveillance and feel that governments are on the wrong track with their increasingly closer control of the activities of the general public.
      Their foreign policies are in large level to blame; no one daring to call Saudi Arabia to book for its proselytising activities which have already fomented the wars in the old Yugoslavia, let alone for its activities in the Middle East at the moment, getting themselves involved in wars which protect oil interests which makes it easy for the proselytisers to fill the heads of those suffering from the same governments’ interior policies – poor education, poor job opportunities, poor housing -with visions of another world where their value has recognition. At the price of their lives.
      What level of despair must people be feeling to accept this as their vision of the world!
      It is not an excuse – it cannot be – but unless governments do something about blatant inequality and rethink their foreign policy I can’t see an end to it.

  16. Thank you for your thoughts in favor of freedom of expression. When I heard about the events in Paris, I was devastated. Let us always uphold freedom of thought. It may not fit into any particular category, and it may combine ideas from seemingly opposed ideologies.

    1. I think not just freedom of thought…but the obligation to listen…to discuss..to be open…
      But how do we arrive at this aim?

      For me,Charlie Hebdo was a crude, disgusting weekly…of course its authors should not have been killed – but its mere existence with such a small subscription told me that it was a reflection of elite French thought with disguised subsidy.

      I accept that my views may be insulted..but the only acceptable response is with the word or the pen…not the kalashnikov.

  17. I’m a The Doors – Bob Dylan – Yes – The Kinks – John Fogerty Creedence Clearwater Revival – …Fan . Artist with a loud , anti violence , anti repression voice. You can realy feel the anger that lures in those anti Vietnam War songs. I’ve been there and I’ve seen the War museum in HO Chi Minh City. My siter In Law volunteered in a home for agent orange defected children in Can Tho. I’ve come down to help her with my wife. I cried the first day , I cried the second day. I cried everyday. They where right to be angry and outraged. The songs where allways written to support those who suffer. But now again there is a war. And again I don’t realy understand it. But this is not a war between countries, it is not a religious war. It’s a War agains terror and fear. Charlie Hebdo you don’t have to like there cartoons, just like you don’t have to like the Doors. A taste for Humor or music is personal. But we have to hang on to these methods of rebellion. Because the preservation will mean victory. Repression starts when our voices get muffled. Repression starts with fear. This song captures those feelings of desperation. We don’t want our liberties to fade away now do we. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n_a0zOLMAfw

    1. You’re right, you don’t have to like Charlie Hebdo to refuse to accept censorship – of any kind. As a musician you’d feel it essential to be able to express yourself. What bothers me is that all the security measures – the ‘phone tapping, the internet spying. the controls on the movement of money – didn’t work. And the risk is that governments will use this atrocity as an excuse to install more surveillance of people in general.
      The world is in uproar because journalists, artists, have been killed. I’d like to hear the same uproar for the Nigerians killed and burned out of their town. All lives matter.

  18. Ten days on it is probably easier to reflect on this incident. It seems to me to have been much more of a knee jerk reaction from the politicians, police and authorities etc. than was provoked by 9/11 and the 7/7 London bombings when innocent people lost their lives through being in the wrong place at the wrong time and the reaction was outrage. If 9/11 or 7/7 happened now I wonder what the reaction would be?

    1. And the Madrid Atocha station atrocity too….
      Yes, I wonder too….I feel very sorry for the police, sent in to risk their lives when their bosses don’t seem to have any coherent plan of prevention….

  19. There have always been groups of young violent thugs … this latest version just have access to bigger and shinier weapons .
    Local policing , better education , growing prosperity and truly equal opportunities are probably our best weapons of self defence .

    1. And how do they get these guns, I ask, with all the regulations in force….
      I agree, with better conditions iof life, better opportunities the recruiting ground would not be so fertile.

  20. Helen, when I heard about this it reminded me of the shootings that happened here in Quebec and Ontario of the soldiers. I hope you are doing well. Hugs. 🙂

    1. Yes…and look how Canada reacted with dignity….as did the French people.
      I’m picking up now, thank you…but i can’t access your blog…it’s a problem I’ve been having with other blogs on Blogger, so I hope it’s just one of those glitches which will go away!

  21. I do find it encouraging that the French at least stand up for freedom. Here in England it sometimes seems as if nobody bothers – so many people seem to think that “the government” ought to do something about crushing “them” – and if we have to sacrifice our freedoms to squash “them” then it’s a good idea. Or perhaps I’m just feeling particularly cynical today. ,

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